Crawfordsville baseball team reaches out to tornado survivors

The Decker family survived the tornado, but Stephanie faces a long recovery time from her injuries.

Baseball is bringing people in central Indiana together with victims of the tornado in southern Indiana as one local high school team reaches out to a family who lost so much in the storms.

A team from Crawfordsville has formed a special bond with a high school team in Silver Creek.

The warm weather is a blessing for the Crawfordsville Athenian baseball team. The defending 3A state champions are anxious to defend their title.

Every year during spring break the team plans a trip south to play baseball. But this year it is more than just a game.

The devastation in southern Indiana has really hit home, even in Crawfordsville, especially the story of Stephanie Decker. She lost a portion of both of her legs while saving the lives of her two children.

This week we saw her husband Joe by his wife's side in the hospital. He also happens to be the coach of the Silver Creek baseball team that is hosting the baseball tournament the Athenians are planning to play in. Coach John Froedge sees this as an opportunity for his team.

"As most good high school sports programs you want to be about more than sports. We really wanted to take this opportunity to help somebody out," Froedge said as his team's practice began Wednesday afternoon.

That is when Operation Baseball Relief was born. The team and the entire city, for that matter, is raising money for the Decker family in cooperation with local businesses like Pizza King.

"Fifteen percent of our gross sales will go to the young men going down there and helping out on Monday," said owner Sharon Dark.

These students know this is about much more than baseball.

Jake Zurawski is a junior second baseman on the team.

"Just excited about being men and going down there and helping out rather than just playing baseball in high school," he said.

Craig Brainard, a senior pitcher and right fielder, sees it the very same way. "It's not just about baseball. It's more than baseball."

The team is also planning to volunteer to hit clean-up once the game is over and life begins. The Silver Creek tournament starts March 30th.