Two years after reaching the state tournament, the Conroe Oak Ridge softball team appeared ready to make a return trip to Austin and capable of coming home with a state championship this time. Sitting 21-1, 4-0 in district play, and ranked first in the state in Class 6A, the Lady War Eagles were the type of team coaches dream of having. “I hope I have another one like them, it’s rare, they’re very special, they have such good character and they play with heart,” said Oak Ridge Head Coach Stefani Rougeau.
- Senior Leftfielder Emily Lyons
“It was really nice to see all my teammates again because I missed them so much, we haven’t seen each other in so long so for us to celebrate senior night was cool.”
The Lady War Eagles smacked 40 home runs through the first 22 games and it seemed as though nothing could slow down this team. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shutting down schools and forcing the cancellation of nearly every sporting event in the nation. “It was really devastating,” said Senior First Baseman Kennedy Reynolds, “It was really hard for all of us.”
On April 17th, more than a month after the suspension of the high school softball season, the UIL officially announced the cancellation of all Spring sports and activities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The Lady War Eagles seniors were originally scheduled to play their final home regular-season game a day later, on April 18th.
The Oak Ridge community rallied behind this championship-caliber team, giving the Lady War Eagles the type of send-off they deserved: a championship parade through the neighborhood, while still maintaining social distancing guidelines.
“It felt like we were all together again, hopefully not for the last time, but it was really cool to still have that night,” said Senior Third Baseman Macy Cobb. Senior Leftfielder Emily Lyons added, “It was really nice to see all my teammates again because I missed them so much, we haven’t seen each other in so long so for us to celebrate senior night was cool.”
The Lady War Eagles have kept in touch throughout this process, using the popular app Zoom for regular meetings and hangouts. “It’s actually really funny chatting with them on Zoom, because getting to see all their personalities again and getting to talk to them is just a great feeling to know that they’re there for you,” said Senior Second Baseman Bailey Barrile.
While there’s no way of knowing if this group would have captured the state title, Oak Ridge’s juniors and underclassmen are determined to win the 2021 state championship for the Class of 2020.
“They didn’t get to fulfill the dream that we had, the goal, so we’re going to have to work really hard, it’s going to be a challenge next year to play without them,” said Junior Catcher Morgan Dutton. Regardless of what happens next season, this year’s squad had one final chance to celebrate everything it accomplished and appeared capable of achieving, thanks to the appreciation shown by the Oak Ridge community.
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