COVINGTON, Ga. – It was an emotional weekend for the Eastside softball program as players, past and present, gathered at the school on Saturday for a special event.
The third annual Alumni Softball Game allowed a chance for old players to shake off the rust and for the current ones to raise money for the upcoming season. Players ranged from women who donned Eastside jerseys in the 1990’s to those who just graduated in May.
“We hadn’t played softball in a while so we thought it’d be fun,” said 2016 EHS graduate Caitlin Ray. “It’s kind of sad because it makes me miss it, but overall it’s a fun experience to catch up.”
While the alumni were getting ready to play a game, the current Eastside team was outside of the field manning various stations. There were raffle giveaways with the grand prize being a new golf cart, silent auctions as well as a dunk tank and concessions.
“These alumni paved the way for our players today,” head coach Heather Wood said, “I just want the players today to see that this is a great school and program to come back to and stay involved with after they graduate.”
This year’s alumni game doubled as a special tribute to one of the Eagles’ greatest supporters over the years. Before the game, there was a flag dedication for “Mr. Stanley” Edwards, a notable figure in the Covington community and at Eastside High School.
A Covington native, Edwards graduated from Newton High School in 1962; that year, while starring for Newton’s baseball team, he pitched a perfect 10-0 record and lead the Rams to the state championship game. He went on to pitch in college and for a few semi-pro teams in the Covington area.
After his playing days ended, Edwards stayed in Covington to serve his community. He held places on different commission boards, and as a member of the Covington Department of Education is responsible for the building of several sports facilities in the area.
As his grandchildren grew up in the Covington school system, Edwards became a huge supporter of Eastside softball. He was at every game of his granddaughter Coley’s career and seemed to adopt the entire team as his own.
He was there to celebrate with them in victory and console them in defeat. While attending Eastside games, Edwards used to comment on how there was never an official flag to hang outside of the field. So at Saturday’s flag dedication, a plaque in his name was unveiled to ensure that such a flag would fly above the field for years to come.
As the game waged on the field, players connected with one another and shared laughs as they reunited on the diamond. Eastside’s lone senior player this year, shortstop McKenzie Walker, served as a coach for the game, and while college is in her sights, she says she’s looking forward to coming back and playing in this game herself.
“I’ll definitely come back and play, it’s a reminder of where you come from,” Walker said, “Playing in college or not you get to experience other people who have been where you are, and that’s important for current players to see.”