CINCINNATI — Bats cracked and supporters cheered at Saturday's softball tournament honoring the late Gabby Rodriguez.
On Sept. 10, 2018, Rodriguez was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking to school on Harrison Avenue. She was 15 years old. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene that day and still hasn’t been found. Rodriguez was a student athlete and played on her school's softball team.
The first annual softball tournament at the Western Hills University High School kicked off Saturday, with special tribute events for Rodriguez.
Players on teams made up of family, friends and community members sported the number "13," the 15-year-old's jersey number, on their hands and on their jerseys to honor her legacy.
“Everyone that’s going to play is going to have the number on their hand,” said Jacob Long, one of Rodriguez’s friends.
Dee Anne Atkins, a family friend, said the event also highlights a need for increased pedestrian safety precautions.
“It wasn’t really something in the forefront for me, until this happened to Gabby last year,” she said. “He’s a senior this year and I’m still talking to him about what could happen out here.”
And the fight for greater safety for pedestrians isn’t over.
“The biggest issue is money… speed bumps alone cost $3,000 a piece,” she said.
All donations made at Saturday's softball tournament will go directly to a softball scholarship in Rodriguez’s name.
Long remembered Rodriguez as a talented softball player. Even though she played softball, she held her own against the boys playing baseball, Long said.
“She was out here pitching and she broke one of my gloves,” he said. “She put a hole in it and I had to get a new one.”
So in honor of his friend, Long pledged to hit a home run at the first of what supporters hope will be many memorial tournaments.
“She played hard all the time, so that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.