Madisonville softball honored members of the first ever team in the program’s history from 1994 on Friday prior to their postseason warmup game against Teague.
“It was great for the current players to see where it all began and show respect for those who started this journey,” said Madisonville softball coach Ashely Renner. “I was grateful to shake hands with the ladies who had the courage to get this thing going. Someone had to set the foundation and I think it was special for the town to see.”
The players in attendance from ‘Team One’ were Angie (Campbell) Pulido, Melissa (Nelson) Groholski, Stacy (Rogers) Williams, Lacie (Cobb) Blakley, Saundra (West) Elliot, Jenny (Campbell) Gonzalez and Cheryl (Ferguson) Pablo along with coach Dawn (Hensley) Read.
“We used to play at the city fields,” said Read, who was teaching at the junior high at the time. “There were a lot of rocks in the infield and I would line the foul lines beforehand. It’s unbelievable to see where they play now. I’m definitely jealous, but these girls deserve this. They deserve it just as much as the boys do.”
Read grew up playing softball and didn't like the fact that the girls where she worked didn't have a program, so she started one. The Mustangs had just one district opponent at the time and the first year coach called around extensively seeking opponents.
Most of the opponents they gained were bigger schools that had already had a softball program for five years or more. They won their two-team district and competed for a bi-district championship in just their first year.
“We would drive over two hours just to play softball,” said Read. “They didn't always go our way, but we had a great experience and a great community as far as the team was concerned. We still communicate and share a great bond which is why a reunion like this was possible.” The team was given gifts from the players of ‘Team 24’ and thanked by the high school for their contribution to the program.
The current Lady Mustangs will now begin their playoff push. They will take on the Robinson Rockets in the Bi-District round on Saturday.