FORT DODGE, Iowa — It all unraveled for West Liberty's softball team in one half-inning Wednesday afternoon.
The fourth-ranked Comets pounced for a first-inning run and were even with second-ranked Louisa-Muscatine through 4 1/2 innings in a Class 3A state semifinal.
Then, it got away. Quickly.
The Falcons pieced together a six-run fifth inning, collecting three hits and capitalizing on a pair of Comet miscues to run away for a 10-2 triumph at the Rogers Sports Complex.
"We were pretty competitive, but one bad inning gave it to them," West Liberty pitcher Isabelle True said. "We lost our fight for a little bit."
Of the 10 runs L-M scored, eight were unearned. The only two charged against True came in the seventh inning.
West Liberty (29-6) had allowed six runs in a game just twice all season, let alone one inning. L-M had 11 hitters bat in the frame.
"Everyone was just so pumped on adrenaline and one thing fell," said Sailor Hall, who homered in the game. "We stopped playing as a team. When we're not having fun, we get very nervous and aren't fully ready for everything coming at us."
The Comets were dominant in a quarterfinal rout over Treynor. They couldn't duplicate that performance at the plate, in the field or in the circle.
True, who helped L-M claim a 2A crown last year, was coming off a no-hitter. The Falcons worked many deep counts early in game before squaring some pitches up later in the game.
"(Isabelle) usually struggles a little bit to get settled in but gets better as the game goes along," West Liberty coach Chad Libby said. "I think today (L-M) showed it was able to lock in it on that a little bit.
"It wasn't so much about them hitting her but us making mistakes."
West Liberty finished with six hits against L-M ace Hailey Sanders. It struck out seven times, the lowest total for Sanders in the postseason.
The Comets have an opportunity to close their historic season with a win. Libby's team faces Waterloo Columbus in the third-place contest at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
It is a chance for a 30-win season in the school's first trip to state.
"The community has been great for the kids and what they've done for the community is great," Libby said. "The way they've approached this week at Fort Dodge is exactly the way we wanted to.
"Our mantra this week is making girls history for West Liberty. It is important on Friday we come out and play aggressively like we did on Tuesday and hopefully the chips will fall our way."