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Hard work culminates with district title for Okeechobee

The Okeechobee High School softball team, which includes the Seminole Tribe’s Mary Huff (head coach), Elle Thomas and Lexi Thomas, celebrate April 29 after defeating South Fork, 5-4, in the Class 5A-District 12 championship game. (Courtesy photo)

When the Okeechobee High School softball team took the field for the first time this season there was no indication this would end up being a championship squad.

A 10-0 loss to South Fork on opening day showed that the Brahmans had plenty of room for improvement.
And improve they did.

By the time the district championship game arrived more than two months later against that same South Fork team, Okeechobee was much stronger. The Brahmans notched close wins against Jensen Beach, Vero Beach and Fort Pierce Central along the way.

“Throughout the season, we improved tremendously in all aspects of the game,” said head coach and Seminole tribal member Mary Huff. “Defense was almost flawless in the end. We had better at bats and became more disciplined at the plate. And our mindsets became stronger.”

Elle Thomas, shown here on second base in a game against Moore Haven, had a hit and RBI in the district championship game. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

South Fork learned first-hand all about Okeechobee’s improvements. The Brahmans stunned South Fork, 5-4, on April 29 to capture the Class 5A-District 12 championship.

“Everyone counted us out, especially South Fork, and I think that helped fuel our fire,” Huff said. “It was so big for us to beat South Fork for the district title. I always say it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish and the girls bought in and put in the work and they got the outcome they wanted.”

Elle Thomas helped spark the victory. The junior shortstop went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a walk and run scored. Lexi Thomas also scored a run and drew a walk.

The Thomas sisters – the only players from the tribe on this year’s team – were among the most productive players at the plate throughout the season. They finished in the top four in hits. Standout games from Elle Thomas included a 5-RBI night against Moore Haven and three hits against Jensen Beach.

Lexi Thomas had three two-hit games.The freshman outfielder scored the team’s lone run in the season finale, a 2-1 loss to Bayside in the 5A regional quarterfinals.

After the game, Huff, whose team finished with a 9-5 record, emphasized the importance of continuing to work hard in the off-season.

“I told the team that it’s back to the drawing board from here. They have to be sure to keep putting in the work in the off-season if they want to be back and have a deep run in postseason play,” she said.

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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