HOOKSETT - When the final out was recorded in Thursday night's Granite State Games softball championship, the Monadnock team not only walked away with a victory, but something perhaps more important.
"Definitely meeting these girls," Sunapee High School's Ellie Frederick said. "I know it's like, 'Oh, you only played four games with them,' but you get to know a lot about people in four games and I think it's the experiences and the friendships."
The Granite State Games softball competition was made up of four teams, with many players from across all four divisions of high school sports.
The Monadnock softball team consisted of D-III and D-IV players, some who had never played with any of their teammates before. That may seem as though it would make things difficult, but it was certainly not a problem for this group.
"It was kind of easy," Frederick, a D-IV First Team All-State selection, said. "I didn't know any of these girls when I came in. As soon as I got here, everyone introduced themselves and was super kind and made me feel really welcomed. This team was very accepting of everyone."
Sam McNeel, the coach of the Monadnock team and Newport High School, had his team picked back in February. So he told his players throughout the high school season to try and get to know some of the other girls.
"As we played each other throughout the high school season, we kind of built that bond then, so it carried over to here," McNeel said. "Once we got here, I don't think the girls had any issue. The team camaraderie was commendable in this tournament."
That chemistry was certainly on display Thursday night at Southern New Hampshire University, as Monadnock defeated the Lakes team 9-7 in the championship game. Frederick had two RBIs and scored when an error on her triple brought her home.
D-III First Team All-State pitcher Lacey McNeel of Newport tossed a complete game to notch the win and had an RBI at the plate. Sam Hughson collected two RBIs as well to propel the team to a win.
Hughson, a member of the Mascenic High School softball team, also credits the high school season as to why the team was able to bond.
"When we all came in, we were all kind of just D-III schools," Hughson said. "So I guess we kind of grew together with that. We knew each other's strengths and we picked people up when they were down. I was just easy to come together as a group."
These games not only provided the chance for people to meet, but also a good softball experience.
"You never know what you're going to get," coach McNeel said. "This was an all D-II and D-IV lineup. There are no D-I or D-II players. So I wondered how are these guys going to compete with girls who may have seen better pitching. At the end of the day, I found that our pitching was equal to anybody else's here, if not better at times. And we had the best hitting team."
Frederick, who was awarded the tournament's MVP, saw the games as a great opportunity to get more softball.
"We're getting a lot of playing time out here and that's always good," Frederick said.
Some of these girls will continue on playing with or against each other now that the tournament has ended. And while the group may never play together again as a whole, they won't forget what these games brought to them.
"Now we have connections with people from all different divisions and different teams," Frederick said. "Whenever we see each other, we're going to have a friendship."