The TSSAA has officially canceled spring sports for the 2020 school year. With that comes the abrupt end for seniors across the county. Some will have the luxury of moving on to play college ball in their respective sports, but the harsh reality is that most kids will never get to play the game they grew up loving anymore.
We at Main Street Preps want to do something to honor these seniors. It is not much, but we are hopeful these senior spotlights will shed light on stellar careers enjoyed on the fields.
This particular article will focus on the Portland Lady Panthers softball seniors: Mac Fitzgerald, Daley McCloud, Abbie Tomlinson, Sami Parker, Samantha Alda-Katherine, and Cailey Walker.
With the season officially canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those six athletes will not get the luxury of finishing out a career together that started many years ago.
“I think it is hard for them on many levels, but this is a group that has played softball together since they were seven years old,” Portland Head Coach Vanessa Tomlinson said. “I have seen them grow up together, play together, and become friends on and off the field.”
Tomlinson is hopeful the team can honor the seniors this summer when the social distancing protocol is lifted.
“We are trying to make plans as a district to honor these senior athletes,” she said. “We are hopeful of doing that, but right now we just do not know.”
Before the shutdown occurred throughout Tennessee, Portland was lucky enough to finish out its spring break tournament in Gulf Shores. Tomlinson’s final message to the team in a game-setting is one that can be carried through life.
“You never know when it is your last time to do anything,” Tomlinson said. “It is always important to give it everything you got every time you do anything.”
The season also brings the end to Tomlinson’s coaching career. For the last ten seasons, she has spent coaching the Lady Panthers softball team, watching so many talented ladies come through her program.
“I hate that it ended this way, and obviously, I would have loved to see what this group could do this year, and for all that to not work out is truly heartbreaking,” Tomlinson continued. “But, I have settled on the fact that softball is done for me, and it will be someone else’s time to coach at Portland.”