Henryville hero mom tosses first pitch in UK-UofL baseball game

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by Bryan Baker

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 25 at 3:56 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Nearly 4,000 baseball fans showed up to Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville to watch the Commonwealth's biggest rivalry renewed. They watched the 20th-ranked Cardinals' 10-2 victory, a season sweep over the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

But the fans reserved their loudest applause of the night, an event that brought these arch-rivals together, for something that happened before the game.

One of Kentuckiana's most admired women, Stephanie Decker, a huge Cardinal fan, threw out the first pitch.

Decker shielded her kids in her basement when March's devastating tornado ripped through her Henryville home.

Stephanie's kids, 8-year-old Dominic and 5-year-old Reese, were unhurt, but doctors had to amputate both of her legs.

The Louisville public address announcer offered an introduction to someone who's becoming a national hero.

Decker laughed when Louisville catcher Kyle Gibson flashed her a sign for the pitch and then fired, bouncing it just in front of Gibson.

"How was my pitch?" Decker playfully asked her son, Dominic. 'Was I a little outside, inside?
"Low!" smiled Dominic.

Stephanie might be without her legs but never lost her spirit. She used to be a softball pitcher but has never taken a mound like this. And yet, she was nervous for a different reason.

"It's nerves and adrenaline," said Decker. "Sports has always been a part of my life, and if you didn't get the butterflies before you went out to a game, then I don't think you cared enough about the game ... It's an awesome feeling to see a lot of people that care and not just about me but others in our town that have really suffered."

Stephanie will have what she hopes is her last surgery Wednesday at University hospital. She will then get her prosthetic legs and hopes to be walking in a matter of weeks.

To see what fans and others said about Decker as well as to see her pitch, click on the video player above.

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