Who's Gonna Fill the Lady Tide Shoes?
by Carey Meitzler
There's a country song that was made a hit by George Jones entitled “ Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes ”. The song depicts the
passing of the torch from one generation to another in regards to who will carry on the heritage of country music. I heard this
old favorite on the radio the morning after Picayune defeated Petal for the South State Slow Pitch championship. As I listened
and replayed the previous evening's Lady Tide heroics in my mind, I started to realize that the same notion from the song could
be placed on Lady Tide softball after this season.
From time to time, a group of individuals becomes a team and what seems to come about is gone in a flash. How it all comes
together is sometimes referred to as that hidden ingredient that no one can actually name or grasp. Unity. Cohesiveness.
Determination. Who knows what one word can describe “it”. Whatever it is, this group of Lady Tide slow pitch softball
seniors sure seemed to have had it.
Cassie Rabion, Sam Mitchell, Courtney Dickens, Chanel Wills, Breonne Spikes, Allison Bynum, Tara Dunn, Deawn Breland
Over the past two years, they have captured a 5A and 4A south state championship and came within one game of winning a
state championship twice, losing in Game 3 in both attempts. Their records, 24-5 in 2005 and 23-5 in 2004, and a 16 win
season the year before that are quite impressive. That equates to a lot of wins, but when we look under the hood of this group,
it is apparent why they are successful.
For a moment, forget about the exploits and accomplishments on the field. This group was something special in a lot of ways
According to Coach Kristi Mitchell, the overall grade point average for the seniors is 91.87. That's strong for any group
when finding time to play a sport and keep up your grades. But this group does more than just play slow pitch softball.
Check out the list of activities this group is involved with at PMHS.
Courtney Dickens, Allison Bynum, Tara Dunn, and Cassie Rabion also play fast pitch in the spring.
Breonne Spikes plays slow pitch and basketball. Deawn Breland plays slow pitch, basketball, and runs track.
Chanel Wills plays slow pitch, basketball, is a cheerleader and runs track. Bynum, Wills, and Sam Mitchell are
also cheerleaders. Dunn, Bynum, and Dickens were selected for the homecoming court with Tara Dunn chosen as Queen.
Tara is also on the student council.
This says a lot about them and even more about their families, their teachers, and their coaches. Somebody was pushing
the right buttons and giving good guidance along the way.
To be as talented as this group was on the field, they understood the need to work.
“Truly the first year that I felt each day every person, coaches and players, were giving their all for one another. They truly
exceeded the measuring stick by which they held each other accountable. This led to a trust in games that each player
believed their teammate would get the job done,” said Coach Kristi Mitchell.
Assistant Coach Jason Childs summed up their practices this way.
“A dream! We never had to get on them a whole lot. They knew what was expected of them and for the most part, they
did just that.”
Now don't think for a minute it was all business and no fun. This group loved to play pranks and have a good time when
the opportunity presented itself. Childs remembers one particular prank that was near priceless.
“We all hid our vehicles and hid in the woods when Kellye Bolar was late for practice. Breonne had her believing we got
mad and left because she wasn't there on time. She was hysterical until we all ran out of the woods,” recalled Childs.
Coach Mitchell said despite their serious demeanor at game time, they really had fun.
“There were days when we would have to stop practice for a moment because we were all doubled over laughing because
of some funny comment or joke. I guess my favorite would be the ribbing between the girls. They could have gotten really
mad at each other, but instead laughter boiled over because of the love between them. Deawn ribbing Kellye because of
the blemish on her leg, while Chanel was getting on Deawn's teeth. It was also a lot of fun when Breonne would get behind
the public address microphone and DJ the practice. A team of comedians."
But both Mitchell and Childs were very sure of their thoughts when asked about what they would miss about this group.
Childs said, “Attitude, Talent, Work Ethic, Knowledge of the game, Personalities, Commitment to and love for the game.”
Mitchell added, “I will miss each of the characteristics Jason listed, but most of all I will miss the unity felt in each huddle
between innings, the pride they showed as they ran on and off the field, their swagger before and after a game, the sheer
determination that they would win every battle, and the true meaning of team.”
Swagger. That's something they truly had. The confidence they showed in battling back against Petal after losing Game 1
and coming from behind twice in Game 3, the final time in their last at bat with Bynum calmly delivering a single to left to
drive in the winning run. It was one of those moments the Maroon Tide Nation will long remember. And the year before
beating Moss Point on Rabion's blast in Game 1 of a two game sweep in front of probably the biggest crowd ever at a
softball game in Picayune.
So what went through the minds of the coaches when the final out was made in the last game at the State Championship?
Mitchell says it's still sinking in.
“I don't know if it really hits you until the next season rolls around and you find yourself looking for those faces. When
you glance at their positions and see them putting their bodies on the line for you day in and day out and yet when you
reach out they fade away as to show you they have journeyed on to a new game in their life. You hope, or I do, that
what you taught them on the softball field was more than a game with a bat, glove and ball, but a heart full of lessons
that will carry them successfully through the game of life. These young ladies are champions whose presence will linger
like those of the Yankee Greats, and many young girls will wear the Maroon and White longing to achieve the same s
pirit as the softball class of 2006 .”
Childs echoed similar sentiments on this group moving on.
“Hated to see it end and realized that they would be hard to replace. I realized that those eight seniors would probably
be the best group of seniors we would have for a long time.”
So the torch is soon to be passed and another group will take their place and hopefully fill their shoes. For this group of
ladies, we say a big thank you for all you have given and for all you have yet to give to your world. It's been truly a
pleasure to be in your presence. Roll Tide.