The ‘Strike Out Cancer’ event is a home run | News, Sports, Jobs
VINCENT — Heavy hearts were front and center at Warren High School as three Mid-Ohio Valley softball programs came together for a round-robin format as part of the “Eliminate Cancer” event on Saturday.
Warren hosted Waterford and Parkersburg South as part of the awareness and opportunity to remember Jill Gates, a 2003 Warren graduate and former Warrior College softball coach, who died March 21. In addition to pink socks as part of their uniform, Warren players wore pink hair ribbons with the initials “WJG”. The abbreviation stood for Warren Jill Gates.
“Jill Gates was the college coach until about halfway through their tryouts,” Warren High School softball coach Katie Dickson said. “She had been battling cancer for six years. She held out for several weeks of our pre-season and just before the start of the season she passed away.
“We kind of organized this at the last minute and wanted to pay tribute to him. She has always been a great supporter. She plays the pink game for our youth league. She has coached just about all of our players except our seniors and has been part of our program for so long.
The meaning of the afternoon did not escape South head coach Tim Burch. The Patriots arrived at the Warren campus at 8:00 a.m. intending to play two scheduled varsity games in addition to a junior varsity game. When the college games ended, there was enough light left for a Warren College game, but not enough for a South JV contest.
Burch made an executive decision and told event organizers to move forward with the college game and that his program would withdraw regardless of any possible repercussions from the players who made the bus trip near 10 hours earlier.
“It’s the right thing to do – the middle schoolers have lost their coach”, said Burch. “God, if we can’t do this for each other, we’ve lost sight of what we’re doing.”
Cara Taylor’s parents probably had good reason not to use the letter “K” to determine the first letter of her first name. That’s because the Waterford eldest is nearing the end of her high school softball career with a single “K” (jargon crossed out) as part of her offensive numbers.
After scoring 5 for 7 in two games on Saturday “Eliminate Cancer” Taylor recalled the events leading up to the performance of a career the night before when she hit for the cycle in order. She finished 5-for-6 with eight RBIs, including a grand slam to cap the 21-9 win over Federal Hocking.
This feat marked Taylor’s first career cycle and her first career grand slam.
“Last year at Federal Hocking was my only game where I didn’t have a hit – I got into the mindset this year is going to be different,” said Taylor, who will attend Muskingum University in the fall. “But what I did last night was not what I expected.
“The grand slam, I didn’t know it was out. I was running the bases and the coach was telling me to slow down, slow down. Everyone came out and waved at me. It was really cool.”
Friday’s win over Federal Hocking included several feats, including Wildcat coach Doug Baldwin, who has 400 career wins. Baldwin is currently in the No. 30 season with the Wildcats.
With Saturday’s 8-7 victory against South, the total rises to 401.
“The 401 wins are due to great kids, great coaches who helped me – they just did what we’ve been asking for for 29 years,” said Baudouin. “I told my coaches, it’s not about me. It’s about the kids. It’s a milestone and something I’ve worked for, but our kids work hard every day. .
Contact Kerry Patrick at [email protected]