Hope Ortiz gives cancer patients hope


Photo Credit: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Some players can inspire a team to no end, not only because of their talent but also because of their teamwork and effort. Hope Ortiz was that kind of a player.
“She (Ortiz) was probably one of the greatest teammates. She loved her team, she always played hard and if anyone had a problem they would go to her,” said UTSA Assistant Coach Michelle Cheatham whose first year coaching for UTSA Softball was Ortiz’s senior season.
A former UTSA pitcher, Ortiz graduated in 2006 after three seasons with the Roadrunners softball team, which they won the Southland Conference Regular Season Championship all three years.
Ortiz had 28 appearances as a Roadrunner and ranked eighth all-time at UTSA with a 6-1 record. In her final year the team also won the Southland Conference Championship Tournament and she posted 14 strikeouts and a 2.58 ERA for the season. Originally from Odem, Texas. Ortiz attended Temple College her freshman year where she was 5-0.
This talented young woman, however, was diagnosed with leukemia after graduation from UTSA and lost her eight-month long battle with the disease in May of 2009.
Since her passing, the UTSA softball team has held an annual game to memorialize Ortiz as a star student athlete and as an amazing person. The game helps to raise awareness and funds for local cancer research in order to prevent this from happening to other student athletes, as well as people everywhere.
“All the future student athletes at UTSA are able to get a piece of her and know her legacy this way,” said Cheatham.
This year’s fourth annual Strike Out for Cancer game in memory of Ortiz happened on Saturday April 20 when the Roadrunners played the Seattle University Redhawks at UTSA Roadrunner Field.
The event raised $1,068 for the San Antonio Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The funds were donated by over 300 attendants at the game, who participated in a silent auction where the prizes included signed jerseys and softballs. The players sported orange ribbons and Ortiz’s name written on sweat bands to show support for those fighting cancer. The softball staff wore t-shirts that read, “I wear a ribbon for my hero” and had a large orange ribbon printed on front.
“She was a really important person in our program,” said UTSA catcher Megan Low, after the game. “Any way we can honor her is really awesome.”
Ortiz’s family, which includes her parents Arnold and Sandra and her siblings Christopher, Nicolas and Allison, attend the game in San Antonio every year and are very involved with their daughter’s alma mater. Allison, Ortiz’s younger sister, even threw out the first pitch on Saturday.
“Honestly, you cannot get more of a classy family. They are unbelievable and we always love having them. I hope they had a great time today,” said UTSA Head Coach Amanda Lehotak.
“Whenever we play in Corpus, they always come out and support us, and little Alison, we are going to recruit her… She will be a pitcher just like her big sister,” added Cheatham.
Ortiz was a vital figure in UTSA’s softball program while she was playing and today is a role model and a symbol of the great things a team can do when they work together.
“That is what we are trying to instill in our kids today—that that feeling of loyalty and being there for each other,” said Cheatham. “We try to pass that on by remembering her.”