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October 15, 2013

Paying tribute to teammate, friend

Squads bring scrimmage to Duncan to honor Chris Lane

DUNCAN — Ada’s East Central University and El Reno’s Redlands Community College baseball teams have played each other during the fall for several years.

But after the events that happened last August, the teams decided to bring their meeting to Duncan to honor the memory of a late teammate and friend.

The two teams will play a scrimmage Tuesday at 5 p.m., weather permitting, at the Duncan High School baseball field.

“It’s bittersweet, because it is in memory of Chris,” said Matt Newgent, Redlands athletic director and baseball coach.

According to Dr. Jeff Williams, East Central’s athletic director, a conversation with university president John Hargrove led to conversations with Newgent and East Central baseball coach Dino Rosato about possibly playing the fall game in Duncan this year.

“They were excited,” Matthews said, adding Duncan baseball coach Tim Hightower felt the same way when he was approached with the idea.

He added that he, Rosato and Newgent have been in “constant communication” with many people in Duncan, including Chris Lane’s girlfriend Sarah Harper and her family. Williams said he thinks the game is a good way to bring the communities of Duncan, El Reno and Ada together.

“We wanted to spend an afternoon together in memory of Chris,” Williams said.

Because of recent rainfall, a final decision will be made Tuesday afternoon as to whether or not the game will be rescheduled. Newton praised Hightower and his players for working to get the field playable.

Admission to the game is free, but donations will be collected and  concessions will be offered, to raise money for a scholarship fund in Lane’s memory.

Newton admitted he wished the game “wasn’t being played under these circumstances,” but he is touched by how so many people want to honor Lane’s memory.

“Chris touched so many people, that for these folks in Duncan to put on this event to honor his memory is great,” he said.

Williams said the scholarship is a great idea because it represents how much Lane valued his education.

“Athletics can be a pathway to education and Chris recognized that,” he said. “Chris Lane played baseball so he could go to school. He had the talent, but he used that talent as a way to get an education.”

Lane played baseball at Redlands for three years before moving on to East Central. Newgent said Lane was not only a great ball player, but a great person.

“He was a natural-born leader and that’s part of the reason why he became our catcher,” Newgent said. “He had an infectious personality, was very charsimatic and always had a smile. He always wanted to do the right thing.”

The Redlands AD and coach added that it’s still tough to deal with what happened to Lane, who was tragically killed last August while in Duncan.

“I loved the kid — just loved him to death. He’s terribly missed,” Newgent said.

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