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Beloved LaVille softball coach returns after rare illness

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - "It’s a little warmer today," said LaVille softball coach Scot Shearer before Thursday's game against South Bend Clay. "We get nice bright sunshine and we get another chance to play softball today."

That is surely the feeling for teams across Northern Indiana, as springtime finally allows a return to the diamond.

For Shearer and the Lancers, this return means even more.

"Softball’s a little different than other sports," said longtime Clay coach John “Woody” Woodruff. "There’s a lot of camaraderie. Softball coaches will get together, umpires will get together. Scot’s one of those guys who’s been around a long time."

In fact, Shearer has been a part of the softball community for three decades. But due to a rare illness, he was kept away for the past year.

“It’s nice to be back on the field again. Getting back for the kids and getting back to softball again, that’s what really kind of pushed me along with my family.”

Last March, Shearer was diagnosed with blastomycosis, a fungal infection that eventually spread to his lungs.

"It was a shock to everybody," said Woodruff. "When I saw him in the rehab hospital, I wouldn’t have bet that he’d be back out on the diamond, so it’s so great to see him out here. He's had to battle so hard to get back out on the diamond. To me, it's just an inspiration for all of us."

Shearer's return to the dugout has now been celebrated both by LaVille and its opponents. Before Thursday's game, the Colonials held a short ceremony to honor his work to get back.

He said the same lessons he used in recovery are the same simple points he tells the Lancers each day.

"I keep telling them that as long as they work hard and do what they’re supposed to do, everything will take care of itself," he said. "It’s just special to ride the bus with the kids and see the kids and interact with them, just like it was last year already. I just didn’t get last year, but we’re here now."

LaVille did fall to Clay 17-9 in Thursday's game, but Shearer says their first victory will come whenever it comes. He knows wins and losses are far from the sole focus anymore.

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