MORADA — Kharizma Lathipanya-Kham delivered at the right time for her Liberty Ranch High softball teammates.
That led to a come-from-behind win in one game for No. 5 Liberty Ranch in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs at Arnaiz Softball Complex on Thursday. While the Hawks tasted success in the post-season, they couldn’t extend it into an extra game.
Taking on No. 3 Casa Roble of Orangevale in the first game, Liberty Ranch chipped away at the Rams’ one-run lead for a 6-5 win in the loser’s bracket game. But in the second game against No. 2 Calaveras, the Hawks were three outs away from playing in the section title game for the first time in the program’s history at Galt’s second high school, as Calaveras rallied to post an 11-10 victory.
Casa Roble held a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning. But Liberty Ranch (17-6) used four hits in the inning. The big hit was off the bat of Lathipanya-Kham, a four-year starter at center field who is the Hawks’ leadoff hitter. She smacked a triple to the right-center field fence that drove in teammates Haley Ward (single), Annabelle Buchannan (single) and Anastasia Contreras (walk) for a 6-3 score.
“The girls decided ‘c’mon, we have to time it,’” said Liberty Ranch coach Shauna DalBianco on the Rams’ pitches. “They had to make adjustments. That’s what they did. The top of the line-up came through. (Lathipanya-Kham) has been on fire all season.”
Adjustments at the plate late in the game was a strategy that paid off for the Hawks.
“I asked them to move up on the plate a little bit because they were throwing down balls,” DalBianco said. “I just wanted them to get back on the plate instead of swinging down and popping up.”
But the Rams battled in the top of the seventh inning with two outs. Vanessa Richie hit her second home run of the game, a two-run shot that sailed over the left field to make it 6-5. Teammate Hallie Stewart doubled to left field scored on Richie’s home run. Richie had a three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning.
A pop fly to Liberty Ranch first baseman Ashley Hubert led to the final out and a celebration near the Hawks’ dugout on the northwest side of the complex.
Liberty Ranch jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning. Lathipanya-Kham and Karlie DalBianco each singled, and Presli Kooyman doubled deep to right field that accounted for the Hawks’ runs.
Casa Roble had back-to-back home runs from Cadee Cooper and Richie, plus a triple from Alexis Aguado, gave their Rams a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning.
In the winner’s game against Calaveras, Liberty Ranch led 10-7 entering the bottom of the seventh inning. That’s when Calaveras had its own rally with four runs to advance to today’s section title game against top-seeded Ripon.
Prior to Thursday’s two playoff games, Ripon beat Liberty Ranch on Wednesday. To reach the final four, Liberty Ranch, which had a first-round bye, knocked off No. 4 Marysville 6-2 in the second round on May 15.
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.