Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


June 24, 2013

Joy Ride; Central Texas Challenger League Series game inspires all

Corsicana — KERENS — The sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds over Kerens on Saturday morning.

But down below on the Kerens High School softball field there was nothing but sunshine.


In eyes.

In faces.

In smiles.

Shining everywhere you looked.

It’s always like that during the Central Texas Challenger League Series. The kids played the second of the two-game series on Saturday, wrapping up another inspirational season in the sun.

There’s not another game like this one, kids from three counties, the mentally and physically challenged, rising, soaring — turning a simple softball diamond into a heart-swelling field of joy.

This is the real Field of Dreams

The kids have been coming here for the two-game series every summer for four years, thanks to the spirit and love of Deena Davis, who embraced the idea along with her husband Braz four years ago.

The kids make this journey here every summer for the greatest trip around the bases anyone will ever see.

They can’t wait to get here.

“She starts talking about it in January,’’ said Jackie Evett, whose daughter Makenzie has been playing in the series for four years. “She starts saying, ‘Can I play T-ball, can I play T-ball?’ She just can’t wait to get here. It’s what the kids look forward to every year.’’

There’s big Braz, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs organization, on the mound, pitching in even a bigger game now.

There’s Drake Kamp pumping his fists and raising his arms to the sky as he is pushed in his wheelchair to first base after opening the game with a hit. He tilts his head back and laughs out loud.


The stands are packed and everyone here shares in every moment from the opening procession when all the kids enter the field to the final at-bat of the two-inning game to the medal presentation afterward.

Hayley McBride is showing everyone her medal — “Look, look,’’ she said, trembling with excitement with a smile that flashes back and forth as she looks down to her medal and back up again to tell someone else.

Everyone gets a medal.

 Everyone laughs.

Everyone smiles.

Everyone shines.

Wouldn’t you know it, the game ended in a tie this year — just like it does every year.

That’s what Mike Jennings, the game’s bigger-than-life announcer tells the crowd after the last player churns home to score. Jenning’s voice dances all morning as he gives each kid a build up for the ages and teases and jokes with the crowd and encourages the kids.

Everyone scores in this game.  

There’s Lane Brady — the one and only Lane Brady — charging home and landing with the biggest and boldest head-first slide you have ever seen. He jumps up and pumps his fists high into the air in celebration.

The crowd goes crazy.

Jennings gives Shakeila “Kiki” Ponder a hard time when she comes to the plate, telling her she’s gonna smile.

Kiki is always smiling — always. From the minute she takes the field to her animated and delightful at-bat to her heart-on-her-sleeve run around the bases, spreading her arms wide in jubilation when she brings it home.

No one has ever had more fun hitting a home run.

“I used to get emotional about it,’’ said Kiki’s mother, Cassandra Rice. “But not any more. It’s fun. Just look at the kids, having so much fun. There’s nothing to cry about. When she was born the doctors said she wouldn’t be able to do this. But she loves this. She just loves it. All she talks about is, ‘I want to play baseball.’ It’s just so great that they have this.’’

There are always tears in the stands.

They are all born of joy.

“I was just crying a minute ago,’’ said Mary Jock, whose son Logan had the time of his life playing in the game on Saturday. “I was crying not just for him but for all of them. They miss out on so much. This gives them something to do just like other kids.

“He couldn’t play the last time,’’ she said. “He was in the hospital. A lot of these kids are in the hospital a lot, but to see them out here. I love it. I love it. I’m going to volunteer for this next year.’’

There is a force of people who make it happen.

“The whole community supports it, and you see people coming to this who don’t show up at any other event,’’ said Braz Davis of the crowd that seems to get bigger every year. “It’s fun for them. It makes their day. How could it not?          

“And we get so much support from people. Chris Whorton runs the music, Mike Jennings does the announcing. Jimmy and Tracy Keele are big supporters, Raymond Linex, Kerens High School baseball coach Jayson Engel, and all the kids who are help every year,’’ said Braz, pointing around the field. “It’s just a great event. Just to see how much fun they have. It’s amazing.’’

All you had to do was take a glance at the look on Drake’s face.

After the game, Drake was smiling and laughing and giving high-fives.

“It’s fun,’’ he said. “It’s too much fun. ... Too much fun!”

What started as an idea from Deena, who wanted to find a way so Drake, who is her nephew, could play baseball, has turned into an annual celebration for these kids.

