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Dodgers

Dodgers lift spirits at Saugus High two months after deadly shooting

Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling hugs student during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling hugs a student during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The 21 players were introduced one by one to the stuffed gymnasium Friday. The Saugus High School students, packing the bleachers on both sides, screamed with each name. The teenagers wore Dodgers jerseys and caps. They held phones out to record the pep rally. Two months after tragedy struck, they had something to celebrate together.

The Dodgers continued their annual community outreach tour at Saugus, where a student opened fire in November, killing two students and wounding three others before killing himself. Last year, members of the Dodgers participated in a luncheon with people affected by the massacre at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks that claimed 12 lives.

“Unfortunately, this is the second year in a row we’ve done an event like this for the community tour, coming after the Borderline shooting,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “Although the reason for being here is not something we want, it has made for a couple really good events. For us to get out in this community tour, visit kids, visit families . . . it’s been a really good experience.”

Saugus High students welcome Dodgers players to their school during a pep rally Friday.
Saugus High students welcome Dodgers players to their school during a pep rally Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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At Friday’s pep rally, players were divided into four groups, representing each class year, and played games. Pitcher Ross Stripling and a senior finished lyrics from a Britney Spears song to win the first contest. Turner and another senior, wearing Turner’s jersey, won a relay race sliding across the hardwood on a rug. The event ended with the players taking group pictures with freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner participates in a game during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner participates in a game during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

“It was fun to be out here,” Turner said, “and to hopefully create a memory and an experience for these kids to talk about for a long time and take their minds off what happened two months ago.”

After the pep rally, the players rode a bus to the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department for lunch with first responders to the shooting. They ate barbecue. Players signed caps and jerseys. It was a more subdued event after the morning’s raucous gathering for a community still grieving.

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“We’re definitely appreciative of the Dodgers coming out into this community,” L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. “It was hit, obviously, pretty hard by the tragedy. Nothing like some Dodger blue to lift up spirits. Astros be damned.”

Students give a warm welcome to Dodgers players at Saugus High School during a school pep rally Friday.
Students give a warm welcome to Dodgers players at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita during a school pep rally Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers players attend a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
Dodgers players attend a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Saugus High students give a warm welcome to pitcher Ross Stripling and other Dodgers players during a pep rally at the Santa Clarita school on Friday.
Saugus High students give a warm welcome to pitcher Ross Stripling and other Dodgers players during a pep rally at the Santa Clarita school on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers teammates Justin Turner, left, and Zach McKinstry play a game during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
Dodgers teammates Justin Turner, left, and Zach McKinstry play a game during a pep rally at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner plays a game while visiting Saugus High School with his teammates on Friday.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner plays a game while visiting Saugus High School with his teammates on Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


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