Tuesday, March 21
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    Whether friend or foe, the softball community rallies behind its own in a time of need.

    Such was the case on Saturday as the Ohio Varsity Vipers coordinated a Home Run Derby fundraiser for Dave Granchi, the club director of the Ohio Cobras, who was diagnosed earlier this year with colon cancer.

    Nearly 15 different travel clubs and hundreds of people from around the area participated in the event, which raised $25,553.

    “That was way more than we expected,” said Vipers director Jo Bondra. “That just shows how quickly people in softball can come together and support somebody else. We had 15 different organizations that were represented, which is a cool thing. It shows that no matter who you play for or where you come from, everybody was there to support someone in need in the softball community.”

    Area players were invited to solicit donations for the home run derby.

    A player earned one swing for every $5 raised and prizes were awarded to the top home run hitters in each age group.

    McKenna Fiederer of the Cobras was the home run king in the 10U age group. She hit 25 dingers. Julia Harvey of the Vipers and Camile Corlette of the Cobras hit 64 homers to tie for the win in the 12U age group. Kennidie Rogers of Pennsylvania hit 51 home runs to win the 14U age group, and Maggie Corlette of the Cobras hit 22 homers to win the 16/18U division.

    The Willoughby Starzz made the single largest donation of $4,000 and Nissan of Mentor also contributed $1,000 to the cause.

    Following the event, Coach Granchi sent an email to the participants thanking them and also pointing out the value of the softball community taking care of its own.

    Coach Granchi first thanked the players for attending and then described his relationship with Coach Bondra, who coordinated the event.

    “Coach Jo and I have a relationship built on respect,” Granchi wrote. “Coach Jo is head of Ohio Varsity Vipers and the head coach at Mentor High School. I am head of the Ohio Cobras organization. We know each other through softball. We do not hang out, we will text now and then about softball. I tell you this because I want to make sure you understand that no matter who you play for, you are part of this softball community that is very special.”

    Granchi encouraged the players to remember that despite the rivalries that may exist within the sport, the community as a whole is more important than individual wins and losses.

    “As you all go through your careers as softball players, support each other,” he wrote. “When someone you know wins a tournament or hits a home run or pitches a great game or makes their high school team or signs with a college down the road, congratulate them! That’s what we do in the softball community and we need to continue doing things like what Coach Bondra did for me today. Appreciate and respect each other.”

    Granchi’s daughter is a freshman at Riverside.

    Mentor and Riverside are rivals, but that didn’t stop Bondra from rallying the community around Coach Granchi.

    “He’s done a really good job and his teams are really competitive,” Bondra said. “Riverside is our biggest rival at Mentor and the Cobras are a big rival for the Vipers, but in a time like this, that doesn’t matter that we run different organizations. When something like this comes up, everyone comes together, which is the cool part.”



    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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