Valley High School baseball players heard a girl screaming in distress Tuesday afternoon.
Some 30 players immediately broke from team drills, hopped a fence and ran toward the south Sacramento school's parking lot to offer assistance.
A car had accidentally backed over a Laguna Creek student and pinned her underneath. Players from Valley's junior varsity and varsity teams lifted the car, allowing coaches Troy Quirillo and Brett Sawyer to pull the girl free.
Students from the school's Health Tech Academy tended to the injured teen, offering first aid and comforting words while the coaches phoned 911. Coaches said the girl was bleeding from both ears but was otherwise OK. She was released later from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, south Sacramento, said Elk Grove Unified School District.
The Laguna student had been dropped off for an after-school program at Valley. Not realizing the student was behind the car, the driver backed up, knocking her down.
"The guys really showed character," Sawyer said. "We're rebuilding our baseball program, but the baseball players became men. Their courage in a traumatic situation was truly remarkable. I couldn't be more proud. They turned a terrible situation into a heroic one."
Sawyer said upon hearing the girl's call for help, he witnessed "the entire JV and varsity team sprinting, jumping the fences to get to her. Without any coaches, teachers or administrators having to tell them what to do, they reacted."
Said Valley pitcher Chas Roberts: "We had to help. Something had to be done to save her life."
School board President Chet Madison addressed both teams Wednesday. Later, Valley Principal Chelsea Bowler-Shelton presented the players with sunflower seeds and gum, traditional baseball nibbles, for the season finale against Florin. Bowler-Shelton also did interviews with national media outlets Thursday.
Valley Vice Principal Mohammad Warrad said Valley athletes exemplified the role of caring students. "It's a great example of how special students and humans can be, how it ties to life situations, and of doing the right thing," he said. "It's amazing how amazing kids can be. Makes us all smile."