AUSTIN — UIL history was already made when Aledo softball became the first Class 4A/5A team to make it to Austin three consecutive years.
On Saturday, the Lady Cats made more history by becoming the eighth school to repeat as state softball champions after a 3-2 victory over Cedar Park Vista Ridge in the 5A state final at McCombs Field.
Aledo (23-1) led 3-0 before Vista Ridge (29-3-1) made a push in the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs, Maya Benologa singled in a run, then the Rangers had two on and the tying run at first base.
Vista Ridge’s Elizabeth Svienty blooped a single over Allie Arneson at shortstop to make it 3-2. Left fielder Kadyn Kirkpatrick noticed the pinch runner at first rounding second base and threw to Riley Sartain at third for the final out.
“I knew I had to get the ball in — that runner, I don’t know why she went, but as soon as she did, I had to make that play,” Kirkpatrick said. “I knew if I threw the ball to Riley, she would make the tag, so when I threw it I realized we won and ran for the dog pile.”
“It’s true what they say: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships,” Sartain added.
Aledo’s Lauren Craine (22-1) allowed two runs on five hits and struck out five on her way to title-game Most Valuable Player.
“It’s an awesome feeling, I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s really great to go out like this,” Craine said.
Aledo struck quickly on Sartain’s two-run home run to left in the first inning, her sixth of the season.
In the sixth, Aledo’s Landri Mays singled to right and Ashton Adkins scored from second after the right fielder couldn’t field the ball cleanly. Aledo led 3-0.
“That run was big — Landri driving it in. Nobody in the world works harder than her,” Aledo coach Jeff Lemons said.
It’s the Bearcats’ third title in program history, which includes a 2008 championship.
“Everybody made some type of play. Even if it doesn’t show up in the scorebook, everyone contributed,” Lemons said.
After six years, Lemons is stepping down as softball coach to spend more time with family and to coach golf at Aledo.