Bentonville’s softball players had the right to be a little giddy after Tuesday’s big game at the Tiger Athletic Complex.
The celebration was on moments after Lady Tigers claimed a 4-2 victory over Van Buren. They had just won the 7A/6A-West Conference championship in a game coach Kent Early called “a heavyweight battle” and earned the league’s No. 1 seed in the Class 7A State Tournament.
The Bentonville players formed a big group outside their dugout, and it was all fun and games as they gathered behind Morgan Vaughan and Emma Kinsey as they were being interviewed by an area television reporter. The fun and games continued as they grouped for a photo in the outfield, which collected plenty interest from parents who raced out with their phones to capture the moment.
That all changed moments later for a couple of Lady Tigers that I will not name. They began to cry the moment they embraced their mothers in hugs that lasted a while.
So why the tears? Wasn’t this a joyous moment?
I didn’t stop to ask, but I have a good reason why it happened. It was a sense of relief from the pressure that a game of this magnitude can build, and a sense of accomplishment for all the work they had put in — in games, as well as in practices.
Bentonville watched its first two-run lead disappear, then took a 4-2 lead when Alicia Lowery drove in Lauren Fox with a triple and scored during a rundown. The Lady Tigers avoided a two-on, two-out situation in the sixth, then capped the game with Morgan Vaughan’s sixth strikeout.
The pressure was on until that last swing and a miss, then came that sense of relief — and victory.