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Familiarity propels Port Neches-Groves softball team

The seniors on the Port Neches-Groves softball team have played together most of their lives.

A majority have been playing softball since they before they even started school. The squad has seven seniors in total.

Their bond allows them to communicate better with each other during games and has made their final season together special.

The Indians sit in fourth place in the district with two games to go.

“We have all grown up playing together,” senior centerfielder Sadie Shrestha said. “If we haven’t all played together at one time, we have all been on teams with each other since we were little. It makes our team chemistry stronger. We have been with each other for so long, we know how to talk to each other whenever we are in bad moods. We are all really close.”

Catcher Madeline Cormier said being able to see the whole field at all times gives her a unique perspective.

“I am friends with everyone on the team,” she said. “I am more vocal because I have to talk to everyone on the field. Everyone is used to my voice and I know all of their flaws and how to handle them when they get upset. I know which ones I can yell at and the ones I have to be sweet with. I’ve known them my whole life, basically. I know what to say when they are sad or mad.”

Shrestha said she has been a leader since her sophomore year after watching and learning from the, then, senior class during her freshman season.

“I really looked up to those seniors,” she said. “I learned a lot from them.”

Lillian Leblanc, who plays second base, has a history of being durable. When she was in little league, she pitched 12 full games in two days in a tournament.

“Sadly, I don’t pitch anymore,” she said. “It was an awesome time for me.”

Leblanc said her favorite moment playing in high school was beating Nederland.

“That is always great,” she said.

Leblanc said she tries to be a leader on the team by exuding a strong and positive attitude.

Both Shrestha and Leblanc have goals of putting the ball over the fence during their last year. Leblanc said she hit the top of the fence during her sophomore season.

“It was very disappointing to see it bounce back,” she said.

Shrestha said her style makes it more difficult to clear the fence.

“I am a slapper, so it is a little bit harder to do that,” she said. “I’ve gotten really close. My sophomore year I almost got one but it just went foul and I was really sad. I really want to get one. It would feel really powerful. I don’t even know what I would do.”

Cormier, who already has three homers on the season, would love to hit one with the bases loaded.

“I have two solos and a two-run homer,” she said. “A grand slam would be nice.”

PNG hosts Galena Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The regular season wraps up against Memorial on Tuesday.

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