While hoisting the Catholic League championship plaque above their heads in celebration and then passing it among themselves, the members of the Bonner-Prendergast softball team barely contained their joy.
"Can you believe it?" one of the Pandas asked.
"We are finally holding it," another remarked.
There was a lot of hugging, smiling, and laughing after the Pandas' 6-3 victory over St. Hubert in the final Wednesday at Arcadia University's Blankley Field. But the emotion most prominent was disbelief at what had just been accomplished.
"I still can't believe it," pitcher Brooke Lachette said. "I've been waiting four years to at least get here."
Lachette propelled the Pandas (16-5) in the circle and at the plate, forcing 12 groundouts and going 2 for 4 with a double and a home run. The senior righthander also knocked in four runs and outdueled Hubert pitcher Erica Ragazzone.
"We are definitely used to what she was throwing," Lachette said of Ragazzone. "We prepared for it, and we didn't let her get in our heads."
The Pandas scored a run in the top of the first, taking advantage of miscues by the Hubert defense, and added another in the third when Lachette's double knocked in Nicole Shields.
But it wasn't until the fifth inning that they really took control.
In that inning, the first three batters for Bonner-Prendergast got on base. A Maggie Griendling double scored Bern Carey, and Rachel Schwindt knocked in Shields with a groundout.
Lachette, the next batter, sent a Ragazzone pitch flying over the fence, giving the Pandas a 6-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Carey made a terrific diving catch in left-center field with the bases full, halting all momentum for the Bambies (17-4).
"They hit one there earlier in the game, and I let it drop, and I knew that I couldn't let it drop [again] because the bases were loaded," Carey said.
On Wednesday, the Pandas will face the Public League champion for the District 12 Class AAA title before the start of the state playoffs.
The loss didn't end the Bambies' season, however. They still can earn a berth in the Class AAAA state tournament.
Bonner-Prendergast 101 040 0 - 6 9 0
St. Hubert 010 000 2 - 3 8 2
WP: Brooke Lachette. LP: Erica Ragazzone. 2B: BP-Lachette, Maggie Griendling; SH-Jess Grzywna, Taylor Mack. HR: BP-Lachette; SH-Ragazzone.