It's Not Whether You Win or Lose

It's how you play the game:

Sara Tucholsky, a senior at Western Oregon and a right-fielder for their NCAA Division II softball team, had a .153 career batting average, making her an unlikely hero in a recent playoff game. But last weekend, when she came up to bat with two runners on base in the second inning, she hit a three-run homer clear over the centerfield fence—something she'd never even done in practice.

She was so excited that she was watching the ball clear the fence as she rounded first and missed the base. Six feet past the bag, she stopped to turn and go back to touch it, only to feel something give in her right knee. She collapsed without having touched the base. Her first base coach told her she couldn't offer assistance; if she touched Tucholsky, she'd be out. So, in agony, Tucholsky crawled back to first to touch the bag.
Western Oregon coach Pam Knox ran onto the field and talked to the umpires. The umpires said the coach could place a substitute runner at first. Tucholsky would be credited with a single. "The umpires said a player cannot be assisted by their team around the bases," Knox said. "But it is her only home run in four years. She is going to kill me if we sub and take it away. But at same time I was concerned for her. I didn't know what to do."
A member of the opposing team did.
Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the all-time home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could carry Tucholsky around the bases. The umpires said nothing in the rule book precluded help from the opposition.

Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky and resumed the home-run walk, stopping to let Tucholsky touch the bases with her good leg. "We started laughing when we touched second base," Holtman said. "I said, 'I wonder what this must look like to other people."'

Holtman got her answer when they arrived at home plate. Many people were in tears.
Um, yeah. Blubbity blub.

Tucholsky's homer ultimately gave Western Oregon a 4-2 victory, "ending Central Washington's chances of winning the conference and advancing to the playoffs." The opposing team's star, Holtman, didn't mind: "In the end, it is not about winning and losing so much. It was about this girl. She hit it over the fence and was in pain and she deserved a home run."

The opposing team's coach later "got a clarification from an umpiring supervisor, who said NCAA rules allow a substitute to run for a player who is injured after a home run. The clarification doesn't matter to those who witnessed the act of sportsmanship." Indeed not.

[H/T to Shakers Befrismf and Mindy.]

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