Friday, March 16, 2012

Once in a while, the stars all line up...


It was just after dark — the bottom of the sixth in the second game of a doubleheader — and the Ferrum Panther softball team was deadlocked in a 2-2 tie.

The night had already been one for the storybooks, and it was about to become even more magical...

On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, Ferrum College softball team member Lindsay Etherton was playing her last two games with the team prior to deploying with her U.S. Army Reserves unit. She had been honored with a special Senior Day Ceremony before the start of play during the home USA doubleheader with Averett.  Her parents had surprised her, and the Roanoke Times had been there to record the story of her sacrifice for the nation.  Emotion was plentiful.

Lindsay started at designated hitter in the opener and went 1-3. Her lone base hit was a single in the bottom of the first inning that went to the left of Averett third baseman Chrissy Pickert, who then spun back to the right where shortstop Jenna Rudder could not field the ball.  Lindsay earned an RBI on the hit, scoring third baseman Brittany Barlow from second.  It was the final run for the Panthers that inning as they took a 5-2 lead.  The team went on to win 7-3.

In the nightcap, Lindsay didn't see the field until coach Vickie Van Kleeck brought her in to pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth inning with the game tied 2-2.  That's when the magic happened.  Playing under the lights on an unusually warm late winter evening,  Lindsay dug in at the plate.   Just then, a military jet did a fly-by so low you couldn't hear anything else.

Everyone looked up to see the plane's outline and the lights on the bottom of the plane. It looked, sounded, and felt like the jet was about 100 feet off the ground. It was too eerie that Lindsay was the player coming to the plate at that moment in the game. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, just as it did now as I wrote this.   Others said the same thing.  Someone in the crowd yelled, "That's a fly-over for Lindsay!"

After the deafening noise passed, play resumed and Lindsay promptly ripped a single to center field to drive in the eventual game-winning run.  Averett's first three batters in the top of the seventh inning went down in order, and Ferrum earned a 3-2 nail-biter.

A better script could not been could not have been written and I count this as one of the most memorable moments of my 20 years at Ferrum.

Lindsay leaves the week of March 25 to rendezvous with her reserve unit in Morgantown, W.Va.  The unit has already been informed they can expect to be back in Afghanistan by late spring or early summer. Lindsay is an amazing young woman and we pray for her safety, as well as the safety of all the members of her unit and all our troops all over the world

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