The first-pitch ceremony was truly a group effort for Friday's second annual Non Hodgkins Lymphoma softball game to honor Dennis Lynch.
Palatine and Fremd softball seniors caught the first pitches from Denny's grandchildren.
In all, ten were on hand, ranging from 8 months old (Evie Kulak) to 10 years old (Ryan Weaver).
And it was a group effort by all those involved to help fight NHL in honor of Denny, who died last spring after a 10-year battle.
"That (fighting NHL) was more important than the win," said Vikings senior Mandi Matsumoto, who scored the first run in Fremd's 2-0 victory over the visiting Pirates. "With all his grandchildren throwing out the first pitch, that was special and it was so cool to be part of it."
"That was really special, especially with all those little children," added Vikings senior first baseman Michelle Mazur. "Then coach (Jim) Weaver always want us to focus on the game."
Jim Weaver and Palatine coach Jeff Manz are the sons-in-law of Denny, who was a longtime teacher at Rolling Meadows High School where he coached football, girls basketball and softball for more than 30 years.
In a terrific pitcher's duel, Fremd senior Ashlynne Schwantz (6 strikeouts, 6 hits) earned the win over Palatine senior Megan Hedstrom, who threw a 4-hitter.
"It was a great game," said Manz, whose team had 1 hit in each of the first 6 innings. "I think Denny would have been real proud of how both teams played. Denny liked to compete and I think you saw that today from both teams."
Matsumoto bunted her way on base to lead off the bottom of the first, went to second on Schwantz' sacrifice bunt, stole third and scored on Leigh Farina's line drive single to right.
The Vikes' second run came in the fourth when Julie Josten singled to center with two outs and came home on an error.
That was all Schwantz needed as she finished the game by retiring the final six batters after Jamie Haze's one-out single in the top of the sixth.
Schwantz's mother Brenda received special acknowledgment for the countless hours she spent helping to make the event run smoothly.
"It's fun to come out here and do this for coach Manz and coach Weaver's father-in-law," said Pirates senior catcher Lauren Logan. "It means a lot to them and it's a special day for the whole conference."
All 12 MSL softball teams banded together Friday to help raise money.
Last year, $2,818.74 was collected at the Fremd-Palatine game and another combined $5.262.84 from the rest of the MSL.
Logan had one of the Pirates' 6 hits, along with Tori Walzak, Courtney English, Kenzie Carver and Shannon Surell.
"We were a different team from when we played them on Tuesday (in a 5-inning loss)," Manz said. "It starts with the seniors and works it way down. They did a good job."
"We just couldn't string hits together and they (Fremd) did," Logan said. "It was good to bounce back with a better game from earlier in the week.
"It was just a fun day all-around. It was fun catching the first pitches from the children. Maive (Manz) threw her pitch to Tori (Walzak) and Tori said Maive has an arm."
Schwantz and Hedstrom used their arms to make it a snappy 90-minute contest as Fremd (19-6, 14-1) remained 1 game behind Barrington (27-1, 15-0) in the Mid-Suburban West.
"Both pitchers threw really well," said Jim Weaver, whose team visits Barrington on Monday to settle the West title.
"This is a tough game for both teams to play because there is a lot of extra things going on. I thought both teams did a good job playing the game with all the distractions."
Sharon Lynch, the wife of Dennis, and her daughters Laura, Lindsey (and husband Martin) and Jenna were all helping the fight against NHL.
"It was great to be surrounded by family and players from both schools," Jim Weaver said. "It makes for a great day. Seventy degrees would have been nice but it was great that so many people came out to support the cause."
"It's a lot more than just softball," Manz added. "You learn about life in this game, and today we honored Denny's life."
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