Fillmore Central/Exeter-Milligan head coach Steve Adkisson didn't need proof.
He knew he had a squad that could fight and compete, and that showed when the Panthers bounced back from an early deficit against Southern (25-5) in a loser's bracket game in the Class C portion of the state softball tournament.
In heartbreaking fashion, though, No. 4-seeded FC/E-M surrendered two runs in the top of the eighth inning and fell to No. 3 Southern 5-3 Thursday afternoon at the Smith Softball Complex.