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Riverside Baseball team overcomes loss of teammate to win State Title

By Adam Wells
By awells@wbbjtv.com

A season that ended in celebration for the Riverside Panthers didn't seem possible just two months ago. Following the passing of teammate Stephen Gant many wondered if the season would continue.

"Coach said you can use it as an excuse or you can use it to get better and we used it to get better," Senior Slater Lomax said.

"You still think of Stephen," Senior Ryne Fisher said. "When we got on the field again we just had to go back to what we do best and that's play baseball."

That's exactly what they did by making their way back to the State Championship game. The night before the game Riverside's 5 seniors held a meeting with their head coach.

"We told him he should have all the confidence in the world in us," Lomax said. "We gave him no doubt and swung the bats and took care of business."

"I went to bed with a peaceful feeling because they told me not to worry coach," Head Coach Dusty Rhodes said. "They were going to get the job done and bring back the title across the river."

And they brought home the title, making it look easy.

"There was an eerie feeling all day," Coach Rhodes said. "Even at batting practice, our team meeting. They had the look of determination in their eyes."

"Our team has been through a lot this year," Fisher said. "We've overcome so much and has brought us together. Everyone came together as a team and did what we had to do."

Its that togetherness that has allowed the Panthers to overcome the loss of a teammate and get back to playing the game they love.

"There was someone looking down on us," Coach Rhodes said. "This was for him."

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