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Kendall Emerson first met Chris Lane when he came to Redlands Community College in 2012. Right away, he was enamored with Lane’s passion for the game.
“He was an all-aroud great player, so energetic,” Emerson said. “He was never mad or in a bad mood. He was always happy to be on the field every day. He loved being out on the field.”
Emerson joined his Cougar teammates Thursday night in facing East Central University at the “Chris Lane Night at the Ballpark” at the Duncan High School baseball field.
The Cougar shortstop said Lane’s attitude off the field carried over on the field.
“He was really into the game,” Emerson said. “He knew what was going on. If you did something wrong, he’d let you know about it. He was always a perfectionist.”
Lane’s East Central teammates shared similar sentiments about what the Australian was like, on and off the field.
“He was genuine,” said pitcher Levi Keeton, who played with Lane at Redlands and East Central. “He was always happy to be on the field playing. He never took a day off. If he wanted to be on the field, he was on the field.”
Cale Russell plays catcher, the same position Lane played. The Tiger player said Lane was instrumental in helping him improve at the position.
“He helped me a lot with being calm behind the plate,” Russell said, “and focusing on the pitcher and nothing else.”
Outfielder Ethan Gold said Lane’s “pick-me-up attitude” is something he will always remember.
“It didn’t matter if he went 0-for-4 or if the whole team went 0-for-4,” Gold said. “He always had something good to say.”
East Central coach Dino Rosato and Redlands coach Mike Newgent both praised Duncan baseball coach Tim Hightower, his players and crew for their efforts to get the field ready. They also praised the community of Duncan for its support. Organizers sold concessions and collected donations for a scholarship fund in Lane’s memory.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Rosato said. “It’s one of those things that will bring these communities together. It’s fantastic just to be out here and have a day like this.”
The two teams normally play each other during the fall, but representatives from East Central and Redlands discussed the idea of playing the game in Duncan. They got a positive response from Duncan representatives to play the game in memory of Lane, who was tragically killed last August.
Considering the type of person Lane was, Newgent said it’s no surprise so many people came to the ballpark.
“He was such an infectious personality,” Newgent said. “He touched a lot of people. It’s such a tragedy that he was taken from us too young.”