• ZACK LEE/Staff HCHS’s Reagan Hart, No. 12, steps on third base for an out before making the throw to first for an attempted double play Wednesday.

Lady Raiders’ season ends with 4-1 defeat

Wednesday was a bit somber for the Habersham Central High School (HCHS) Lady Raiders softball team as they played their final game of the season, losing 4-1 to Apalachee High School (AHS) in Mt. Airy.

“It’s always tough playing a game like this ... when you know it’s the final game and you know there’s no chance to advance,” said HCHS Head Softball Coach Stephanie Thomas.

The Lady Raiders had an outside shot at making the playoffs entering the week, but that changed with a 6-1 loss to the Winder-Barrow High School Lady Bulldoggs Tuesday. With the loss, the Lady Raiders chance at making the playoffs was gone, and Wednesday’s game would serve as just a final chance at ending the season with a win.

Thomas said that all throughout the day leading up to the game, the mood was quiet.

“I could just tell all day – I saw them at school and ... I just think it was always in their mind that this was it,” she said, adding the mood carried over into pregame warmups. “They didn’t really talk a lot. They went through their pregame warmups and all that kind of stuff, but it wasn’t a lot of ... talking going on. I don’t know if they were just trying to be in the moment, or what.”

The Lady Wildcats scored one run in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Raiders tied the game with a run of their own in the second inning. AHS added one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and held the Lady Raiders scoreless to win 4-1.

Both teams had four hits in the game, with Kilee Thomas leading the Lady Raiders with two.

Kyla Quiles got the start on the mound for HCHS and pitched five-and-two-thirds innings, with Thomas pitching the final one-and-one-third innings.

Defensively, the Lady Raiders committed five errors, which Thomas attributed to the emotions of the game.

“We had some errors, but I think some of those errors came because of what type of night it was,” she said.

After the game, tears were shed and hugs were given as the Lady Raiders departed the field for the last time this season.

“When something you’ve done all your life comes to an end, and they know that they’re going to get up tomorrow and not have practice to go to, that’s tough,” Thomas said, adding it isn’t just hard for the players to handle. “It’s going to be tough for us, because that’s what we’ve been doing since June. It’s hard.”

Thomas said she told her departing seniors – Adelaide Askew, Jenna Smith, Paige Cook and Kylie Gray – that they will always have a place to call home.

“I told them that it stinks knowing this was their last game, but I’m really big on ‘Once a Raider, always a Raider,’” she said. “They’re always welcome.”

Thomas added that there are also plans to hold a few alumni games in the future, which she hopes the departing seniors will take part in.

“I hope several of them can be a part of that,” she said.

While the season is over, Thomas said this is just another chapter in the book.

“I just told them to enjoy the moment – it’s a chapter,” she said. “That’s the way you have to look at it. It’s a chapter, and it’s just time to move on to the next chapter.”

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