Softball scene lost a treasure in Tina Sanders
It was a rather joyous week on the Lebanon County scholastic sports scene, highlighted by the district championships captured by the Northern Lebanon and Lebanon Catholic girls basketball teams on Friday at Giant Center.
Unfortunately, there was also a considerable tinge of sadness that made its way into the area the day before when Lebanon County's most ardent supporter of girls softball, Tina Sanders, passed away.
Just 59 years old when she succumbed following a courageous battle with cancer, Sanders was a fixture in the local softball world for years, most notably as the president and secretary of the Lebanon County Girls Fastpitch League, co-founder of the A-C Heat travel softball team and as a dedicated fan of the Annville-Cleona High School softball program both during and long after daughters Kaitlyn and Allix had graduated.
Since softball is one of my beats, I crossed paths with Tina a lot over the years. I can't say that I knew her well despite our many interactions but you didn't need to be around Tina long to know what she was all about.
Strong-willed, opinionated and fiercely loyal to those she cared about, Tina was quick to give me a good-natured hard time about my coverage and just as quick with a compliment if she felt it was warranted.
She was honest and direct, and I always appreciated that about her.
She was also all about kids. I doubt that there are many current or former Lebanon County girls softball players who weren't impacted by her in some way. Her family's loss is also shared by all those kids who benefited from her tireless efforts on their behalf over the years.
I learned about that firsthand a few times. Through her desire to see that the softball events she was a part of were fully staffed, Tina asked me to help out a few times.
Once it was as a PA announcer for a summer all-star tourney at Prescott, another time as a scorekeeper for an ASA event in York.
Truth be told, I was reluctant to say yes on both occasions. Both events took place on my day off and there were other things I wanted to do on those days.
But knowing how dedicated Tina was to the sport and the kids who played made it impossible for me to say no. And I'm glad, I didn't. Because I'm pretty sure she would have done the same for me if the roles were reserved.
I didn't see Tina much the last few years, as her illness kept her from attending the Annville-Cleona games she so enjoyed. But I had some contact with her through Facebook, where she still seemed to be her feisty self most of the time.
I hoped that meant she would win her fight eventually, but on Thursday morning I learned that would not be the case.
Apparently there were some softball leagues in heaven that needed to be straightened out and run correctly. They got the right person for the job.
Rest in peace, Tina. You'll be missed.