BRUSLY, LA (WAFB) - Several members of the Brusly softball team and the community came together Thursday night to honor former player Carli Jo LeBlanc by retiring her jersey.
It is one of the highest honors in sports and Thursday that honor was all for Carli Jo LeBlanc.
"This is her number and no one can touch her number. This is Jo's," Kristin Hayslett, senior player said.
LeBlanc's jersey, the number 25 she wore while playing for the Brusly softball team, was retired in her honor less than a year after she and her mother Donna, a West Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy were shot and killed.
"I mean, like, it hurts to like realize that she isn't here anymore, but I remember I have her with me through everything because that memories I have of moving forward with her is always there," Hayslett said.
Each one of the Lady Panthers wore the scarlet 25 numbers on their jerseys in memory of the former player. Team members chose to celebrate Carli Jo's successes rather than dwell on the tragedy.
"I come on this field and I play for her everyday," Hayslett added. "I remember and how she tells me to keep pushing and make sure I get my bunts down and hitting and keep my head up."
"Carli Jo was hands down one of the strongest people I ever met in my life," said another senior player, Carli David.
David was a freshman when Carli Jo was a senior. She says playing with her was a dream come true. She described her as a dedicated team player who always gave it her all.
"She would step on this field no matter what was going on and she would get on this field and do her job," said David.
Coach Beau Bouvier remembers Carli Jo as a leader. She pitched the team to a state championship back in 2013. It was the first time the team claimed the title since 1997.
"I mean she was just an unbelievable person and an unbelievable teammate. She was a great player on the field but she was an unbelievable person off of it," Bouvier said.
Carli Jo's father Kerry LeBlanc was choked up at the special ceremony which took place after the game against Parkview Baptist. He said the honor is one he will never forget.
"You grieve here and there, not every day but some days. You have good times and bad times but this is… it helps… it really does," Kerry said.
While the night was about the former player and her mother Donna, Bouvier says it is also a chance for the community to come together and find a bit of peace on the diamond.
"Me and the coaches were talking today and we think today is just some kind of closure you know finally getting closure on this," Bouvier added.
LeBlanc is the first softball player to have her jersey retired. Only four athletes at the school have been honor this way.