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Blog: Playing through pain

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The Ringgold (Ga.) High School was one of many buildings damaged by an EF-4 tornado Wednesday, April 27. Photo by M. Martin with the Catoosa News
Wednesday was a very sad day last week during the tornado outbreak that tore throughout the Southeast.

Of course, Murfreesboro was virtually spared by the two EF-0 tornadoes that damaged several building and houses. However, it was nothing compared to what happened a Georgia town, two hours away.

Last week, Murfreesboro played host to the BPA Spring Classic youth baseball tournament. Teams from across the Southeast were there, including the 11 years old and under team the Cannons, based out of Ringgold, Ga. Playing baseball was one of the furthest things from these athletes’ minds, because of the devastation brought Wednesday, April 27.

On that day in which according to the National Weather Service, an EF-4 tornado hit the town, which is near the Tennessee-Georgia border. It destroyed most everything, including businesses, homes and even the high school and middle school suffered severe damage. According to its local newspaper “The Catoosa County News,” at least eight people were killed in the town of nearly 3,000.

Last Saturday night during the tournament, I had a chance to speak to the head coach of the team, Jason Hollis, who showed me pictures of what was left of the town. It broke my heart, because I had never seen damage like that before.

He told me after the tornado hit, he met with the parents to see if they wanted to make the trip to the tournament. They said yes.

“They said that’s what the kids needed,” Hollis said.

The team had not practiced for a week and half, because of the active weather this spring.

When they got to Murfreesboro, they opened the event Saturday morning with dominating 14-1 win over the Murfreesboro-based Patriots. In the second game later in the day, they narrowing defeated the TN Bandits 4-3. However, their third game of the day was a heartbreaker.

The Cannons were up 8-6 in the final inning against the Heritage Hurricanes. The Hurricanes loaded the bases and Nathan Maynard nailed a walk-off grand slam on a 3-2 count. Of course, the team celebrated the win. However, they also did something that Hollis said brought tears to his eyes.

“They wanted to say a prayer for our town,” Hollis said. “That meant a lot to us and it put us to tears.”

That night about 8:30, Hollis came back to the park, while his players were at a swimming party. He said he was proud of the team’s outstanding performance considering everything they had been through during the past week.

“I told them to just do the best they can,” Hollis said.

Of course, they were going to play the tournament portion of the event on Sunday, but rain washed out all of the games. The first game of the day was supposed to be a rematch against the same Hurricanes.

Instead, they headed back home as they continued the clean up from last week’s storms.

This time, they had their heads held up high and also gained a host of new fans in Murfreesboro.

I hope they get a chance to return in the future.

I hope they enjoyed their time here and Murfreesboro’s thoughts and prayers are with them.

Read more from:
Baseball, David Hunter, Sports, Tornado, Voices
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