This time there was joy in Mudville.
A passing shower drenched the Columbia Middle School softball field last week, but the Raiders' work already was done.
Columbia Middle topped Riverside Middle School 5-2 in the rain-shortened contest, but the victory was official, and improved Columbia's record to 6-0.
The weather didn't put a damper on the dream season. During the weather delay, the Raiders frolicked in the dugout and did everything but sing Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head.
After the umpires ended the action in the bottom of the fourth, the Raiders wanted to storm the diamond and take celebratory slides into home plate.
Columbia Middle coach Vicki Parker put a halt to that idea, but that's the only time the Raiders have been stopped in 2002.
"They're just working very well together. Everybody is having a good time, I hope. That was our goal," Parker said. "I wanted them to have fun and win. That's exactly what they're doing."
Over the past few middle school seasons, Riverside and Greenbrier have fielded the dominant fast-pitch teams in Columbia County.
Now, on the heels of a 7-3 finish in 2001, Columbia Middle School is having a surge of softball success.
"We all set individual goals, and if we reach those, we'll accomplish team goals," said pitcher Andria Batchelor, who has tossed three shutouts and notched a no-hitter this season.
For team captain Summer Peters, team and individual goals are intertwined.
"A 10-0 record - that's my goal," the first baseman said. "We just take softball real seriously."
The strong start is not unexpected for Parker. The first-year coach has a roster made up entirely of eighth-graders, and most of them compete with travel teams during the summer.
"We're older and more mature," Batchelor says. "We have more experience."
Along with Batchelor and Peters, the other Raiders are Jennie Maxwell, Victoria Dye, Sarah Shepherd, Stephanie Silva, Taylor Stouder, Rachel Algeo, Kiara Hinton, Amanda Parker, Lauren Pizarro and Katie Wright.
"I feel more like a manager than a coach, because they all know how to play the game," Parker said. "They all are contributing pretty equally. It's just a matter of them playing as a team."
Playing as a team was the key to an 8-7 win over Greenbrier Middle School earlier this season, which was the first time the Raiders had ever beaten the archrival Lady Wolfpack.
"They wanted to win that game," Parker said. "They want to win every single game."
Amanda Parker said simply, "Unbeaten - that's the word."
Columbia Middle School's quest for a perfect season continues this week with Friday's matchup at Harlem Middle School.
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