UIL STATE SOFTBALL: Liberty claims second State Championship, West wins MVP

UIL STATE SOFTBALL: Liberty claims second State Championship, West wins MVP (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

AUSTIN – After sitting in a dugout for two hours watching the rain drizzle onto the tarp covering Red & Charline McCombs Field, Liberty could have let that kill their momentum.

The Lady Panthers had just scored five runs to take a 5-3 and starter Kaci West had set down Calallen in order for the first time all day when Mother Nature struck forcing a pause in the Class 4A State Championship game.

But they didn't let that hinder them.

"I was kind of bummed when they said we were in a rain delay," West, the Class 4A State Championship game MVP said. "I was getting on fire and I was ready to go. But we settled in here, we had fun, the last team bonding since I'm senior. We sang a little and danced a little."

After what was a 2 hour and 20-minute delay, Liberty came out still on fire, tacked on five more runs and danced their way to the program's second state championship, defeating Calallen 10-3 on Saturday at Red & Charline McCombes Field.

"I didn't do much work with this group, the three seniors bought in and taught everybody what they needed to know," Liberty coach Karen Slack said. "From day one it's been about what the teams need and not anybody else. I think bringing teenage girls together that's the biggest hurdle and they did that, they have all season."

Liberty, which finishes 33-7 on the year, won a state championship in 2018 when the three seniors were just freshmen, giving them bookend state rings.

Calallen finishes the season 33-9 after making their second state championship game appearance in program history.

The Ladycats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, capped by a solo home run from Alaunah Almaraz.

"It definitely didn't start the way I wanted to," West said. "But I knew I had a great team behind me, so I settled in really fast. I knew they would make the plays needed and I knew they would have my back."

Despite the rough start for West, the Liberty starter settled in in the fourth inning setting down six-straight Calallen batters before the sixth.

West finished tossing a complete game giving up three runs on three hits, walking seven and striking out 11. She threw 161 pitches.

"She gets better as the game gets harder," Slack said. "She's always done that, even as a ninth grader she was like that. She's got amazing support, her parents are amazing people. She loves the grit, she loves the competitiveness and she's going to do amazing things at Baylor.

"I wouldn't want any other kid on the mound."

In the third is when the Lady Panthers' bats came to life as Mikaelah Burkland and Hollie Thomas both drove in two runs apiece, giving them a 4-3 lead. Reese Evans singled in another run to cap the five-run inning.

After the nearly two and a half-hour weather delay, Liberty tacked on another two runs in the fourth off a Kaci West double and her scoring on a wild pitch, making it 7-3, and would tack on three more runs to win 10-3.