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A rivalry between Grant County and Williamstown had a little more meaning than just a game, March 27, as the players honored Agnes Perry with pink ribbons tied in their hair for the game.
Perry, 61, passed away March 26, after a life-long battle with multiple cancers.
Kinman said it was tough playing a game that soon after losing their grandmother.
“We were there when she died,” Kinman said. “It was hard, but we went out there and played for her.”
Lady Braves junior Samantha Perry and Lady Demons freshman Kaitlyn Kinman are cousins and knew Agnes as ‘Mamaw.’
“Kaitlyn and I always knew that we had to be there for her through everything,” Perry said.
Prior to the game, the teams and crowd took a moment of silence to honor Agnes.
“Both Samantha and I were crying during that time,” Kinman said. “We hugged and told each other that we were playing this game for her.”
Unlike in the past, the Lady Demons were able to hang with Grant County, even holding a 1-0 lead until the fourth inning and eventually losing the game 4-1.
“It was good,” Kinman said. “We played really good and it was surprising that we held them for so long.”
Kinman had a scary moment on the field as she collided with teammate Lisa Garant, going for the ball. Kinman made the catch, but found out she had a minor concussion and a busted lip from the accident.
“I don’t know how to describe it, it happened so fast,” Kinman said.
Lady Demons coach Melissa Gayhart said she told Kinman that her ‘Mamaw’ would be proud of her for holding onto that ball.
Even though there was a game being played, both teams came together in a time of need, which meant a lot to both Kinman and Perry.
“It felt really good, because both of the teams have done so much for Samantha and I,” Kinman said. “Seeing them support what we were going through was really heart-touching. It felt really amazing.”
Both reminisced their days with Agnes and spending their final days with her.
“About two years ago, my Grandma moved back to Kentucky,” Perry said. “She has always been sick. She had her first cancer when she was 12-years-old. Ever since she moved back, I have tried to be at her house everyday, whether it was to help out around the house or just get in a good visit. Kaitlyn and I always seemed to be at Mamaw’s house.”
“During the summer, we spent time at the fair and both us were talking about how hard it is going to be not to share this with Mamaw,” Kinman said. “She always made us smile when we were down.”
Both Perry and Kinman see their teams as a family.
“My softball team is like a family to me,” Perry said. “ They have been there for me the whole time, even when I was upset and my head wasn’t in the game. The girls always told me that things were going to get better and to cherish the memories I had with her.”
Lady Braves coach Ott Reed said he realizes the kind of emotions both girls were going through on the field.
“This is a close team I got,” he said. “They are here for each other and they say how hard it was for Samantha and that was their tribute to her grandmother.”
Perry and Kinman are dedicating the rest of their season to ‘Mamaw’ by wearing pink bow ties around their hair.
“We want to make her proud,” Kinman said.
Gayhart said she was proud of how the girls came together and were able to support both Kinman and Perry.
“Both teams really did a good job of supporting the girls,” Gayhart said.
The Lady Braves and Lady Demons will square off again on April 9 at Williamstown High School.
“I hope that the girls will be ready to play coming off of spring break,” Gayhart said.
Even though Mamaw won’t be in person for the game, both Perry and Kinman know she will be looking over them.
“We will always miss our Grandma, but we are happy she has no more pain,” Perry said.