Nataya and Liberty were all dressed up for their final softball game of the year back in May of 2019 when they got a big surprise.
The girls on Locust Grove, Georgia-based team were told they could wear whatever they wanted to their final game, so naturally, there were a lot of princesses and unicorns on the diamond that day.
As so many soldiers do, their adopted dad Jake Bunger had missed out on their softball season that year after being deployed to Afghanistan. In fact, it had been 5 months since the family had all been together – and to top it off this had been his 15th(!) deployment.
“I could just imagine how heartbreaking that would be to miss birthdays, Christmases, holidays… And to not see your kids play in their very first – or a single – sporting event for the first time, it just broke my heart,” said the girls’ softball coach Matt Still.
So Still came up with an idea. He asked the girls’ mom if he could help arrange a “cool surprise for Jake and the girls.” He even offered to move the game back to accommodate dad’s return from overseas.
“When I found out their father would be coming home on May 27, and as a veteran and father myself, I thought it would be awesome if he could see at least one game,” Still said, according to The Daily Mail.
Mom took him up on the offer immediately.
The big surprise
On the day of the game, the girls had no idea why there were cameras, but it turns out they were there to capture a heartwarming moment.
As the girls on the team took turns running around in costume and introducing themselves to the camera before the game, a crowd gathered behind them. Dad had been hiding in the concession stand until they could find the perfect moment.
But as he ran out onto the field, he said he felt both overwhelmed and blessed to be able to return home yet again to see his girls.
When the players are asked how it has felt to have their fans watching them all season they shout in unison “GOOD!”
Of course, someone has been missing all season. But when the person behind the camera asks “Who’s that there behind home plate?” all the girls turn around to see the latest addition to their audience.
“DADDY” scream Nataya and Liberty as they go bolting off to give him a giant hug.
Of course, no one wants to miss out on an important moment, so ALL of the girls follow after them.
A heartwarming reunion
As the girls jump into dad’s arms, a chorus of “aww”s ring out on the diamond from parents lined up with American flags.
After their greeting Liberty can’t let go of dad while her older sister immediately starts telling him what he missed – starting with the fact that she lost a tooth.
In an interview later, mom spilled the beans:
“He cried,” she laughed.
And dad didn’t deny it. Who wouldn’t in that special moment?
“Like I said, it’s difficult to describe,” he said of his feelings at the moment.
“When they cried ‘Daddy!’ and come running to me, there’s nothing else in this world that’ll top that,” Bunger said.
Coach still reported that following the reunion, both girls had their best game of the year.
Be sure to scroll down below to see the heartwarming reunion of a dad and his two daughters at their final softball game of the season – and the first one he got to witness.
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