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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Winners then and now

  • Now in their mid-to-late 20s, members of the 2003 Sterlington High School state championship softball team continue to succeed.
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  • Sterlington High's 2003 softball team will always be remembered for winning the state championship. As the following list will verify, the Lady Panthers have continued their winning ways in the game of life.
    A look at where the 2003 Lady Panthers are now:
    THE PLAYERS
    Ashton Brown — Lives in Sterlington with her 9-month-old daughter, Lyndon. Ashton graduated from Sterlington High in 2005 and went on to earn her BBA in marketing. During her high school career, she was a five-year letterman, a three-time All-State first baseman, five times All-District, three times All-Northeast Louisiana and the 2005 Northeast Louisiana Player of the Year.
    Mandy Fillingame — A 2004 SHS graduate, Mandy now resides in Monroe. She graduated from ULM with a degree in pharmacy and is currently employed as a pharmacist at CVS.
    Michal Meade Hale — Michal is married to Jimmy Hale and has a four-legged "daughter" named Piper. She lives in Monroe and works as a human resource administrative assistant at Vantage Health Plan.
    Britni Bowen Hamby — Married to Brent Hamby and lives in Sterlington; the couple has a 4-year-old daughter, Brylee, and is expecting their second child in October. A 2003 SHS graduate, Britni earned her degree in nursing and currently works as an oncology nurse. A five-year softball letterman, her lengthy list of athletic accolades included All District (1999-2003), District MVP (2001, 2002), All-Northeast Louisiana (2002, 2003), All-Northeast Louisiana Player of the Year (2003), All-State (2001-2003), Class 1A Player of the Year (2003), Composite Academic All-State (2003), LHSCA All-Star (2003) and Louisiana's Miss Softball (2003). Britni was the 2003 Sterlington High valedictorian, a member of Who's Who and the Beta Club.
    Tara Holloway — Graduated from Sterlington High in 2003 and now lives in New York City. Tara graduated from ULM in nursing and is employed as a BSN-RN in New York.
    Magen Auger Keys — Lives in Sterlington with her husband, Cody, and 9-month-old daughter, Piper. Magen graduated from SHS in 2003 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing from ULM. She is now an RN in St. Francis PICU. Her high school softball honors included honorable mention All-District (2001), second-team All-District (2002) and the softball Academic Award (2002). Among Magen's academic accomplishments at SHS were valedictorian (2003), SHS Student of the Year (2003) and the SHS Honesty and Integrity Award (2002). She was a member of the National Honor Society of High School Scholars, Who's Who Among American High School Students and an All-American Scholar.
    Morgan Gates Lowery — Resides in Sterlington with her husband, Kyle Lowery, and two daughters, Sadie (3) and Ella (5 months). Morgan graduated from SHS in 2003 and earned a degree in radiologic technology. She is now a rad-tech at LA Imaging. Her softball honors as the Lady Panthers' catcher included All-District (2000, 2002, 2003), District MVP (2001), All-Northeast Louisiana (2001, 2003) and All-State (2001, 2003).
    Crystal Pye Mathes — Crystal and husband Jesse Mathes reside in New Iberia. She graduated from SHS in 2004 and earned a BA in elementary education from Louisiana Tech. Crystal is currently working toward her master's of education with a focus on technology education and is an elementary school teacher.
    Page 2 of 3 - Connie Long Merritt — Married to Will Merritt and lives in Sterlington with daughters Hayes (2) and Mylah (4 months). Connie graduated from SHS in 2004 and from Delta Community College in 2006. She is now a hair stylist at Shear Joy Salon. A left fielder for the Lady Panthers, Connie earned second-team All-District honors in 2003 and 2004.
    Kelsey Janine Nolan — Graduated from SHS in 2004 and is engaged to Josh Stanley. Kelsey earned a general studies degree from Delta Community College and a degree from Peach Tree School of Dental Assisting. She currently works as a dental assistant in Ruston. Kelsey was a two-year letterman in softball and basketball.
    Shannon Darmstaedter Powell — Graduated from SHS in 2005 and resides in Sterlington with her husband, Allen Powell. Shannon received an associate's degree of general studies and a certificate of dental assisting. She earned six varsity letters (four basketball, two softball) and was a two-time All-District softball selection. Shannon was the Class of 2005 salutatorian.
    Brooke Bowen Thomas — Lives in Spencer with her husband, Lance Thomas, and six-month old son, Bowen Gauge Thomas. A 2007 SHS graduate, Brooke is currently a pre-kindergarden para at Sterlington Elementary School. A six-year letterman for the Lady Panthers, Brooke was a four-time All-District honoree, All-Northeast Louisiana honorable mention in 2005 and All-Northeast Louisiana in 2006.
    Bailey Toney — A 2007 Sterlington High graduate. No further information was immediately available.
    Natalie Saunders Wise — Natalie and husband Chad Wise reside in Haughton and are expecting their first child, a baby girl, on June 5. Natalie graduated from SHS in 2003 and earned a bachelor of nursing, RN. She currently works as a registered nurse and will graduate from nurse practitioner school in May, 2013. A valedictorian, Natalie was a member of the Beta Club and the National Honor Society. She was a four-year varsity cheerleader, co-captain of the cheer squad, a UCA All-Star, a three-year letterman in basketball and a six-year letterman in track. Natalie was a four-time district champ in the javelin, a three-time regional champ, finished third in the 2002 State Meet and was the state champ in 2003. In softball, she was a three-year letterman and Academic All-American. In 2003, she was presented with the Buddy Blair Award, presented annually by the News-Star to the top scholar-athletic in northeast Louisiana.
    COACHES
    Boyd Cole — Retired in August after a 17-year run as the Lady Panthers head softball coach. A former Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM) quarterback, Cole's 30-plus year coaching career also includes stints at Bastrop, Byrd and West Ouachita. Besides softball, Cole has coached football and baseball.
    Amy Blanchard — An assistant coach on the Lady Panthers' 2003 state championship team, the ULM graduate is currently the head softball and girls basketball coach at Donaldsonville High School.
    Page 3 of 3 - TRAINER
    Paul "Doc" Vaughn — Currently an assistant football coach and softball coach at West Ouachita. Vaughn said: "The championship season of 2003 was my first year at SHS as athletic trainer and I will never forget it. Congratulations, once again, to the Lady Panthers! I can't believe it's been 10 years."

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