The West Liberty High School softball teams season ended on a high note Wednesday at the Class 3A state tournament in Fort Dodge, with a 7-4 victory over Estherville-Lincoln Central, as Coach Chad Libby’s Comets ended a 2021 campaign with their 24th win of the year.
The win came on Wednesday. July 21, after a disappointing 10-0 loss to favored Williamsburg in the opening round of the state classic. Williamsburg went on to finish third in the tournament, losing to 36-4 Mount Vernon 6-2 in the semi-finals before taking a 3-0 win over Atlantic in the third place game to finish with a 33-11 record.
Davenport Assumption, the top ranked team, stood up to their ranking with a 10-5 win in the championship game to win the title, coming from a 5-1 deficit with three runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth to win. Assumption, which eliminated West Liberty last year, beat Atlantic 12-0 to get into the title match.
Estherville-Lincoln Central (ELC), who was shut out by Mount Vernon in the opening round 7-0, wasted no time scoring in the opening frame to jump ahead of the Comets early, taking a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first. The Comets struck back in the bottom half of the inning, getting an RBI triple from sophomore Finley Hall, scoring sister Pearson to knot the game back up at one a piece after the first.
The ELC bats could not be silenced, as again in the second, they loaded the bases and pushed across a run before adding another in the third to take a 3-1 lead.
The Comet bats came alive in the bottom of the third as the team rallied for five runs to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Finley Hall made her presence known again, the catcher launching a ball deep to center and scoring both of her sisters for her third RBI of the day. She then scored on a sacrifice fly from Janey Gingerich. Kylie Struck helped get two more runs across later in the inning with a single giving the Comets a 6-3 advantage after three. Both teams scored another run a piece in the fourth before retiring peacefully to close out fantastic seasons for both ball clubs.
Janey Gingerich took to the circle. In her final game as a Comet, the senior hurler fanned four batters while giving up eight hits and three earned runs in five and a third innings of work, getting relief help from Sailor Hall, who gave up two hits and struck out a pair while giving up no runs to get the save.
Gingerich walked off the field hand in hand with senior teammate and friend Isabel Morrison, who went one for three at the plate in her final game as a Comet. Junior Sailor Hall went three for three in the game from the batter’s box to lead the Comets’ eight hit attack while her sister, Finley, got two hits in three at-bats.
The Comets ended the season 24-9 and 13-4 in River Valley Conference play. The Comets graduate three seniors, Gingerich, Morrison and Martha Pace, and will return the majority of their roster next season, including four eighth graders. Estherville-Lincoln Central finished their season at 23-10.