MIDLOTHIAN — The Lady Panthers' rage through the ranks of the 5A softball ranks — it's first in a handful of years — ended at the hands of postseason Cinderella Mansfield Lake Ridge High School.
A week later, Midlothian High School paired its end-of-season banquet honoring the junior varsity blue and white teams and the varsity team with the celebration of Cindy Williams' career at Bella Woods Event Center.
"Looking back, it was a fun and successful season shared with a great group of kids and parents. We had a lot of good memories in practice, games, team dinners, bus trips," said Alejandro Lozoya, the MHS head softball coach. "Sadly, we've had to say goodbye to Cindy. She has served the needs of student athletes for more than 20 years as a head coach in cross country and basketball and mentor to so many more."
Williams, who's also served as an MISD trustee for 15 years, was the head cross country coach as well as an assistant on Joey Foster's track and field staff and was a key assistant on a Lady Panther team that went 19-8 overall and 11-3 in District 10-5A. She will pursue a full-time career in special education and working with the special needs community.
They also awarded the team's superlatives, naming junior Shelby Noah the team MVP, Capell its Offensive Player of the Year, junior Annabel Anderson its Defensive Player of the Year and junior Tatum Sorrels the Most Improved Player of the Year.
Junior Alexis Perez and Freshman Kaylee Hlavaty were the Newcomers of the Year and Seniors Jayna Briscoe and Emari Hudson earned the Lady Panthers' Heart and Hustle Awards.
It wasn't just a farewell for Williams, though. The banquet also hailed the end of the careers of Briscoe, Capell, Cupples, Hudson, Lindsey Barnes and Savannah Splawn. Under their guidance and aid, Midlothian constructed a cumulative 66-48-1 overall and 36-14 District 7-5A, District 8-8A and District 10-5A records.
During that timeframe, Midlothian has reached the playoffs four consecutive years and won three bi-district titles and one area title.
"To our seniors, Emari, Skyler, Lindsey, Jayna, Savannah Splawn and Georgia, I thank them for four years of hard work and commitment. They are a big part of our culture restructuring that has made it possible to see them leave as leaders and outstanding individuals," Lozoya said. "Because of their leadership, we finished as a regional quarterfinalist and district runner-up this season. Our pitcher Shelby Noah was named District MVP and Georgia Capell was named Offensive Player of the Year. We saw some of our newcomers grow and make immediate contributions while our returners from last year made great strides. Based on how our district did not only Region 2 but week in and week out in district play, we know that next year will be tough. With nine out of 10 starters returning, we are looking forward to preparing for the challenge. There will be a lot of excitement going into the 2018 season."
He noted being blessed to see Capell play and having the opportunity to coach her, saying she will go down as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — softball players and female student-athletes to ever go through Midlothian ISD.
There is a long list of stellar players to go through Midlothian and I believe she's up there," Lozoya said. "She's been a part of a process that's gotten better every year and on or influencing junior classes that have been bi-district champions, area Champions and now regional quarterfinalists. They've understood the opportunity to build on this season will depend on their attitude and effort into next season. I don't doubt that if we are blessed with health and enthusiasm, we will have a successful season. I also know that Georgia, Lindsey, Jayna, Skyler, Emari and Savannah will be with us in spirit every step of the way."
Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI