By Dakota Hill
The NCAA Softball Championship Baton Rouge Regional began with heavy hearts, a moment of silence and flags at half staff on Friday following the tragic school shooting in Sante Fe, Texas. It just so happened that the two programs affected most, LSU and Houston, went head-to-head on Saturday afternoon.
The University of Houston, which is only 36 miles from Santa Fe, has the community on its mind.
“You know what, we want to start with saying our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the Santa Fe area, the tragedy today,” said head coach Kristin Vesely last night following the Cougars 1-0 win over Louisiana. “We want to say you guys are in our thoughts and prayers and we wish luck and love to deal with a tough situation.”
For the LSU Tigers, the tragedy hit closer to home, as freshman Shelbi Sunseri is a 2017 graduate of Santa Fe High School. Despite having a heavy heart, Sunseri came out focused on the job at hand, and in the third inning hit her seventh home run of the year.
No one could have predicted the 9-0 run-rule LSU victory over Fordham but Sunseri knew there was a higher power looking out for everyone impacted.
“My heart is aching for everyone my hometown today,” Sunseri tweeted. “Words can’t describe the pain anyone is feeling. I hope we continue to remember that God is good even in this difficult time.”
As a sign of support for her hometown and alma mater, Sunseri is wearing the school colors of green and gold, in the form of a large bow in her hair. When asked if the home run was a special moment for Sunseri, LSU Head Coach Beth Torina had this to say,
“I think she could have acted very differently but instead she just really tried to stay focused on her job at hand. I know she’s very emotional about it and very concerned, but I think she understood she had a job to do today and she was able to stay focused on it. Probably having the job today helped get her mind off of it a little bit, so I think it was a good day for us to be playing softball.”
With Houston as the designated home team, the Cougars battled until the end but fell 1-0 to the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. But with a green and gold bow in her hair, Sunseri continues to keep her hometown in her prayers.
Houston returns to the field Saturday night and will play Louisiana in an elimination game.