On a warm afternoon, Sterlington head softball coach, Jay Hickman whispers to an assistant, “We were runner-up in 2017.”
Indeed, it was four years ago, when the Lady Panthers’ hearts were broken by Mangham, 3-2, the state championship, when Sterlington was in 2A. The team felt their chances were high of return in 2020 – but we all know what happened.
“We came up short the year before that, and then last year the season was canceled, which broke a lot of hearts on our team, ” says Hickman.
After a 21-11 season – to date, Jennifer Hickman’s seventh ranked team is set to face third ranked Jena. All this after sending the number two team in Class 3A home, in Kaplan.
“Definitely been a rush, ” says Katie Haynes, Sterlington’s pitcher. “But, it’s also been a big rush for everyone, we’ve been pumped.”
Coach Hickman has led many teams to success. But, this team is special in their own way.
“I have some of the best teammates I’ve ever had, ” says Ali Barnette, Sterlington’s catcher.
“They’re one of the best teams I’ve gotten to play with my three years at Sterlington High School, ” Haynes continues.
But, the Lady Panthers are playing for an injured teammate. Maddie Taylor was forced to miss the season, after tearing her ACL while playing basketball for Sterlington. That’s not stopping her spirit.
“Softball and sports is what I really want to do, ” says Taylor. “I really wanted to play with my team, my freshman year. But, I cheer them on, and I’m ready to see them win.”