A moment of Grace

On April 26, 2008, the Western Oregon women’s softball team played against Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. During the course of the game, Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky hit the first homerun of her college career. She dropped her bat and started to make her way around the bases. In the midst of all the excitement, she forgot to tag first base. When the first base coach brought the mistake to her attention, she quickly turned around. To everyone’s horror, her right knee buckled. Crying, she tried her best to crawl back to the base. Tucholsky’s teammates were warned that if they touched her, she would be called out. The umpires also noted that if her coaches opted to call in a pinch runner, the homerun would only count as a single.

You can probably imagine the shock everyone felt, then, when Mallory Holtman, the opposing team’s first baseman and career homerun leader for Central Washington, turned to the umpire and said, “Would it be okay if we carried her around the bases, and she touched each bag?” When the umpires gave their approval, Holtman and teammate Liz Wallace picked up Tucholsky, crossed their hands beneath her, and carried her to second base. Once there, they lowered the injured player and gently touched her foot to the bag. They did the same for third base and home plate. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation. Western Oregon went on to win the game, eliminating Central Washington from the playoffs.

When later asked about the good deed, Holtman said the decision to help out her opponent was simple. She felt Tucholsky deserved the homerun, because the ball cleared the fence. In her own interview, Tucholsky said, “It’s amazing, what they did…I hope I would do the same for her in the same situation.” George Vecsey, a writer who was there covering the game, said what happened can only be described as a moment of grace.

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