The Lauthers family's phones have been ringing endlessly and their mailbox has been full since the Fannett-Metal Tigers softball team won the PIAA Class A championship.
Phone calls from family, cards from friends, texts from basketball referees, well-wishes from strangers, newspaper clips from store owners - the list goes on and on.
"Everywhere we go, someone's so proud of us," said Blaire Lauthers, Fannett-Metal's pitcher. "I mean, little Fannett-Metal - everyone says little Fannett-Metal doing big things. People know where we are now. Well, maybe not where we are, but who we are."
The Tigers' run to a state championship was a team effort, without a doubt, but the catalyst behind the run was the power-hitting, flame-slinging Lauthers, the Public Opinion Softball Player of the Year for the second year in a row.
Her season totals are impressive enough: a .519 batting average, 21 RBIs, 26 runs, eight doubles, two triples and five home runs to go along with an 0.84 ERA, 183 strikeouts, 33 walks and 61 hits in 125.1 innings pitched.
What separates Lauthers is her performances in the playoffs.
In the District 5-A championship against Berlin, Lauthers threw a 13-strikout one-hitter while scoring two runs offensively.
"Once we made it to districts and saw who we were playing, I thought if we worked hard enough we could do it," Lauthers said. "States was just extra."
The state tournament meant more big performances and more strikeouts,
In the quarterfinal game against Elk County Catholic, Lauthers struck out the side on nine pitches in the top of the seventh inning to end the game.
She nearly repeated that feat in the final against Southern Columbia, when her pitches had noticeably more zip than the previous six innings and she worked at a feverish pace, leaving little time between pitches for batters to think about their recent whiff.
She fell one pitch short. The final ball ended up dribbling slowly back to the pitcher's circle, which Lauthers fielded and flipped to first baseman Melissa Zeger for the final out.
"It seems like it takes about until the third inning before she starts to pick it up," Fannett-Metal coach Stewart Miller said. "There's no doubt about it: You get up to the late innings of the game and she's at her best."
Lauthers said, "A strikeout's always easier but that's not the way it always happens. I just have to think if they hit the ball then I have a good defense behind me. That's my mentality the whole time. If it's a strikeout - yeah, ooh, that works. But if they hit the ball, it's going to happen. That's the way the game's played. You just have to trust your defense."
More than anything, Lauthers wanted to make it through to play another game.
Lauthers said, "In the back of my head I thought, 'If you lose, you're done.' And I didn't really want to be done. So you have to play your best every game to make sure you're not done. I think everyone else had that same mentality because I feel like everyone else stepped up, too. The younger girls hadn't been in that playoff atmosphere and they really stepped up there."
In the batter's box Lauthers looks calm and self-assured.
Batting in the No. 3 hole, the junior had a state playoff batting average of .545 with four RBIs and three runs.
Against Chartiers-Houston in the semifinals, Lauthers hit a 215-foot, two-run homer to centerfield. But her biggest hit of the playoffs was a scratch single.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning of the PIAA championship game and Megan Dougherty on third base, Lauthers shuffled her feet as the pitch came in - she calls it her "happy feet" - and hit a groundball to the right of the shortstop, seemingly a routine out.
Lauthers ran the hit out and just beat the throw to first, allowing Dougherty to score the game's only run.
"Depending on how fast the pitcher is, as long as you hit the ball, no matter how hard you hit it, the ball's going to go," Lauthers said. "I'm just trying to put the bat on the ball and make something happen because if you just stand there and watch, nothing is going to get done."
Winning isn't just something you do. It's a mentality you build up over time and usually involves struggles along the way.
Lauthers is a multi-sport athlete, playing volleyball in the fall and basketball in the winter. Like softball, she excels at those sports. But she had her share of shortcomings there also, which has helped build her mental toughness.
At a recent boys basketball open gym, Lauthers passed some of her secrets off to a someone who said he couldn't make a foul shot.
"I said, no, you can't make a foul shot because you think you can't make a foul shot," Lauthers said. "You have to think that you can do it because if you think you can't, you're not going to. That's my mentality. You have to keep thinking positive because the minute you think something negative, it goes negative. Something bad happens because you let it happen.
"There's experience in bad things happening. You just have to stay motivated."
Colin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4819, or on Twitter @ColinStevens06.