Most Winslow High School baseball and softball fans know that I love both games but spend most of my time at the softball field when both teams are in action. There are several reasons for this. Softball is a faster game.
The main reason, however, is probably that my granddaughter, Juliet Sullenberger, was a softball player and during her years in high school and Little League, I grew to know and like many of the players.
The Winslow Little League Senior Girls All-Star Team won the state championship in Juliet’s last season (2003). We followed the team to Tucson and Las Vegas and transported some of the players around town and to and from the games. Many of the same players were part of the 2004 Winslow High School team that came within an eyelash of reaching at least the state high school semi-finals.
It was a real disappointment to see this year’s Winslow Lady Bulldogs squad eliminated in the first round of the state tournament. Every team but one ends its season with a loss, unless it is not good enough to even make the playoffs. Most would believe they were good enough to go further than they did. I really thought this team had the potential to win a state championship. It wasn’t to be.
Many of the players took the loss hard, something you would expect of a real competitor. Time will heal the hurt of that loss and the memories of the 24 victories will be what will be cherished. In many ways, this was a less painful defeat than the 1-0, extra inning loss last season.
I am going to miss watching some of my favorite players perform. Sarah Ragnoli was one of the most intense players you would ever want to see. She is also a person who cares about her teammates and, unapologetically, one of my favorites.
Tessa Ramsey has all of the tools and the heart of a champion. She was fast, had a good arm and swung a potent bat. It just won’t seem the same to see a Winslow High team without Tessa in center field.
Anna Pacheco did not get a lot of playing time until her senior year. The job she did as catcher for the Lady Bulldogs was remarkable. She stepped in as a replacement for the graduated Nicole Curnutte, 3A North Region Player of the Year and a four year starter.
Amazingly, there was no drop off there. Anna proved just as good a ball player as she is a person. And that is saying something because you won’t meet a better young lady anywhere.
Tahmie Smith and Amanda Wilcox rode with us in Las Vegas and are special people. Tahmie gave the Lady Bulldogs a strong mound presence after missing the 2004 high school season. Much like Pacheco, she was replacing a pitcher who had been a workhorse and the team’s MVP.
Frances Lewis stepped into a starting role and provided some timely hits. She paid her dues on the junior varsity and made the most of her opportunity when it came.
Next year will see another good Lady Bulldogs team take the field, but the ones leaving will be missed. Most have seen their too brief softball careers end, but for those who go on to play at the next level, may you have great success. For all of these girls, let me wish them a happy and prosperous future.