Wildcats playing game as tribute to vets

Oxford High’s varsity baseball players are excited to wear their special patriotic/military-themed jerseys and hats for their Veteran Tribute Game on Friday, May 25 at 4 p.m. The Wildcats will take on Detroit Country Day. Pictured above are (from left) sophomore Drew Carpenter, senior Ben Nuss, junior Joe Good, senior Shae Walters and senior Jack Smalley. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.

It’s only fitting that America’s pastime is being used to help one of America’s veterans.

Oxford High School’s varsity baseball squad will take on Detroit Country Day in a Friday, May 25 game that’s serving as both a tribute to military veterans and a fund-raiser.

“The players are really excited about being a part of this (game) and giving back to our servicemen and women,” said Oxford Varsity Baseball Coach Dave Herrick. “They give so much to allow us to have the freedoms that we do. It’s a small token of our appreciation.”

Admission is $5 and the game will be played at OHS, located at 745 N. Oxford Rd.

“It’s scheduled for a doubleheader,” Herrick said. “The first game is at 4 p.m.”

All proceeds will benefit a single veteran in need as opposed to some large organization.

“(Detroit Country Day) Coach (Steve) Lepkowski and I thought we’d be able to have more of an impact on a smaller level (by helping) one local veteran,” Herrick explained.

Throwing out the first pitch at 3:53 p.m. will be Sgt. Johnna Kovach, an Alma native who’s served in the Michigan Army National Guard since 2007.

“Anybody that’s been in the military knows how nice it is to feel appreciated, especially with all the people out in the world who don’t understand what we’re fighting for,” Kovach said. “I’m not one for a ton of recognition because I don’t like to be in the spotlight, but I love it when people honor veterans. I don’t want to make it all about me. I’m just grateful to be honored.”

Kovach, a 28-year-old resident of St. Louis, Michigan, signed her National Guard contract as a high school senior.

“My whole family’s been in the military,” she said. “Everybody at one point or another in their lives (has served).”

Kovach served two tours in Afghanistan as a military police officer. She was stationed in Bagram from 2010-11, then Kabul from 2013-14.

Kovach, who’s raising a young son, Collin, on her own, is hoping her military service will help inspire the rising generation of women, particularly in her own family.

“I have two younger sisters, so I wanted them to be able to look up to (somebody) and know that as a female, you are capable of anything, you can stand next to anybody and you can accomplish anything,” she said.

Following the playing of the National Anthem at the game, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is scheduled to fly over the field at 4 p.m. The chopper will come from Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.

“We did that last year and it was a really cool experience for the kids,” Herrick said.

During the game, both Oxford and Detroit County Day players will wear special jerseys and hats with a patriotic/military theme to them. The Oxford hats will be available to the public at the concession stand for $30 each.

“About $15 from every hat will be donated to the veteran we’re helping,” Herrick said.

In addition to honoring and helping veterans, Herrick noted this game is a good opportunity for baseball fans to enjoy some rising young talent.

He said Detroit Country Day has “a couple players (who) are potentially high-level draft picks” in the Major League Baseball Draft June 4-6.

“You don’t get to see kids like that very often,” Herrick said. “It should be a really competitive game.”

Kovach is looking forward to it.

“I don’t really know anybody who doesn’t like baseball,” she said. “I’ll go watch any baseball game.”


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