Tragedy & Triumph: Winnsboro Lady Raiders Honoring Fallen Teammate
When the Winnsboro Lady Raiders take the field Friday for Game 1 of their Class 2A bi-district playoff series against Malakoff, they'll do so with thoughts of Autumn Romine.
She won't throw a pitch or make a play in the field, but she'll be with each one of the players this weekend just as she has all year long.
Romine, who starred at Winnsboro as a freshman and sophomore, was killed in an auto accident in June of 2011. And after not speaking about the tragedy for almost a full year, the Lady Raiders entered the 2013 season with a motto in Romine's honor: EG4G2, meaning "Every Game For God and No. 2," which was Romine's jersey number.
“Instead of 1-2-3 Lady Raiders, it’s 1-2-3 EG4G2," said Winnsboro softball coach Steve Burrow. "And we do that before every game and at the end of every game.”
Burrow said Romine was on her way back to Winnsboro after spending some time at a friend's home in Como when she lost control of her vehicle on a stretch of Highway 11 that was narrowed because of construction.
“I got a call at about 5 in the morning from the head girls basketball coach, and all he said was, ‘We’ve lost Autumn,'" Burrow said.
Not surprisingly, it was difficult for the community of Winnsboro to come to grips.
“I taught her in class and she was an exceptionally good kid," Burrow said. "She was always smiling, she was just one of those kids that wasn’t ever not smiling."
Romine was laid to rest with a touching tribute from the softball team.
“She was buried in her uniform and the team stood right behind the pastor at the funeral in the choir and every one of them was in their uniform," Burrow said.
Romine hit over .600 and won 11 games in the circle on the way to garnering all-state honors her freshman year, and followed it up with another solid sophomore season.
"She was the best softball player around the area, and as a coach, you knew that she couldn’t be replaced," Burrow said.
With the tragedy still fresh on everyone's mind, Burrow said the subject of Romine was rarely discussed during the 2012 season.
"This year, we’ve talked about it more and talked about everything she meant to us," Burrow said. "We’re not gonna use her number ever again. We dedicated a real nice plaque that’s mounted on the back or our home dugout. Her mother was here on Senior Night, and we honored her achievements along with the other four seniors.”
Now, it's almost as if Romine never left.
"The kids are more open about Autumn because they're more healed," Burrow said. "And as we talked more about it, I would tell the kids that Autumn’s with us at every game.”
Winnsboro Lady Raiders
Head Coach: Steve Burrow
2013 Record: 18-8-1 (2nd in District 14-2A)
Up Next: Class 2A Region II bi-district playoff series vs. Malakoff (Game 1, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Malakoff HS; Game 2, 3 p.m. Saturday, Winnsboro HS; Game 3 follows Game 2 if necessary
- Danielle Gregory, Sr. (.671, 7 HR, 39 RBI, 9 3B, 13 2B, 47 R, 25 SB)
- Kasey Thomas, Fr. (.494, 6 HR, 31 RBI, 12 2B, 41 R, 22 SB)
- Brenda Jongsma, Sr. (.474, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 2 3B, 6 2B, 23 R)
- Kim Jongsma, Jr. (.442, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 10 2B, 19 R)
- Victoria Jones, Soph. (.403, 15 RBI, 6 2B, 16 R)
- Brenda Jongsma (15-5, 2.69 ERA, 65 K, 93.2 IP)
- Kim Jongsma (2-3, 3.09 ERA, 24 K, 45.1 IP, 4 SV)