As Roger Clemens continues to sully America’s pastime (steroid allegations, the Brian McNamee mess, the long-time affair with Mindy McCready), it would be nice to see a feel-good story coming out of baseball for a change. But we couldn’t find one, so we checked out it’s sister sport, softball - and discovered a tale of true sportsmanship that softened our hardened hearts.
(L: Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky;
R: Central Washington’s Mallory Holtman)
ESPN’s Graham Hays shares the story of Sara Tucholsky, a senior for Division II Western Oregon, who was hitting 3-for-34 in her final year & would have completed her collegiate career homerless - if not for the kindness of an opposing player.
During a game against Central Washington, Tucholsky had finally cleared the fences with a 3-run shot. During the excitement of her trip around the bases, Sara had missed first. But as she doubled back to tag, her right knee gave out, and she crumpled to the dirt. It was diagnosed later that Sara had torn her ACL.
As the injured WOU player lay there, her coach Pam Knox had very few options. She could substitute in a pinch runner for Sara, but then her home run would be taken off the board & be counted as only a two-run single. And if any coaches or trainers were to touch Sara while she was an active runner, she would be called out.
“And right then,” Knox said, “I heard, ‘Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?’”
The question was asked by Mallory Holtman, a senior for the Central Washington squad who was facing some major knee surgeries of her own at the end of her career. Since there was nothing in the rule book against it, Mallory & CWU teammate Liz Wallace hoisted Sara under their shoulders and gingerly carried her along the basepaths, stopping to make sure her left foot touched each bag.
When the threesome arrived at home plate, they were given a standing ovation by the CWU home crowd. Afterwards, Holtman explained her act of generosity:
“Honestly, it’s one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me. 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.”
Western Oregon went on claim victory, 4-2, with Sara’s special home run being the difference. But Mallory Holtman was the game’s true winner.