The Eastside High School softball alumni returned on Saturday for the first annual alumni game, but also to support the Wright family. James Wright was tragically injured in a car accident and left paralyzed. The proceeds of the game went to the Wright family.
The day saw former Eagles from different eras convene for a good cause and a lot of fun. The home team won 4-3. Both sides were smiling after, because although they both wanted to win, there were bigger things at play this time, things like Kim and James Wright’s family.
“James is just a goofy lighthearted kid,” Kim Wright said. “James is handling this in an amazing way. He’s just lighthearted, he’s still got his humor and his great personality. He’s still got a big smile on his face, and when you talk to him you don’t see the chair, you just see him.”
“That was awesome, considering everything that happened,” James Wright added. “It was also cool seeing my sister cause I used to come to games like this when I was [younger]. It’s pretty awesome.”
“It really is amazing,” Kim Wright said. “Someone told me not to long ago that my family inspired them, and the truth of the matter is, my family is just doing what any family would do. We take care of our own. But the community, the people we haven’t talked to in 10...15 years have come together and really supported us. That’s what’s inspiring, that’s extraordinary. To have a community that’s willing to come in and sacrifice their time and do this for people that – we don’t necessarily deserve it – that’s amazing.”
“Everyone paying it forward to us, it’s really going to pay dividends in the future. It’s changed us, made us more compassionate and sympathetic to other people’s needs.”
Kim Wright added that the actual game was pretty fun, and that you can pencil her in every year if it continues.
“It’s great just being out here. The alumni thing I hope we do it every year just for the team,” Kim Wright said. “I’ll be here every year.”
Seeing as the Lady Eagles have a history of winning, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the alumni game was extremely competitive and came down to the last inning.
Amanda Henderson, a recent Kennesaw State graduate who still has a lot left in the tank pitched for the away team. It’s important to note Henderson went 18-10 in her senior season with a 2.56 ERA. Henderson pitched the entire game and even gave her team a chance to win as they held a lead at the top of the final inning, but there was no answer for Ashley Coles.
Coles, a former Lady Eagle, and current cross-town rival Newton head softball coach, was easily her team’s most valuable player. Coles, who pitched a complete game, held the away team to three runs as a pitcher. On offense, Coles was responsible for all four of the home team’s runs including the game winner which she manufactured off of a bunt.
Coles’ bunt was laid down the first base line, but was recovered by the pitcher who threw it to first just as Coles reached base. The umpire waited a few seconds before signaling Coles as safe, but once he did the team erupted with joy.
As for her return to Eastside, Coles said she was happy to be back surrounded by friends and former teammates.
“It’s different,” Coles said. “I loved Eastside when I was there and I still do at heart because of all the girls and everything. But I am a Newton Ram and I love it because it’s a good competition. I think it’s friendly because I have friends here (Eastside) but they also know I’m all about Newton right now.”
“It feels great to come back and do things together as alumni because these were our friends. We’re all so spread out. We’re in our own lives having kids and all that stuff, but now we get to come back and just have a good time,” Coles said. “As far as raising money for a good cause, it’s a great thing to be able to do that. Kim
Wright has always been a great girl, and I’m so glad that we were able to help her family in a time of need.”
Current Lady Eagles’ head coach, Heather Wood was one of the catalyst for the event. She helped organize the entire thing.
“We are just so excited to have the alumni come back,” Wood said. “They’ve done so much for this program in the past. This is just a small thank you that we can give them for what they’ve done for our program. My way of looking at is that they paved the way for these girls who are playing now so anything that we can do to honor them and also go to a good cause for the Wright family.”