ANDERSON — On a cold, windy night the last thing anyone would want would be a drenching with ice water.
But for Liberty Christian coach Jake Banwart, there was nothing better than being soaked by his team after Liberty clinched the Pioneer Academic Athletic Conference title with a 17-8 win over Anderson Prep Academy at Memorial Field Friday night.
“The last time I had that was when we won state,” said Banwart, who was an assistant with 1A state champion Daleville last spring. “A team with that talent level you expect to go far. When I got here there were many nights I would go home and my wife and I would think ‘how are we going to do this?’ “We had open gyms with only one or two showing up. As we got closer to the season we started to see more and they started to buy in and we saw a change in mentality and attitude.”
The Lions got off to a quick start, scoring two runs in each of the first three innings to lead 6-1. The Jets scored three in the bottom of the third to draw within two at 6-4 after the Lions committed three errors in the inning.
Errors were a common thread throughout the game as APA wound up with 15 and the Lions had seven.
The Lions pushed a run across in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Preston Grant and the Jets left two runners stranded in the bottom of the inning. Liberty was held scoreless in the fifth, the only time in the game that the Lions did not score at least one run.
APA drew within 7-6 on RBI’s by Tristan Williams and Phoenix King but Liberty plated three in the sixth and blew the game open in the seventh with seven runs.
“We are so much better than what we were earlier this season,” said APA coach Corey Scott. “We just make mistakes that are sometimes out of our control. I’m proud of our guys for not giving up but we just made too many fielding and throwing…