After falling 41-34 to Canyon in the 2015-2016 UIL 5A state championship game and 47-42 to Amarillo in the 2018-2019 UIL 5A state title game, Frisco Liberty finally earned its first season-ending championship in program history. The Redhawks surprised College Station 44-41 in Thursday's state semifinal and San Antonio Veterans Memorial 35-26 in Saturday's state title game to grab the 2019-2020 crown.
The first quarter of runs began with Frisco Liberty's early 6-2 start, but San Antonio Veterans Memorial ended the opening frame with the final nine. The Patriots were led by Texas A&M signee Sahara Jones because she scored eight of her game-high 15 points during this time and her first three-pointer gave her team its first lead at 8-6.
But, Frisco Liberty stormed back with its defense. The Redhawks only allowed two, five and eight points to San Antonio Veterans Memorial in the next three quarters. That allowed them to take the lead by halftime and start pulling away in the second half.
"It takes a mental fortitude [and] it takes competitive stamina," Frisco Liberty coach Ross Reedy said of his players' defense. "In a game of this magnitude, it's easy to get wide eyed, but I think they were composed."
VYPE Player of the Game Jazzy Owens-Barnett helped wrap up Frisco Liberty's state championship victory. She recorded five points on a pair of made field goals and a successful free throw attempt in the first three quarters before executing on seven of nine free throw attempts and another field goal in a nine-point final period. She finished with a team-high 14 points.
"It's bittersweet," said Owens-Barnett. "I'm so happy for the win and I'm super excited, but I want another one. I feel kinda greedy, so I'm ready to get back in the gym, get home and get to work."
Along with Owens-Barnett, Frisco Liberty also got an important 10-point outing from Maya Jain.
When you've advanced to five College World Series since 2010 like TCU baseball has, you attract great talent from all over, including in another national power's backyard. The Horned Frogs left the Metroplex for Central Texas, where The University of Texas at Austin is the located, and sold a pair of local pitchers on their program. One was Georgetown's Braxton Pearson and the other was Lake Travis' Storm Hierholzer. Both have experienced big time success in their high school careers, so Fort Worth fans will welcome them with open arms.
"TCU was the best option for me," said Pearson. "The school and the coaches were just amazing [and] everything I wanted in a college. My coaches at Georgetown always taught me [that] having a good winning history and brotherhood culture was important and that was TCU."
Like Pearson, Hierholzer couldn't pass up the coaching staff that TCU offered.
"What excites me is working with a great coaching staff, who I know will help me improve greatly," said Hierholzer. "The offer came in after the PBR futures game during the summer before my junior year. I felt great because a very high caliber baseball school believed in me."
Both players will rock their purple attire soon, but also know that their senior year performances will go a long way in reaching a goal that their teams fell just short of in 2019.
For Pearson and Georgetown, they're motivated after falling 14-2 to Colleyville Heritage in the 2019 UIL 5A state title game.
"The playoffs last year and the run to the state championship game was the best thing that has ever happened in my career," said Pearson. "My teammates weren't just my teammates. They were my brothers [and] we had the tightest bond. We say second isn't sweet, so we wanna get back to the championship game and win and fight for what's ours."
Lake Travis is another hungry squad because it suffered a tight 6-2 loss to eventual classification state champ Southlake Carroll in the UIL 6A state semifinal.
"We felt every emotion after the loss at Dell Diamond last year, and we have been working very hard during the offseason to not let that happen again," said Hierholzer. "Every win gets us closer and closer back to the state tournament, so we will take it day by day and slowly get back and win it."
As disappointing as the end of last season was, both athletes have proactive plans to finish what they started.
"As a senior, I'm looking forward to being the leader on the team and showing the younger guys what it means to be an Eagle and becoming the best teammate I can be," said Pearson. "I would like to mature in my baseball career and give the Eagles whatever it takes to get back to the Dell Diamond. I'm [also] looking to prove what I got to fill a spot at TCU."
As for Hierholzer, he will lean on his day-to-day work ethic to guide Lake Travis teammates through the campaign.
"I [will] try to do my best to show the new players how things work and teach them to embrace the grind," said Hierholzer. "My goals this year are the same as every year: win a state championship and give my team a chance to win every time I step on the mound."
For more sports coverage, follow Thomas (@Texan8thGen) and VYPE (@VYPEATX) on Twitter.
Looking to get more involved? Check out ShopVYPE for fresh gear that supports local schools and the VYPE U Ambassador Program. To sign up for the VYPE U Program, apply at VYPEU.com.