Sometimes a game can mean more than numbers on a scoreboard, a final record in a ledger, or even a trophy.
The Hillsboro High School girls’ softball team played the 2012 state tournament for their fathers, their most important supporters, senior Stephanie Sanders said. The five seniors on the team — Courtney Weber, Sanders, Amy Bartel, Krista Reimer, and Sammy Koons — hold many memories of practices and games. They have played together since they were five years old. Their fathers have been among their most ardent supporters.
It took Sammy Koons and her father Rod Koons to put this into focus. On May 23, he was struck by another driver while driving home from work near Casey’s in Hillsboro. The accident broke two bones in his leg. Sammy had spent most of Thursday in and out of the hospital visiting her father in Newton. She said she was working on one hour of sleep before she had to play on Friday against Douglass.
“He hasn’t missed one of my games,” Sammy Koons said of her father. “He’s my No. 1 fan.”
Playing under these circumstances would have been more difficult had she not received the news that he was coming home that evening. The unobserving eye would have not realized anything was amiss. Koons played as she always does — she was an outspoken positive influence from her position at first base. She was one of the first players to rise from her seat in the dugout to cheer on a rally.
“If Sammy was on board and focused we could get everyone to focus,” head coach Stephanie Sinclair said. “Her leadership is great for this team.”
The game against Douglass was close, with the eighth-seeded Bulldogs leading Hillsboro 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh. Sanders led off the bottom of the inning with a triple. Allison Weber then singled and Sanders scored the tying run. The first person Sanders saw was Koons waiting on deck.
“When I saw her, I saw Rod,” Sanders said. “I wanted to win so bad for all our dads.”
The Trojans would eventually win the game with the effort of two more seniors. Krista Reimer singled up the middle at the beginning of the Trojans’ half of the eighth inning. It was her fourth hit of the game. She was then brought home by Courtney Weber on a single for the win, 2-1.
It turned out that Rod Koons would only miss one game. He was in the stands for his daughter’s heroics in the Trojans second game against Chaparral on Saturday.
The Trojans were trailing 3-1 heading into the fifth inning against the Runners. Amy Bartel, Sanders, and Allison Weber started the inning with singles to load the bases. Shortstop Danae Bina then took the lead with a bases-clearing triple.
Koons was next up. She crushed a home run over the center field fence to add two more runs and give the Trojans a comfortable 6-3 lead.
“I knew it was gone as soon as it left the bat,” Koons said.
As she rounded second base on her home run trot, she pointed to her father sitting in foul territory up the third base line. It made him tear up.
“It was an epic moment,” Sammy Koons said.