|PHOTO: DWCPhoto.com. Highlands first baseman Brennah Dutcher records the final out in a game against Conner. (May 2015).|
By Colin Moore
Highlands softball has a third successive regional final to look forward tonight but it may have been very different if one of their star players hadn’t had her stolen equipment returned to her just in time for Tuesday’s regional semifinal game.
Brennah Dutcher, who plays first base for the Ladybirds and will play college softball at Dennison University, had gear worth over $850 stolen from the trunk of her car including two bats, her glove, her helmet, her facemask and her cleats.
Brennah first noticed the gear was missing on Monday morning, the day of the Ladybird’s Regional first round game but had thought that she may have just misplaced it. She last had the gear at practice on Saturday but it was cut short due to heavy rain and she had wondered if she might have just run to her car and left her bag.
The family searched the fields and called and emailed round other players in case someone had picked up the bag in error but to no avail. Brennah had spent Saturday evening at a graduation party in Burlington, so she reported the equipment as stolen to Fort Thomas PD, Southgate PD and Burlington PD, who took a statement.
Brennah borrowed equipment from other players but in softball the length and weight of the bat is important and despite the Ladybird’s win over Covington Holy Cross, she had an unhappy night. Heidi Dutcher, Brennah’s mother, a shop owner in Fort Thomas, says, “She was devastated, she did not play well. She was thinking about her missing equipment all night. Your gear is your gear.”
After her disappointing night, Brennah’s stepfather, Kevin Barrett, decided to take a trip to Play It Again sports in Florence, to see if he could find a bat of a similar length and weight to use in Tuesday’s regional semifinal. When he arrived he was amazed to discover that Brennah’s two bats, cleats, facemask and glove had been sold to the store. Normally, the store would have had to wait until they received a police report to return the items but sensing that Kevin was in a hurry the storeowner, Geoff Gray, agreed to return the equipment to Brennah for the $36 dollars he had paid for it.
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Geoff, a former police officer, says he “would have been happy to return the equipment for free but procedure meant that he would have to have a police report and he was in a rush because of her game that night.”
He did everything he could do.
Play It Again has a robust policy over the buying of equipment, they require people selling to provide ID and answer questions: in this case they have the sellers on video. Geoff calls the thieves “dumb” and says he hopes the family takes the matter further with the police and prosecute those responsible. “Over the years we have caught a lot of people in the process of selling stolen goods.” With his background in law enforcement Geoff is particularly stringent on questioning sellers but in this case they provided ID and answered all of his queries.
“I’m just glad she got her stuff back.”
Thankfully, due to Kevin’s quick thinking, he was able to get Brennah’s equipment back to her in time for Wednesday’s regional semi final. The Ladybirds beat Boone County 9-4 to advance to the regional final for the third straight year and Brennah had a great game, going 2 for 4 with a double. They’ll be hoping she can bring that form into Thursday’s regional final against Ryle.
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Geoff advises that if anyone ever has sporting equipment stolen, they ring round the local Play It Again stores right away so they can be on the lookout for them.
“We’re a family business and we’ve caught a lot of people over the years, we’d much rather have good people shopping here.”