It didn’t take long for the marquees around Newberry to give shoutouts to the Newberry High School baseball team for snagging the FHSAA Class 1A state title last week—the first in school history.
From Newberry City Hall to the NHS and Newberry Elementary digital signs and even the Archer Elementary School, the message is similar: “Congratulations NHS Baseball 1A State Champions! Go Panthers!”
Local restaurants Woodyard Grill and the Stone House Neighborhood Grill aired the state semifinal and title games, causing fans to wait in line for seats.
In 1979, Newberry missed the chance at a state title, losing 6-3 to Clearwater Central Catholic in the Class 2A state championship game. That was the closest the school had come at winning a baseball state title—until now.
The 2021 Panthers have etched their place in the history books, finishing the season with a 19-game winning streak.
“The whole city is bursting with pride in these boys and their accomplishment,” said Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe, who is also a teacher at NHS. “They have created a legacy for themselves by bringing home the first state title for Newberry High Baseball, and we are so proud of them and their coaches!”
Hawthorne Mayor Matt Surrency posted his congratulations on Facebook for Newberry and the nearby Trenton softball team for their accomplishments: “Congrats to the 2021 Softball State Champions Trenton High School and the 2021 Baseball State Champions Newberry Panthers Baseball! Way to represent our area!!!”
The team has also been invited to be recognized at the June 22 Alachua Board of County Commissioners.
Now, according to NHS Principal James Sheppard, now it’s time for the community to celebrate.
Sheppard attended the games in Fort Myers and said he was impressed with the number of fans, family and alumni who made the trip down to cheer on the Panthers.
“It took everyone to make this happen,” Sheppard said. “It took the community, the teachers, the students, the players, the administration.”
That’s why Sheppard said it was important to invite the whole town to a party in the team’s honor.
“You know Newberry,” Sheppard said. “We preach family around here, so we want the whole Newberry community to have the opportunity to come out and celebrate these young men and just a job well done.”
There will be free hot dogs and burgers, Sheppard said, along with team introductions and speeches by the coach, the athletic director and the superintendent of schools. The marching band and cheerleaders will also perform.
A special announcement will be made about the local businesses that sponsored the team as well, he said.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Sheppard said.
The event starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 27 at the NHS football field just two blocks south of City Hall.