The outfield fence at Liberty North’s softball field stands about 8 feet tall, which makes it about twice the height of a typical fence and twice as intimidating to long-ball hitters.
It sure didn’t intimidate Lee’s Summit.
The Tigers sailed five balls over that fence — two each from Bailey Baird and Emily Robinson — as part of a 15-hit barrage that crushed Liberty North 13-0 in six innings Saturday in a Missouri Class 4 quarterfinal game.
Lee’s Summit, 24-6 and the defending Class 4 champion, moves on to play Jefferson City at 11 a.m. Friday in the final four at the Killian Softball Complex in Springfield. It will be the third trip to state for the Tigers, who also made it in 2003.
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Even after seeing that tall fence, and noting a slight breeze blowing in from left-center field, Lee’s Summit coach Tracy Bertoncin didn’t doubt her team’s ability to play long ball Saturday. The obstacle may have been bigger, but the field still felt kind of like home.
“This is almost exactly the size of our field,” Bertoncin said. “The only difference is that the fence is a little bit higher. But I would never underestimate these girls. Never.”
And with good reason. Lee’s Summit got its homers in four-run outbursts in the second and fourth innings. Baird, the Tigers’ leadoff hitter, got the second inning rolling with a two-run shot. One out later, Robinson, the Tigers’ starting pitcher, crushed a ball to left. Natalie Dummit made it back-to-back jacks with a blast to center.
“We kind of saw the tall fence and we came out wanting to hit,” said Baird, who finished four-for-five with five RBIs.
Baird sent the first pitch she saw in the fourth over the center field fence, and Robinson followed her again one out later with another monster shot. Alexis Reed and Sarah Josephson added two RBI doubles in the inning that made it 9-0.
In the sixth, Baird singled home two more runs when the Tigers tallied four more and brought the game to an end.
“They were very patient, and we have talked for two days about the value of patience and being patient at the plate,” Bertoncin said. “We focused a lot on staying back and driving the ball hard.”
Liberty North, meanwhile, couldn’t drive the ball against Robinson, who allowed only four hits and three walks while striking out six. The Eagles, 28-4 and quarterfinalists for the first time, had only two runners reach third.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, taking a loss like that,” Liberty North coach Brett Kisker said. “But I told the girls not to hang their heads. We’re a 28-4 ball team and one of the last eight teams playing in the state this year.”