After making it to the Elite Eight, the Lady Panthers wrapped up their season at 25-16, having no reason to hang their heads as they did not expect to make it this far.
“This was a rebuilding year for us so to finish second in the region was exciting. It was well deserved due to the work ethic. Our confidence grew as we got further and further. We have a different attitude since the beginning of the year. We’re content and happy with Elite Eight, but we didn’t want to stop,” said head coach Mickey Harper.
Chapel Hill played three games in the Elite Eight, beginning with Jackson County. The Lady Panthers defeated Jackson County 4-1 on Oct. 25, getting them one step closer to the finals.
Later that night, Chapel Hill lost to Buford 4-0, sending the Lady Panthers into a late afternoon game against Ringgold for their last chance at the finals.
“I believe Buford was the best team in the AAA classification and I felt we played them very hard and gave them one of their toughest games of the season,” Harper said.
As for the game against Ringgold, Harper had a different sentiment.
“We could have played a better game, but [we] did not execute on the small things,” Harper said.
There was some consistency in the games for Chapel Hill in pitcher Darby Demarest.
“She was effective on the mound. As the competition improved, so did she,” Harper said.
Demarest pitched 30 games for Chapel Hill this season with a record of 19-11, pitching 217 strikeouts.
Other leaders on the stat sheet were juniors Hannah Austin and Jordyn Hawthorne.
Austin, an outfielder, finished up the season with a .388 batting average, 127 at bats, 40 hits, 33 runs, 23 stolen bases and 14 RBIs.
Playing third base, Hawthorne finished up the season with a .349 batting average, 127 at-bats, 37 hits, 31 runs, 10 stolen bases and 27 RBIs.
Now that the season is over, Harper said there will be a banquet for the players. Then it’s time to prepare for next season.
“Next for the team is to soak up and enjoy the accomplishments from this season and honor our kids at a banquet. After that, we will begin to look at next season and work to fill a few holes left by graduating seniors and evaluate upcoming players from the eighth-grade class over the summer and early fall,” Harper said.