FRENCHTOWN – The final three innings were the determining factor for the Florence Falcons, as the team scored 7 of its 9 runs in that span to defeat the Libby Loggers, 9-3, for the Class B/C softball state championship on Saturday. The state championship is Florence’s fourth in six years, and first since 2014.

Libby — who needed to beat Florence twice in the double-elimination state championship game — was hoping to pull of the same miracle it had in the Western B/C Divisional tournament. But pitcher Brianna Hoffman killed the Loggers’ dreams with a strikeout, her 11th in the Falcons’ championship victory.

The Loggers did control the lead twice in this game though. Following a Florence error, Libby scored the first run of the game in the opening inning. Then in the 4th, trailing 2-1, Alyssa Marshall’s double down (and nearly on) the left field line scored two more Loggers to give Libby a 3-2 lead with nine outs left.

But Florence responded immediately. Sophomore Shannon Byrne singled to drive in a run and tie the game at 3. Then later in the inning, Byrne scored on a fielder’s choice to give Florence a 4-3 lead, and then scored again in the sixth to extend that lead to 6-3. The Falcons scored three more runs in the seventh inning.

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Florence graduates just two seniors from its state championship team — Chloe Arthur and Kali Leibenguth. The rest of the team will return seeking another state title in 2018.

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