SPARTA, Mich.-- A West Michigan community mourned the loss of one of their own on Tuesday night. 16-year-old Alyssa Eggerding was a student and softball player at Sparta High School and one of five teenagers in a car that crashed into a tree earlier this month.
On Tuesday, The Sparta HS varsity softball team held their first home game since Eggerding's death, which hit the Sparta community hard. The softball team not only lost a teammate but a dear friend. Following the game on Tuesday, both teams came together to remember the bubbly, fun girl who her coach described as the "heart and soul of this team."
“It has been really rough," said head coach Nicole Hutchens. "We’ve been preparing for it all week. We knew that we were going to have to come out here, and this is just a really strong group of girls. They hurt, but they come together, and they’re just so emotional and so caring and love each other, and that’s helped us all the way along the way, because they have not only been there for me, but they’ve been there for each other, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without everyone.”
The team showed their support by placing white roses on the pitcher's mound and wearing shirts bearing Eggerding's number. Both teams joined hands as one unit for their fellow student athlete.
“Sometimes it still doesn’t feel real at all," said senior Amber Chapman. "It has been really hard. Honestly, we’ve just leaned on each other. It’s hard to come out here every single day and take the field, but we know Alyssa would be out here giving it her all every single day, and that’s why we do it. We do it for her.”
“It was hard, but we definitely know that Alyssa would be coming out here and giving it 110 percent," said senior Mollie Hill. "She was always someone who, even if she made a mistake or made an error, she knew that she could do better and had to make up for it. We’ve talked as a team, and we know that we need to do that for her, and she would want us out here giving it our best and working hard for her.”
In the outfield following the game, the team gathered for prayer and had a moment of silence. Afterwards, they shared memories of Alyssa, lit candles and released lanterns in memory of Number 12.
“We’re going to play this season for her because she wouldn’t want us to get down, she wouldn’t want us to give up. She’d want us to keep pushing through it," said Hutchens. "We're just really going to miss her."
In addition to dedicating this season to Eggerding, the team will wear pink arm bands bearing Alyssa's number 12 putting her number 12 on their hats so Alyssa is always with them.