The Forney softball team, which won the Class 5A state title last season, were surprised with new uniforms and raised nearly $15,000 as part of Play For Em night against North Forney on Tuesday.
Play For Em is a foundation created for fallen teammate Emily Galiano, who has a twin sister, Madison, a junior on the team.
Galiano was a freshman during the 2017 season when she was killed after a team dinner. She was struck by a Jeep driven by a teammate. This came a few days before the Jackrabbits were set to play a three-game series against Mansfield Lake Ridge in the Class 5A Region II semifinals.
“Tuesday night was a celebration of Emily,” assistant coach Michelle Eitel said. “She was such an inspiration to many people and it showed by the support of our Forney community that showed up to honor her.”
With the help from North Forney softball and both baseball teams, $14,6000 was raised through raffle tickets and Play For Em shirts.
The Foundation was in charge of the raffle, which raised $4,600 while the Forney booster club sold shirts to raise the $10,000, which was presented by check to the Play For Em Foundation. Among the raffle prizes were tickets to the Rangers, Stars and Mavericks, and an autographed Forney softball.
“The businesses that contributed to the raffle and all the people that purchased shirts was truly amazing,” Eitel said. “We were able to present a check for $10,000 to the Foundation. Emily will always be apart of Forney softball.”
Following the pre-game ceremonies, where there was a butterfly release, Forney returned to the locker room for a surprise. The Jackrabbits received new uniforms, which will only be worn on their annual Play For Em night.
“Wonderful job on the raffle and raising money for the foundation. It’s a testament of how great you are and I love each and every one you so much,” head coach Pat Eitel said in a video.
“Coach Eitel said he had a gift for us in the locker room after we did the butterfly release. He told us to open it all at the same time and we did and nothing but tears of joy filled my eyes,” said junior Texas A&M commit Trinity Cannon. “It was so special and so sentimental. Seeing everyone in the crowd brought joy to the team and it was nice to see how many lives Emily touched and how much she meant to them. It was really a night to remember.”
The Jackrabbits, ranked the No. 1 team in 5A this season, have been honoring Galiano since that tragic night. They played Lake Ridge later that week and won in three games. They got a home run from Caroline Tedder, a junior then, to left field in Game 3. Tedder’s emotions got the better of her as she rounded second base.
Forney continued to “Play For Em” last season on its way to its first state softball title in program history.
Forney won on Tuesday to improve to 24-2 and 10-0, capturing the District 13-5A title. Junior pitcher and Kansas commit Savanna DesRochers threw a 1-hitter with nine strikeouts and had a home run and four RBI. Cannon doubled twice and drove in a run. Jessika Roberts and Caleigh Cross each drove in two and Kyler Sanders also had an RBI.