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I want to turn your heads away from the NBA playoffs and some guy named Buzz for a moment and bring you a beautiful story that happened 2 days ago, a perfect example of sportsmanship at any level.
Sara Tucholsky, a senior right fielder for Western Oregon, a Division II softball side, had a .151 career batting average. With 2 runners on base, she hit a 3 run blast in the 2nd inning to give her side a 4-2 lead over Central Washington, and a trip to the playoffs was in sight. This was Tucholsky’s first home run of her career, and a wonderful moment for her and her teammates. She forgot to touch the first base bag, as the rules say you have to touch all bases for the home run to count. As she turned and went back to touch first base, the unthinkable happened. Tucholsky collapsed with a knee injury. She was forced to crawl back to first, but at this point, it looked like her lone home run would only count as a single because Western Oregon would need a substitute runner.
The umpire said rules do not allow her teammates to carry her around the bases, there was nothing they could do.
Of all things, her opponents wanted to help. The star player for Central Washington, Mallory Holtman (and all time HR leader for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference), asked the umpire if they could carry her around the bases to have her home run count.
The magic of loopholes, nothing in the rulebook about that. Holtman and her teammate Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky and they had their home run walk. She touched the bases with her good led and the home run did count, many people in the stands were in tears seeing such a great act of sportsmanship. “In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much,” Holtman said. “It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and she deserved a home run.” - Quote from KOMO TV
The umpire definitely didn’t study his NCAA rulebook though. Central Washington coach Gary Frederick clarified with the umpiring supervisor, and NCAA rules DO allow a substitute player to run for an injured player after a home run.
That doesn’t matter now, not only did the home run win the game (neither team scored the rest of the way), Western Oregon are now in the Division II softball playoffs.
Holtman and Taylor were interviewed yesterday on ESPN’s First Take, and are certainly worthy of gaining some notoriety. Take lesson in this, they didn’t care that they were losing, they cared that Tucholsky got credit for what is likely her only home run of her career.
This article was originally written on my blog, Stupid Sideline Reporters.