Lady Tiger rings

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008

South Panola fastpitch head coach Ashleigh Hicks recognized Jo Blair as the fastpitch fan of the year at the state championship ring ceremony Saturday. The Panolian photo by Myra Bean

Lady Tigers culminate year with rings

By Myra Bean

Making state championship rings takes time and the players who earn them have to go on with their lives until the rings are made.

The South Panola Lady Tigers won their second straight state championship back in May, but the season truly ended when they received the rings to culminate the years of hard work at a luncheon last Saturday afternoon.

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Head coach Ashleigh Hicks took the crowd present to witness the passing out of the rings through some statistics the team had amassed the past two years.

They had a 63-8 two-year record and laid claim to a back-to-back state Gatorade softball player of the year in Whitney Kiihnl.

They are the first 5A team to win back-to-back state championshipos. They are north state champs for two years running.

In 2007, the Lady Tiger team won the district championship and was runner up in 2008. Four of the nine graduates received collegiate scholarships to continuing playing; Kiihnl, Casi Brooks, Kasey Kelsay and Haylei Plummer.

Numerous players have been picked as Chickasaw Conference players.

South Panola was ranked No. 25 by USA Today and received a scholar athlete award as a team.

They are ranked 50th in the nation by weighted GPA by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).

Chosen as All-star from 2007 was Leann Parrish and from 2008 were Kiihnl and Brooks. Hicks coached the 2008 north All-Star team.

The first person recognized at the banquet was Jo Blair as the fastpitch fan of the year. She went to every game and fed the team each week, according to Hicks.

Assistant coach Laci Elliot announced she is going back to school and will not be coaching next year.

Though nine players graduated this past year, Hicks said the team this year is ready to take on the challenge and prove they can hold up the standard set by the past two teams.

Hicks, along with assistant coaches Elliot and Ame Fletcher, then passed out the rings to the beaming players for a job well done.