East County Sports

Liberty Lions heading to top of D5 charts



Special to EastCountySports.com


LEMON GROVE (4-7-2018) – Buoyed by a pitcher already possessing an NCAA Division II scholarship, the Liberty Charter Lions are off to a 9-0 start, including Friday’s (Apr/ 6) 14-2 triumph over Bayfront Charter of Chula Vista, coached by former East County Player of the Year Mary Grabowski, then of the Christian Patriots.

Lions senior Stephanie Uribe was a junior varsity pitcher at Grossmont High School, in line to contend to pitch for a Foothillers varsity program which has captured a pair of CIF championship (including a D-1 crown as the all-divisions best in the county) this decade under longtime head coach Jerry Lerud.

But Uribe had other plans.

“Once my (older) sister graduated from Grossmont, I wanted to go somewhere else,” said Urbe. “My mother didn’t want me to go to Mount Miguel, so I came here because it’s close to my house.”

“I didn’t know how good their girls’ athletic department was.”

Uribe earned her college scholarship performing for the Ruthless travel-ball club, headed to Philadelphia and Holy Family College, a member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

Mired in last place this season, the new Tigers coaching staff came to California last summer to roster their roster with West Coast prospects who know how to win.

“I plan on majoring in Criminology,” she added.

Uribe’s catcher, power-hitting catcher Sarah Johnston, is also a candidate-of-interest among college coaches, too.

Putting the pieces together for Liberty Charter is head coach Brianna (nee Kuper) Simoneau.

Simoneau is the sister of former Santana High and San Diego Christian College pitcher Kendra Kuper (who just got married last month). Simoneau has been at Liberty for five years teaching math but just took the Lions last season.

“We have some girls were good travel-ball experience, so they are able to help teach the other players,” said the coach. “We just need a little more humility on the team so we can keep playing hard and really be successful.”

The Lions’ top contender in the Summit League should be High Tech High-Chula Vista.  In Division V, top contenders should be Maranatha Christian (7-2) and Holtville (5-5).

Meanwhile, Bayfront is now 3-6 overall, but two of the losses were against larger-division schools (Serra and Mira Mesa), so Grabowski remains confident about her ballclub’s improvement. She is assisted by her father John Grabowski, who also coached her and younger sister (Gaby, now at Azusa Pacific) at Christian.

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