The Musial Awards are proud to honor the Fraser Valley Fusion ‘97 fastpitch softball team as the event’s first-ever award recipient from outside the United States. The Fusion hails from Langley, British Columbia – near Vancouver. Playing in the British Columbia Provincial Championships in Victoria this past July, the Fusion had a seemingly comfortable three-run lead against the Surrey Storm. But with two runners on base late in the game, the Storm’s Raelyn Radovich crushed a home run – tying the contest and putting Fraser Valley’s chance at a medal in jeopardy. However, as Raelyn rounded first base, she injured her knee. She limped her way around second base, but collapsed after touching third when the pain became unbearable. At that point, it was too late to insert a pinch runner. And any assistance by her own teammates and coach would result in Raelyn being called out. So the Fusion came to her aid.

The team decided to pick Raelyn up and carry her to home plate, preserving her game-tying home run. “None of us really said anything. It just kind of happened,” Fusion player Shae Domitruk told the Langley Times. Shae joined teammates Shannon Chick and Kristan Rodrigues in carrying Raelyn. Their selfless act brought the crowd to tears. Fusion coach Gord O’Grady added, “It was awesome. They did it completely on their own; they knew it was the right thing to do [and] it was a very special moment I won’t ever forget.”

The incident was a sportsmanship déjà vu of sorts – as the Fusion’s actions were inspired by what occurred in an NCAA softball game five years earlier. In 2008, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace of Central Washington University helped an injured Sara Tucholsky touch the bases after she hit a three run home run. The story made national headlines and the players were ultimately honored at that year’s National Sportsmanship Awards. Lightning may not strike twice, but sportsmanship certainly does. Reflecting on her opponents’ compassion, Raelyn told Vancouver’s Global News, “You know you don’t have to do that, most people wouldn’t do that. But the fact that they did that in such an intense game, really shows a lot.” The Fusion went on to win the game and eventually finished second at provincials. Their playoff run will be remembered as much for their class and character as for the medal they won.