AUSTIN — Junior Ava Brown was dialed in from the opening pitch of Saturday afternoon’s Class 5A UIL Softball State Championship game.
Montgomery Lake Creek’s junior clean-up hitter and ace in the circle demonstrated why she’s one of Lone Star State’s top two-way players and how Lake Creek advanced to the state tournament at Red & Charline McCombs Field in such dominant fashion.
Brown — a Florida Gators commit — carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, finished with a complete game one-hit shutout in the circle and smacked the only extra-base hit of the contest to lead the Lions to a 7-0 win over Georgetown in the 5A state title game.
With the win, Montgomery Lake Creek secures its first state championship in program history and ends the season with an unblemished 40-0 overall record, becoming the state’s only team to finish the 2022 Texas high school softball season undefeated.
“I’m so blessed to be able to do this with my best friends. It’s so much fun and so awesome," Brown said.
“(It’s about) just being able to do this with my teammates. These are my best friends. I just always hope that I can give my best for them, and that they’ll have my back the way that they do.”
"This is what we've been working for all year and I'm excited that we finally succeeded," Lake Creek senior third baseman Madelyn Lopez said.
"We all play for each other. We know that we had a big target on our back coming out of last year, and I think that just made us want it more. Everyone put in the effort, put in their time and put in the work, and we came together when we needed to at the right time."
Brown was a near unstoppable force at the plate, but her finest work Saturday afternoon was pitching for the Lions.
The Gators’ commit was electric in the circle from the moment she stepped onto the diamond.
Brown threw four perfect innings to start for Montgomery Lake Creek, striking out six of the 12 batters she faced heading into the fifth frame.
The junior’s shot at only the third seven-inning perfect game in UIL state tournament history was denied when Georgetown sophomore Madison Hartley legged out an infield single on a ground ball hit to third.
But Brown quickly recovered, finishing the game with nine strikeouts, no walks, one hit-by-pitch and only one single allowed.
“I was staying away from all the hitters and making them try and hit my best pitch, rather than giving them something to hit,” Brown said.
“I was in the zone from the beginning. I knew mentally I had to prepare for this game and I woke up mentally prepared. I was trying my best to keep everybody off balance, and I think I did that.”
Brown and the top half of Montgomery Lake Creek’s star-studded lineup wasted little time putting the Eagles’ on the defensive either.
The Lions landed 10 runners on base throughout the first three innings, scoring first on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the top of the second with two outs.
Lake Creek plated three more runs in the third after a wild pitch and overthrow into the outfield by Georgetown on a play at first base.
Lopez, a Syracuse signee, went 1-for-3 a single, a walk and three runs scored hitting in the No. 3 spot ahead. Brown ended the day 2-for-4 with a single and a two-run double, the game’s only extra-base knock.
“(We were) able to string hits together and on defense, my defense had my back the entire game," Brown said. "I never had any doubts."
The Lions, though, continued their clutch hitting from top to bottom of their lineup.
Montgomery Lake Creek’s leadoff hitters reached base safely in four of seven innings, and the team was collectively 4-for-14 hitting with runners in scoring position.
Lake Creek also benefited from four Georgetown fielding errors during the first three frames of the game.
“I think it was confidence," Lopez said. "We've faced great pitchers before we even got to the state tournament, so I think everyone was at a good point in confidence."
The loss drops Georgetown to 34-4 overall and ends the Eagles’ season in the Class 5A state tournament for the second straight year after losing to Aledo in the 2021 state semifinals.
Montgomery Lake Creek, meanwhile, improves to 40-0 with the victory to become one of only a handful of squads in the Lone Star State to finish the 2022 campaign with 40 or more wins.
The Lions are also the first Texas high school softball team to finish a season unbeaten in the last decade.
“We wanted to show all the little girls watching us, show everybody coming (to our games) and show each other that the top has been reachable since the beginning," Brown said. "Now, we’ve finally reached it.”
"It's awesome. Honestly, you can't describe it," Lopez said. "It's just something that every little girl dreams of. And we came out here and we did our job and we did what we've been wanting to do since we started like great.
"I think it's just the beginning for Lake Creek and Montgomery in general."
Brown caught up with SBLive Texas postgame to talk about her monster performance, winning Lake Creek's first state championship and finishing the season as the state's only unbeaten team:
Here are photos from Saturday's 5A title game in Austin:
All photos by Paul Brick