The Millennium High School Tigers

The Millennium High School Tigers are looking to make their April 5 softball game against the Verrado Vipers a special one.

In fact, the Tigers are looking to strike out. Strike out cancer, that is.

So, the team will dedicate the softball game to cancer awareness and those who are battling the disease. The Tigers’ home game against the Vipers is 6 p.m. Friday, April 5.

The effort is tied to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s StrikeOut Cancer initiative, which raises funds for and awareness of cancer.

According to Tigers head coach Sophia Lujan, such efforts go back to her time working at Desert Edge High School when a colleague passed away from cancer. In turn, a cancer benefit event held in 2012 stuck with her.

She’s been at Millennium for five years, this being her second year as the Tigers’ head coach. The team started its cancer awareness efforts last year.

“I really wanted to have our girls get into community service and giving back, and one of them was through these cancer awareness events,” she explained of coming to Millennium.

“I remembered back in 2012 we did something (at Desert Edge). I looked up the organization again and they were still thriving off of just awareness, and I wanted to shift where we wanted to give our focus.”

For the Tigers, donations raised through their efforts benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

This year, in particular, donations will go to the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU). Lujan intends to switch it up each year.

“Last year we did blood diseases and this year we wanted to change it to something different,” she explained. “Every year I want to focus on a different need in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation. There is a lot of news that I was hearing this new year about just a lot of NICU births and how it was just hard for the families and obviously for the little infants. And, these little kids come out with some struggles, and some of them get diseases early on in the NICU. So we wanted to focus that for this year.”

The team already has a fundraising page set up on the Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s website. As of March 18, $25 has been donated. But for those who would rather come out and show support in person, there will be alternative means to donate at the game.

Estimating a total of $350 raised last year, Lujan is looking to crush expectations.

“We want to kind of raise it from last year. Our goal this year is $500. I truly believe that we can crush that number just because last year was just so new. I was trying figure out how to do this,” she said.

“We’re getting more awareness out this year than we did last year, so I know our numbers will be better. I know this is a region game, so that also boosts the support, because a lot of people love to see competitive games with these events. And I want to make sure that the fans have a great softball experience as well.”