It’s hard to lose if the opponents don’t score much, and that was the successful formula for the Washington-Liberty Generals en route to winning the 6D North Region Tournament championship.
The girls high-school softball team (13-5) won the crown with a 4-0 record, defeating the host Langley Saxons, 4-1, in the title game. The region championship was W-L’s first in program history.
The Generals have been a bit of a Cinderella story because they had not qualified for the region tournament since 2013 and haven’t won a region-tourney game since at least 1992. The team won only four times in the 2019 season, with the 2020 campaign under a new coaching staff canceled because of the pandemic.
“I told the girls before this season began we were going to be a force to be reckoned with,” W-L coach Juan Gonzalez said. “They believed they could do this and they are so hungry to win. It’s a dream season.”
One of the big reasons for Washington-Liberty’s success has been the pitching of junior right-hander Emilie Doty. Through the region tourney, she had a 13-5 record with 210 strikeouts and a 1.78 earned run average. In four region-tourney games she struck out 56.
Doty was the winning pitcher in all four region games, allowing 11 total hits, walking only three, and giving up just two runs with two shutouts. She threw four complete games.
Doty said a change to her pitching motion in recent months made her a better pitcher.
“I had a new pitching coach who found a motion that fits me,” said Doty, chosen the Liberty District’s Player of the Year and first-team all-region.
Added Gonzalez: “With Emilie on the mound, our girls have rallied around her.”
Against Langley in the region final, Doty threw a four-hitter with 14 strikeouts and no walks. The run was earned, coming in the sixth inning. She threw 103 pitches.
With the bat against Langley, Washington-Liberty had nine hits, three by Bridget Bartz. Allie Malone had two hits and an RBI. Ava Lansbury and Kaitlyn Fado (solo homer) each had a hit and one RBI, and Doty and Meghan Long had hits. Sophie Adams-Smith and Malone had sacrifice bunts. Nadia Foote made a number of good defensive plays at second base.
The victory over 2019 region-champion Langley in the region final avenged three earlier losses to the Saxons this season, one in the Liberty District tourney title game just days earlier, by a 6-0 score.
The Generals reached the region final with a 1-0 extra-inning semifinal win against the host Madison Warhawks, the back-to-back Class 6 state champions in 2017 and 2018, who finished the season 13-3.
Washington-Liberty scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning on a passed ball when courtesy runner Samantha Spence ran home from third.
The contest was a pitchers’ duel. Doty went all nine innings, throwing 132 pitches. She struck out 14, allowed just three hits and walked two. The Generals made no fielding errors.
With the bat, the Generals had seven hits with Bartz (triple) and Alex Socknat having two each. Doty, Fado and Grace Kane had the others.
In the quarterfinals, Washington-Liberty defeated the Wakefield Warriors, 5-1, in an all-Arlington clash.
Bartz tripled and had two hits with Kane, Malone and Riley England each having one hit and Caitlin Miller added an RBI.
Doty needed only 82 pitches as she struck out 17, allowed two hits and did not walk a batter.
In the first round, W-L blanked the Chantilly Chargers, 4-0, as Doty tossed a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and one walk.
Kane doubled twice for the Generals with an RBI. Bartz and Socknat each had one hit and one RBI, and Malone and England had a hit each.
“No one believed in us but us,” Doty said. “Our confidence with every game went up and up all season and we have the drive to win. I have been pitching well and have had the backup behind me of solid defense. And we have good hitters.”
NOTES: Washington-Liberty’s last championship of any kind came way back in 19976 when the Generals won a district title . . . Gonzalez was chosen the Liberty District and region Coach of the Year.