Senior softball players Kali Austerman, left, and Maelynn Butler, right, with coach Lissa Walker, center. [ Ken Paulk | The Star ]

Port St. Joe softball celebrates end of season

Players and parents met at the Pomodoro Italian Grill on Tuesday, May 16, for Port St. Joe’s annual softball banquet. 

After enjoying a buffet meal, Coach Lissa Walker spoke to the group about the season before handing out several awards. 

To the parents, Walker said “without you, there is no season. You are the driving force behind the success of the team.” 

Specifically mentioning those parents who had helped with field maintenance and concessions, Walker said “thank you for everything you do to keep our team going in the right direction.” 

Of the season’s outcome itself, Walker said that “it wasn’t what we expected. We had a lot of lows and some highs, and we just fell short of our goals.” 

Summarizing the recent remarks of NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, Walker said that “there are no failures in sports. There are seasons when you don’t get it done, but those are building blocks for getting better.” 

With the departure of only two seniors – Kali Austerman and Maelynn Butler – Walker remains optimistic about the Tiger Shark teams to come, saying “it’s up to us to make the changes we need to improve, what we can improve on, and what we need to let go of to improve.” 

“But,” she said, “I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with. I am blessed to have them, (because) top to bottom, they are great kids.” 

With those words, Walker began handing out special awards. 

Awards given

Five players received “Tiger Shark” awards: Kali Austerman, Brooklyn Bishop, Addy Creekmore, Elli Newman, and Addy Silcox. 

Other award recipients were: 

● Young Gun – Christina Clayton 

● Most Improved – Hailey Green 

● Scholar Athlete – Maelynn Butler 

● Leadership – Chelsea Bishop 

Walker also recognized her two departing seniors, Austerman and Butler, with a framed jersey and a Port St. Joe blanket for each. 

“As a coach, it is always hard to see seniors go,” Walker said. “Both of these girls have provided so much to the program.”

Austerman will continue her softball career at Gulf Coast Community College, while Butler will study nursing in college. 

Walker concluded with a reminder to her returning players that they will begin getting ready for next season as soon as school is out for the summer.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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