Liberty Christian Wins TAPPS

Liberty Christian Wins TAPPS

by Steve Gamel

Historically, the Liberty Christian baseball program has had its fair share of problems with Houston-area teams. But in a matter of one playoff run, the Warriors managed to exercise those demons – and then some.

Liberty Christian won its fourth state championship, and first since 2013, last month with a 6-4 win over Beaumont Monsignor Kelly Catholic. The win capped a postseason run in which Liberty beat Houston’s St. Pius X and St. Thomas to advance to the title game.

St. Thomas was previously responsible for ending Liberty’s season three times. Kelly bounced the Warriors from the playoffs a year ago.

“We definitely have our history with those schools,” Liberty Christian head coach Johnny Isom said. “When you map out the playoff bracket, you hope that you don’t face a Houston-area school until the state final – simply because they are so loaded every year. This is the first time where our entire playoff road was against those types of teams.

“These kids stepped up.”

The Warriors (29-12-1) previously won state titles in 2003, 2009, and 2013. This year’s run to the top included a 10-1 win over Pius followed by a come-from-behind 8-4 win over St. Thomas. In the title game, the team trailed Kelly 3-0 and were tied 4-4 before scoring two runs in the sixth inning to secure the win.

Corey McMann doubled in a run, and Joe Wolf singled in another.

“Kelly had their ace Thomas Burbank, and as we went through the lineup a few times, I could tell we were getting better at-bats,” Isom said. “It also helped that Dawson Barr settled down on the mound for us and kept the score close. That allowed us to get back into the game.”

Liberty ended its season having won 13 of its final 14 games. The win over St. Thomas was particularly unusual given that the Warriors did not have their top two pitchers and starting catcher available for the game. Isom said he moved several players around in the lineup to make things work, and the Warriors answered by rallying from an early 3-1 hole.

“We were making plays everywhere,” Isom said. “They’ve ended our season before and had two really good pitchers; one is going to Texas and the other is going to Texas A&M. Our kids stepped up, though. It was great to see.”

Ironically, Liberty’s struggles against Houston-area teams hasn’t stopped them from winning it all in the past. In 2009, the Warriors beat Houston Second Baptist in the state final. In 2013, they beat St. Pius.

The 2003 title season is the only year where Liberty has not beaten a Houston-area program. They defeated Dallas Christian that year.

Isom said he’s excited about the future. Despite this being Liberty Christian’s fourth state title in baseball, the program is consistently in the mix year after year. Next year should be no different.

“It’s special to have been in the mix as much as we have been over the years,” Isom said. “I still can’t believe it.”


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