SANTA MARIA — The second annual North versus South senior softball game was held on Wednesday at the Allan Hancock College Bulldogs softball field across from the college and raised approximately $4,000 according to Sheila McGuire that will go toward helping former Righetti softball player Stevie Wisz who will undergo her third open heart surgery Friday morning. Donning a fresh blue t-shirt with National Champions etched across her chest, her college softball team UCLA recently won the Women’s College World Series, and her golden blonde hair blowing in the wind Wisz tossed out a perfect first pitch and the game was on.
With around 300 fans in attendance, it was all North in this game with a huge boost from the North County as the girls from Templeton, Atascadero and Paso Robles put together a fantastic performance in their final high school game ever both in the circle and in the box. Templeton’s Ashley Daugherty joined Atascadero’s Bailee Crawford, Claire Lohayza, Gabrielle Hinzo, Katie Perry, Shelby Moody and Paso Robles’ Kirra Vargas and Lya Abel in making up the North County’s players in the game.
Fresh off a CIF title, Daugherty started the game pitching for the North and picked up right where she left off a month ago scattering no more than a handful of hits across the yard with a few walks sprinkled in, yet the South had no runs to show for it when it was all said and done.
“It was super fun,” Daugherty said. “I thought it would be kind of awkward at first with all these girls but it was actually super fun and I loved the intensity and energy from our dugout and it was just a great time being able to play with girls that are usually your rivals.”
Wednesday was the first time Daugherty was able to meet the team because she could not make it to the practice on Monday due to playing travel ball.
Offensively the team from the North came out swinging as former San Luis Obispo pitcher turned Oregon State Beaver Xiao Gin smacked a leadoff double. Next into the box was former Bearcat Abel who promptly singled driving Gin in from second for the game's first run. Daugherty stepped in next and hit a rocket so hard that the infielder couldn’t handle it and recorded an infield hit also advancing Abel to third who came in to score on a wild pitch during Bailee Crawford’s ensuing at-bat.
The North County batters were stacked up in the order and next up was Co-Mountain League MVP Lohayza who after two healthy hacks, dinked one right in front of home plate, swinging just over it, but still enough to score a run extending the first inning lead to 3-0.
The North would add two more runs in the bottom of what would have been the third inning, rather than playing a certain number of innings the game instead ran for one hour and 15 minutes, with this rally starting with a Daugherty single followed by a Crawford walk. Lohayza occupied the leadoff role for the Hounds this season and took full advantage of her base runners as she drove in another run, this time on a single, to record her second RBI in as many at-bats. San Luis Obispo’s Samantha Godfrey drove in the next and ultimately final run as the North won the game 5-0.
The only word to describe the game from the players' point of view? Fun. That was the first word out of every girls’ mouth when asked about the game.
“It was honestly really fun being able to play with all the people that I have competed against for the last four years,” Abel said. “And just making the friendships and knowing I get to play with Ashley [Daugherty] and Kirra [Vargas] one more time.”
In a world like sports that is often competitive, sometimes to the point of corruption, it was a fantastic afternoon to remind everyone that sometimes you play the game for a different reason.
“You come together for one cause and play for something bigger than softball,” Daugherty said and with $4,000 raised she was absolutely right.