On Thursday afternoon as McKayla Figueroa crossed home plate, the reality set in. This team, the North Lamar Pantherettes, had done it again. Six times this postseason North Lamar has come from behind to win a game when trailing in the sixth inning or later.
This isn't a surprise, though. Not with this team. Everything they do is about the team. From the seniors to the freshman, none of them play as individuals. They all know their roles and not one person complains.
Their "No Quit" motto is what they've become known for, but it's not what defines them. This team is more than just a group of comeback kids. North Lamar boasts one of the best defenses in the state from top to bottom. Whether it's Madison diving for a catch out of bounds or Bailee Nickerson gunning down a runner the team is defensively sound.
Most people know this, though. What the average person doesn't see is the encouragement shown in the dugout. When someone strikes out or pops out, the rest of the team is yelling encouragement to them. When Reagan Richardson walks a batter, Bailee is the first person to pick her up.
Something else unique about this team, though, is their superstitions. This team, like nobody I've ever seen, believes in rituals. Whether it's wearing the same clothes to eating the same meal, this team believes in their routines. Don't think it's the only the girls that believe, this either. Head coach Jimmy Fendley and assistant coach Kathy Barker lead the charge. Can you blame them, though? This team is one win away from a State Championship. Nobody will be able to convince them that their routine doesn't work.
Whether you believe it's the superstitions, the encouraging words or their "No Quit" motto, there's no denying this team is special. As they practice for the last time of the season on Friday morning, I tried to relish the moment. This team has given all of us who follow them a tremendous ride. These girls deserve to be playing in Austin and deserve to playing in the final game of the year. That's exactly what they'll be doing.