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When former baseball and softball players gather at Owen High School on Saturday for the annual alumni softball and baseball games, Taylor Fisher will be among them.

The 2011 graduate of the school battled cystic fibrosis while helping to lead the Warlassies to the fourth round of the state playoffs during her senior year. Her performance on the field led to an offer to play softball at Gardner-Webb University, but the genetic disease closed the door on that opportunity.

“I was only able to stay for about three weeks, and I wound up getting really sick,” Fisher said of her time at Gardner-Webb.

The disorder that primarily affects lung function in sufferers required Fisher to spend 12 days in a Chapel Hill hospital, effectively ending her plans to continue playing the sport she loves.

Not discouraged by her short stay at Gardner-Webb, Fisher returned to the Swannanoa Valley. She began balancing the long trips to Chapel Hill for treatment with her busy schedule, which includes her full-time job as a dispatcher for the police department at UNC Asheville.

“I started classes at A-B Tech, so I’ve been taking criminal justice classes there when I can,” she said. “I think I have around four more classes to go before I can graduate, but now it’s difficult getting the classes in because I work fulltime.”

After receiving clearance from her doctor, Fisher will find the time to play in the Owen alumni softball game, her second time participating.

“I get to play with the girls that I played with growing up,” she said of what the game means to her. “I played with those same girls from the time I was like 8 until we all graduated.”

Fisher has remained close to many of those teammates, who have been supportive throughout her battle with cystic fibrosis.

“Last year when I was in the hospital, I remember four or five of the girls that I played softball with growing up just randomly showed up at the hospital in Chapel Hill,” she said. “When they walked into the room, I was really surprised. They’re a great support system.”

Softball has also been a familiar friend to lean on since high school. Though Fisher has not participated in a competitive game since last year’s alumni contest, she recently joined the staff of a local travel team as an assistant coach.

“Softball growing up was my life,” she said. “Now that I’m older, it’s a little different since I can’t be on the field every day. It’s helped me a lot knowing that I can help young girls learn to love the sport as much as I do.”

Fisher’s love for softball helped fuel the Warlassies to 23 straight wins in 2011. The team advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs with a 25-2 record before losing to Pisgah.

“We were able to accomplish so much because we were always together,” she said. “Now that I’m out of high school, some of those girls are still some of my best friends.”

Typically, about 60 former Owen athletes get together for the alumni game, booster club president Roger Brown said.

“All of the proceeds go to uniforms, equipment, travel expenses and things like that,” he said. “It’s the major fundraiser for baseball and softball.”

The softball and baseball games both start at 7 p.m. at Owen this Saturday. Openings are still available and the cost is $25 to play. Contact Brown at 713-7871 for more.

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