Pink team wins Strikeout Cancer contest

By John Bombatch Sports Editor jbombatch@civitasmedia.com

May 6, 2014

XENIA —The Pink Team won Monday’s Strike Out Cancer varsity high school softball game, between Greater Western Ohio Conference, South Division foes Fairborn and Xenia, Monday at Athletes In Action Park.

“It was Senior Night, and also our annual Strike Out Cancer game. The money we raised goes to The Ohio State University’s cancer research center. It was Senior Night for Ashley Ashbaugh and Brooke Shinkle,” said Xenia coach Ruth Caudill. “We let down and (Fairborn) managed to score on a couple of our errors, but overall I think we played okay.”

Fairborn had to rally from an early one-run deficit to claim a 5-3 win.

After grabbing the lead 2-1 on a pair of scores in the fourth inning, Becca Haney and Skyhawk teammate Kati Knecht both scored on a nifty bunt by Stephanie Fillback in the top of the fifth to give Fairborn the lead for good, 4-1. Fairborn coach Bob Shively said Fillback’s bunt was a huge play in the game.

“I think really what turned the game around was when Stephanie Fillback put that bunt down. It was like the fourth pitch of the at-bat and Xenia wasn’t expecting it. She put a perfect bunt down and we scored two runs on that. A perfect bunt. You couldn’t place a better bunt if she’d have walked out and put it there,” Shively said. “I’ve been asking them all year to put bunts down, because it’s going to be important. And that one shows how important they can be.”

Fairborn (5-13, 2-7 GWOC South) grabbed an insurance run when Haney led off the top of the seventh with a walk. She stole second, reached third on a passed ball, then trotted home on Bethany Melton’s double into left field. Melton tried legging it out for a triple, but was thrown out.

After two outs to start the bottom of the seventh, Xenia (6-14, 1-8 GWOC South) scored twice on a triple by Bucs senior Ashley Ashbaugh. A Skyhawk fielder misplayed the bounce, and Natalie Jones and Ashbaugh both scored on the play to pull Xenia to within 5-3, but the Bucs couldn’t get any closer.

Both teams wore bright neon pink Strikeout Cancer T-shirts for the game. They’ll wear the same T-shirts for today’s game between the two teams. That game will take place at Fairborn High. Shively jokingly said some of his players might even wash theirs for today’s 5 p.m. game.

“Every year, Xenia and Fairborn get together where we have the shirts made up, we try to find the best price that we can, and then we send sales proceeds from the shirt sales to The Ohio State University to the Stephanie Speilman Cancer Fund,” he said. “It’s near to my heart. I am an Ohio State grad, and I watched Chris Speilman play football and I know what all that he’s been through. So that’s where we send it.

“I think the fact that these two teams do this together … I mean, if you look, both teams want to win this game. But again, when it was over, the camaraderie is there. We don’t necessarily know each other, but we’re doing something for the common good. I think it brings our two programs closer together, so it’s a good thing all around.”