She took strike one. And then the senior did something she had never done before -- even in batting practice. The career .153 hitter smashed the next pitch over the center field fence for an apparent three-run home run.
The exuberant former high school point guard sprinted to first. As she reached the bag, she looked up to watch the ball clear the fence and missed first base. Six feet past the bag, she stopped abruptly to return and touch it. But something gave in her right knee; she collapsed in the base path.
"I was in a lot of pain," she told The Oregonian today. "Our first base coach was telling me I had to crawl back to first base. 'I can't touch you,' she said, 'or you'll be out. I can't help you.'"
Tucholsky, to the horror of teammates and spectators, crawled through the dirt and pain back to first.
Western coach Pam Knox rushed onto the field, and talked to the umpires near the pitcher's mound. The umpires said Knox could place a substitute runner at first. Tucholsky would be credited with a single and two RBIs, but the home run would be erased.
"The umpires said a player cannot be assisted by their team around the bases," Knox said. "But it is her only home run in four years. She is going to kill me if we sub and take it away. But at same time I was concerned for her. I didn't know what to do...
"That is when Mallory stepped in."
Mallory Holtman is the greatest softball player in Central Washington history. Normally when the conference's all-time home run leader steps in, Pam Knox and other conference coaches grimace.
But on senior day, the first baseman volunteered a simple, selfless solution to her opponents' dilemma: What if the Central Washington players carried Tucholsky around the bases?
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