An injured Kirk Gibson hitting a pinch-hit walk-off home run off in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Joe Carter crushing a walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series. Becky Marx sending one over while trailing UCLA to tie the game and get University of Michigan back in the title hunt at the Womens College World Series. These home runs are seared into my memory. They repeatedly make highlight reels and are iconic in the world of sports. But a home run in the recent Western Oregon and Central Washington softball contest perhaps should be celebrated above all.
A post-season appearance hinged on the outcome of the game. Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky had never hit a home run in her career. Tucholsky came to the plate in the top of the second inning of the second game with two runners on base and a 0-0 score. She had just three hits in 34 at-bats this season, but she drove a pitch over the centerfield fence.
In her excitement, she missed first base on her home run trot and reversed direction to tag the bag. She tore a ligament in her knee in doing so and crumbled to the ground. While she crawled back to first base, her two teammates crossed the plate, leaving her the only offensive player on the field.
The umpires confirmed that the only option available under the rules was to replace Tucholsky at first base with a pinch runner and have the hit recorded as a two-run single instead of a three-run home run. Any assistance from coaches or trainers while she was an active runner would result in an out.
And then an opposing player, Mallory Holtman, asked if it would it be OK if she helped carry her around and touch each bag.
"Honestly, it's one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me," Holtman explained. "She hit the ball over her fence. She's a senior; it's her last year I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it's the right thing to do."
Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace lifted Tucholsky off the ground and supported her weight between them as they began perhaps the longest and most crowded home run trot in the game's history.
Accompanied by a standing ovation from the fans, they finally reached home plate and passed the home run hitter into the arms of her own teammates. Then Holtman and Wallace returned to their positions and tried to win the game.
Central Washington did rally for two runs in the bottom of the second, but Western Oregon held on for a 4-2 winthe winning run a result of one of the most astounding acts of sportsmanship I have ever seen.
Check it out, and add this home run to the list of most memorable ones you have ever seen: