Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Rivalry has its limits. As the Dreher High School varsity softball team gathered to play its game on Thursday evening, they weren't just thinking about winnings. They had Leigh Sharpe in their hearts and minds. And the win they want most is one against cancer.
The daughter of Tim and Rebecca Sharpe, Leigh is a 15-year-old sophomore at River Bluff High School, where she excels both academically and athletically. A varsity softball player, Sharpe is no stranger to stiff competition and persevering to win. But this time, the stakes are higher, and her competition isn't on the field -- it's cancer. And it's no game.
Sharpe's 5-A River Bluff Gators do not play against the 4-A Dreher Blue Devils. The schools are in different districts in entirely different areas of the Midlands. So, what's the connection?
Some of the girls on both teams play softball together with South Carolina Jets Fastpitch Softball organization. Many others play against each during the travel season. And while they may be competing in their own right for the eye of college recruiters, their love of the game brings them together.
And then there's Coach Nesbit. "I felt like I needed to do something. Something for a friend and family and young lady that is loved so much," said Nesbit. "Many of my girls don't know Leigh but when I told them about the situation they were all for it. They were ALL IN."
To signal their strong support for Sharpe in her fight against cancer, the Blue Devil softball team dedicated its game Thursday to Leigh and her family, punctuated with a loud team shout, "LEIGH STRONG!" The team went on to win the game against Richland Northeast by a score of 19-18.
To assist them financially, they are selling pink Dreher Softball shirts. The shirts, donated by Coach Craig Nesbit and his company BTS Printing and Graphix, are available for $10 each, with all proceeds going to the Sharpe family. The Blue Devils asked fans to buy the shirts and wear them to the game Thursday night to show support for Sharpe. By the end of the game, they had raised $500 for the Sharpe family, according to Nesbit.
"The Dreher Blue Devil family really come out and supported this day. We won. And played for Leigh. And raised some money for a great cause," Nesbit said.
Leigh and her family had something to say, too.
Yes, rivalry has its limits. In this case, it is bound by common interests, hopes and dreams, mutual respect and good sportsmanship.
To support Leigh and her family financially, visit her GoFundMe page. To cheer her own and follow her progress, visit her Facebook Page. Hashtags to use and follow are #LeighStrong and #LeighStrong12.
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