For the second straight year, the high schools of San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County will come together for a senior softball game that will take place on Wednesday at Allan Hancock College. Much like the FCA All-Star football game that players participate in, the primary function of this senior game is to serve as a fundraiser while also giving the kids in the area one last time to, not only compete, but also to play with some of the rivals they have spent a lifetime trying to beat.
While the FCA All-Star game is met with huge sponsors and raffle tickets that could win you a car, the money is funneled back to the school and their athletic programs. The main difference between that all-star game and this senior game is that the money raised during the softball game will go directly toward helping a family in need in the Central Coast. In the first installment of this game last year, the teams raised $2,500 dollars for Paso Robles native Amanda Snowbarger who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2006 and this season the proceeds will go to former Righetti softballer Stevie Wisz who recently made national headlines after an ESPN article written by Wayne Drehs about her life and situation went viral on social media.
Wisz suffers from aortic stenosis, which is a severe narrowing of the aorta as it branches out from the heart, and has seen two different doctors every three months since she was just a year old. Wisz has now reached the point in her life where she is completely dependant on her pacemaker and doctors told her that could no longer participate in sports that require cardiovascular endurance, but that has not stopped her from achieving her dreams. According to the story, Wisz attended UCLA coming out of high school because it was where she was taken for her open heart surgery when she was 15 and loved the school ever since as, “the place that saved her life.” Wisz tried to walk-on to the Bruins softball team but was twice stood up by the coaching staff until she finally got a try out on her third try and was given a spot on the practice squad.
This past January a cardiac surgeon at USC told Wisz she would need another surgery as soon as possible and that she would miss her senior year and senior season in Westwood. Distraught and scared Wisz turned back to her original doctors who had been monitoring her progress for years and they gave her the OK to finish out the season if she took it easy in practice contingent on the fact that she gets another surgery one week after graduation, which is two weeks after the conclusion of the college women’s World Series.
If you have been paying attention to the women’s college softball World Series then you know that UCLA won the title in dramatic fashion and that Wisz is getting a ring she rightfully deserves. On June 13, Wisz was expected to walk across the stage at UCLA earning her degree and begin preparation for her next surgery.
The senior softball game is set up a little differently than the football all-star game because it is less county versus county and more of just a fair matchup giving the girls one last chance to play for a good cause. The North team will be filled with senior girls from as far north as Paso Robles and as far South as SLO while the South team will be full of players from every team past SLO.
This season the Northern team will have an unquestioned pitching advantage as Templeton’s Ashley Daugherty and SLO’s Xiao Gin will both be heading to Division 1 Universities in Texas A&M and Oregon State, respectively, this summer. According to sources, the Northern team was willing to split up the two pitchers but the South declined and are rolling with their girls. Like many all-star games, this one also comes with a special rule. Rather than playing seven innings like a normal high school softball game the teams will play for an hour and 15 minutes and hope to have a barbecue following the game.
As of publication, there were no official sponsors for the game as the coaches have put together their own money to make the game happen but are working to find some local businesses that would be interested in sponsorship.
There are seven girls from the North County that have been confirmed to play with three coming from both Atascadero and Paso Robles (co-Mountain League champs) and one Eagle will join the team. Atascadero’s Bailee Crawford, Gabrielle Hinzo and Katie Perry will join all three Bearcat captains from this season in Brooke Milder (co-MVP of the Mountain League), Kirra Vargas and Lya Abel.