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Baseball team qualifies for playoffs

Jessica Palakovich, Photo and Design Editor

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Playoff bound, Freedom Baseball’s record made strides that haven’t occurred since 2009.

Beginning April 25, Freedom won against their opponent, Aliquippa, with a score of 24-3. They finished with senior Christian Kraus batting in five runs. Starting off strong in the first inning, the score was 6-1. Each inning, Freedom got at least one point. They picked up their pace in the fifth inning when they got 13 more versus Aliquippa’s 2. The score of 24 permitted that the game end early.

The next day, on April 26, Freedom finished strong once again with a score of 16-1. Their opponent, the Summit Academy Knights, took a hit when junior Jason Norman, pitching three innings, had six strikeouts. In the last inning, Freedom gained 12 points.

Seizing yet another victory against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH), Freedom won with a score of 7-2 on April 28. Throughout this game, the points were spread out, as they only earned points in the second, third and sixth innings in order to take the lead.

As for the next game, it, too, was a win. Freedom went up against North Catholic with a final score of 8-4. Pitching a total of seven innings, senior Zack Green had 22 first-pitch strikes and six strikeouts.

On May 3, the Freedom Bulldogs were undefeated by Shenango, even after allowing them to take an early lead of three points. The game concluded with three runs batted in by Norman and two by junior Josh Beck, tallying the score to 5-11. This victory meant more than just a simple win— this guaranteed their spot in the playoffs.

The day after, on May 4, Freedom won yet again with a score of 18-6. The Bulldogs were set against Laurel for the game ending in victory.

Freedom overtook Aliquippa when they played against each other on May 8. The game ended with a final score of 15-0. Three of Freedom’s players had three quality at bats each.
The next game was Freedom versus Beaver. This ended in a defeat of 12-10. The sixth inning, Beaver gained three points, which eventually lead to Freedom’s downfall.

Although the game against Beaver ended in a loss, it didn’t slow down Freedom. The game on May 16, versus Bentworth, concluded with a win of 4-5.

In an interview, sophomore Noah Henderson commented that two of the seniors leaving the team would take them back a little, but if they work hard and put in extra effort, they can come back just as strong next year.

Coach Daniel O’Leary confirmed this by saying, “At a minimum, next year’s squad will be charged with duplicating this year’s effort.” He also said that right now, the team’s focus is making it deep through the playoffs.

“We haven’t made it to the playoffs since 2012, so it’s a great feeling,” Henderson said.

While they made the playoffs in 2012, the last time the Bulldogs have won a playoff game was in 2009.

Henderson, just like most of Freedom students, is excited that the majority of the sports teams have excelled this year in their seasons.

Freedom ended the season being second in their section, Section 2A-2. The final record was 11-3 in section, only behind OLSH at 12-2; however, Freedom was the only team to defeat OLSH, making them lose twice. Their overall record, including scrimmages, was 13-5.

O’Leary believes that baseball teaches life lessons, saying that that the memories and lessons learned are unforgettable. He also wants his players to know that “hard work, dedication and focus pays off long term.”

“Take life one pitch at a time, and strive to win each inning,” O’Leary said, “You might not win every inning, but don’t lose focus on the big picture. Trust yourself, trust your teammates and appreciate your family and those who love you.”

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