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Softball Coach of the Year: Chris Szocik, Liberty

Chris Szocik set the tone for his team to play hard to the end, and that resulted in Liberty winning its first state championship with a 3-2 victory over McDonough in the Class 2A title game.

Rebecca Oneto tied the game in the ninth with a single up the middle. Sammy Bost then stole third and home after the third baseman missed the tag for a walk-off victory.

"Our goal was to win the county title, but we knew we had a shot to go farther and we understood that anything can happen on a given day," Szocik said.

"A theme was to play hard to the end and not let failures get us down."

Liberty finished the season 21-2. Pitcher Mackenzie Thompson was a force all season and allowed just two runs on two hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks over seven innings in the state final.

"Thompson got stronger as the year went along; we started the year with seven errorless games and ended with great defense throughout the playoffs and some clutch hitting," Szocik said.

"The bottom of the order contributed more consistently toward the end of the year. We were able to stay positive despite being behind a few times, and we came back to win most times we were down."

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