For the final time: Lady Bulldog senior soaks up last moments, memories on field

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 23, 2018

Among roars and claps from fellow teammates, Natchez High School’s Deja Hudson walked toward the pitching circle Friday to greet softball coach Bonita Hamilton.

As she was handed a bouquet of balloons swaying in the wind, Hudson covered her face and began to cry.

Friday marked the final time Hudson would take the field as a Lady Bulldog, and the reason for her sorrow was evidenced by the past three years of faithful dedication. The place she had called home lay mangled with cleat marks in front of her eyes for one last time.

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“I’m not ready for it to end,” Hudson said, still with tears in her eyes.

By the time Hudson was honored with the remainder of Natchez High’s seniors, the Lady Bulldogs had already fallen in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series to Picayune, 13-0. They would go on to fall in Game 2, 10-0, on Saturday to be eliminated from MHSAA Class 5A postseason contention.

Yet, Hudson isn’t going to be forgotten, Hamilton said.

“She is hard worker,” she said. “When she isn’t doing her best, it affects her emotionally because she knows what she can do.

“I hope she can leave that with some of her teammates. A lot of the girls look up to Deja. She’s just a leader.”

Hudson agreed during her time with Natchez softball, she could feel the pressure to perform.

“I know that no matter how hard it gets, I can never give up,” she said. “You never know what kind of impact you can have on other people.

“They look up to me. It’s like I’m their big sister.”

In the heat of the moment, however, Hudson said she never wanted to quit.

“I just enjoy playing. I really do,” she said. “I know I’m going to miss everything.”

Beyond softball, Hudson will remain connected to athletics in college as she has already secured her spot as a clarinet player in the Alcorn State University Marching Band.

Hudson said she plans to study physical therapy in college.

“I’m ready to start my life,” she said. “I’m just not ready to pay bills.”

Though Hudson knows life’s bills are waiting for her eventually and no matter what happens in the future, she said she will always remember the Lady Bulldogs.

“These people are my family,” Hudson said.

As Hudson wiped the tears from her eyes to pose for a photo, Hamilton leaned over and kissed her cheek.

“I’m proud of her. I’m very proud of her,” Hamilton said. “And, I’m going to miss her.”