PORTSMOUTH – Most times, life is bigger than what goes on on the gridiron, on a basketball court, or in a baseball diamond. That’s what makes sports so special: the ability to use it as an escape from reality and be able to set worldly problems and concerns to the side.
Another great thing about sports is the ability to use it to remember something: a moment in history such as Jackie Robinson Day, a national moment like President Bush throwing the missile-like first pitch after 9/11, or the passing of a loved one far too soon.
Portsmouth’s softball program used sports as a time to remember Amy Keating, an english teacher at Portsmouth High School who passed away on February 5th of this year after her battle with cancer.
Trojans’ softball coach Kristen Bradshaw, Keating’s cousin, felt more than compelled to do what she could to remember someone who meant so much to her.
“One of my best friends is the head coach at Rock Hill (Brooke Long) and when Amy passed away, we decided that when they came to play at our place, we would have a “Pink Out” game,” said Bradshaw. “Plus, senior Morgan Grashel wanted to do her National Honor Society project at one of our games to raise money for breast cancer awareness, so we decided tied it all in together.”
All proceeds from Monday’s game between Rock Hill and Portsmouth were donated to breast cancer awareness research, an idea that Bradshaw’s team was all about.
“Not much was discussed before hand about playing the game in Amy’s memory,” said Bradshaw. “I think it was just known how special it was to me, and everyone in the community, and having the t-shirt’s on and all the pink wore by the fans reminded us exactly why we were there and who we were playing in honor of that evening.”
Not only did they raise money for a great cause, Portsmouth also took care of business on the back end with a 9-0 win over the Redwomen of Rock Hill Monday evening. For a single performance, Bradshaw is unsure if she could be any prouder of her team following Monday’s win.
“Seeing the girls play their hearts out, and by far their best game of the season, was indescribable,” Bradshaw said. “It was an emotional evening, for sure. Freshman Olivia Ramey stepped up and hit her first high school homerun, and junior Cassie Potts also hit her first ever. Madison Perry also took another one yard for her third of the season, but this one was by far the most memorable. Our senior pitcher, Kylee Montgomery, threw lights out, and every player in our lineup had a different walk up to the batters box than before. I think they realized it wasn’t about them or the game, and that they were playing for something so much bigger.”
It doesn’t get much better than that if you’re a sucker for incredible stories like this one. Playing their best game of the season with all the elements surrounding the game, what more can you ask for if you’re a head coach?
With their new record sitting at 7-9, Bradshaw is hoping that her team will use Monday’s win as an example of what they’re capable of and ride into postseason play in May playing their best softball.
“I’m really hoping this is a turning point in the season for us, and an eye opener as to how good we can be when we play unselfish and as a team,” Bradshaw said. “I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks of games, and I know they are too.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT