As the late afternoon sun slowly dipped below the horizon Tuesday at Faulkner Park in Tyler, there was a soaking-wet head softball coach and a team of excited young Jacksonville Fightin' Maidens that had streaks of white chalk smeared across their faces, uniform tops and pants, milling around the infield, in no hurry to board the team bus for the ride back home.
After leveling John Tyler, 13-1, in five innings, the Maidens had earned the fourth and final playoff berth out of District 16-4A and it was time to celebrate.
This is the first time in the 13-year history of the program that a Jacksonville club has qualified for post season play in softball.
Shortly after having a cooler of ice water dumped on her by her overjoyed charges, Jacksonville head softball coach, Amber Danner-Kirk, shared her thoughts on her team's accomplishment.
“I think that this is a blessing and that the glory goes to God,” she said. “I'm excited for these girls and for their ability to accomplish their goal (making the playoffs).
“It's one thing to imagine something happening and another in being able to go out and make it happen, and I am very proud of them for making this happen.”
The Maidens not only won the game by a dozen runs, but they did so with a forcefulness that had not been seen in ages from a Jacksonville team as the Maidens struck for 14 hits, seven of which were of the extra-base variety.
Jacksonville hitters ripped three home runs, three doubles and a triple.
Taylor Whitaker knocked the proverbial cover off of the ball Tuesday. Her first-inning double scored Jacksonville's first three runs of the game and she followed that up with a two-run home run over the center field fence in the third stanza.