Proud of our student-athletes

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

I’ll admit, I was starting to get pretty nervous a few weeks ago watching the Twitter updates from the Pelham High School athletic department.

My high school alma mater’s baseball team was taking on Auburn High School — in the town of my college alma mater, coincidentally — and had won the first game against the Tigers in the Class 6A playoff semifinals on May 10, and appeared as if it would easily win the second game to sweep the series.

But you should never consider something a sure thing when it comes to sports. During its last at-bat, the Tigers — down 7-3 — scored six runs and went on to down the Panthers 9-8.

After such a shocking Auburn comeback, it would have been easy for the Pelham players to become discouraged and take a performance hit in game three the next day. But they didn’t.

The Panthers came out more determined than ever, and showed a dominating performance as they defeated the Tigers 11-3 to advance to — and win — the state championship.

The PHS, Thompson High, Briarwood and Shelby County High softball teams also battled through a slew of opposition to punch their tickets to the 6A state championship tournament last week.

Learning two weekends ago of both teams advancing to their respective state championships filled me with pride for our county teams.

Having graduated a year before Pelham won its 2004 baseball championship, it’s exciting to experience firsthand the Panthers winning another one this year, and to see such a strong showing from our county softball teams.

Even if the teams hadn’t won a state championship or advanced to the state tournament, it wouldn’t have mattered. The discipline, determination and teamwork displayed by all of our teams this year is second to none in my eyes, and I could not possibly be more proud of the way these students represented our county.

Neal Wagner is the city editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 17 or by email at