THS, JHS play alumni softball game, honor Paschal

Softball alumni from Thorsby and Jemison took to the field once again as they came together and played in the inaugural Rusty Spikes fast pitch softball game on Oct. 27.

“As a coach, you share such a special bond with your players,” Thorsby head coach Leighsa Robinson said. “Just to be able to hit ground balls to them again brings tears to my eyes.”

The game was not just another chance to lace up the cleats, but also served as another opportunity to honor former Jemison player Jessica Paschal, who died earlier this year.

“She would have been here playing today,” Robinson said. “I know it’s such a hard time still, and I wanted to pay tribute to her.”

Members of the Paschal family were on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, while each player wore special buttons as a tribute to Paschal.

“Softball is a family,” Robinson said. “When one hurts, we all hurt.”

For Paschal’s teammates and others who played against her, playing softball seemed the most fitting way to remember her.

“It [softball] was her favorite thing, and a great way to honor her,” Jemison alumna Hannah Smith said.

The game presented a time to look back and share memories that were had during their high school careers.

Jemison alumna Hannah Smith is greeted at home plate after hitting a home run. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Smith graduated from Jemison in 2013 and hit a home run in the game, which was a feat that she was unable to do in high school.

“I tried in high school to do it all the time,” Smith said. “I knew when I hit, and then when I rounded first [base] it was like a breath of fresh air.”

Taylor McManus graduated from Thorsby in 2016 and pitched for one of the teams.

She had played intramural in college, but it took some time to adjust from slow pitch to fast pitch.

“I think we’ll all be a little sore tomorrow,” McManus said.

McManus was one of the more recent graduates, but she enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside players who came before her.

“It was cool to get out there and hear their stories from when they played for Coach Leighsa,” McManus said.

Robinson had held an alumni game for many years during her time at Jemison and wanted to start that tradition at Thorsby.

“I hope there is a second annual and a 20th annual,” McManus said. “I’ll definitely come home and do it.”

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