RED OAK – Tatum Thorne pledged to the group gathered at the Red Oak softball end-of-season banquet to keep his remarks about the year short. But with so much happening over the last year, there was plenty to talk about.

Thorne, the first-year head coach of the Lady Hawks, spent the evening paying tribute to the hard work of his players this season, which ended with the team tied for fourth place in the district. Sadly, the girls didn’t get into the playoffs thanks to a play-in game loss to Waxahachie. While it was a sour finish, it wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits around what the team was able to accomplish.

“Somethings come to an end sooner than you want them to,” Thorne told the crowd.

The evening opened with recognition of the junior varsity program, which had a sterling season under the guidance of coach Bryan Rodgers. The girls went 22-9 overall, scoring 171 runs while allowing 95.

Players from the junior varsity squad were called up and recognized for the efforts with Rodgers awarding four superlative honors.

Karisa Watson was tabbed as the team’s offensive MVP while Alicia Munster earned offensive MVP honors. The Hawk Pride award went to Jenah Stephenson for her consistent positive attitude and work ethic on the field. Chelsea Hodges was named the team MVP and presented with a special honor from Rodgers for her efforts over the past few years on the sub-varsity level. Rodgers had a copy of the Forney lineup card framed for her in tribute of her effort in a big win over the Lady Jackrabbits this season that showed just how far the team had come.

Thorne reflected on his first season as head coach of the Red Oak program by remembering some of the moments that made it so special. His first win, first ice bath and first gameball presentation from the team were all honors he was thankful for and will carry with him throughout his career.

The Lady Hawks bounced back from what Thorne best described as a “rough start” in district at 0-3 to finish 10-6.

A large portion of that success came despite major injury problems on the team. More than half of the Red Oak players spent some time on the field this season with some injury, ranging from bruises to concussions.

“There were days I didn’t want to practice because I was worried who was going to get hurt,” Thorne joked. “Softball is not as soft as people think.”

Each of the varsity players was brought up as Thorne told stories and honored each for her efforts in making the season so special. Players were presented with participation certificates for their work. Thorne also honored the trainers, booster club members and supporters of the program who made the year possible with certificates and plaques.

The night culminated with the varsity superlatives being handed out as pitcher Marley Dickert earned defensive MVP, Morgan Dufour was tabbed as the offensive MVP and Danielle Barrientez was selected for the Hawk Pride honor. Junior Amber Tucker capped the awards by receiving the team MVP.

Players were then treated to a senior slideshow followed by a rapping performance from a Red Oak student that replaced the words of Wiz Khalifa’s song “Black and Yellow” with words and a color scheme (black and maroon) relating to the Red Oak program.

Thorne stressed that while the evening was nice, he hopes that next year’s banquet will have to be postponed until the team gets done making a deep run in the playoffs like district rival Forney is currently doing.

Contact Alex at alex.riley@wninews.com or at 469-517-1456.