In the end, he was no match for the emotion.
“After I realized that we got the third out, I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t cry.’ After knowing what we accomplished, I couldn’t help it,” Harris said.
The Tornadoes wrapped up just the third fast-pitch softball title for a school in Walker County. Oakman won the Class 2A state championship in 2006 while Sumiton Christian won the 3A title in 2010.
“What people don’t realize is how hard it is to win it all. I told the girls that in the history of Walker County, there are just a few state championships. They are in an elite class,” Harris said.
Parrish ran through its first two games before clashing with Kinston in three nail-biters on Saturday. The Tornadoes needed a late rally to win the first meeting 4-3 and they dropped the second game 7-3 before blanking the Bulldogs 5-0 for the championship.
Harris said his team was mentally prepared following its lone loss of the tournament.
“After we lost, I called all the girls out there with me. I told them, ‘After everything we’ve put into this, go out there and win it for us, not for your grandparents or your parents, but for us,’” Harris said.
After winning the pregame coin toss to decide the home team, Harris elected to bat first.
“I said, ‘We want to hit.’ We come up with two runs right off the bat and Grayson (Culverson) shut them down after that,” Harris added.
Culverson finished as the tournament MVP. She won four games on the mound and also came up with the game-winning hit in Parrish’s first win over Kinston.
She is one of three seniors on the squad along with Savannah Jones and Tayler Winchester.
Harris was proud of the way his team performed in its first trip to the state tournament.
“Not one of these girls had been there. The situation is like nothing we’ve seen. The girls are used to playing in front of 50 to 55 people. You get down there and there are hundreds of people on each side. You’ve got to overcome that pressure. The girls impressed me with their poise. They settled in and they enjoyed it,” Harris said.
Parrish promises to be a state contender again in 2014 despite losing three of its top players.
“We will have a lot coming back. We’ll have four juniors and two sophomores. We are losing a lot, but we’ve got some good players coming back, too,” he said.
The school is holding a celebration for the team today beginning at 8 a.m. in the high school gym.
Harris said the team will present the school with the state championship trophy — Parrish’s first since the football team won the state title in 2003.