Softball teams at Washington and St. Francis Borgia Regional are making the most of getting the chance to play each other this season.
When the two teams get together at Lakeview Park on Sept. 10 with a 4:30 p.m. start time, they’re calling the game Rivals for a Reason and in addition to what promises to be a competitive softball game, senior players from both teams are working together to raise money for nonprofit organization Friends of Kids With Cancer.
Both teams, sharing the same city, were district champions in 2017, but the two teams have not played each other in a varsity contest since meeting at the Union Tournament in 2012. The Lady Knights advanced to the state quarterfinals in Class 3 last season and the Lady Jays were a state semifinalist in Class 4 in 2016.
Multiple players from the two teams share different summer teams and were excited at finding out the game had been scheduled this year.
“We’ve been wanting to do something for a while because we never had the opporunity to play Washington,” Borgia senior catcher Beth Obermark said. “We were thinking that since it’s going to be such a huge game anyway, we might as well make it into something that can benefit something.”
The players then approached their coaches, Andrew Eggert of Borgia and Phil King of Washington, with their idea to make the game mean something more.
“Some Borgia players approached Andrew last spring about making our game a benefit for a good cause instead of just the usual Borgia versus Washington heated rivalry,” King said. “Andrew asked me what I thought, and I told him it sounds awesome. So some of the Borgia seniors and Washington seniors set up a group chat and have been planning it. Andrew and I are letting the girls take charge, and have let them know that we are here to assist them in any way they need.”
“(They’re) planning a really good night of softball and we’ll have some prizes and some raffles and stuff there,” Eggert said.
Prior to the game, the teams offered T-shirts promoting on the event, raising more than $1,000 in shirt sales as of Monday. The deadline to purchase the shirts was extended to this past Tuesday due to the demand.
The players settled on raising money for Friends of Kids With Cancer after both schools have had individuals close to the teams affected by cancer.
“We’ve been talking about this since Steph (Lindemann) and Paige (Babbs) and (others) have all been diagnosed,” Borgia senior pitcher Lizzy Lynchard said. “We’ve always been talking about wanting to do something. This is just the perfect opportunity. It means a lot to all of us. ...We know that both Steph and Paige have used this organization so we thought it was a good way to give back.”
Lindemann is a Borgia alumna and Babbs a current senior at Washington. Lindemann was a standout third baseman with the Lady Knights, batting .470 with four doubles, four home runs, 31 runs, 20 RBIs and 11 stolen bases during her junior year in 2015. An all-conference selection, Lindemann was treated for a nagging leg injury after the season when it was discovered to be cancerous (Ewing’s Sarcoma).
Washington senior catcher Payton Dubberke played summer ball with Lindemann’s younger sister Josie, who is currently Borgia’s senior first baseman.
“We were at a camp at Rockhurst University together and were like, ‘We actually play each other this year — this is great,’ ” Dubberke said. “We decided we should do it because both of our schools have been affected by cancer and everyone there. ...We’re having a barbecue here and there’s going to be a lot of food. We’re going to have a little basket and a 50-50 raffle and we’re going to have a place out here where you can pledge a certain amount of money for each strikeout your team has. So, if you pledge $5 per strikeout and your team has 10 strikeouts, then you donate $50. ... I hope we get a lot of strikeouts.”
The Washington girls are planning for a big turnout at the event.
“I know a lot of people have bought shirts and are planning on coming, obviously,” Washington senior right fielder Emma Piar-Shaw said. “I think a lot of families are making it a point to come out and support each other.”
One idea the girls discussed was incorporating a softball bingo game during the contest where fans would have a bingo card filled with events that could appear in the scorecard like a grand slam, a double play or a hit batter.
Lynchard, who would likely be called upon to pitch the game for the Lady Knights, could have some tricks in mind to help fans get marks on their bingo cards.
“I might,” Lynchard laughed. “I have some friends on Washington who might let me hit them.”
As of print, Borgia has a 2-1 record with the team’s only loss coming against Sullivan, which was also a state quarterfinalist in Class 3 last season. The Lady Jays sport a 2-2 record after losses at the Troy Leadoff Classic to two of the better teams in Class 4 in Hickman and the 2016 state champions, Troy.