EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A Tri-State youth travel baseball team will soon take off for Puerto Rico and Wednesday evening was one of their final batting practices before then.
When one of the players’ parents found out she had cancer, she realized just how deep their bullpen is.
Almost every move in baseball is counted and calculated, from the number of pitches to batting averages. The stats are important to show progress of the team or player. But the lessons these boys are learning can never be measured.
In baseball, you can count number of balls and strikes along with the innings and outs. And you can certainly count the number of runs on the scoreboard.
But for the Southern Indiana Spikes, the game is about more than just winning or losing.
“Win or lose, they will take care of themselves,” head coach Henry Cruz said. “But showing them how to play the game the right way and making sure they have the love and the passion for the game.”
The 14 and under team is taking off to Puerto Rico on Tuesday and ahead of their trip were a few final swings.
“It’s a once in life time experience and I’m glad I’m there to experience it,” player Carter Walker stated.
Their coach grew up in Puerto Rico and was able to schedule a few games there, but most their time will be away from the baseball diamond.
They’ll host a youth baseball clinic, visit a rain forest and go snorkeling, find humanitarian work, and also visit a local children’s hospital.
"Have some fun with them and try to get their mind off of the hospital life,” player Tyler Orr described.
“Just never give up and just make the best out of what you’ve got,” player Drew Behny added.
In the video below recorded over the weekend, the boys dressed in pink “DanaStrong” t-shirts, in support of Dana Galloway, the mother of one of the players who was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall. They chose to each give Dana their first place medals, one by one, after winning the tournament.
“These kids really care about each other, not just about them but their families too,” Cruz told 14 News.
Dana fought just to be there on Sunday. Although the boys went to bat for her, with tears in her eyes, she said it’s not where the metals belong.
"I’m very blessed that you did that, but I feel you need to have it back,” Galloway expressed.
She put a special “DanaStrong” message on the back of each.
“When you’re battling with anything, not just baseball, but anything in life, take a look at this and realize - just battle, just fight through it,” Galloway told the group.
And just as the team had previously done, one by one, the boys walked up to collect their metal with a hug for their teams hero.
“And think of me, when you’re having a hard time, and just battle, life is precious,” Galloway added.
You can tell their players are already in a league of their own forming friendships that will go beyond the gates of any stadium.
Their week long trip is being paid for mostly through fundraising and donations from local restaurants.