It was an emotional night for Cleburne head coach Teri Rabe.

Not only did she bid adieu to seniors Janaye Richardson, Amberly Waits and Samantha Oleksak, Waits also said goodbye to Cleburne at the team’s annual awards banquet.

“I will never forget you and I will miss all of you,” she said. “I am so proud of your accomplishments.”

The year that was 2006 proved to be a year of firsts, much like 2005.

Cleburne set a team-record for wins with 28, won for the first time in both the regional semifinals and finals, while also appearing in the state tournament for the first time.

The Lady Jackets also won a second straight district championship along the way.

But early on, Rabe knew it would be a struggle. Her team needed a lot of work.

“I knew we had the potential, but lacked experience,” she said. “I knew it was going to take a lot of work for all of us and we struggled early on.”

The Lady Jackets opened the season with a record of 6-5. However, a second-place finish at the Arlington Tournament gave the Lady Jackets some momentum heading into the District 6-4A season.

After falling to Aledo in the second game of the district campaign, the Lady Jackets rolled to eight straight wins, including a 4-0 victory over Aledo in the rematch. That allowed Cleburne to claim the district title for a second straight year.

“We played one of our best games of the season in the second game with Aledo,” Rabe said. “Before that game, Sam [Oleksak] told me she felt we were going to win and I had that feeling too. Then Skye [Stamey] came up to us and said she wasn’t feeling it. And we both told her to shut up.”

A third matchup with Aledo, to determine playoff seeding, didn’t go Cleburne’s way. But that mattered little as the Lady Jackets ran through Sherman, Birdville and Denison to reach the regional semifinals for a second straight year.

The Lady Jackets were forced to a third game in the series with Andrews, but came away victorious, setting the stage for a fourth game with Aledo, this one for the Region I title.

Cleburne, again, played its best game of the season in a 4-0 win over Aledo.

“The second Aledo game was amazing,” Rabe said. “The fans were just amazing and the girls were ready to play. To see the stands full nearly two hours before the game was great. We had great support.”

After qualifying for its first state tournament, the Lady Jackets were treated to a parade before heading off to Austin.

“The parade was a great memory for these girls,” Rabe said. “It is something they should cherish for a lifetime.”

Although the Lady Jackets’ season ended in Austin with a loss in the semifinals, Rabe felt her team played extremely well.”

“That game with Little Cypress-Mauriceville was for the state championship,” Rabe said. “And our girls really impressed a lot of people in Austin. They were the talk of the tournament and everybody was talking about Cleburne.”

Overall, Rabe was happy with the season and her three years in Cleburne.

“We accomplished a lot in my three years here,” she said. “But all of the credit goes to the girls. They worked so hard and stayed focused. Girls, I’m just so proud of you and I will miss you.”

Sophomore pitcher Katie Cowan was chosen by the team for Most Valuable Player honors, while the Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards went to Waits and Oleksak, respectively.

Sophomore Brittany Braswell was chosen as the Most Improved Player, while fellow sophomore Jenna Richardson won the Hustle Award.

Jenna Richardson was chosen as the winner of the prestigious Lady Jacket Award.

Several members of the Lady Jacket JV Black team were honored with awards.

Kaley Fagan was the MVP of the team, while Maricar Conson was the Most Improved Player. Callie Martyniuk was the Defensive Player of the Year and Katelynn Kirkland was the Offensive Player of the Year.

Ebony Calhoun picked up the Hustle Award, while Alyssa Kieschnick was the winner of the Lady Jacket Award.

The JV Gold Team had two award winners — Amelia Lanki and Sarah Jordan. Lanki was the team’s Most Valuable Player and Jordan won the Most Improved Player honor.

Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or

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