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North Central Texas Softball Coach: 'They'll Be With Us All Year, And For Years To Come'

The softball team at North Central Texas College will open its season Friday. It will be the women’s first game since an 18-wheeler crashed into the team bus last September, killing four athletes.

Pitcher Bailey Buchanan is still recovering from that awful night four months ago when her team was returning home to Gainesville from a game in Bethany, Oklahoma.

“I broke my pelvis, broke three vertebraes, and had [a] pretty significant puncture wound on my left hip,” she said.

Buchanan also blew out her left knee in the accident on Interstate 35.

“Emotionally and physically, you have days where you know everything just hits you hard,” she said. “And you have days where it’s just like back like before the accident. We help each other through it all, like no matter whose ups and downs it is, we’re all there together.”

'They were all great girls'

Infielder Rachel Hitt was also on the bus, and ruptured her spleen.

“I went over Christmas break and it still has two centimeters to heal, so I go back in another three months to see what progress its made," Hitt said. 

She says not a day passes when she doesn’t think about the four who died---Brooke Deckard, 20; Meagan Richardson, 19; Katelynn Woodlee, 18; and Jaiden Pelton, 20.

“They were all great girls,” Hitt said. “And inspired all of us. That’s why we’re going to play for them and keep going as they would want us to.”

'It's overwhelming to us'

Since day one, coach Taylor Christian said her team has been flooded with support.

“It’s overwhelming to us, just to see … even today, we still get something in the mail, here and there, that reminds us of it, lets us know that people out there are still pulling for us,” she said.

But that first game day will be a tough one.

“There will never be a day that we step on that field and don’t think about them,” Christian said. “They’ll be with us all year and for the years to come.”

The North Central Texas College Lady Lions play against Southwestern Assemblies of God University at Darwin Field in Gainesville Friday at noon.