La Grange (Texas) spent a portion of the season atop the USA TODAY High School Sports/National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Super 25 softball rankings, but dropped a few spots after a May 13 loss.
The Leopards didn’t lose again and went on to win their second UIL Class 4A state title in three years.
And now they can add Super 25 national champion to the story of the 2016 season.
La Grange moved from No. 3 to No. 1 in the final rankings released Thursday.
RELATED: Final Super 25 rankings
The Leopards finished 41-2 and won the state title with an 8-1 victory against North Lamar (Paris, Texas). Senior Briana Angel was named the game’s MVP after she went 2-for-2 with four RBI and scored two runs.
Since the loss to Hargrave in the second game of a best-of-three series in the regionals, La Grange outscored the opposition 43-10, but five of those runs were scored by Hargrave in the decision third game.
The journey to the state title was an emotional one as the team dedicated the season to Emily Fritsch, a freshman student athlete at the school who passed away during the fall semester. When the team finally captured a UIL state title, it presented an official state title medal and plaque to Fritsch’s parents, who were pulled along to become involved in the team’s emotional ride through the state playoffs.
Grand Terrace (Calif.) defeated Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 5-2 to capture the CIF Division 3 Southern Section Championship and moved up three spots to finish the year at No. 2 in the Super 25.
Eagle (Idaho), which had been No. 1, finished No. 3 after perfect season (29-0) that included the 5A state title in Idaho. Unbeaten Bald Knob (Ark.), the three-time Arkansas 3A state champion, finished at No. 4 with a 36-0 mark. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) is No. 5, moving up one spot in the final rankings.
Keller (Texas) was the highest-ranked newcomer in the final rankings at No. 12. Keller beat previously ranked Atascocita (Humble, Texas) and Pearland (Texas) to win the Texas 6A Championship. The win gave Keller its third state title and its first in 10 years.
Other newcomers to the final Super 25: No. 13 Immaculate Heart Academy (Washington Township, N.J.), No. 17 Fitch (Groton, Conn.), No. 23 West Forsyth (Clemmons, N.C.), No. 24 Lakewood (Hebron, Ohio) and No. 25 Lee Davis (Mechanicsville, Va.).
Fifteen states were represented in the final Super 25. California had five teams, Florida had four and Texas had three.