Valdosta, GA - An escort of police vehicles lined Patterson Street in Valdosta on Sunday afternoon. Sirens blared throughout the city's landscape. Fire Engine ladders raised a Valdosta State University flag 30 feet high atop its ladder.
This homecoming is usually reserved for celebrities and the President. But this celebration hit the hearts of people in the community. The VSU Lady Blazers returned to Titletown with the school's first softball championship.
"Coach said at the beginning of the season, you haven't won anything unless you've won the last game, and we did it," senior shortstop Marti Littlefield said.
With their backs against the wall after losing the opening NCAA tournament game, the Blazers would win five straight to claim the title. The drama even followed all the way to the last out.
UC-San Diego, the team they lost in the first game, had two runners on base with two outs. The ball was hit hard at Samantha Posey, who initially had trouble picking it up.
"I was kind of freaking out. I was like pick it up, pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!," junior outfielder Morgan Johnson said.
"I was screaming, like first pumping. Sam, touch the bag! Touch the bag!," senior outfielder Clare Wamsley said.
"I kind of felt like the bag was moving away from me for a second, but I got it together and made that out," Posey said.
It was the last out and the last for the seniors.
"When I woke up in the morning, I said this is the last time I'm gonna put on this uniform," Wamsley said. "When it got to the game, it was just the game. But, throughout the day I thought, oh my goodness, this is it."
Alanna Hadley, who had pitched every game in the regionals and the entire tournament, made her final appearance on the mound. The University of Georgia transfer was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"I was actually shocked. But as far as me pitching, I felt strong. I've worked all year for this," Hadley said. "Not many seniors can say they ended their career with a championship."
All the seniors made one thing clear: this is something they'll always remember.