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Lady Indians’ historic accomplishments celebrated at softball team banquet

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By Sean Arnold

Some of the most accomplished student athletes to ever pass through Chiefland Middle High School, along with an outgoing coach that’s overseen unprecedented success for the Lady Indians, were honored last Thursday at the Chiefland softball program’s team banquet, held at Concord Baptist Church in Chiefland.

Six seniors who collected three state championships and made four state finals appearances were celebrated. Overlapping that group are five Lady Indians who earned college softball scholarships, and more still who were selected to All-State teams.

Four-year lettermen seniors Aleaha Rhoomes, Samantha Rolfe, Sydney Parks, Emily Hallman, Takiya London and Lauren Parker received trophies and shadowboxed jerseys commemorating their accomplishments, which, in addition to the state finals, included four regional championships, 88 wins, and a 15-1 state tournament record, as well as a litany of team and individual school records.

“These girls are history makers,” Coach Wayne Weatherford said. “They set the bar for the high school in any sport. It’s never had three state championships.”

The now-former head man recalled first meeting many of his players when they started youth ball through the Chiefland Area Athletic Association.

“These girls have been awesome” he said. “Not only are they awesome ballplayers, but they’re good citizens. It reflects well on their parents.

“Good luck with all of you,” he finished.

Weatherford also saluted the team’s booster club members and support volunteers.

“Coming up from nothing to what we have today, I’m so proud.” he said.

Weatherford presented a plaque to Jim King for his numerous contributions to the program in helping transform the team’s facilities.

“This plaque is nothing compared to what this man has contributed to the program,” Weatherford said of King, who’s realty business sponsored the first team Weatherford ever coached in tee-ball back in the 1980s.

Weatherford, who received a standing ovation while presented with a plaque of his own for his two decades in the program, acknowledged the significant contributions from assistant coaches Jimmy Anderson and Harland Stalvey.

“It’s a team effort that does this, it’s not one person, and I do appreciate them.”

Anderson thanked Weatherford and recalled his time coaching the players since tee-ball.

“I want to thank Wayne for giving me the opportunity to coach you all,” said Anderson, who named additional past and present coaches linked to the program, like Craig Parks, Pete Barnes, Brian Gore, Chris Wilson and Harland.

Hallman spoke for the players in thanking the program’s supporters, including its parents and coaches.

“There’s nothing like the Chiefland community coming out to support our softball team,” the catcher said. “Thank you Coach Wayne for allowing me to play the game I love (in CAAA), and Coaches Jimmy and Harland, for many of us, they were our first softball coaches.”

The team's statistical leaders received awards for their efforts. Hallman notched the team's highest batting average (.436), most RBI (30) and highest slugging percentage (.691). Parks posted the most runs scored (33) and the highest on-base percentage (.509). London topped the team in home runs (3) and stolen bases (30). Pitcher Kensley Durrance boasted the most putouts (177) and assists (29), and fellow sophomore Macie Thomas set the high mark in doubles with 12, which included the game-winner against Wewahitchka in the state semifinals.

Elsewhere, senior left fielder Samantha Rolfe was issued the team's Golden Glove Award for her defense, while junior third baseman Erika Gilliam received the Hustle Award.

Weatherford noted some of the program’s record holders who were present, while noting that the record books are not completely up to date.

London holds the single-season stolen base record, while Hallman holds single-season school marks in hits, which she shares with Parks, and RBI.