Botetourt County senior softball players will have the opportunity to represent their high school on the diamond this summer if they choose to do so. A softball game for graduated high school seniors is being planned for July 20 and 21 at the Lord Botetourt High School field.
“I’m very excited to have this game at our field,” said LB coach Cheryl Shockley, who will be one of the coaches for the game. “All our girls know about it and at least two have signed up, and I’m hoping for more.”
Of the four River seniors Payton Kreklow was the only one to sign up as of the beginning of the week.
“I contacted all four seniors via a group text just to make them aware of the senior game,” said River coach Steve Austin. “I did not pressure them in any way. I personally think it is a nice thing and I commend Kassie Brammer for working to organize the event.
Brammer, a William Byrd High School assistant softball coach, came up with the idea. She saw where there would be a senior game for baseball and figured the same could easily be done for the softball girls.
“It broke my heart that the seniors wouldn’t have their annual ‘Senior Day’ game,” said Brammer. “We made them some gifts but wanted them to have a day that was really special. Originally we thought of having a senior day at Byrd, with all the girls and some recent alumni participating, but that didn’t work out because we couldn’t even be on the field. So, we decided to open this up to girls from all over, and hopefully Virginia will be in ‘Phase III’ by the time the games are to be played.”
Brammer contacted Gary Walthall, who is one of the organizers of the baseball all-star game, to see what it would entail to do the same for the girls.
“Gary was great,” said Brammer. “He’s a Byrd guy and I’ve seen him at our games. He gave me contact information to get started and some other ideas.”
With the help of William Byrd parents Lisa Powell, Denise Hodges and Melissa Vaughn notices were sent out to area coaches and athletic directors to get the word to the girls who were eligible to participate. While the baseball game is for the area served by the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame, the softball game will be for any senior girl in the area and beyond who would like to play.
“If someone wants to drive two hours to participate, we’ll be glad to have them,” said Brammer.
As of the beginning of the week 26 girls had signed up. Brammer would like to have four teams of 12, so another 22 would be needed to make that happen. She hasn’t been able to reach all the coaches in the area and is working on getting the word out that this is going to happen.
“It was harder than I expected to get e-mails for the coaches,” said Brammer. “We figure we can go until July 10 for sign-ups, so there’s still plenty of time. I know there are some people out there who would want to play and haven’t heard about this.”
Jim Farmer, who is in charge of all the ballfields in Botetourt County, volunteered to have the games played at Lord Botetourt High School. The scheduled dates are Monday and Tuesday, July 20 and 21. There will be two games each night at 6 and 8 pm.
Once the July 10 cutoff date rolls around organizers will split the girls into four teams, and each team will have a different colored shirt. The front will be the same, but the back will have the girls’ name and number.
“If we have duplicate numbers, that’s fine,” said Brammer. “We want the girls to have their own number. They can wear any color pants, socks and belt of their choosing. They will wear their own helmet and use their own equipment.”
The players will all be introduced on the infield along with their parents.
“It will be just like a senior day,” said Brammer. “We’ll announce their plans after high school and give them a rose. We want this to be special.”
Brammer already has a dozen high school coaches lined up to participate in the game. She figures three per team will suffice, with first and third base coaches on the bases and another in the dugout.
Volunteers to coach include Shockley of Lord Botetourt, Ryan Firebaugh of James River, Greg Barton of William Byrd, Johnny Counts of Salem, Lonnie Raines of Glenvar, Amber Waskewicz of Hidden Valley, Nic Sharpe of Cave Spring, Gary Harris of Jefferson Forest, Bryan Forbes of Franklin County, Dustin Campbell of Northside, Meaghan Funk of Floyd County and Marty McMahon of Blacksburg.
Anyone who would like to play and has yet to sign up, or knows of someone who would like to play, can contact Kassie Brammer at email@example.com. There is a “Go Fund Me” page to cover the cost of umpires, jerseys and any other expenses that might come up.
“People can e-mail me and I’ll be happy to share the link,” said Brammer. “This is going to be free to the public, and a chance to acknowledge these girls as the all-stars they are.”