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Love for game common ground between Mary Collins, LA Dodger pitcher

Tiger softball player honored at Warren Spahn Gala

Warren Spahn Gala award winners include Tigers' Mary Collins and LA Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw

It’s not every day a Broken Arrow High School softball player gets to share the stage with a three-time Cy Young Award winner and perhaps the best pitcher in Major League Baseball.

But for Mary Collins Wednesday night was offered that moment.

For the fourth time in his career, Kershaw was presented the Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. Collins was honored, along with four Oklahoma high school players, with the Michelle Smith Outstanding Athlete Award at the Warren Spahn Gala at Oklahoma City Country Club.

“That was pretty exciting,” a somewhat understated Collins said about meeting the Los Angeles Dodger pitcher. “It was cool.”

However, it was the words of Kershaw that created a lasting impression.

“There were a lot of people who talked,” the BA senior said. “Clayton said to ‘love the game when you play and not to just play because you’re good, but play because you love it.' I thought that was really good advice. To play when you don’t love it seems useless to me. I love playing.”

The Tiger pitcher/outfielder has signed to play softball at Oklahoma State University in the fall. Before that, however, comes the spring slow pitch season.

“I’m so excited (about the slow pitch season). I can’t wait,” Collins said. “When I step on the field, it’s not fast pitch or slow pitch, it’s just softball. And I love it.”

Collins was recognized with the high school softball award along with Mustang's Zoe Jones, Carl Albert's Audrie LaValley, Yukon's Chyenne Factor and MaKayla Jackson of Putnam City. The Ferguson Jenkins Award also was presented to five outstanding Oklahoma high school baseball players at Wednesday's event.

The Gala is centered on the accomplishments of Spahn, considered the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time in the Major Leagues. The Gala is the only event in Oklahoma in which a major league athlete is honored for their accomplishments on the playing field.