The Greater Thumb Conference played its first all-star baseball game in 2018 after toying with the idea in 2017.
And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has halted sports both on the local and national levels, a pair of college students made sure local baseball and softball players would have one last hoorah on the diamond.
The students, 2018 Vassar High School graduates Bethany Childs and Vanessa Martinez, stepped up and planned something special for baseball and softball players who competed in the GTC.
The games were hosted by Vassar High School.
Childs, a third-year student at Central Michigan University majoring in event management, with the help of her best friend, Martinez, a third-year graphics design major at Saginaw Valley State University, spearheaded the games.
“Vanessa came to me with the idea,” Childs said. “I love to handle these types of events and wanted to do it for the kids. I wanted them to have one last chance to play before college.”
The two had issues early on finding athletes to play with the unknowns that COVID-19 presented.
“At first it was a little challenging,” Childs said. “Nobody knew what was going on with the pandemic. They weren’t sure if they were gonna be allowed to, but once I told them it was going to happen, they were really happy to come out and play.”
The event kicked off Thursday at 10:30 a.m. with the softball game. Social-distancing was observed with families, friends and players staying safe.
Many players came close to high-fiving, before showing restraint.
Childs mentioned they could not find a statistician to keep score, but realized that stats were not as important as the event itself. She said at the conclusion of the softball game that, although the exact score was not known, the West was victorious.
The game featured Advertiser-area coverage players on both teams.
Marlette featured four players on the East Team – Sidney Colston, Kennedy Lefler, Carleigh Nickens and Lily Wilson.
The West Team featured Sadie DuBois, Allia Morley, Tristin Paquette, Erica Rodammer and Emilee Whitney of Vassar while Rian Hornung, Abbie Huizar and Delaney Peyok wore the maroon and gold for Reese one last time for the West.
Hornung, has signed to play softball at Cleary University.
“It was really awesome to play with my best friends one last time,” she said. “I’m a transfer from Vassar, so it was really cool to play with them one last time and play on this field one last time too.”
The baseball game, a 12-1 victory for the West squad, featured talent from the same areas as the softball game.
The East featured Caro’s Keggan Miller, SVSU baseball commit Kendall Anthes of Cass City, along with teammates Nash Morton and Landin Zimmer of Unionville-Sebewaing Area.
The West team was represented by Bryce Brechtelsbauer and Alex Trombley of Reese, along with Vassar’s own Aaron Bartels, Ethan Dunham, Romeo Gomez, Blake Kerr and Delta College baseball commit Max Kukulski.
Kukulski, a three-year varsity player, committed to play for Delta in December, but was excited to have one last high school home game.
“It felt amazing,” he said. “I just haven’t stopped thinking about playing baseball. We put in a lot of hard work and it just sucked that we didn’t get to have a senior season. We didn’t get to put all the hard work on display. It felt great to do this one last time though.”
Reese’s Alex Trombley had a big day for the West team. He blasted a two-run home run in the seventh inning that extended the lead to double-digits.
“I just wanted to do my best one last time,” Trombley said. “I love baseball, it’s my favorite sport. I’ve been playing it since I was little. I just wanted to do my thing and have God lead me there.”
The Rockets looked forward to an exciting 2020 season after falling 5-4 to Vassar in 2019’s district final.
“It felt unbelievable to play one last time,” Trombley said. “After the upsetting end to last year, I looked forward to playing all season. I was working all year for it to be my best in baseball and it just feels great to have been able to do it one last time.”
Scott Bolsby is a sportswriter for The Advertiser. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.