LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — On a sunny softball field in Lakeland, Florida, players put the game aside to help a hurt opponent, even though it put them behind on the scoreboard.
Southeastern University softball players Leah Gonzalez and Chapel Cunningham knew the pressure was on during this weekend’s game against the Grand View Vikings from Grand View University in Iowa. Southern was ahead 4-1, but their opponents had the bases loaded.
The moment Southeastern was dreading soon came to pass, when Kaitlyn Moses, the catcher for the Grand View Vikings, hit a grand slam.
Then, between first and second base, Moses suffered an injury and fell to the ground in pain.
Players said the rules prohibited members of Moses’ own team from touching her. If they did, the runs wouldn’t count, they said.
With the win on the line, Cunningham and Gonzalez lifted Moses up and carried her across three bases. They made sure to tap her foot on each base, pushing their opponent ahead in a game they would end up losing 7–4.
Moses asked Cunningham and Gonzalez for hugs before being taken to her dugout by her teammates.
“Me and Chapel were like, ‘Girl, don’t you worry. You deserved that. You hit the ball, injuries happen. We’re here for you,’” Gonzalez said.
“I just knew it was the right thing to do,” said Cunningham. “Here at Southeastern they teach us, or especially on our team, they try to tell us to do the thing that ought to be done and I knew that that was what we should do, so we didn’t really think twice.”
Grand View Softball Coach Lou Yacinich lauded the Southeastern players in a statement shared shortly after the game.
“The display of sportsmanship by the Southeastern University Softball team speaks volumes to their character, humanity, and greater purpose,” Yacinich said. “The result of their actions caused their team in the game to trail by one run, yet that was of minimal concern to those players in that moment.”
The softball world is small, Gonzalez added, and players look out for each other.
“What would happen if those were one of my girls? I would love for someone on the other team to pick them up and take them around,” she said.
Southeastern University softball coach Kayla Watkins said she was not surprised her players sprang into action.
“I get feedback on campus all the time about our girls and how they do things. So for me as a coach, it was just kind of cool because I know that about them. But for others to get to see that in them is kind of cool,” she said.