The Lady Knights proved last yearâ€™s trip to the 1A Final Four was not a fluke.
With Fridayâ€™s Quarterfinal victory, itâ€™s believed North Lincoln becomes the first school to make it to the Final Four in the first two years of existence.
Also by returning to Walnut Creek, North Lincoln (14-8) is the only returnee from last yearâ€™s Final Four.
â€œWe used both of those things for motivation,â€ head coach Rick Brown said.
Fridayâ€™s victory provided something more significant. Cherryville, known as one of the top softball programs in the state, passed the torch to the fiery â€˜git-r-doneâ€™ team from Pumpkin Center.
While thatâ€™s just an opinion, the facts seem to support the claim. For the second consecutive year, the Lady Knights have eliminated the Ironmen from the 1A State Playoffs.
While Cherryville coach Lynn Hicks probably wonâ€™t admit a transfer of power, sheâ€™s pleased North Lincoln has hit the scene.
â€œBeing 1A, itâ€™s hard to find competition sometimes. Iâ€™m glad weâ€™re still going to get to compete against them. That can only make us better,â€ she said.
Whether a newcomer or a veteran, a player is pleased to be one of the four best teams in the state.
â€œIt feels great! Two years in a row that weâ€™ve gone to the Final Four,â€ senior shortstop Lindsey Smith, who had went 2-for-4 with two RBIs said.
â€œWe came in played really well as a team. We stayed focused and helped each other through it when some of us were doing bad,â€ freshman Kayla Alexander, who went 1-for-4 with two RBIs said.
â€œIt was a good experience for me. I had a pretty good game and Iâ€™m just really glad I get to go to the Final Four and actually play as a freshman,â€ Alexander said.
One veteran was so amped up about a possible return to Walnut Creek, she couldnâ€™t settle down until she turned to her faith.
â€œEvery single pitch in the second inning I was like, â€˜Dear God help me relax.â€™ Every single pitch and I took a deep breath and it really helped me to pitch my game,â€ junior Nicole Baxter, who was a 1A All-State selection as a sophomore, said.
The scary fact for Southern Foothillsâ€™ opponents and thing most to be excited about for the Knightsâ€™ faithful is the youth North Lincoln possesses.
Nicole Hall, Calah Bynum and Smith are the only seniors on this yearâ€™s team.
The Lady Knightsâ€™ top two hitters are only sophomores: Courtney Feldon (.450 BA) and Jenna Torbert .440).
Feldon, who left East Lincoln in favor of North, canâ€™t believe sheâ€™ll play in the Final Four as a sophomore.
â€œItâ€™s the opportunity of a lifetime. Iâ€™ll remember it always.â€
They will return with April Wilson, McKenzie Harkey as the teamâ€™s four juniors.
Alexander, a power hitter who also possesses speed, returns as a sophomore. Amanda Snyder, Amanda Leonard, Taylor Ewing and Kim Shoemaker also will be sophomores.
While the future looks to hold plenty of opponents who are going to feel the â€˜Git-r-doneâ€™ wrath, North Lincoln hopes to get one more thing done this weekendâ€”a state championship.
by John Mark Brooks