Normal has not returned to West, Texas. When normal makes it way back to the area known for its kolaches and Czech heritage it will be different. The town will forever be marked by pre and post explosion. Like anywhere else where tragedy has visited, life has not stopped.
At some point, the West High School baseball and softball teams were going to start playing again. They were both good teams before the fertilizer plant blew up, and they are good now. Both teams are in the state playoffs and in the process have provided a positive to a community that could use it.
The explosion was Wednesday, April 17. School, and sports, didn't re-start until the following Monday. While no baseball player, or coach, lost an immediate family member in the tragedy, someone knew someone who was directly affected with a loss. Baseball coach Cory Beckham said a few of his players lost their homes to the fire.
"I wanted us to get back to the routine and the kids were just excited to practice and get their minds on something else," Beckham told me in a phone interview. "That helped but once that (next Wednesday) got here the funerals and the memorials changed everyone's mindset."
West's fields are away from the high school, and not damaged from the explosion. The baseball team's game against Robinson eight days after the explosion served as a positive activity for many of the town's residents that needed something to divert their attention away from the tragedy.
Even though West lost 7-1 against Robinson, it was a positive sign.
"There were more people there for that game than we've ever had. There was all kinds of media there," Beckham said. "The kids wanted to win so badly but there was so much on their minds; you could just see it and it was understandable."
They next day, West won at China Spring to win district and earn a bye in the Class 3A Texas high school playoffs. West will play a couple of "warm up" games before beginning the three-game series against the winner of Carthage/Groesbeck next week.
The softball team already defeated Taylor, 2-0, on April 26 in the bi-district round. It will play Pollok Central in the area round.
"Baseball here is good and softball here is good. We want to give them something to root for," Beckham. "We feel like it's an important role to help this town out."
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