When the Lady Bulldogs took to the field Thursday to take on the Lawton MacArthur Lady Highlanders, there was so much more on the line than just a fifth place district ranking.
It would also be their last home game of the 2016 softball season. Once the game ended, a full year would pass before they would return to Missile Park and defend their turf against a rival team.
In addition to that, it was senior night. It was the last home game in which four Altus seniors would wear Bulldog blue and play softball as a member of the Lady Bulldogs.
For Haley Newman, Anna Simmons, Sydney Simmons, and Destiny Smalts, this was the last time to play in front of their hometown crowd, and they wanted nothing more than to end the season the same way they began the season with a win against the Lady Highlanders.
Up until the fourth inning, they still had a good chance.
Lawton’s six-run first could not bring down a team with so much to play for. They would fight back, scoring one in the first and two in the second to close the gap to three.
All they really needed one solid inning of offense and they could not only close the gap even further, but quite possibly take the lead.
But before they would get that inning, Lawton opened up the fourth inning with an additional five runs due to several miscues by the Altus defense. Even then, the Lady Bulldogs continued to chant for their teammates and cheer them on, banging on the fences and shouting to the top of their lungs to show them support.
A one-run fourth helped, but it was not what they needed. The Lady Bulldogs stranded a couple of runners on base, unable to get them around the bases and across home plate before the final out of the inning.
But Altus’ defense held and they would go on to score one more in the bottom of the sixth to pull within seven points. After keeping Lawton from scoring once more in the top of the seventh inning, the Lady Bulldogs came out with one goal. They wanted to steal the game from Lawton and end their season on a high note.
Emilie Von Raesfeld led the Lady Bulldogs off and earned a free base after an error by the Lady Highlanders before Anna Simmons was walked.
After a wild pitch advanced Von Raesfeld and Simmons, the Lady Bulldogs found themselves with two runs in scoring position and with a great opportunity to mount a rally.
Newman settled in to her last home at-bat and ripped a single to the shortstop, allowing Von Raesfeld to cross home plate and moving Simmons to third.
Destiny Von Raesfeld’s opportunity ended with a free base after a Lady Highlanders error that also scored Simmons and suddenly, the rally was on.
Newman decided it was all or nothing and stole home plate just as Lawton threw out D. Von Raesfeld at second.
Even as Smalts was walked to put yet another potential Lady Bulldog run on base, Altus would not be able to take advantage and their rally would fall short with the game ending on a Brooke Hill groundout for a 12-8 loss.
Hill’s night was otherwise stellar as she hit her way to a 3-for-5 night with two RBI’s. Newman was also great at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI in her final home game. Sydney Simmons was 1-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI while Anna Simmons and Destiny Smalts were both 1-for-3 with one run scored.
It was not exactly how they planned their final home game to end, but in the end, the girls never stopped cheering and never stopped supporting each other.
The family mentality applies not only to Bulldog football but Bulldog softball as well and even when they have all moved on from Altus High School, they will always have each other.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.