Ashburn, Va. (April 16, 2015) — The athletic segment of the Broad Run High School campus was the walkable setting for an enjoyable evening of sports on Thursday – especially if you’re a fan of Broad Run High School sports.
Amid occasional showers from an overcast April sky, the Spartans defended their home with satisfying varsity victories in baseball, softball and boys lacrosse all. In each contest, the home team vanquished a talented opponent – and in the softball game, perhaps something like a miracle was involved.
The triumphs still come with pangs of sadness for Broad Run, mere days after the unexpected passing of star softball player and involved student Madison Small from bacterial meningitis on April 7.
Small patrolled second base in Spartans gear for four seasons, all the while earning respect from friends of all classes and being a straight-A student who still makes her father very happy.
“I’m just so proud of her,” said Tim Small, a vice president for the Spartans’ booster club. “All these stories I’ve been hearing about how she treated people, I just couldn’t be prouder.”
In the softball recap section below, this article details the visible demonstrations of love for Madison Small which now permeate the whole of the Broad Run community and beyond, much of it centered around the hashtag #WePlayFor24, a reference to Small’s lifelong uniform number.
Baseball: Broad Run 4, Potomac Falls 0
Senior lefty Jonathan Truba scattered five hits across seven shutout innings, walking none while striking out nine. The future Mary Washington Eagle pumped 71 of 96 pitches for strikes, facing five batters over the minimum 21.
The Spartans (3-2) and Panthers (5-4) were scoreless until the home half of the fourth, when two were pushed across on consecutive sacrifice flies by Ryan Hale and Evan Davis. The Spartans purchased insurance in the sixth with two more.
Junior Garrett Lutkins went the distance for the Panthers, but was hurt by three defensive errors.
Boys lacrosse: Broad Run 16, Tuscarora 4
Six goals apiece by attackers Connor Maresco and Kyle Brickerd – a feat termed “double hat-Brick” by Broad Run public address announcer Jim Hennessey – propelled the Spartans (4-3) to a large margin which resulted in a running clock early in the fourth quarter.
Brickerd added a pair of assists as Chris Winegar tallied twice, Tony Cimino and Jack Ward once.
The Huskies (6-2) got goals from Eric Brown and Grant Pluth and two by Chad Musa.
Ward, the Spartans’ captain, said that the entire student body continues to feel the absence of their classmate, but that the awful experience has impacted how some view life.
“We’ve learned that you can’t take any day for granted,” the junior said. “You can apply that to sports. Any time you get on the field, you just give it your all, because you don’t know if it’s your last day of playing. That’s what we’re doing.”
Softball: Broad Run 12, Loudoun Valley 2 (6 inn.)
Captain Madison Small defined second base for the Broad Run Spartans since 2012, helping win many a ballgame for the acclaimed program.
On Thursday night, despite not physically being there, she helped Broad Run win again.
Stepping into the job of starting second baseman was sophomore Alex Bencic, who’d been mentored into the role by Small over the past two years.
Bencic had the game of her life.
With the Spartans holding a precarious 3-1 edge on the powerful Vikings (4-2), Bencic blasted a grand slam that didn’t need the wind it got to easily clear the left-field wall.
The diminutive middle infielder, who teared up as she circled the basepaths, said it was her first home run at any level, ever. She wasn’t entirely certain she could have done it alone.
“I could not believe it,” said Bencic, who finished with two hits and five RBI. “I didn’t think it was going over at all. I don’t know, maybe she was helping.”
Freshman pitcher Libby Griffis, getting a rare start, relied on her infield’s ground-ball defense to earn the complete-game win. For Valley, Sydney Hays and Reagan Brill each reached base twice.
In Honor of Madison, or, 24/Heaven
Tim Small‘s grateful expression of emotion is easy to understand when observing the many tangible displays of support for his family and love for his daughter. Among them:
- Broad Run baseball field with large “24” painted in Spartan colors behind home plate
- Loudoun Valley softball players distributed white roses to their Broad Run counterparts, including a bouquet each for head coach Ed Steele and Madison’s father Tim
- Valley posted “We Play For 24” in Viking colors next to their dugout
- Valley players wore 24 in eyeblack on their cheeks
- Potomac Falls baseball players warmed up with pink #WePlayFor24 t-shirts
- Broad Run boys lacrosse team wore the pink t-shirts under their jerseys during play, and pink “24” stickers on their helmets
- Supporters of all four schools playing at Broad Run were seen sporting #WePlayFor24 t-shirts in either pink or black
- Team roster sheets were colored pink and bore the #WePlayFor24 hashtag
- Broad Run softball outfield wall is draped with a large sign, directly below scoreboard, emblazoned with “We [Heart] 24”
- “Madison Small” scrawled in large letters on outside wall of visitors’ dugout, with a heart dotting the i
- Players on both softball teams wore pink hair ribbons with a glittering gold “24” showing
- Inside wall of home dugout read “I Got Your Back,” reciting one of Small’s known catchphrases
It was reported that prior to Wednesday’s standing-room-only game versus Rock Ridge – the Spartans’ first since Small’s passing – a 60-second moment of silence was held. During this time, the Spartan softball team lined up at Small’s second base position, all facing the “We [Heart] 24” sign.
“It was truly emotional,” said Ellen Gobstein, mother of Spartans’ co-captain and Madison’s friend Suzanne Gobstein. “This community has been amazing.”
Tim Small expressed the same sentiment.
“It’s come from everybody, all over,” he said, noting that the Small home has been inundated with flowers and well-wishes from across the country, including quite a few major college softball programs.
“I’m so proud that she touched so many lives, but I’m also proud to be a part of this community which has come together behind us after this tragic event. I wish I had enough words of thanks and gratitude. This community is just incredible.”
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
Special to VivaLoudoun