Jackson County’s softball season is over, but not without a strong, late push toward the state tournament.
The Panthers won two games of the region tournament losers’ bracket last week and nearly topped Dawson County Thursday before falling 4-2.
Jackson County finished at 16-11-2.
The season was nearly extended for a couple more games though.
The Panthers led 2-1 late against Dawson County thanks to a fifth inning blast over the right field fence from Madison Whitmire and a squeeze bunt from Mason Garland that brought home Haley Shinall.
Dawson County, however, responded with three runs in the top of the sixth to end the Panthers’ season.
“I honestly thought we were going to pull it out once Whitmire hit the homerun and then we scored,” coach Lisa Robinson said. “After watching Dawson, and talking to other coaches, it was apparent that if we put the ball into play, we could certainly score some runs and make some things happen. Each coach in our sub region that’s faced Dawson said gave us that advice.”
Robinson was disappointed the team didn’t fulfill its preseason goal of qualifying for state, but she said the group learned a lot at the same time.
“Since last season ended, I’ve been saying we will go to state this year,” she said. “With 100 percent certainty I anticipated to, especially after dropping down from AAA to AA. One thing is for certain, we may not have locked ourselves in for state playoff action, but as a team the girls grew and learned a great deal. They learned a great deal about the game of softball, how to run the bases, how little things create opportunities to win and how to finally hit the ball well.”
Robinson also put the season in a much larger perspective.
“I’ve been telling them all season, it will not matter five years from now if you struck out in the last game, or if you hit a home-run, or if you made three errors,” Robinson said. “What will matter is how you treated your teammates, if you worked together to achieve a common goal, if you realized that it’s not about who gets the credit for what’s accomplished - as long as it’s for the betterment of the team.”