On Monday, July 15th, the West Liberty High School (West Liberty) girls softball team made history by winning their first ever Regional Championship. By beating Anamosa High School, the Comets secured their first State Tournament berth and look forward to creating even more history this week.
Going into the Regional Final, Chad Libby, the West Liberty girls’ softball coach, shared that the team knew they could do well against Anamosa, but that it would prove a tough game. “We’d played Anamosa twice. We played them once in June and once in July. They’re in our conference. . .. Anamosa was ranked eighth in the state in 3A and we were ranked 4th . . . We knew they were good. They’re a good hitting team and pretty good at pitching, so we knew our hands would be full.”
For the Comets, their first lead came in the bottom of the first inning. Libby recalls, “We had one of our kids on base and Austyn Crees hit a triple.” Later on, in the same play, Haylee Lehman scored a second run on an error.
In the first three innings alone, the Comets managed to cement the lead that allowed them to win the game, racking up seven unanswered runs. “That let us take control of the game,” asserted Libby. From there, the West Liberty girls’ softball team finished the game 7-2, clinching their Regional Championship and spot in the State Tournament.
After the game, Libby felt overjoyed with his team’s performance, and with all of the support the West Liberty community gave them. “We’re super excited for the West Liberty community. They supported us very well throughout the summer. With this being West Liberty’s first trip to Fort Dodge, it’s very exciting!” He also remarked that after watching the girls improve all season long that, “It’s a satisfying feeling knowing the girls’ hard work paid off.”
The West Liberty girls softball team will make their first State Tournament appearance on Tuesday, July 23rd, at 11:30 am against Treynor High School. Though the team has never tested their skills in the State Tournament before, Libby believes they have a strong chance to do well and possibly go all the way. “We feel pretty good. We’re the third seed in eight teams. All of the teams are excellent and any could win, so we have to stay on top of it.”
In particular, Libby feels that his players’ cool, calm, and collected approach to playing ball will help them do well in the high stakes environment of the State Tournament. “The girls are very self-motivating,” he reported. “They follow the same routines every game, and that helps them stay calm and avoid nerves.”
As the West Liberty girls’ softball team makes history by playing in their first State Tournament game this week, their fans back home in West Liberty and across Muscatine County will cheer them on. In an already groundbreaking season, the Comets success may just continue to make history all week long.