Posted 11 months ago
By Kevin Horn
Toy Story’s Woody was presented a nemesis in Buzz Lightyear.
The Alliance High girls’ softball team found an annoying opponent in Buzz Lightning Thursday night.
While Woody and Buzz eventually became friendly associates in the world of Pixar, the Bulldog softball team wishes to never again associate themselves with Buzz Lightning.
You see, Buzz Lightning rudely interrupted the girls bus trip home from the B-6 District Tournament at North Platte, adding insult to injury. The Lady Bulldogs had just experienced losses to Gering and Cozad, which not only eliminated Alliance from the tournament, but also ended the season.
Who is Buzz Lightning?
Simply put, Buzz joins a long list of character builders.
As the Bulldog team bus was traveling westward on Interstate 80, the challenges that lie ahead included a construction zone between Sutherland and Paxton, combined with heavy rain, wind, lightning, and a malfunction in the buses emergency door buzzer system. The buzzer sounded, as if one of the emergency exists had been opened. But an intense inspection of all seven exits revealed they were secure.
So the bus continued the trip from Sutherland to Alliance – roughly 155 miles – with the buzzer blaring and lightning flashing across the western Nebraska skies.
Welcome to the list, Buzz Lightning.
But, there was no complaining on the players part. Just dealing with another situation in a season full of unexpected curve balls.
Buzz Lightning was only one of 22 opponents the Bulldog softball team faced between August 29 and October 10. Unfortunately, the Dawgs fell in 19 softball games and finished the season winless, with an 0-19 record. The other two opponents were rain and snow, which provoked the cancellation of five games.
People with weak constitutions would have folded by September 16.
Not the Alliance Bulldog softball team.
This admirable group of young ladies – aged 15-18 – hung together like a close-knit family handles adversity.
- No finger pointing.
- No blaming.
- No giving one another the cold shoulder.
- No yelling at one another.
- No crying.
- Offering encouragement.
- Cheering loudly when a Bulldog got a hit or made an assisted or unassisted out.
- Riding home on a bumpy, buzzy bus, when jumping in the van with mom and dad would have been more comfy.
- Singing songs in, well, somewhat on key fashion while traveling home from the September 21 North Platte Invitational after three tough losses.
- Sharing meals together at the PAC.
- Offering patience to a player who left her cell phone in Lexington while the rest of the team waited – and waited – and waited on the outskirts of town while the Lexington Phone E. Xpress eventually made its rescue delivery.
- Enjoying each others company during the post game meals at restaurants in Lexington, McCook, North Platte, Gering, Scottsbluff, and Chadron.
- Sharing motel rooms and early morning breakfasts in Lexington and McCook.
- Keeping each other warm in the cold rain and wind at Scottsbluff.
- Keeping fellow players cool with soaked towels in the 106-degree heat at McCook.
- Offering both expressions of concern and encouragement to three Bulldogs softballers who suffered concussions this fall.
- Two players agreeing to compete at the district tournament even though they had been nominated for homecoming royalty and coronation was held that same night.
- Raising money for Jane’s Closet by selling pink “Strike Out Cancer” t-shirts and then encouraging the community to “pack the park pink” to send a strong message to those in need that clearly stated, “we’re here to help.”
It shined throughout the 43-day season.
The curtain was ready to close on the 2013 softball campaign as the Cozad Haymakers held a commanding lead over Alliance. Not much left to play for. Ready to accept an 0-19 season and board the bus.
However, Bulldog senior Rachel Schoeneman stepped to the plate in her final at bat for Alliance High School, and promptly drove the ball deep into left field — and over the outfield fence for a home run.
The Bulldogs abandoned their dugout and greeted Schoeneman with the season’s loudest cheers, highest of fives, and firmest of hugs as she touched home plate.
A fitting way to end an undefeated season of character, which included a victory over Buzz Lightning.