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CARRY ME HOME

May 6, 2011 Read: Isaiah 46

"Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." --Isaiah 46:4

On a softball team, each player has her role to play. And in the highly competitive world of collegiate athletics, even more specialization occurs. In 2008, Western Oregon University right fielder Sara Tucholsky, a pesky contact hitter by trade, strode to the plate with two runners on base in a game against conference rival Central Washington.

Just looking to play her role -- perhaps to draw a walk, or poke a run-scoring single into the shallows of the outfield  -- Sara was just as surprised as the rest of the 300 spectators in attendance when she drove the ball over the left-center field wall. The three-run home run was the first of her waning softball career and, in her excitement, she missed first base. As she turned to run back to first, she felt a distinctive pop -- she had ruptured a major ligament in her right knee . Collapsing and crawling back to first base, Sara was met by her coach. The umpire informed them that no one could complete the home run trot but Sara, or else the home run would be ruled a single, negating this watershed moment for the ailing senior. If anyone from her team touched her, she would be called out.

Then, in a stunning act of sportsmanship, Central Washington's Mallory Holtman -- a senior on her club and owner of nearly every major offensive record in her school's history -- offered to carry Sara around the bases. Scratching his head at why the opponent would want to, in essence, give the team a run that they were about to lose, the umpire informed her that there was no rule against it. Mallory and teammate Liz Wallace then lifted Sara up and carried her around the bases, gingerly touching her foot to each base along the way.

Sara was in tears, in pain and out of options but in her wounded state, she was shown the way home by those willing to carry the burden, even at great cost to them. This simple act of sportsmanship beautifully illustrates the fact that when we feel too broken to carry on -- when we feel like we don't know the way or when the pain is too heavy to bear on our own -- we also have someone to pick us up and lead us home.

For ESPN's take on this inspirational story, click here.

--E.V.

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