O'FALLON — Becky Deatherage has been a lot of things to her son over the years.
But while she has cooked, cleaned, done laundry and hauled Blake Deatherage to his baseball games and practices for years, there was one duty she took on that many moms wouldn't.
Helping her son through a difficult time after her divorce, Becky Deatherage tugged on a baseball glove and began playing catch with her son.
They didn't always just play catch, either.
Sometimes she caught her son's pitching sessions in the backyard as well -- even when Blake got old enough to begin throwing hard.
"She was the one that was there for me, catching bullpens when I was 12 or 13 in my backyard," said Blake Deatherage, 9-0 as a senior at O'Fallon High School and headed to McKendree University on a baseball scholarship. "She was helping me out through everything."
The relationship went from mother and son to pitcher and catcher. It helped them grow even closer during a tough time in their lives.
"When she had her glasses on, she was a pretty good catcher," Blake Deatherage said. "Most of the time it would be her saying 'Hey, I've got my glove, let's go out and play catch,' and I would gladly oblige, She was definitely a key figure for me growing up."
Becky Deatherage said she wasn't doing anything that any mom wouldn't do for a son. She even enjoys bringing her son the many forgotten items he has left at home over the years, whether it be parts of his uniform or equipment or something else.
"We've played catch probably since Blake was 5 or 6, so it just seemed natural," she said. "Why wouldn't I go play catch with him? He's just not allowed to throw it at me as hard as he can, though."
Baseball has become yet another bond between mother and son, linking them even closer together.
"My mom has definitely been the biggest influence on me," Blake Deatherage said. "She's been there since day one, doing laundry, taking me to games or just telling me to be better.
"She's always been there for me."
And there she was again Saturday, watching her son's games at Blazier Field in O'Fallon.
"Anywhere we've gone, he has always been the funny new kid that fits in pretty quickly," Becky Deatherage said, noting the family's many moves through the years for a variety of reasons. "I'd say at each one of those stops, in the heart of his growing as an athlete and student he's always fit in nicely with the group of kids that he liked to be associated with."
Becky Deatherage remarried and Blake's stepfather is Nathan Dorsch. The family moved from Belleville to O'Fallon two years ago.
Blake also has two younger brothers, 9-year-old Xavier Deatherage and 6-year-old Isaiah Dorsch, that look up to him in a big way.
Blake watches them when he can, drives them around and generally tries to set the right example whenever possible.
"If I can keep them busy in sports and academics, it keeps them from getting in trouble other places," Becky Deatherage said. "Blake just naturally took to baseball and the same with his little brothers. They love sports."
O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said Blake Deatherage's maturity level sets a tone for the Panthers as well.
"Blake is a kid that has a lot on his plate," Portz said. "He's a great student. He's picking up his little brothers and babysitting his little brothers. He's really turned into an adult over the last two years.
"He's the big brother in the house."