Sterlington catcher Rebekah Wood has been waiting to bat in the State Tournament for seven years.

In contrast to the majority of her teammates, Rebekah Wood has been to the Fastpitch 56 State Softball Tournament in Sulphur. Like all of her Sterlington teammates, playing in the tournament will be a new experience.

Rebekah Wood vividly remembers her last trip to the State Tournament in 2010. It was the final game of her sister, Sarah Wood's career. An All-State third baseman, Sarah helped the Lady Panthers to back-to-back quarterfinal appearances in 2009 and 2010.

Sterlington's 7-3 loss to St. Charles in 2010 ended with Sara in the on-deck circle.

"I remember Sarah's last game," Rebekah said. "I'm not sure how many innings they played, but it was a long game. She was crying in the on-deck circle because she wanted to hit so bad, but she didn't get to bat."

Growing up around Sterlington softball, Rebekah has a deep appreciation for the opportunity to play in Sulphur.

"It means a lot because it's the first time Sterlington has made it to the State Tournament in a long time," Rebekah Wood said following the Lady Panthers' 11-0 second-round win over Lake Arthur.

Rebekah was in the sixth grade the last time the Lady Panthers reached the State Tournament in 2012.

Now a junior, she is batting .295 with 13 RBI. More importantly, she has brought stability to the catcher's position. Playing primarily second base last season, Rebekah moved behind the plate when a knee injury forced Madison Smith to miss her senior season.

Sterlington will play Doyle on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals at Frasch Park.

As Rebekah left Panther Park Friday afternoon, her thoughts turned to Sarah, who will soon graduate from LSU.

"I bet she's excited to see me go to Sulphur," Rebekah said. "I went to Sulphur to see her play, now she can come see me play."

Rebekah may shed some tears of her own as she steps to the plate for the first time Thursday afternoon.

"Sarah wanted to bat one last time, but it didn't work out," Rebekah said. "Hopefully, I can bat for her."