Commentary | Sportsmanship wins in collegiate softball game

April 29, 2014 

When viewing anything sports-related, it's easy to watch athletes do everything they can to win. It's easy to overlook the sportsmanship quality. That killer instinct, like the way Pete Rose barreled over Ray Fosse in Major League Baseball's 1970 All-Star Game, is something we expect from athletes leaving it all on the line.

But then there is something that happens that makes us realize just how much integrity there still can be in sports with athletes turning off the competitive juices and doing the right thing.

Former State College of Florida softball pitcher Chelsea Oglevie was involved in such a predicament over the weekend.

Now at Florida Southern in Lakeland, Oglevie was pitching the last game of her career against Eckerd College.

Eckerd's Kara Oberer smacked a three-run homer off Oglevie on what turned out to be her final pitch. It seemed like a routine go-ahead home run, except it wasn't.

Oberer had hobbled to the plate, because she suffered a leg injury earlier in the game and couldn't do much else.

Yet when the home run was hit, Oglevie wasn't fuming over losing a lead in the last inning. Rather, she helped Oberer around the bases with teammate

Leah Pemberton.

"I've never been the type of person, whose pride is too big to help another person out," Oglevie said. "She deserved that home run. And I wasn't about to let it not happen. ... It was second nature for us. It was how we were raised. It's our beliefs. And there was no softball winning or losing involved, it was all just what we felt was right."

It was a mirror image of what unfolded six years ago between Central Washington and Western Oregon in a Division II softball game.

In that game, Western Oregon's Sara Tucholsky hit a home run and was helped around the bases by Central Washington players, because her right knee gave out when she went to doubled back to tag first base.

"I really wasn't expecting all of this," said Oglevie about the attention she's received. "I thought it was just a kind act to help out another softball player, due to the fact that we love and respect the game rather than getting all this publicity for it."

And it was a lesson to youth players needing some inspiration: Sportsmanship still exists, and the former Manatees' right-handed ace provided a moment that should be cherished for some time to come.

"I'm one of the most competitive people you'll ever meet, but there's a difference between knowing when it's about the game and when it's about being a good human," Oglevie said. "I don't think there was a decision to be made there. I threw a pitch that was hittable and she crushed it. ... I think she should have earned that home run, and I wasn't about to stand in the way from that happening, even if it was my last pitch ever."

What Oglevie did wasn't out of character from SCF softball head coach Meredith Headings' view.

"Since the moment I met her, saw her, talked to her when we recruited her when she was a junior in high school, she's always had that old-soul feel to her," Headings said. "She was mature beyond her years the entire time she was here. She was a unanimous vote to be team captain, because she's so likable and she does things the right way. It's never motivated for anything other than what's right."

Rowers earn national trip

Two teams from the Manatee County Youth Rowing team qualified for the U.S. Rowing Scholastic Nationals based off their performance last weekend at Nathan Benderson Park during the 2014 FSRA Rowing Sweep State Championship.

The Palmetto girls varsity fours and the Southeast boys junior fours qualified when they took second and third, respectively, among scholastic programs competing.

The Palmetto freshman girls fours finished fourth overall in the state with a time of 6:09.80.

They finished behind Holy Names, the Sarasota Scullers and Lake Brantley.

The 2014 SRAA National Championships Regatta is scheduled for May 23-24 at Mercer County Park in Princeton Junction, N.J.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at jdill@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill.

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