Victoria West and Calhoun players gather for a prayer around the pitchers mound after a moment of silence to honor Austin Davis before Tuesday evening's game in Port Lavaca. Austin Davis, a pitcher for the Warriors, died on Monday. Tuesday's game was the team's first without him.
Photo by Angeli Wright.
Originally published on Wednesday, April 11, 2012
PORT LAVACA - Shane Kallman was thinking of quitting the swimming team until baseball teammate Austin Davis talked him out of it.
"Austin told him he had to swim," said Jeff Kallman, Shane's father. "He said he had made the varsity as a freshman and was too good to quit."
Shane told his father he had changed his mind and taken his friend's advice, a day after Davis died suddenly of undetermined causes.
Kallman and the Warriors took the field for the first time without Davis on Tuesday night and came away with a 13-2 District 30-4A win over Calhoun.
"We left it up to the kids because it's their team," West coach Manuel Alvarado said of the decision to play. "We took a vote yesterday and it was unanimous. Everybody wanted to come out here and play. It's all them."
The Warriors wore Davis' No. 22 on black armbands and met the Calhoun players on the pitcher's mound to recite the Lord's Prayer before the game.
"We knew Austin loved the game of baseball, so we figured in his memory we'd try to come out here and try and win the game for him," said West outfielder Seth Harrison. "At the beginning of the game, usually you just look down the line when you're warming up and he wasn't there, so it was a little bit different."
West scored a run in the first inning and took the lead for good with three runs in the second. The Warriors (12-7, 6-0) built a seven-run lead, but could not put the Sandcrabs (11-8, 1-5) away until they scored four runs in the ninth inning.
"It was pretty tough without him," said West outfielder Jayce Serrano. "He was a great guy and a great teammate. He'd always talk it up in there and get the guys going. It was tough not having him there."
Kallman pitched the final two innings in relief, in what likely would have been his friend's role.
"I saw guys playing hard," Alvarado said. "We came out and picked up where we've left off. It was good to see us come out like this."
Alvarado knows the week will get tougher for the Warriors, as the reality of what happened begins to take hold.
"Their spirits are still up," Alvarado said. "I kind of let them relax before the game. I wasn't really too hard on them. I'm pretty sure it's going to get real here in a couple of days, especially during the viewing. It's going to be tough and we're just going to keep our heads up and keep on playing."
The Warriors got the support of a large group of fans, and the softball team's bus passed by the field, stopped and the players cheered.
Alvarado was pleased that the Warriors were able to maintain sole possession of the district lead. But he was even more aware of the scoreboard. He pointed out the three numbers - 13-2 in seven - total 22.
"Austin was here with us tonight," Alvarado said.