“Our kids don’t have the chances others do,’’ said Deena, who has been a special education counselor for more than 18 years. “It’s hard for our kids to find extra-curricular activities. But they have the spirit to compete and to have that fun and to have this experience that is theirs.’’

The day is full of inspiration and emotion.

“I think some people have tears because they are in a moment when they realize what’s important,’’ Deena said. “It’s a joy. This is the best sporting event anywhere. It’s just a joy.

“That’s pure joy there,’’ she said, pointing to the field. “When they cross home plate, that’s pure joy!”

Text Only
  • 4-115-14CHSBBMinniear.jpg CHS Baseball: Lindale haunts Tigers again with critical 4-0 win

    Lindale has been poison to Corsicana all year.
    The Eagles won a bizarre game in Lindale to keep the Tigers out of the football playoffs and ruined the boys basketball season with two gut-wrenching wins in the final week of the season.
    They did it again Tuesday, beating the Tigers 4-0 at Price Field to take over second place in the District 16-4A race.
    Lindale (6-2) had one big inning to hand Corsicana (5-3) its second loss in a row.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • I4-15-14Kellysigns.jpg GC Volleyball: Kerens' Kelly signs with Paris Junior College

    She prayed about it. She lost sleep about it. And she prayed about it some more.
    That's just a glimpse of what Marqueshia Kelly went through before deciding to turn down a half dozen basketball scholarships and accept a scholarship to play volleyball at Paris Junior College.
    The journey might have been a little sleepless, but in the end it wasn't that tough for Kelly, who is a multi-sport star at Kerens.
    “I followed my heart,'' she said on Tuesday just moments after signing a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Paris in front of family, coaches and friends.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • CHS Tennis: Tigers play well in powerhouse region

    Corsicana's tennis team finished its season with a  strong showing in the Class 4A Regional Tournament at UT-Arlington before falling to some powerhouse players from Dallas.

    April 15, 2014

  • GC Baseball/Softball: Roundup -- Blooming Grove edges Mildred 1-0 (Adds Dawson-Hubbard baseball)

    Blooming Grove kept its baseball playoff hopes alive, winning a pitcher’s duel, 1-0, in Mildred Tuesday night. Dalton Blake struck out 11 and scattered five hits in a well-pitched game that took an hour and a half to complete.

    April 15, 2014

  • Navarro Softball: Bulldogs sweep Bossier on Sophomore Day

         From a one-sided laugher to a hold-your-breath finish, Navarro’s softball team celebrated Sophomore Day on Saturday in front of its largest crowd of the season.
        The Bulldogs ripped Bossier 14-1 in a five-inning romp and then had to fight for their lives in the second game, finally winning 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh with a squeeze bunt that brought home Caitlin Moerbe, who ended the day with a dust-filled slide at the plate.

    April 12, 2014

  • GC Softball: Hubbard, Curtis shut out Axtell 3-0

       For Hubbard’s Olivia Curtis the magic number was 15 -- as in 15 wins and 15 strikeouts.
        But don’t stop counting now. There’s plenty left for Curtis and her Hubbard teammates who have made the most of their stretch run in the district race, and capped off a huge week with a 3-0 win over Axtell on Friday.

    April 11, 2014

  • GC Baseball/Softball: Roundup -- Kerens' Anderson pitches perfect game (ADDS Dawson baseball)

    Brett Anderson threw a five-inning perfect game Friday at home to lead Kerens over Neches 11-0 in a key district game that leaves the Bobcats in first place with a two-game lead.

    April 11, 2014

  • CHS Baseball: Tigers lose to Nacogdoches 4-1

    In a battle for first place in the District16-4A race, Nacogdoches and pitcher Brigham Hill stopped Corsicana’s Tigers 4-1 Friday to take over the lead in the district with a 6-1 record. The Tigers are now 5-2 and face Lindale, which is also 5-2, at Price Field on Tuesday night to try to gain ground in a tough district race.

    April 11, 2014

  • Kerens bb 4-10-14.jpg GC Baseball: Kerens closing in on first district title since 1977

    Step by step, inch by inch …
    That's how the Kerens baseball team got here, right here on the threshold of what could be the program's best season since 1977.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • GC Track & Field Roundup: Kerens girls win district

    The Kerens girls ran away with the District 18-1A track & field meet at Cayuga, scoring 134 points to beat Dawson (108), Cayuga (101), Cross Roads (93), Hubbard (91), LaPoyner (42) and Wortham (16).

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
AP Video
Twitter Updates