GARDEN VALLEY — Hearts were heavy, eyes teary and the mood somber before Wednesday’s softball game as Golden Sierra held a pre-game remembrance for former teammate Shannon Manchester, tragically killed the day before in an automobile accident.
Many on the roster had played with Manchester whose constant smile radiated from behind the red gear she donned at catcher. The Grizzlies dedicated the rest of the season to her and held a retirement ceremony for jersey No. 19 (to take effect next year). The Grizzlies then honored what several said would have been Manchester’s wishes — play and win — by defeating Vacaville Christian 12-1 in six innings.
“That was one of the most emotional things I’ve ever had to do — you could feel each person’s heart crying,” said Hollie Johnson about the team walking the jersey to the center field fence, hand-in-hand. “It’s a huge wakeup call to know she won’t be there anymore.”
Johnson allowed two hits in four innings and an unearned run. Marina Alexander pitched the final two innings and gave up a hit. At the plate, Johnson went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and four RBIs — the exact same stats Samantha Bastien turned in.
“It was intimidating pitching but knew I had to go out there and pitch for her (Manchester) and keep the team up,” Johnson said.
Golden Sierra scored three runs in the first inning, another five after two were out in the second and coasted thereafter. Bastien’s two-run single in the sixth stopped play due to the mercy rule.
Kenna Barth went 3-for-3; Haley Leard had two hits including a double; and Savannah Stephens doubled and tripled for the Griz.
“The team had a choice yesterday to either practice or bond and they wanted to play and let it all out on the field. We didn’t want today to be a sad thing but a celebration of what she’s (Manchester) done,” Golden Sierra coach Becky Pratte said. “What we saw today is the team they want to be.”