The FCIAC softball community is closer than most sports, due in part to many of the top players from different schools playing together on the summer circuit.
During the high school season, the teams battle hard for 7 innings and quickly renew friendships after the final out.
One charity that has served as a bond is the Erin Babineau Memorial Fund. It was created by St. Joseph softball coach Jeff Babineau and his wife, Donna, in memory of their daughter, who in 2005 lost her life in a vehicular accident at the age of 10.
Among the many fundraisers is the annual Softball Saturday, with three games played at DeLuca Field in Stratford. The money raised goes to the fund and Erin’s Gym, the facility created by the Babineaus to perpetuate Erin’s memory.
Alas, because of makeup games necessitated by this week’s postponements, Softball Saturday had to be canceled.
Still, the spirit of all the Babineaus created was evident prior to Friday’s game between the Cadets and Stamford High School. First, the St. Joseph players showed up in special-made shirts that sported the charity’s logo, a butterfly formed by the letters EB, much like Erin used to doodle.
(Talk about good karma: I didn’t understand at the time why St. Joseph pitcher Tori Ceballos was fascinated by a butterfly that hovered over home plate prior to the game. Ceballos then went on to pitch a 2-hitter in a 7-0 win).
Then, for the second year in a row, Babineau was presented with an envelope by Stamford coach Tony Esposito. It contained money all contributed by the Stamford players.
“The kids gave their own money last year,” Esposito said. “It is something we do because it is a class organization and we want to keep Erin’s spirit alive.”
Finally, the two teams came together before the game and posed for the picture at the top of this post.
“It makes you feel good,” Jeff Babineau said. “We didn’t put it out there. Last year we played them and they just showed up with the envelope.”