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Look: Liberty shuts out Sweeny to win back-to-back Texas UIL 4A Softball State Championships

The Panthers pounced on the Bulldogs for five early runs and sophomore pitcher Kamdyn Chandler threw a complete-game shutout to clinch Liberty's second straight 4A UIL Softball

AUSTIN — The Liberty Panthers had a singular focus since hoisting the Class 4A UIL Softball State Championship trophy in May 2021: return to Austin and repeat.

Liberty made the most of its opportunity at Red & Charline McCombs Field after punching their ticket back to the 4A state championship game with a Thursday night rally in the state semifinals.

RELATED: LIBERTY-SWEENY 4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP BOX SCORE

The Panthers pounced on Sweeny from the opening pitch offensively and relied on sophomore pitcher Kamdyn Chandler, who threw a complete-game shutout to lead Liberty to a 5-0 win over the Bulldogs and back-to-back Class 4A softball state titles on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers’ second straight state championship marks the programs third through three trips to the state tournament during the last five years.

FULL COVERAGE OF THE TEXAS SOFTBALL STATE TOURNAMENT

“I have no words. Honestly, I'm so grateful for this,” said Liberty senior third baseman Kylie Bishop, who was voted MVP of the 4A state title game.

“Honestly, it feels better to me because last year all I did was hit,” Chandler said. “So this year to be on the mound the whole game and the whole time we played, it was a much, much better feeling.”

“I think we're very underestimated this year. So it means a lot more to us because we lost three really good seniors last year. And I think that this one is just way more meaningful.”

Bishop helped spark the Panthers' scorching-hot start at the plate.

She put Liberty on the board first with a two-out RBI double to deep left field after sophomore catcher Hollie Thomas reached safely on a throwing error on the previous pitch.

Gaining the early edge proved to be the difference maker for the Panthers, especially after two early home runs put them in an early hole during the state semifinals against Iowa Park.

“That made us realize like, hey, we need to get it going,” Bishop said.

“Getting on the board first helped me a lot because my team knows our pitch much better with the lead and they did that for me,” Chandler said.

The Panthers plated three runs during their two-out rally in the top of the first after Chandler laced an RBI single to center field and junior Alex Wiley scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.

In the second inning, Liberty added another pair of runs during another two-out rally.

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Sophomore Bailee Slack stole second base after singling up the middle and came around to score on an overthrow into the outfield.

The Panthers extended their lead to 5-0 later in the inning on back-to-back line-drive doubles into left field by Thomas and Bishop.

Bishop finished the afternoon with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate that included two doubles, two RBI and a run scored to pace Liberty's prolific offense.

"I just waited for my pitch,” she said.

As hot as Liberty's start was offensively, Chandler's strong performance in the circle was what sealed the Panthers' second straight state title.

The sophomore ace found her groove quickly and went the distance for the second state tournament game in a row. Chandler pitched seven scoreless innings with three strikeouts, six walks and four hits allowed.

She ends the 4A state tournament with a 2-0 record in the circle and finishes with nine-consecutive scoreless innings.

“Honestly, I was just trying to throw the ball in there with the least (amount of) contact as possible,” Chandler said. “I kind of just watched their swings and threw my good pitches. I guess it was just about putting everything together.

Sweeny, meanwhile, struggled to find its footing offensively.

The Bulldogs were collectively 2-for-13 at the plate with runners on base and left eight base runners stranded. Senior catcher Carly Glaze led Sweeny offensively with a 2-for-3 performance that included a double, the Bulldogs’ only extra-base hit of the game.

“My drop and my changeup or on point today, and I was really thankful for that,” Chandler said.

The loss ends Sweeny’s season at 31-10 overall after the Bulldogs made their first state tournament appearance since 2011.

Liberty, meanwhile, finishes the season at 38-6 overall and becomes the only reigning state champion in Texas high school softball to successfully defend its UIL state title this year.

“It was a lot of pressure. But I feel like it pushed us more to want to win everything,” Bishop said.


Here are photos from Saturday afternoon's Class 4A UIL Softball State Championship game:

(All photos by Paul Brick)

PHOTO GALLERY — LIBERTY 5, SWEENY 0

UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick30
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick31
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick32
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick33
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick34
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick35
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick36
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick37
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick38
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick39
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick40
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick41
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick42
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick43
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick44
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick45
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick46
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick47
UIL 4A State Softball Championship Game June 4, 2022 Liberty vs Sweeny. Photo-Paul Brick48