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Washington Angels Fastpitch Softball Team Dedicates Season to Teammate

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PASCO, WA - The Washington Angels fastpitch softball team is playing with a purpose this summer.  They're heading to the national tournament in Salem, Virginia later this month, after winning "State for Kate."  They dedicated the win to their teammate Kate Austin, who passed away last month.

"It was awful, I couldn't believe it. I thought we'd gotten together to talk about some team issues, and then everyone was there and I found out, and we all just started bawling. It was terrible," Angels team member Tawny Becker said.

That team meeting was only a few weeks ago, but for the Angels, it feels like another lifetime. That was the night they found out their teammate, Kate Austin, had passed away.

"We sat for an hour and talked to them, tried to help them through the grieving process. Remembering the good times and all the positives that Kate had on everybody's lives," said Angels head coach Rob Dilger.

Any athlete will tell you that a team is like a puzzle, and they'd just had one of their most positive pieces taken away.

"The goofy side that helped keep the team up. There's always the serious people who want you to focus on it, but you need that side of you to keep it light and to remind you that it's just a game. That's what Kate did," Becker said.

But the summer was just beginning.  So, with a grace beyond their years, they dedicated their season to Kate and the Austin family to "Win State for Kate."  On Sunday, that's just what they did.

"She was definitely there. It was different and sad, but to know that I could feel her there, her presence, was amazing," Becker said.

But their journey isn't done.  Next weekend, they're headed to the national tournament in Virginia.   As much as they want to win, they say the journey isn't really about softball.  It's about coming together.

"If they didn't have softball in their lives, and weren't playing for the cause, for Kate, I don't know if any one of these girls could have handled it by themselves. We're embracing it. Keeping it in mind. Our unifying this year: play for Kate. Our motto this weekend was 'State for Kate.'  Keep her in our minds and to play for her as one," Dilger said.

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