Rookie of the year

NILES – If Heaven Doss was intimidated by Scrappers outfielder Joshua McAdams’ throw, she didn’t show it as she practiced her pitching with him on Saturday at Eastwood Field.

Doss, 8, of Columbiana, caught nearly every ball McAdams threw and returned the pitches in kind as she warmed up for the ceremonial first pitch at the Mahoning Valley Scrappers’ opening day game on Monday.

“You remind me a lot of my sister. You catch a lot better than she does. Look at that, perfect,” McAdams said as he gave Doss a few pointers, but mostly praised her game.

Doss, a participant in the Big Brothers / Big Sisters program, was nominated for the role by “Big Sister” Theresa Stupka after the NECA-IBEW Electricians donated the first pitch they received for the sponsorship of the evening’s fireworks display.

“We’re trying to create a memory with it. We’ve had the first pitch before and we’ve never thought to do something like this. We just tried to find somebody we could make a memory for,” IBEW Local 573 business manager Jim Burgham said. “Plus, I couldn’t make it to the plate,” he laughed.

Stupka has been Doss’ Big Sister for more than a year and said when she first heard of the opportunity to throw the pitch, she replied immediately.

“I thought Heaven would probably love that,” she said. “She’s really excited about it.”

The Big Brothers / Big Sisters program matches children with adult mentors to provide support to the child, volunteer mentor and child’s family.

“I just try to be a friend to her, a mentor. We have a lot of fun together, we swim, we go hiking, we bake cupcakes,” she said.

Doss, who plays on the All-Star softball team for Joshua Dixon Elementary School, told Stupka she would have to miss the tournament if it falls on the same night of the Scrappers game. Thankfully, she won’t have to miss either.

“I like making things. I like to play in the dirt,” she said to McAdams as they chatted between throws.

Although admitting she was nervous prior to the practice, afterward she said she would pitch the whole game if the Scrappers asked her to.

“She’s got a heck of a cannon on her. She’s confident,” McAdams said.

Stupka said Doss will be well supported by family and friends during Monday’s game, as her grandfather already bought 20 extra tickets.

“Her family is real excited,” she said.