HANOVER TWP. — This is the stuff from which joy is spun, the seeds of infectious smiles, the home of satisfaction that settles in the heart for a warm afternoon regardless of the actual temperature.
There were almost as many unforced errors by the Hanover Area softball team as there were grins from their opponents when Life Skills students — those with special needs of a wide range— took on the high school softball team.
Kayla Keiho popped the baseball backwards from the T-ball mount, but got a single anyway. In fact, no Life Skills student missed a hit or failed to eventually get to home plate, including Michael Ambrose, who let Superintendent Andrew Kuhl pinch hit a line drive down center field, then gleefully piloted his electric wheelchair for a four-bagger.
Coincidentally, precious few of the seasoned softball players got to first base; Emily Bobos’ effort looked like slo-mo run replayed in slower-mo, and her heroic slide fell a foot short anyway. Those rare ones who did get on base still got tagged out before nearing home.
On defense, the ball rolled past pitcher Sarah Tuzinski so often the mound looked like a turnpike booth equipped with E-ZPass. Coach Kathy Healey was undeterred in praising her team’s skill at making the outing a success. “It’s our way of giving back,” she said.
For a bit before the game Thursday morning, Jasmine Graves seemed reluctant, lingering in the dugout while others headed out to warm up. Kuhl, dressed down in sweats and sneakers, sat next to her in a heart-tugging tableau, arm around her shoulder, and whispered encouragement. Before long she was on the field high-fiving friends and tossing the ball.
“She gets in a mood,” Kuhl said, “but once she’s out there, she’s fine.”
The school started the tradition last spring with Life Skills shutting out the high school softball team 20-0, and before a player was on the field, Kuhl vowed it would be an even bigger win this year.
As the lopsided score mounted with each added gleeful score, District Business Manager Tom Cipriano gave the quintessential answer to the question “who’s winning?”
Without missing a beat, smiling as broadly as the students on the field, he said simply: “We are.”