COLLEGE STATION - It's what you would expect when the top two teams in the state play against each other, with a thrilling extra-inning affair that went nine innings, but in the end, Liberty found themselves on the losing end of game one.
Bullard's Hadi Fults has done it all season long and the senior did it one more time on Wednesday night in the bottom of the ninth inning by driving a 1-2 pitch well over the right field wall for a walk-off homer and her 23rd on the season to give Bullard a 5-4 win in game one of the Class 4A Region III Championship series played at Davis Diamond Complex on the campus of Texas A&M University.
Liberty will look to even the score on Thursday night back in College Station.
Bullard grabbed an early 1-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning. The damage could have been more if not for a fancy 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded that was started by pitcher Brookelyn Taylor, who fielded and threw home to catcher Hollie Thomas for the second out and then Thomas snapped a throw to first baseman Alex Wiley for the third and final out of the inning.
Liberty then started to get their timing at the plate, which showed in the third inning. Four straight hits led to three Liberty runs. Bailee Slack reached on an error and then a single by Reese Evans scored the speedy Slack and the score was even at 1. Thomas then slapped a double to plate Evans and Liberty led 2-1. Wiley then followed with a single and pinch/runner Marina Bourgeois scored and the advantage was 3-1. Abby Vickers also singled, but Fults would get out of the jam without more damage.
The lead did not last long as Bullard put up three runs themselves in the bottom of the third inning to regain the lead again at 4-3.
The score stayed the same until the top of the seventh when Liberty would strike. Evans sent a pitch over the right fielder's head for a triple, Thomas flew out to deep center to score Evans, and the game was tied at 4-apiece.
Slack had a double in the ninth inning but would be stranded on base to set up the Fults game-winner.
Taylor finished with seven strikeouts on the bump, while Slack, Evans and Thomas all had two hits. Thomas also added a pair of RBIs.