Hoosac Valley, softball communities remember Tori Rumbolt
ADAMS -- No matter the jersey color, every member of the softball community at Russell Field on Friday was on the same side.
Many came to remember their friend and teammate, Tori Rumbolt, who died Thursday. She was 18.
As her No. 7 Hoosac Valley softball jersey was displayed at shortstop -- Rumbolt's position during her Hoosac career -- her teammates gathered first on the bench, then on the field. Players from Drury, McCann Tech and Pittsfield's teams stood together in left field during the 45-minute ceremony, and were thanked by Rumbolt's father, Bob, and the Hoosac players and coaching staff. Most Rumbolt family members were there, according to Bob.
Many other Hoosac Valley athletes and students were in attendance, as well as athletes from a number of other Berkshire County schools.
While admitting that it wasn't easy for him to address the gathering, Bob Rumbolt spoke nonetheless -- first to the players, then to the crowd.
"You couldn't ask for a nicer daughter than I have in my eyes and Jennifer's eyes," he said as he stood with Tori's mother.
"Be reminded of her smile every single day," Jennifer said during her remarks to those in attendance.
The Hoosac team, wearing Rumbolt's No. 7 on their jersey sleeves, honored Rumbolt with a releasing of seven balloons, all with messages to Tori. They also took a ceremonial trip around the basepaths, led by Rumbolt's family and her jersey.
The uniformed players in attendance -- Drury, Hoosac, McCann and Pittsfield alike -- followed the family around the bases.
"Her favorite color was blue, but she wore red with the greatest pride any Hurricane could have," said Morgan Shafer, Hoosac's softball coach.
Rumbolt, a Hoosac graduate, three-sport athlete for the Hurricanes and a member of the 2012-13 Western Mass. Division II champion basketball team, was found in Adams early Thursday following a search by Adams, North Adams and state police. Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless said Thursday that no foul play was suspected in her death. Funeral arrangements have yet to be determined.
Russell Field was adorned with memorials to Rumbolt. Her No. 7 was spray-painted along the home first-base line, posted on the scoreboard, and posted in the infield with her jersey.
As "Amazing Grace" played and the crowd stood silent, Rumbolt's family held her jersey at her shortstop position, holding two-finger peace signs high as a message of "peace and love for Tori," Bob said.
The red Hoosac and blue Drury jerseys will again be on separate sides Saturday, as the traditional North County rivals meet at 1:30 for a softball game at Alcombright Field in North Adams. All Hoosac players will wear Rumbolt's No. 7 on their batting helmets.
The Hurricanes had been scheduled to play Wahconah on Friday, but that was postponed in favor of the memorial. Shafer said the players had mixed emotions about the game.
Nevertheless, they'll be back on the diamond Saturday with their former teammate in mind.
"I know that Drury-Hoosac is a big rivalry. It's one of those games everybody wants to play and everybody wants to win," Shafer said.
"Knowing how much Tori wanted to go out there and beat Drury, I think that's going to be the motivating factor."
To reach Matthew Sprague:
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