The 2016 softball season was a winning season by all standards. The team finished with 20 wins and only 6 losses, won their region, and making it to Sweet Sixteen. Additionally, 13 Mustangs were named All-Region, including Coach of the Year, Player of the Year, and Pitcher of the Year. But if you ask any of the players on this year’s Varsity Softball team, the most important win of the season was coming together and becoming a family.
This sentiment was evident at the end-of-season banquet on November 28th. The players were all dressed up to celebrate our successful year and to all be together one last time. The mood was festive as we gathered around to sign the picture frames given as a gift to each senior. Everyone hustled to the buffet line and ate off the taco bar with gusto. We laughed until we cried as we watched a video montage of the season…and then, as Coach Chapman and Coach Whittemore took the stage to hand out the awards, real tears began to fall.
Senior Paige Oliver’s voice cracked as she spoke into the mic: “I’m not ready to give up the game I love” she told the audience as tears streamed down her cheeks. For Oliver, who holds the team’s highest batting average at .438 and was recently named “Region Player of the Year”, the end of the season came way too soon. She told the underclassmen to “play every game like it’s your last. Make sure you enjoy it.”
As the speeches went on, everyone reminisced about the season, both the highs and lows. The ultimate high was beating Hillgrove twice and going on to win the Region Championship, and the ultimate low was losing to South Forsyth, on our home field, one out away from reaching the Elite Eight.
If you ever witnessed this team at a practice, you’d find them working hard but also staying relaxed. While the music is blasting through the speakers, every once in a while, somebody would break into a little dance. On game days, we also relaxed to the pregame music and enjoy the pregame meals that are laid out on a table in the middle of the locker room. And here, while the music is blaring, we prepare to face their foes. This is where the bonding happens; in the everyday little things that make up a team. This team shared secrets, they told stories, they cried together, they worked together, and they supported each other. That is how this team became a family, and that is what made this season so great!