When the Acton-Boxborough Regional softball team lost in the Division 1 North semifinal to Newton North, 11-10, the players did what they did after every game, win or lose.
Senior captains Hannah Graney, Kara O’Riley, Kirsten Pfister and Michelle Surdan were almost on autopilot. They had performed the same postgame ritual for the last three years under coach Mary Matthews: shake hands with opponents; thank umpires; line up on the edge of the outfield for sprints.
But on the last night of their high school careers, there were no sprints, no more games for which to prepare. When the four captains met on the foul line in left field at Martin Field in Lowell, the finality of it all set in.
They hugged. Tears flowed. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.