We Hear A Lot Of Bad Stories About College Sports

About cheating, about drugs, about wild parties. But every now and then these kids do something that is so wonderful you just, well, hell, I know I’ve got tears in my eyes right now.
Picture this: women’s college softball. Your team is playing a doubleheader against your main opponent in your league, late in the season, both of you locked in a tight race for the title…

Last weekend’s softball series between Western Oregon and Central Washington was supposed to be a battle between two teams trying to win a conference championship.
…And after WOU won the first game 8-1, Central Washington was determined to salvage a split.
In the second inning of a scoreless game two, 5-foot-2 WOU senior reserve Sara Tucholsky, batting just .088 (3 for 34) on the season, stepped to the plate.
The Forest Grove-native had never hit a home run in her four-year career, so when she hit the second offering she saw from Wildcats pitcher Katriina Reime over the center field fence, Tucholsky and her teammates and coaches went nuts.
“Finally, I was thinking, after all that hard work I finally hit one. It was my goal all year,” said Tucholsky.
“The ball was a shot,” WOU head coach Pam Knox said. “Our dugout erupted, and I’m jumping around like a little kid.”
Knox, the Wolves’ third base coach, was high-fiving the other two players as they jogged home, but Tucholsky wasn’t following behind.
“I thought, ‘Where’s Sara?,’ ” Knox said.
Tucholsky, running to first base and caught up in her own exuberance, watched the ball sail over the fence and missed the bag “by five feet,” she said.
Recognizing her error, she quickly turned back to touch the base and then … then there was nothing but pain.
It was her right knee. It had given out.

And therein lies the problem. Her two teammates ahead of her on the basepath had already crossed home and taken themselves out of play. If any of her teammates or coaches touched her her home run wouldn’t count.

Umpires confirmed that the only option available under the rules was to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and have the hit recorded as a two-run single instead of a three-run home run. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while she was an active runner would result in an out. So without any choice, Knox prepared to make the substitution, taking both the run and the memory from Tucholsky.

And that’s when Central Washington senior Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace stepped up to the plate.

“And right then,” Knox said, “I heard, ‘Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?'”
The voice belonged to Holtman, a four-year starter who owns just about every major offensive record there is to claim in Central Washington’s record book. She also is staring down a pair of knee surgeries as soon as the season ends. Her knees ache after every game, but having already used a redshirt season earlier in her career, and ready to move on to graduate school and coaching at Central, she put the operations on hold so as to avoid missing any of her final season. Now, with her own opportunity for a first postseason appearance very much hinging on the outcome of the game — her final game at home — she stepped up to help a player she knew only as an opponent for four years.
“Honestly, it’s one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me,” Holtman said. “She hit the ball over her fence. She’s a senior; it’s her last year. … I don’t know, it’s just one of those things I guess that maybe because compared to everyone on the field at the time, I had been playing longer and knew we could touch her, it was my idea first. But I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it’s the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony.”
Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began a slow trip around the bases, stopping at each one so Tucholsky’s left foot could secure her passage onward.


I know this word is over used these days, but all I can say as I wipe the tears away is how awesome is that?

7 Responses to “We Hear A Lot Of Bad Stories About College Sports”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Oh, my. That is simply inspiring. Such sportsmanship. Would that we see such an attitude from the “professionals”.

  2. nightfly says:

    That’s incredible.

  3. Kate P says:

    Now that’s team spirit *and* ingenuity.

  4. Teresa says:

    Absolutely wonderful. I predict great things from those young women.

  5. joated says:

    Damn fine sportsmanship. There was more than one winner on the field that day.

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