League is about more than game for players with disabilities
DANVILLE – The Boys and Girls Club on Saturday was filled with baseball players and their fans – and the gym floor was their diamond.
The one-day spring training for this year's AMBUCS Challenger Baseball League was a first for the league since it began locally in 2004. And the seasoned batters and catchers – about 20 of the 90 who played last year – were as ready as the big leaguers reporting this month in Florida and Arizona, maybe more.
The event served as a respite from the winter weather and to raise awareness about the program, said AMBUCS President Euan Fernsler. The challenger league is a service project of the club geared toward children with disabilities.
The group spent nearly an hour warming up – catching balls of various shapes, tossing bean bags into holes and taking a swing at the batting tee.
They knew the score.
Everybody hits, everybody rounds the bases, everybody wins. Four Saturdays in June. Three games each.
But for some players, the league is more than a game.
It gave Brittany Anglin, 10, a chance to play sports, said her mother, Diana.
"There's not a lot of things they can do with sports in a wheelchair," Anglin said.
Grace Snodgrass, 17, is "more into it" now than she was when she first started, said her sister and guardian, Kelley Byrom.
"She likes seeing her friends," Byrom said. "She has a strong arm like our mother used to have. She gets so excited after she's done something great."
Kobie Brown-Gollup, 8, likes to bat. Her favorite part of the game?
"When I get to get a home run," Kobie said.
Kobie had her chance during a couple of scrimmage games following the warm ups.
The players were divided into two teams. Half lined up to bat, the other half took the field, or gym floor in this case.
Typically, volunteers are partnered with a player.
But on Saturday, parents or siblings walked with the players to a base or stood behind them as they took their place on deck.
Soon it was Kobie's turn to bat.
She hit and ran to first. She slid into second. She slid into third. She slid into home.
As the last team member rounded the base, the inning was over. It was time to switch sides.
Grace was up to bat.
Kobie covered first. Brittany covered third.
Grace swung and missed.
She eyed the field – the bases were loaded.
Another pitch. Another miss.
She readied for it again.
Again, the pitch. Again, a miss.
But Grace was still in the game.
Out came the batting tee. She swung. She hit. A line drive lofted toward center field.
Kobie was all over it.
She snatched the ball and tagged out Grace, who landed on first base regardless.
Grace was still in the game.
The outs aren't counted and neither are the home runs. In this league, games aren't played for points. The point is: Have fun.