Angels In The Outfield

Angels In The Outfield

Dream impossible things: 17-0
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16-0. That’s the magic number as the Lakeland Chiefs varsity baseball team heads into the district championship game this Memorial at PNC Field (first pitch is at 2:30 p.m.). No Lakeland team has gone undefeated in the regular season since the 1950s, and the Chiefs are looking to make it a perfect 17-0 as they play for yet another district title to add to their many others. Their opponent will be third-ranked Holy Redeemer high school. This year is both different and the same, for many reasons. Unlike all the years past, Lakeland has already clinched its spot in the state tournament due to the fact that this year, the first and second finisher in Division II get to go instead of just the champion. That fact alone has got to take some pressure off the perfect squad, who has only allowed two runs in their last six games, zero runs in the post-season, and etched a name in history with a no-hitter in the quarterfinals.

Lakeland has a fantastic line-up and bullpen, as they always seem to, and the magic is most definitely there this year. However, Lakeland is playing their post-season baseball yet again with heavy hearts as tragedy seems to strike the community at this time of year. To name a few, Lackawanna College freshman baseball player and graduate of Lakeland, Shane Rivenburgh, passed in a tragic accident last April, and just this past week, one of the players lost both his father and grandfather in a tractor trailer accident. Due to the most recent tragedy, the semifinal game was pushed to Friday instead of Thursday, and the sun came out full force as the Chiefs recorded the final out, fortifying all of the angels they have in their corner.

The events of the 2014 district championship game are not lost on those who were there or heard about it, as the senior catcher who had lost his father shortly after the 2013 season drove in the game-tying run, and kept the rally going for the go-ahead, and a miraculous catch at third based completed the underdog run.

As the Chiefs head into this game, their hearts will be heavy once more at the loss this family and community has faced less than a week ago, but teammates aren’t just teammates, they are family, and family can make it through any adversity thrown at them. 17 is the magic number this Monday, and there will, without a doubt, be many angels in the outfield.

Cover Image Credit: Dreams of the Heart

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Every Question You Have About The Stanley Cup Playoffs, Answered

The Stanley Cup is upon us and there are a few things you should know if you're tuning in for the first time.

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April is such a crazy time this year in the entertainment arena. With "March Madness" coming to a close, the Stanly Cup Playoffs beginning April 9th, "Game of Thrones" premiering its final season on Sunday, April 14th and "Avengers: End Game" premiering Friday, April 26, things are going to be insane all month long.

To kick things off, hockey fans everywhere are preparing for the Stanley Cup. Here are a few tips if you have no idea what the Stanley Cup is to make you look like you know exactly what you are talking about (even if you don't know anything about hockey in the first place).

1. What even is hockey, anyways?

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Hockey is a sport that is played against two teams on the ice. The players wear skates, use ice hockey sticks and play with a rubber disc called a puck. The objective of the game is to score on the opponent's goal. The game itself can be very fast paced, physical and it's very popular in the United States, Canada, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

2. Why do people care about the NHL?

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It is widely thought that the NHL (in North America) is the most admired hockey league in the world. As of right now, there are currently 31 teams in the NHL both from the U.S. and Canada.

3. What is the Stanley Cup?

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The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was the 1892 Governor General of Canada. The shiny silver cup was purchased by him in London and he then donated it to award the top amateur hockey club located in Canada. The first winner of the Stanley Cup in 1893, was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (or MAAA). The cup has an escort (currently Philip Pritchard), who always accompanies it. The poor cup has seen its fair share of horror, including being urinated in by the New York Rangers.

4. So how do the Stanley Cup Playoffs work?

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Well, the Stanley Cup Playoffs usually begin the first few weeks of April and can go into the first week of June (depending on how fast each team makes it thru the four rounds of best-of-seven series.) There are eight teams from each of the two conferences and are in the tournament depending on how well they did during the regular season. Whoever wins the cup gets the claim to the trophy for the year.

5. What happens if a team wins?

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It's a really big deal to win the Stanley Cup. Basically, it's just a ton of bragging rights and being able to say that your team worked really hard to get there. Imagine working so hard to get that big promotion at work and you get it. It's a wonderful feeling but if you don't get it, well there can be some tears (and let me tell you it can be very sad watching hockey players cry.)

6. Who were last year's Stanley Cup winners?

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The defending champs, the Washington Capitals, are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Winning for the first time in franchise history, the Capitals hope to make a Stanley Cup Final appearance and win again. Since I was six years old, I have been the biggest Capitals fan so being able to be in Washington D.C. and watch them win was one of the best moments in my life (I am hoping for a repeat... but this year there are some really awesome teams.)

7. Who is predicted to win?

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Coming in hot with the most wins for the regular season and the team I have been calling to win since their loss to the Washinton Capitals during the third round of the playoffs last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning led by Steven Stamkos are the big favorites to win this year. Both the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights are close contenders. I'm calling it now, though. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.

8. Are there any underdogs?

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Out of all the teams (besides the Washington Capitals of course), I was really hoping to see the Carolina Hurricanes go to the playoffs. This team, who have become famous this year for their post-game celebrations, have really stepped it up. The last time this team made a playoff run was in 2009. It's really great to see a team who isn't normally in the playoffs competing. Although I can't wish them luck as they are playing against the Capitals in the first round, I hope to see them play next year.

9. So who should I talk about to make it sound like I actually watch hockey?

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Whenever I talk about hockey, people seem to like to quiz me on players to see if I really know hockey. A few players you should mention to people if they bring the Stanley Cup are as follows. Right Winger on the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nikita Kucherov, is on fire this season with 87 assists. I hate to be basic but Alex Ovechkin and the reason for him is that he is sitting at 51 goals, making this his eighth season to obtain 50+ goals a season.

Brad Marchand is a huge fighter, but the Boston Bruins would be lost without him. If you really want to piss a New York Islanders fan off, you just need to mention John Tavares name. Lastly, Brent Burns is one of the best defensemen and plays for the San Jose Sharks. He's got some pretty great locks of hair and a big toothy smile but he can play hockey like no other. Of course, there are so many other talented great players this playoff run, but these are just a few you could mention.

10.  I heard there are a lot of fights in hockey ... do you think I'll see one?

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Yes, fights happen in hockey all the time but especially during the playoffs. Tensions are high, but so are penalties. Tensions are especially high when a team is playing game four and if they don't win they are done. I have seen some pretty nasty fights break out during the playoffs and it's not pretty especially when it involves fans. Be prepared to see some fights break out and would not be surprised to see if Tom Wilson gets suspended again as he does every year (for no good reason) during the playoffs.

11. Why does the Stanley Cup Playoffs affect me?

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs are way more fun than a lot of other sports playoffs in my opinion. I saw this first-hand when the Washington Capitals won and how the whole city of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland came together (yes we see you bandwagon fans). It's a sport that's fast, exciting and brings people together.

May the best team win.

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