There are so many traditions that I could name that the Cranberry softball team has adhered to during the season.
We have lettuce in a container that we saved from breakfast before our first playoff game that, although it is moldy, serves us well as the lucky lettuce. It’s lived in our shortstop’s fridge for several weeks during our postseason run.
We have an old, tie-dye hat that was picked up off the side of the road by one of our seniors, and it now resides on the fence inside of every dugout we’ve played in. That stupid hat was thrown out the bus window, yet we went back for it because it meant that much.
We keep a bowl that contained spinach artichoke dip that came from an Applebee’s that we ate at after our first state playoff win next to the lucky lettuce in a good luck shrine of sorts.
Alongside the lucky lettuce is a playing card, the seven of spades, that we found on the dugout floor before one practice, and it, too, became a good luck charm.
We always scream our signature cheer, “Razoo,” before every single game, attempting to rock the field with only the sound of our voices.
But the tradition that stands out the most to me today is the tradition of listening to the song “Landslide” by the Dixie Chicks on the last bus ride home of the season.
It’s not until this song resonated through the bus and teardrops roll that I truly realized how remarkable of a team I have been blessed with.
From the outside, we may look like a fierce bunch of girls, but on the inside, we are so much more.
When I asked Andrea Watson if she had anything to say after today’s heartbreaking loss, she said, “I know everyone says the ideal softball team should have an unbreakable bond and act as a family.
"This team is the strongest family I know of. I’m so proud to be a part of it. We did it together. Every single person gave 100 percent effort, and I’m glad we could make school history.”
And that’s exactly the feat that CHS softball was able to do this year: go further in the state tournament than any team has ever gone before.
To be honest, we struggled in the beginning of the season with injury, illness, and just downright tough losses. Before the postseason, we stood with a record of 15-5.
“We have faced so much adversity, but we never let that get to us,” Malliah Schreck said. “We would not have reached as far as we have without every single person on our team. They all contribute so much and so do the coaches. Without them this would not have been possible. I would not have wanted to accomplish this with any other team.”
Cranberry seemed to assume the underdog role, but that’s exactly how we like it. At the beginning of the year, we weren’t even sure if we would win the D9 Championship.
“I would have giggled if someone told me at the beginning of the season we would make it to the final four in the state. We had some issues and road blocks we had to get past at the beginning,” Rachel McCauley said.
And that seemed to be the general consensus. No one on the team ever envisioned us making it this far.
“When we started the season,” Carley Shreck said, “I didn’t see us making it into the semifinals, but look where we’re at now. We had a great season and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to play on such a great team for four year.
"One thing is for sure, we never expected the community to rally behind us as it did. The outpour of support that we have received is unparalleled to anything we’ve ever had before.
Coach Glen Barcinas wants the community to know about the team is "a fun-loving bunch, that’s for sure. They test the coaches' patience sometimes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Even though I’d characterize us as a group of upbeat ladies, it was an emotional end that brought many tears.
“This season was nothing like I expected," Tamaria Flinspach said. "I have been a part of the softball team for six years, and this season does not compare to any of them. I am so sad to say goodbye to everyone.”
Everyone looks at us on the field and sees this group of amazing softball players, but as I sit, surrounded by my teammates, all that I can think about is the side of us that no one sees.
I see early morning practices, bus ride jam sessions, inside jokes, laughing until we cry, and crying until there are no more tears left.
I see five seniors, off to do terrific things for the world.
I see my very best friends, my sisters, huddled together on the pitcher’s mound at DuBois, screaming because we repeated as D-9 champs for the first time ever.
I see the motivational messages that come through the group chat after a tough loss, and a team that never lets any one of its members stay down.
I see girls who bicker and argue but come together on the field and work as one unit.
Together, we read our names in the paper, scour over scouting reports and smile as we make the front page.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to read our stats in the newspaper, watch us on the field, and come up with an image of who you think our history-making team is.
But luckily, I don’t have to imagine, because I know who we are.
We are just a group of girls whose love for the game has brought us together in ways unexplainable.
We are the girls who decided to be the difference.