CANCER AWARENESS

Jefferson shortstop Livi Blackstock gives a ball to Sonnet Buffington, who threw out the first pitch at Wednesday's (Oct. 7) game against Chestatee on cancer awareness night. Buffington, a 6-year-old Jefferson Elementary School student, is battling battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Jefferson picked up a region win on a night when softball wasn’t the sole focus at DeMaris Gurley Field.

The Dragons beat visiting Chestatee 9-1 Wednesday (Oct. 7) while hosting their cancer awareness night. Jefferson, specifically, brought attention to the cases of two people: Gary Saxon, father of Dragon pitcher Rayvn Saxon, and Sonnet Buffington, a 6-year-old Jefferson Elementary School student. Jefferson invited Buffington to throw out the first pitch.

Saxon has colon cancer, while Buffington, a first grader, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The team has raised approximately $2,400 dollars for the Saxon family, while Chestatee contributed a $1,000 check to be donated to the American Cancer Society in honor of both Saxon and Buffington.

“Once we found out about Rayvn’s dad, we just furiously put this night together, and it worked out awesome,” Jefferson softball coach Kacie Bostwick said. “The community came together and raised money for the Saxon family, and (coach) Neil Armstrong, at Chestatee, gave us that check, which was a huge honor.”

Bostwick said a night like that “puts some things in perspective.”

“It does for us adults, for sure, but I hope for our kids, it does the same thing … we talk about fighting a lot, but what does that mean?” Bostwick said. “Hopefully, when they see Sonnet Buffington on the mound, who is currently fighting leukemia, that’s a fighter … that’s the definition of a fighter right there.”

Bostwick praised the community for its outpouring of support.

“That’s what’s great about living in a place like Jefferson,” she said. “People will be a united front and support when they can and that’s what happened tonight.”

As for what transpired on the field, Jefferson, whose players wore donated jerseys with “Saxon” printed across the back, was able to empty its bench in a five-inning, run-rule shortened win. Seventeen different Dragons (17-6) entered into the game as the team improved to 12-5 in region play.

Jefferson scored four runs in the first inning, adding two in the second inning and three more in the fourth to bring the run-rule into effect for the fifth inning.

Saxon threw the three innings — allowing just one baserunner (via a base hit) with six strikeouts —and was relived by Taylor Spivey, who threw 1 2/3 innings.

The final out, however, went to Mac Turner, a mainstay at catcher for the Dragons who was given an opportunity to pitch.

“That was a promise that I had to keep,” Bostwick said, “so I kept it.”

Turner walked a batter and gave up an unearned run before forcing a deep flyout to left field to end the game.

Turner also contributed a two-run double in the second inning. Spivey went 2-for-2 with a double.

Bostwick, who pointed to her team’s recent struggles, said her team played well on a special night.

“We used tonight as an example,” she said. “Tonight is how we should play all the time, no matter who is in the other dugout, no mater what the other team’s jersey says, we need to play like we did tonight — as a team, loose and having fun. I think the message was received.”

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