By DANNY P. SMITH
The 2011 fast pitch softball season for the East Webster Wolverines was a success.
Even though there was disappointment on faces and several tears shed after the Wolverines failed to win the Class 2A state championship on Saturday at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland, the season was one to remember.
East Webster was in a position to captured the state title under a first-year head coach in Meleah Brown and after not making the playoffs in 2010.
"I'm so proud of the girls," Brown said. "They give everything they've got."
Even though the 9-3 loss to Enterprise-Clarke will sting for a while, the Wolverines' run toward the state championship series served as a source of encouragement in the face of adversity.
Several weeks ago, a tornado swept through the school's campus in Cumberland which caused major damage.
East Webster principal Bill Brand said the softball team sparked a positive feel throughout the community.
"We've been through a lot the last three weeks and for our softball team to compete and play like they have, it was good for us," Brand said. "It's quite an accomplishment to get to this point. I know they are disappointed but they had a great year and coach Brown did a great job with them."
The Wolverines, who finished the season with a record of 20-8, swept through the playoffs with series wins against county-rival Eupora, then also defeated Mantachie and Hatley to reach Ridgeland.
East Webster ran up against a tough customer in Enterprise-Clarke pitcher Hayleigh Harper, but didn't back down from the challenge. It just wasn't meant to be as Enterprise-Clarke defended its title.
The Wolverines were going for their fifth state crown in six years after winning four-straight from 2006-2009.
East Webster has established a tradition in fast-pitch softball and expect the program to be right back in contention for the postseason again next season.
The Wolverines only lose two seniors and granted they are two great players in Swayze Hollenhead, a Mississippi State signee, and Cayley McClellan, there's enough talent returning to keep on winning.
"I was able to play with my older sister and younger sister," Hollenhead said. "This is going to help (the returning players) and I told them they'll come back. I know they will."
It's that kind of confidence coming from a departing senior that will serve East Webster well as it moves forward.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.