The North Central Texas College Softball Team Players
Brooke Deckard, 20 (November, 16 1994–November 26, 2014); Jaiden Pelton, 20 (December 7, 1994–November 26, 2014); Megan Richardson, 19 (January 23, 1995–November 26, 2014); and Katelynn Woodlee, 18 (February 19, 1996–November 26, 2014)
The North Central Texas College softball team suffered great tragedy in late September when a bus crash killed four players—Brooke “Brookie” Deckard, Jaiden Pelton, Megan Richardson, and Katelynn Woodlee.
Deckard, a sophomore from Blue Ridge who played first base at NCTC, was a passionate teammate and friend. At Blue Ridge High School she was a quadruple-sport athlete, playing softball, volleyball, basketball, and tennis. Although she earned awards for her setting talents in volleyball, her primary passion pitching and playing first base on the softball team. At NCTC she was studying business.
Pelton, a sophomore from Telephone and a catcher for NCTC, graduated from Sam Rayburn High School in Ivanhoe. She was considered a role model by coaches and other student-athletes. A talented catcher for the school’s well-known softball program, Pelton was also passionate about music and those close to her, frequently tweeting about her family, friends, and boyfriend.
Richardson, a sophomore from Wylie, was a pitcher for NCTC and studied special education, working as a nanny while in school. Graduating from Wylie High School, Richardson also loved painting and academics. She maintained a 4.0 GPA at NCTC.
Woodlee, a freshman from Windom and an NCTC shortstop, was studying kinesiology. An honors graduate from Dodd City High School, Woodlee was a triple-sport athlete, playing volleyball and basketball in addition to softball, for which she earned All-state Shortstop and All Texomaland. Riding four-wheelers, singing, and being outdoors were among her interests.
Richardson, Pelton, and Deckard all played for the 2014 NCTC team that won the NJCAA Region V Championship and, for the second time in NCTC history, appeared at the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George, Utah.
The four young women were killed on September 26 when the team bus, on its way to a scrimmage against Southern Nazarene University, in Bethany, Oklahoma, collided with a tractor-trailer that had crossed the median on Interstate 35 near Davis. Three others were hospitalized, and eight were treated and released. News of the horrific accident reverberated throughout the NCTC community and numerous Texas towns, as many struggled to make sense of the tragedy. Vigils were held, small memorials of flowers and photographs popped up, and friends, family members, and teammates gathered for four funeral services. Shortly after the accident, the NCTC athletics website shared information about the four players in a post titled “Angels in the Infield.”
Deckard and Pelton were 20, Richardson was 19, and Woodlee was 18. – Lauren Caruba
(Clockwise from top left: Katelynn Woodlee; Jaiden Pelton; Brooke Deckard; and Meagan Richardson.)