Going into the District 9-AAA Softball tournament, few people gave Portland much of a chance to make noise, let alone finish second in the tournament. Well, that is exactly what happened over a week stretch that saw the Lady Panthers defeat Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, and Hendersonville and play for their first district tournament championship in over 20 years.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they could not ride the wave of momentum to a championship as they fell to Mt. Juliet to finish second, but they still earned a Region 5-AAA berth. Their second-place finish meant a trip to Henry County last Monday, May 15, for a region semifinal game. In the end, the Panthers lost that game, 14-2, to end their season with a record of 15-23.
"We really did a lot better, came a long way from where we were," said head coach Vanessa Tomlinson. "We had a couple tough losses early, picked it up toward the middle; it was rollercoaster type of season. To place seventh in the regular season and to finish second is pretty good. Getting to regions is special because there are a lot of schools that don't ever get to play in this game. This has been a really good season."
Next season, the Lady Panthers will welcome everyone back from this year's team, leaving Tomlinson feeling optimistic.
"Great outlook on next year," she said. "It's a hitter's game now, so we are really going to stress that to the girls when we have our meetings and tryouts. We talked some last year about the girls taking hitting lessons, playing travel ball and a lot of them did that and you can see it helped."
Though the record does not show a winning season, you will be hard pressed to find anyone associated with the Purple and White that will tell you otherwise.