Hardaway Softball Program Tries to Recover from Fire - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Hardaway Softball Program Tries to Recover from Fire

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - What do you need to play a team sport? Helmets, gloves, balls, to name a few. Now imagine everything taken away without warning, cause, or reason in a split second. This is reality for the Lady Hawks of Hardaway High. Late Halloween evening, trespassers snuck onto campus. Around 4 in the morning, the fuse was lit.

“It's devastating,” said junior second baseman Kesa McLaurin. “I'm kind of in a state of shock because we have nothing left.”

“I got a phone call at about 9:15, Sunday, November 1st, head coach Chris Gilstrap said. “One of our parents asking me, 'please tell me that wasn't our softball stuff that burned down.' And I said 'what are you talking about?'”

Sophomore catcher Kendall Duncan was also in shock.: Me and another junior came up and looked at everything and came and looked around and it was just - like we didn't even think it would be that bad, as bad as it was. Everything was gone, burnt to the ground.”

In an act of arson, an aluminum shed burned completely to the ground, and a 6 x 12 was trailer severely damaged. Those units stored the team's entire collection of softball equipment, and now there's nothing left but ash. Hardaway officials are estimating the equipment damage alone to the cost of $11,500.

"We try to fundraise year round as it is for our season,” said Gilstrap, “but, obviously when you lose $11,000, $12,000 worth of stuff, you can't fundraise enough to cover your season cost and to get back what you already had.”

“The only way that our girls can have a season and have things that they need is going to be from people who are willing to help us out, you know, out of their pockets,” Gilstrap added. “You know, just, anything anybody can do, we'd be very grateful for.”

 Anyone who would like to help the Lady Hawks softball program should contact booster club president Melissa Portalatin at (706) 615-7533, or by email at mportalatin@aflac.com.

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