Austin- No matter what sport it is, from high school to the professional ranks, one of the hardest things to do in sports is to repeat and win a championship the following year. On a hot Saturday afternoon at Red and Charlene McCombs Field, the Liberty Lady Panthers did just that with a 5-0 win over Sweeny in the Class 4A State Championship Game.
"It's tough just to win one and then to come back and win another one; that's really tough," said Liberty Head Coach Karen Slack.
"You have to have a little luck go your way, but at the end of the day, when you have special ladies like we have, then anything is possible," she said.
Slack improved her career record at the State Tournament to 6-0. Kylie Bishop finished the game with three hits and two RBIs in taking the State Championship MVP Trophy.
"I was not expecting to be named MVP," said the senior.
"This is really cool, and I am glad I am leaving with another State Title," said Bishop, "After we won it last year and lost our three big seniors, no one gave us a chance to repeat. That really pushed me, and I know it pushed us as a team," added Bishop.
The Lady Panthers jumped on the Lady Dogs early on and coasted the rest of the way.
Liberty used a big error in the top of the first inning with two outs to pick up three runs; with two outs, Hollie Thomas lifted a lazy fly ball to left field that was dropped and allowed Thomas to reach second base.
Bishop then took the next pitch and lined a shot to the gap, which allowed Thomas to score, and the Lady Panthers led 1-0.
Pitcher Kamdyn Chandler followed with a single to plate Bishop, and the score was 2-0.
Reagan Williamson then walked, and Alex Wiley was hit-by-a-pitch.
With the bases loaded, pinch-runner Marina Bourgeois raced home on a wild pitch, and Liberty was in front 3-0.
The Lady Panthers tacked on two more runs in the second inning.
Bailee Slack singled to start things off. The speedy sophomore then easily stole second, and on an errant throw by the Sweeny catcher, Slack raced around and scored to make it a 4-0 game.
A hitter later, Thomas doubled and then scored on another Bishop double, and the lead was 5-0.
The Lady Dogs got a couple of hits in the bottom of the frame and looked as if they had something going, only to see second baseman Reese Evans come in for a little blooper and make a diving catch to end the inning.
That was more than enough offense for Chandler as the sophomore allowed only four hits while striking out three.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Chandler induced the Lady Dogs hitter into a pop-up that Thomas put in her catcher's mitt to set off another big celebration.
"I am so proud of this team," said center fielder Maci Beam, "Last year was great, but I wanted this one really bad with me being a Senior. We are a family, and I just love this team."
Liberty finished the game with 10 hits, and Slack added two.
"I was confident coming into this season," said Senior Reagan Williamson, "I really liked our chances of winning another one. It is just a great feeling being a State Champion again."
The Lady Panthers finished the season with a fine record of 38-6.