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Loyalsock honors Helmrich family in last summer game

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Brianna Helmrich, daughter of the late Traci Helmrich, is greeted by Little League mascot Dugout after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before Loyalsock softball’s game against Montgomery at Short Park on Wednesday. Brianna and her sister Marissa, who is on the high school team, both threw out first pitches during a ceremony remembering their mother who recently died of cancer.

As his daughter batted in the bottom of the first inning, Bob Helmrich stood near the bleachers with his phone out, taking photos.

Marissa Helmrich was leading the game off for the first time for Loyalsock and, while she popped up to short, the at-bat meant a lot for Helmrich and her family.

Marissa’s mother and Bob’s wife, Traci, passed away recently from cancer and on Wednesday at James Short Park, Marissa was batting leadoff as a tribute for her mom.

It was one of numerous special moments for the Helmrich family Wednesday.

Prior to the game, Loyalsock assistant coach Eric McNulty gave a short speech and had Brianna Helmrich and Marissa both throw out ceremonial first pitches as both Loyalsock and Montgomery’s softball teams lined the first and third base lines, respectively.

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Marissa Helmrich, daughter of the late Traci Helmrich, throws out a ceremonial first pitch before Loyalsock softball’s game against Montgomery at Short Park on Wednesday. Marissa and her younger sister Brianna both threw out first pitches during a ceremony remembering their mother, who recently died of cancer.

Montgomery coach Chris Glenn also had a $500 donation on behalf of Montgomery and Keystone Select Softball given to the Helmrichs.

“It means a lot for everyone to come out here and support my family. To help us out in a rough time, it just means a lot,” Marissa Helmrich said. “It was a little emotional just hearing my dad’s speech (before the game) and everyone that was in support of it.”

Before the game started, tables were set up near the concession stand with various baskets to be raffled off and prizes, in addition to a 50/50 drawing. Throughout the game, the winners were drawn and in total, it raised $1,692 for the Helmrichs.

“It seems like when a family is down or something needs done, I’m proud to be a part of the Loyalsock family. They get it done,” McNulty said.

In total, over $2,500 was raised between basket raffles, 50/50 drawing and a donation made the school.

“It was great seeing all this community support at Loyalsock. We’re so thankful that our family is able to rely on people in the community to help us through this difficult time. To have my wife memorialized in a place where she liked to come and watch her kids play sofball since they were young is nice,” Bob Helmrich said.

Traci had watched her kids, Marissa and Brianna, play softball since T-ball at James Short Park and always enjoyed going to the field to watch softball games being played.

“She was always part of that journey and it’s tough not to see her here watching her oldest daughter play,” Bob Helmrich said. “I’m coming here with a heavy heart tonight, but I know she’s watching us and smiling to see all that community support tonight.”

Traci had worked at the school’s library and the money raised will be going to the library to buy various items, whether it be books or televisions, according to Bob Helmrich. He also wants to donate a bench at Short Park in his late wife’s name, in addition to planting a tree in Callie’s Garden.

Helmrich noted that he met Traci when they were both in high school and fell in love.

“It’ll be difficult to watch these games without her here, but they’re strong kids and they’ll get through it,” Helmrich said. “We were high school sweet hearts … We had a long run, but she’s in a better place.”

Marissa Helmrich was put in against Montgomery in the final two innings to pitch. Perhaps it was only fitting that she was brilliant in her two innings of relief in the circle, striking out six of seven batters she faced and only allowed one batter to reach base.

Loyalsock won in a rout Wednesday, 15-2, against Montgomery in the finale of the Summer Town League, but the score ultimately wasn’t what mattered. The community support is what mattered the most.

Traci loved watching her daughters play softball at each level over the years and the tree planted in her honor and the bench that will bare her name ensure that she’ll always be close by to the field she loved visiting.

“A lot of good things happening around this field where she liked to watch her kids play,” Bob Helmrich said.

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