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FPD’s Karsen Ochs Strikes Out Hunger

The life you live and the sports you love can and should work together to make a difference where there is a need and FPD Junior and South Carolina Softball commit Karsen Ochs is doing just that again this Thanksgiving by “striking out hunger.” Her foundation’s Facebook page quotes 1 Peter 4:10 which says, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,” and Ochs has a strong desire to continue using her continued success again as one of the top softball pitchers in the state to be a difference maker this holiday season.

 

This will be the third year that her foundation Strike Out For Hunger, which is a 5013(c), will be donating to the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank where $1 equals 8 meals.  Ochs started her foundation as a freshman at FPD with people making donations based on each opponent she struck out. As a freshman, she raised $1,800 with her 52 strikeouts. In her sophomore season, she struck out 181 hitters and raised $6,281 through her foundation bringing her total amount to just over $8,000 in two seasons. Entering into her junior season this fall with the theme of perseverance she set a lofty goal of raising over $6500. Ochs chose the theme perseverance because as she put it, “you never know what people are going through and having to persevere through.” Inspiration for the theme was found in two SEC Softball Pitchers she watched compete in the SEC tournament and NCAA Regionals.

 

Ole Miss’s Kaitlin Lee and Texas A&M’s Trinity Harrington were instrumental in aiding Ochs’ search for the theme behind her efforts. Both encouraged her by their play on the field but in completely different circumstances. Lee pitched every game and inning for Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament which included two complete games leading them to their first SEC championship in program history. “What she had to persevere through physically and emotionally for her team during those games was beyond anything I had seen a player do for her team at that level,” said Ochs.

 

Texas A&M’s Harrington missed the Aggies’ regional sweep of Texas Southern, Texas State, and Texas in College Station after her dad died of cancer May 18, the day before the Aggies started regional play. Harrington would return in the super regional and start the second and third games (Both A&M wins) to get the Aggies to the WCWS. “Knowing she had just experienced the death of dad in her life and seeing her come back and compete to lead her team to the WCWS and the perseverance it took to do that is just unimaginable,” said Ochs. “Both of their stories were big parts of why I chose the perseverance theme this year for Strike Outs For Hunger.”

 

Ochs and the rest of the FPD Softball team this season would understand and experience this theme during their 2017 campaign. As a team, they were replacing five starting seniors and 38 homeruns from their 2016 state championship team. They were a young team but throughout the season they learned to persevere and keep battling for each other. While, others across the state questioned their legitimacy of their rankings entering the playoffs with a .500 record these girls never did. Their goal this season was to get to Columbus, which is the elite 8, and after their sweep of Darlington they just did that. However, their perseverance doesn’t end with the trip to Columbus

 

They would lose their opening game in the Elite 8 to Tattnall, but would continue to live the theme by returning to the field Friday and playing three more games while shutting out two opponents in the process to advance to the Final Four for the 5th consecutive year. The 2017 record wasn’t better than the previous and neither were the stats but they had learned to persevere for each other in the process.

 

Ochs completed the year with 148 strikeouts, which was a slight decrease from 181 during her sophomore year, but each meant so much more knowing what they were having to continue to move forward through. To date she has $2,120 in flat pledges and $25 per strikeout pledged which puts the foundation at $5,820 raised. Ochs is hoping to reach the goal of $6,500 by next Friday November 17 so the money can be delivered to the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. “It’s not about me. It never has been. It’s about helping and meeting people where they currently have a need and encouraging them to continue to persevere. I just want to be able to shine the light on others and hopefully provide them joy,” said Ochs. “I just absolutely love being able to use my ability in softball to bless other people because that’s what it’s all about.”

 

You can find information on Karsen Ochs’ Strike Out For Hunger and help make a difference too by donating to her foundation’s campaign by logging onto Facebook.

 

*Some information included in this article comes from the Houston Chronicle and USATODAY.