As you know, I could go on for days about how much I love this team and group of girls, but our season came to a close Saturday in Orange Grove in the middle of a corn field like you’ve seen in the movies.
We can’t thank all of you enough for the love and support as we took the opening game 7-0 Friday night in front of an awesome home crowd. The girls were aggressive and put a lot of pressure on the Orange Grove defense en route to the shutout. Saturday, we jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a Carli Diver homerun and carried a 6-3 lead throughout the middle of the game before falling 8-6. It certainly stung, but the girls did a great job of regrouping and were ready for the game 3 showdown. Orange Grove found a way to silence our bats in a 5-0 final to take the series.
This team wraps up their 2016 season with a 25-7 record, a 9-1 district championship and a 3-2 record in the playoffs this season. My heart is so full, not just from watching these ladies compete and succeed on the softball field, but for the friendships, belief and unwavering trust they grew for each other during the course of our season. They love to be together and it shows.
We had a young team this year that did some amazing things and the returners are already talking about next year, but I have to talk about the legacy of Macy Smith and Carli Diver. The Leader News asked about what the two seniors meant to the program and our younger players and I told them there isn’t enough newsprint to remotely touch on all the outstanding merits of this duo. I’ve seen a lot of ball in my time and played with and against guys who ended up playing on tv and I’m not kidding or exaggerating when I say, these two are legends in this program. 4 year lettermen at 2 of the most crucial spots on the field that were leaders from day one in their actions, work ethics and personalities. They were the heart, souls and the engine of each one of their teams and they backed it up with stats that were off the charts year in and year out. Carli might have made 1 error a year in the field, exploded this year with 6 homers and was always good for a double in the gap right when you needed it. Macy was untouchable this year in the circle with 18 wins, over 160 strikeouts, a .400+ batting average and 11 homeruns. Teammates of all skill levels were drawn to them and would ask for help and listen to any tip or idea they might have had to maybe be just half as good as the person answering the question. Out of probably 100 different lineups in the their Lytle careers, you always knew who was going to be penciled in the 3rd & 4th spot on the card. That is the ultimate compliment for these two ladies. And yes, they are just as outstanding off the field also.
Our program wants to thank:
-everyone that made it out to a game or encouraged our team and players during the year
-the transportation and food teams that kept us fed and safe on all our trips
-ops for always helping us have the nicest facility in our district
-Beard’s Ag Shop for building screens to make our practices better
-our pen pals at the Elementary for reminding us that we’re all someone’s inspiration whether big or small
-everyone we may have missed that pushed us on our journey...
Personally I want to thank...Coach Hicks and Tilley for being amazing with our athletes. You can be friends and have fun in positions of leadership when you earn the respect and trust of your team and they are awesome at that!
Infinite thanks to my amazingly supportive and equally enthusiastic wife EJ who gets all the credit for being the best Team Mom in history (making sure we felt good, looked good, celebrated good!) as well as serving as our official in-game entertainment manager - this year’s sound effects and videos were over the top fun. Our joke is that she always wanted a little girl (sorry Maddux), but we ended up with a wonderful group of daughters after all.