Mr. Speaker, for the first time in Liberty High School history, the Lady Panthers Softball team is the Texas UIL State Class 4A Softball Champions. On Saturday afternoon, they defeated the Vernon Lady Lions in Austin with a score of 3–1. 

Congratulations to the Liberty High School Softball Team and the City of Liberty. Liberty’s rich history of rugged Texas pioneers who settled near the Trinity River spans more than 180 years. 

Today, Liberty continues to live up to its rich legacy and community spirit. Liberty is home to Liberty Independent School District which provides outstanding educational opportunities for students. 

But Liberty was missing one thing, a team State Champion. Jerry Michalsky, sports editor with local newspaper The Vindicator, has been a sports writer for over 24 years and never been able to cover a State Champion. 

His dream came true this past weekend. Liberty County radio station KSHN 99.9 FM streamed the game live from Austin. The one and only, passionate, Bill Buchanan gave a play by play for fans who were unable to make the trek to Austin. 

My friend and past Liberty Church of Christ preacher, Jonathan Sanford (now announcer for the San Antonio Spurs), was the announcer at McCombs Field. He gave the play by play live on Saturday. 

Mary Anne Campbell, President of the Liberty Dayton Area Chamber, kept the fans back at home up to date with her Facebook postings. Folks in Liberty rallied behind a young team of girls who made championship history one game at a time. 

For the last 13 years, Liberty High School Head Coach Karen Slack has dreamed of a State championship team. She genuinely cares for her players and wanted to see Liberty relevant when it came to softball. 

Her team’s record is impressive. In an interview earlier this week, Coach Slack said, ‘‘These girls have no fear in them at all and this stage never even bothered them.’’ 

Coach Slacks’ passion along with Assistant Joe Slack and Katherine McAdams will continue to guide the Lady Panthers far beyond a State title. The leadership of a coach not only improves an athlete’s performance but works to instill values of hard work and discipline.

The community is proud of Coach Slack for all her accomplishments as a coach and a leader. Congrats to Liberty High School’s State Championship team: Jo McGinnis, Mikaelah Burkland, Bailey Webb, Kennedy Evans, Kamryn Turner, Abbie Knepper, Molly Barnette, Jaylen Prichard, Karli Beam, Baylee Chandler, Sarah Lopez, Kara Cannon, Harley Davis, Abby Phillips, and Kaci West.

Saturday evening, hundreds of fans decked out in black and gold, waving flags and noise makers, welcomed the Lady Panthers home. The Lady Panthers were escorted to the Liberty County line from Austin by the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. 

Dayton Police Department picked up the team at the Dayton City limits then Liberty Police Department picked them up at the Dayton-Liberty City limits. They were escorted all the way to the pavilion behind City Hall in downtown Liberty.  

The outpouring of support from the City of Liberty and surrounding communities was in true fashion of Panther Pride. Way to go Panthers.

And that’s just the way it is.