For most teams, a loss in a championship game of any kind would be tough to overcome.
For the Palmerton softball team, however, the appearance in a title game alone speaks volumes about how far the program has come over the last few years. It also gives a sense of where it is headed in the future.
A 9-0 defeat to Bethlehem Catholic in the District 11 Class AAA title game is certainly not what the Lady Bombers envisioned, but their success this season with such a young roster has many in the program thinking they'll be on this stage again in the near future.
"I feel like this whole season was just a very good experience because we learned a lot as a team and really came together," said sophomore Janel Tracy. "We're definitely going to work to get back here because we know what it feels like now to be here and to be on the big stage."
Freshman pitcher Kendra Pekurney has been a rock for Palmerton all season, pitching in big games throughout the year with nerves of steel. And while she may have taken the loss in this contest, she appears to only be scratching the surface of her potential.
"I think this game proves we can go a lot further," Pekurney said of her team. "And I think that next year, we can do it. We just have to keep working hard.
"Now we know what it's like to be here and we just have to come out even harder and I really believe that we can do it."
While the success this season is something that the Lady Bombers have quickly taken a liking to, coach Glen Reimer came into the year with many unknowns after experiencing a great deal of roster turnover after last season.
"Losing the five seniors I lost last season, I really thought that we were going to have a rebuilding year and that we'd be lucky if we made districts," Reimer said. "But as the season went on I saw how we were progressing, and we worked hard; we didn't take a day off.
"The commitment level and camaraderie on this team are second to none and that's what has gotten them to the point they're at."
While the loss stings right now, Reimer knows the team has established a strong foundation and that he has the pieces in place to make a successful run at another district title game.
"I would have been surprised if somebody would have said we were going to be where we are now at the beginning of the season," said Reimer. "But now that we're here, I'm disappointed that we lost.
"But I'm excited for next year, I kind of wish it was starting tomorrow. I know what we can do with it and I really think that we can go places next year."
Sam Doherty, one of Palmerton's two seniors, will leave knowing the program is in good hands.
"They're going to go really far," Doherty said. "They're really young and they have a lot of potential.
"I think you'll see a district championship and see them going to states for the next few years."