RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL)— Four people were killed and 32 injured during a mass shooting in Dadeville, Ala. on April 15. The shooting sent shockwaves across the nation, including neighboring Randolph County.
Less than 30 miles away from the site of the shooting lies Southern Union State Community College (SUSCC). Their softball team is now working to help those impacted.
The Lady Bison are raising funds to donate to the victims and families of Dadeville’s mass shooting. One of the victims Phil Dowdell, 18, was committed to play football at Jacksonville State University this upcoming fall. Ally Silva, SUSCC’s head softball coach, says seeing a player lost too soon makes her hold onto her own players a little tighter.
“I couldn’t imagine what the other coaches are going through knowing that that took place. It’s heartbreaking. Obviously, you always want to protect them, but just knowing that something like that could happen when they are right there at home is definitely scary,” Silva said. “You just try to love them as best you can.”
Coach Silva says her team is no stranger to Dadeville. Many of her current, and former players, are from the area, as well as the current team manager.
Right Fielder Natalie Lovelace is from Camp Hill, just 10 minutes away from Dadeville. She considers Dadeville her home and was shocked to see such tragedy strike the small community.
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“It’s really hard to see them and see all my friends hurting because a lot of their classmates didn’t return back to school and didn’t get to come back or are still in the hospital,” Lovelace said. “That’s really hard to see my friends hurting like that.”
Coach Silva believes Tuesday’s benefit will give all her players an additional sense of purpose on the field.
“It kind of gives a little bit more for our girls to play for. Knowing that something can happen in the blink of an eye,” Silva said. “It is a little bit more uplifting knowing that they’re playing for something bigger than themselves.”
Lovelace says it is important for her to be a part of a program that’s willing to support their surrounding communities.
“I’m really hoping that we raise a lot of funds and awareness for Dadeville because that’s basically my home,” Lovelace said. “I really just hope to spread awareness and help raise funds for them because that’s like my family and part of my community.”
Lovelace says she prays those impacted by the shooting have the strength and peace to get through this difficult time.
Their first pitch is set for 3/2 CST. Their second game is to immediately follow at 5/4 CST.
Anyone interested in donating during Tuesday’s games are asked to head out to their softball field located at 750 Roberts St, Wadley, AL 36276. Donations can be made at the press box.