There was a banner and balloon special sendoff early Monday night at the Daniel E. Mazzulla Field in Johnston War Memorial Park.
In the center of the Glenn Carroll-emceed ceremony were five girls - JHS senior softball standouts Madison Plouffe, Lauren Civetti, Cheyenne Day, Katerina St. Angelo and Jordan Moretti - who played the final home game of what have been highly-successful careers for what some have called those Lady Panthers Fantastic Five.
Bolstered by Plouffe's six-hit pitching and a lid-tight defense, Johnston notched its 11th Division III triumph - a 7-1 triumph - that enabled the Lady Panthers to complete their regular season with an impressive 11-3 record.
However, as Head Coach Manny DeCosta observed after the sun-covered contest, "Our five seniors are going to be very hard to replace next season. Not only are they great players, but they are also great leaders in different ways. Some lead by example and others lead by how they are so positive and some lead by doing it all."
The Johnston skipper suddenly paused as a wide smile appeared on his face.
"That said," DaCosta said while watching the post-game celebration, "I don't believe this is the end and we are looking forward to a great end of the season going into the playoffs."
Johnston will now await the pairings of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League's fast-pitch softball state tournament that will reportedly be announced Friday evening at the annual coaches meeting.
But neither DaCosta nor the Lady Panthers are concerned about their post-season pairing, especially after the way they dispatched Portsmouth Monday night.
The Blue and White rode the nifty 6-hit pitching of Plouffe's pitching, as she kept those half-dozen Patriots hits scattered through seven innings.
Moreover, as DaCosta said, "Maddi did a great job in letting her defense do its job."
Plouffe also defied the theory that pitchers don't hit, as she knocked out one hit in three tries and scored two of Johnston's seven runs.
The Lady Panthers 8-hit offense was also bolstered by Johnston's smooth-fielding shortstop Jordan Moretti who went 2-for-4 with an RBI and score a run; Sophie DaCosta who went 1-for-2 and has two sc flies and three RBI and scored a run; and catcher Kat St. Angelo who knocked in and scored a run.
Lauren Civetti, the Lady Panthers' super second sacker, led Johnston with two hits in four trips to the plate while driving in and scoring a run.
All of which led to DaCosta'a enthusiasm during the post-game celebration and people like Johnston's Athletic Director proclaiming, "We'll really miss all the seniors. They've been special to this talented team in so many ways. We're hoping their success continues all the way to the state finals."