Panama senior softball players anxious for another state title

PANAMA — The Panama Lady Razorbacks softball team will get a chance to defend their Class 2A state title this weekend. However, it was a little harrowing if that chance was going to present itself.After Wyandotte defeated Panama 6-0 in the first Class 2A Regional Tournament title game, the Lady ’Backs found themselves against the wall — needing to win, or go home.One of Panama's seniors, pitcher Taylor Eaves did her usual stellar job in the circle, but it was her bat which propelled the Lady Razorbacks. Her two-run homer in the sixth inning broke a scoreless tie with Wyandotte en route to a 3-1 victory — a game filled with high stress levels for she and her teammates.“The pressure was almost too much to handle,” Eaves said. “We got everybody together, and we told each other that we're expected to be at the state tournament. We kept telling ourselves that we had to be there. So, we had to pull together as a team, and we had to get through it. The pressure was overwhelming, and we had to trust each other to get through it. I was so relieved (after the win). It was like a huge amount of stress was lifted off our shoulders. I was happy for everyone.”Since the Lady ’Backs, who will play Cyril/Cement at 3 p.m. this afternoon in the Class 2A State Tournament quarterfinals at Oklahoma City's Hall of Fame Stadium, have been the defending state champions all season, opposing teams give them their best.“You can watch somebody play somebody else, and they're just going through the motions,” senior Katy Coker said. “Then, they come play us, and they try to play like we play. We've passed most of the tests so far.”For the other two seniors, third baseman Kali Crase and Faith Reitzel, they will get to be a part this weekend's state tournament for the first time — but for different reasons.For Crase, she had surgery in the late fall, and could not play in last year's state tournament. Needless to say, she can't wait for today's game.“I'm excited, and I'm ready to play,” Crase said. “I'm a little nervous because it will be my first time to get to play because I had surgery last fall and I didn't get a chance to play — but I still got my ring. I know as a team that we'll pull through, and hope we win.”For Reitzel, she played slow-pitch last spring, but came out for fast-pitch for the first time. Whether she plays a lot or not, she's gotten good example-setters from her teammates this fall.“They coach us,” Reitzel said. “'We like watching them do their best, and we sit there and cheer them on. We're always ready should any of them get injured, but I don't want that to happen. They're pretty good at what they do, but I do love playing.”