The Panther Press

The End

SoftballGreg Higgins
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There are books we read as children and as adults where we do not want the story to end. Sometimes it's because we don't like the outcome and sometimes it's because the story is just too good to finish.

This was the case with the North Lamar Pantherettes softball season. Win or lose, the story was over on Saturday afternoon. It was a story that began a long time ago. Years and years of traveling and practicing had led up to the moment in Austin on Saturday morning. The story had many different characters and many different plot twists.

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This story was a story of a strong group of girls that believed. They believed in each other when others wouldn't. They believed in the power of unity and strength in numbers. It was a story in which a group of girls found themselves with their backs to the walls on numerous occasions and, against all odds, found a way out.

Some of the chapters of this book include finding their identity. A chapter in which they had to struggle through District Play to find out who they are and what they're made of. There was a chapter on adopting the motto. Their motto is so clearly understood now, but at the time only a few people realized the significance of "No Quit."

Another chapter is about slaying the beast. It's a David and Goliath approach to the season. On the way to Austin, this group of 14 girls defeated Atlanta, Needville, Krum and Pleasant Grove. Those four teams were ranked 10, five, three and two in the State at the time of the playoff meeting.

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The final chapter of this book is called Standing Tall. This group of girls had the ability to live in the moment. Because of this, they always stood tall. They represented their school, their coaches, their teachers, their parents and their community with dignity and honor every time they took the field. No matter who they played nor the outcome, this group of 14 stood tall.

On Saturday, the story didn't end as we wanted. As La Grange celebrated their 8-1 victory, the Pantherettes stood by the dugout hugging each other. The number one team in the state and the number four team in the nation had just won a State Title.

As the team received their runner-up trophy and their silver medals, I couldn't help but think about everything they've been through. The battles. The extra innings. Even though they lost on Saturday, they did what 126 other teams couldn't do. They made it to the end. When the playoffs started 128 teams made the cut. North Lamar played in the final game of the season because they deserved it.

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The team will be losing two outstanding young women. Jaycie McEwin and Bill Jones walked across home plate and received their diplomas in Austin. The second baseman and the right fielder played their last game as a Pantherette. They will go on to live their lives and do incredible things. How do I know this? Because they're leaders. They do the impossible. They've shown that the past four months with a softball team that played on the biggest stage in the biggest moment, and they stood tall.

As far as the rest of the team, well here they are. Doing the introductions is the UIL Public Address Announcer. This is your 2016 State Runner-Up North Lamar Pantherettes: