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"Resilient" reigning Division 2 champion Freedom Irish softball ready for another run in 2023

"Resilient" reigning Division 2 champion Freedom Irish softball ready for another run in 2023
Posted at 8:41 PM, Mar 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-24 21:41:53-04

FREEDOM — The Freedom Irish softball team won their first title in program history last year as they knocked off Jefferson by one run to win the Division 2 championship. This year a lot of the program returns to diamond as the Irish look to make another run to Madison.

“We’ve had this same group of girls for the last 10 years, this group is a little different, but to have that rewarding season was just incredible,” said senior Rachel Koss, who plays first base.

One thing the players all said they learned from last year's state tournament is resiliency. As they overcame early deficits to bring home a gold ball.

“We have a lot of returners from last year and they know that you have to keep pushing and battling back in order to win,” said senior shortstop Rylie Murphy.

Gone from the 2022 squad are a few seniors who had a big impact, they'll do what they can to fill those empty cleats. A big loss is their ace Naleyah Bork who finished last year with a 1.17 ERA, striking out 170 batters in 140 innings.

“We’re working hard, we do have some talent,” said head coach Tim Dietzen who helped Freedom win state in his first season coaching the program. “There’s no replacing those seniors that we lost.”

But the five seniors on this team have been impressed with the underclassman and the effort they have put in. Especially sophomore Peyton VandeLoo, who as just a freshman had the second most innings pitched on the team.

“She is an incredible pitcher,” said Koss. “I think she’s really fast – I have a hard time hitting off her.”

“The ball seems to come out of her hand effortlessly and kind of gets up on a batter,” Dietzen said. When she’s right, she’s really good.”

Returning to the batter's box is senior shortstop Rylie Murphy who led the team in average, on base and slugging percentage. She can tear the cover off the ball.

“We can always rely on Ryllie, even on defense too,” said senior Lauren Scheibe who plays second base. “She's a phenomenal player.”

And now the team is ready to pick up where they left off and bring home back to back titles.

“It would mean everything for us,” Scheibe said about what it would mean to win back to back titles.

This team doesn’t need any extra push as they know what they need to do to get there.

“I think they’re just motivated to be here – it’s softball season,” Dietzen said.

Freedom plays their first game on Monday, April 3 at Wrightstown.