Columbus, Ga (WRBL) – The Northside High School softball team had a target on their back as defending GHSA State Champions, but that pressure didn’t affect them. The Lady Patriots have repeated as State Champions when they defeated Northgate in the title game. While the same school won the championship, the roster was very different. 7 seniors graduated from last season’s championship team. Heading into this State Tournament at South Commons there was more doubt about this year’s squad.
“This year after graduating those seven and having to replace seven starters. Just with a younger group you know was pretty special,” said Northside Head Coach Brandon Jenkins.
Despite all that turnover on their roster, multiple players were excited to play a bigger role on this year’s championship team.
“Sitting on the bench last year and not getting as much playing time I still have the experience. But this year like actually being a part of it. Being able to help my teammates out, and just being in the moment. It’s a lot different than last year,” said junior outfielder Loreal Byrd.
The Northside roster was packed with incredible talent, but the team says it was their bond that carried them through the State Tournament gauntlet.
“I feel like as long as you’re a team and you’re one and you’re unified as one. You’re not separate I feel like that can take you a long way,” said junior pitcher and infielder Abby Lovell.
“If someone made an error we had their back. Like if something happened I know that I can count on that person if I didn’t do my part. Going into it that just helped a lot,” said Byrd.
The Lady Patriots are enjoying their championship moment, but they already have their sights set on winning another title next season.
“We’re returning everybody except for one senior, so it’s a lot of experience and that’s going to go a long way for next season,” said Jenkins.
For Lovell and Byrd, a pair of returning seniors, they’re excited for the opportunity for a Northside 3-peat.
“Absolutely let’s keep going,” said Lovell.
“It feels good, and knowing that we’re going to add another one next year it feels even better,” said Byrd.
Congratulations to our newest Kia AutoSport Athletes of the Week, the Back-To-Back GHSA State Champions Northside softball team.