The one pitch Lane Moore threw Thursday night was high and outside.
Zach Dale hopped out of his catcher’s stance and caught it.
The Covington High fans erupted with a loud cheer.
Moore lifted his arms straight in the air and flashed a big ole smile as if he had just completed a no-hitter to give Covington a state championship.
It was just the honorary first pitch. But for Moore, a freshman at Covington who has Down syndrome, it was so much more. Just ask him.
“It was cool. It was awesome,” described the 17-year old.
You won’t find Moore’s name listed on the Covington baseball roster, but he never misses a home game.
In his first year at the school, he has become a favorite among the other students, especially the baseball team.
“Everybody just loves him,” Dale said. “He loves to be around everybody, and when you see him in the halls, he is always giving everybody hugs and high-fives.”
It was Senior Night for Dale and six of his teammates.
But they also made sure it was “Lane Moore Night” as well.
They surprised the freshman before the game and gave him a uniform to wear.
“It’s something we had talked about for a while, and with it being Senior Night and such a big game, we thought it was the perfect time,” Covington coach Jeff Dragg said. “It’s funny because I looked out there during pregame, and he is out there leading the team during stretches. He was claiming his spot in the lineup and wanting to hit first and everything.”
Grey Moore, Lane’s father, could barely hold back the tears during the pregame ceremony as his son was recognized.
“That’s why I kept my shades on,” he said. “I tell you. It meant everything. You can’t even imagine. It’s been amazing how they took him under their wings. He is good for them, and they are good for him. It’s been a good thing for all them.”
It’s been what Dragg has come to expect of this year’s team, which has adopted the word “OHANA” as its motto this season.
“That’s the Hawaiian word for ‘family,’ and that’s what we have been this year,” Dragg said. “That kid has played an instrumental role in that. Win or lose, he is always out there smiling and it puts things in perspective and shows you what life is all about.”
And it’s not just at baseball games, where he is often leading the crowd in doing the wave. He also is a big fan of the school’s football team. At halftime of the games, he will go down on the sideline and cheer with the cheerleaders.
“He is always smiling and always happy,” said Dre Young, a defensive lineman on the Covington football team. “If you’re down, he is going to encourage you to be happy.”
There was nothing to be down about Thursday night as Covington beat Mandeville to claim its second straight division title.
According to the scoreboard, the final score was 11-5. But there was still one more run that had to be scored.
Win or lose, Moore always gets to score one more run.
A tee is placed at home plate.
Moore swings, driving a ball off the tee and the Covington players scattered around the field are unable to handle it.
Grey Moore and his wife, Kendi, try to hold back the tears as No. 8 makes his way around the bases.
“It touches my heart, ” Lane’s mom said, “to see that,” said Lane’s mom. “It brings tears to my eyes. It’s very special, and we just appreciate everyone who is a part of letting him do it.”
Moore slides into home plate. He’s safe.
He gets a chance to relive the moment at home as he and his parents watch the video.
“He sits there watching with a big smile,” his mom says. “Then he said: ‘That’s me, that’s me. The boys love me.’ We have watched it several times, and we’ll watch it many, many more times. It’s something we will cherish forever.”