Thunderstorms were forecast Tuesday afternoon, but that didn't stop ace pitchers Maude McCourry, of Lansdowne High, and Liberty's Mackenzie Thompson from calming down the opposing hitters in the first three innings of the Class 2A state championship game at Bachman Park, in Glen Burnie.
The storms never did come, but the lightning sure did in the flash of speedy Liberty junior leadoff hitter Sammy Bost in the top of the fourth inning.
After McCourry (6 strikeouts) retired the first nine Lions, Bost easily beat out a slap hit to third base.
Two batters later she came around to score the first run of the game.
It was the only run the Lions would need, as they added another run in the fourth and four in the bottom of the sixth on the way to a 6-0 victory.
Liberty (20-2) next makes its first trip to the state finals since losing in 1983, in the school's only other state tournament appearance.
They will play McDonough on Friday, May 25, or Saturday, May 26, at the University of Maryland, College Park for the 2A state championship.
Lansdowne (14-7) went to the state finals two of the past three seasons and lost, but didn't quite make it this year in part because of the flashing speed of Bost on the bases and controlled zip of Thompson on the mound.
"I've never seen anyone that fast," said Landsdowne coach Jamie Izdebski, of Bost. "That girl is quick."
After Bost's infield single, Rebecca Oneto grounded to shortstop Audrey Melcher, but her throw to second was too late to force Bost, who was running on the pitch.
Bost and Oneto stole second and third on the next pitch and Natalie Gill plated the junior leadoff hitter on a ground out.
One out later, Rebecca Garcia's single up the middle scored Oneto to stretch the advantage to 2-0.
"In a game where both pitchers are so strong back and forth, all we needed was one run, and after that everything just pours out," said Bost, who led the Lions with a .576 average.
She fanned to open the bottom of the first, but was confident in her second look at the Viking ace, who struck out 181 batters in 100 innings through the regional tournament.
"I fouled a couple pitches off the first time and I knew I could see the ball well, so I just put it in play to help my team out," said Bost, who added two more hits and an RBI.
"She's a catalyst," Liberty coach Chris Szocik said. "She can unnerve the other team."
Meanwhile, Thompson was a figure of steely nerves on the hill.
"She is cool," Szocik said. "Baserunners don't seem to bother her because she stays focused."
The Vikings threatened in the top of the third when Sarah Rippin reached on a one-out infield hit and Sierra Romano walked with two out, but Thompson retired Audrey Melcher on a pop to shortstop.
In the fourth, Lansdowne senior catcher Sera Stull laced a double down the left-field line with one out.