Any sports team knows that winning is important, but acting as a cohesive group working together to show true sportsmanship is arguably paramount.
The 2008 softball teams at Western Oregon University and Central Washington University know this all too well. In April of that year, they were facing off in a Great Northwest Athletic Conference game, each vying for a win that could lead to the playoffs. With two runners on base in the second inning, Western Oregon’s right fielder hit a home run. What the other team didn’t know was that it was the first time she’d ever hit one, and that, as a senior, it was her last at-bat ever.
As the other two runners headed toward home plate, 21-year-old Sara Tucholosky, started rounding the bases. She was so caught up in the moment, though, that she forgot to touch first base!
When she turned back, her right knee gave out and she collapsed, forcing her to crawl back to touch the plate. She had torn her ACL.
Immobilized by the injury, it appeared the home run would be reduced to a single-base hit and a pinch hitter would have to be called in to complete the play. But then something incredible happened…
NCAA rules prohibited Sara’s teammates from helping her round the bases, but not members of the opposing team.
Central Washington could have easily taken advantage of the situation, but Sara had hit a home run – and as Mallory Holtman saw it, fair is fair.
“I went to the home plate umpire and asked if we could pick her up and carry her,” said the team’s 23-year-old first baseman.
After getting the okay, she and her teammate, shortstop Liz Wallace, picked Sara up and carried her around the field, dipping her down at each base, before bringing her to home plate!
That move was especially significant since Sara’s three-run hit contributed to the home team’s elimination from the playoffs, with Western Oregon winning the game 4-2.
Asked about her motivation later, Mallory simply said, “She hit it over the fence. She deserved it. Anybody would have done it. I just beat them to it,” adding her coach had instilled in the team that “winning is not everything.”
Central Washington may not have won the game that day, but Mallory and Liz, along with Sara, won that year’s Best Moment ESPY Award.
Watch this incredible display of sportsmanship in the video below, and share if you agree this is one of the greatest examples of “fair play” that you’ve ever seen!