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The temperatures are rising and so is the heat from the UIL Softball Playoffs, which resumes later this week.
It’s almost Regional Tourney time, so let’s take a look at who is going to advance to next week’s Regional Semis.
KATY VS CINCO RANCH
The Tigers are completely destroying the softball. How about this for a number? Katy has beaten their PLAYOFF opponents by a differential of 43-5. Cinco Ranch will be the next to feel the wrath of Katy. In their two meetings, Katy has beaten Cinco by a combined score of 24-2.
PREDICTION: Tigers rough up the Cougars in a sweep
CLEAR SPRINGS VS PEARLAND
Two Words – Emma Strood. The LSU-signee is dominating again as a senior on the mound and at the plate for Clear Springs. The Chargers can demoralize teams. See Anna Soles, Claire Pollack, Emma King and Eryn Polite. That’s a Murderer’s Row. This is going to set up a huge Regional Semis against Katy.
PREDICTION: Chargers charge on to play Tigers next week
SEVEN LAKES VS GEORGE RANCH
Who is going blink first? Both teams have first-year head coaches to their respective programs and their teams haven’t been here in years. Seven Lakes plays in a tougher district night in and night out, but Ranch has a more balanced team. The wild-card is super-stud Amy Abke, who has been unhittable on the mound for the Spartans.
PREDICTION: Seven Lakes is hot and will advance with Abke leading the way
DEER PARK VS BRAZOSWOOD
Don’t sleep on Deer Park. The defending State Champs are rolling again, quietly. The Deer are 35-3 on the season and are just so fundamentally-sound at the plate and in the field.
Deer Park pitcher Madison Applebe is the leader of the bunch. Brazoswood counters with Taylor Meier at the plate and Peyton Tanner on the mound.
PREDICTION: Deer Park remains the Queens of South Houston
THE WOODLANDS VS GRAND OAKS
Sister-Sister. The Woodlands had to come back from an 0-1 deficit to knock off Langham Creek in three games. The Highlanders are led by sisters Saylor Davis and Chesney Davis on the mound and Alannah and Gabby Leach at the plate. Interesting note… Grand Oaks swept the Highlanders in district play. So, what gives?
PREDICTION: It’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, but Grand Oaks will advance
BRIDGELAND VS CYPRESS RANCH
The Bears swept the ‘Stangs in district play, going 30-6 overall and 13-1 in district. Haylie Stum is the straw that stirs the drink at the plate. Lilli Piersons can drive the ball out of the park at any time. Sydney Jackson and Makenzi Jenkins anchor the Bridgeland pitching staff. For Cypress Ranch, Molly Yoo is red hot right now on the mound and in the batter's box. The lefty can play anywhere on the field and sprays the ball all over the park.
PREDICTION: Bridgeland outlasts Ranch in 3 games
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!!! The Lady Panthers defeat Calallen 10-3 to win the programs second #UILState Championship | @KaciWestttt @SoftballLP @libertypanther1 pic.twitter.com/hF29x1Eca0— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) June 5, 2021
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."
TROPHY TIME: @SoftballLP receives the 2021 UIL Class 4A State Championship trophy. | @libertypanther1 @KPRC2RandyMc @HTownHSS @KaciWestttt @KPRC2Ari @TXPrepSoftball pic.twitter.com/GQJX3n6vN9— VYPE Houston (@vypehouston) June 5, 2021
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.