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One attribute kept coming up from friends remembering Charlotte Kainz: a bright smile that always lit up those around her.

"She always had the biggest smile," said Alisia Newport. "She was a joy to be around."

Sam Weber added, "She could always make you smile. She was always laughing and smiling."

Kainz, a former resident of Greenfield and a 2015 graduate of Greenfield High School, was killed Sept. 25 in a motorcycle crash while flat-track racing in Santa Rosa, California, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

She had just celebrated her 20th birthday on Sept. 20 and was regarded as an up-and-coming racer. She was riding a Harley-Davidson 750 and had qualified in 14th place for the race but crashed into another rider on the second turn of her heat.

The race at the Santa Rosa Mile came in the final round of the 2016 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship.

Remembered fondly

Kainz had played softball for Greenfield High School in 2013, and everyone on that team holds fond memories of her.

"We always called her 'Superstar Char,'" Sara Kassel recalled. "We would joke with her about that name. She didn't necessarily have superstar statistics, but she was a superstar in the way she presented herself. She was always positive. What I remember is the way she made you feel because she always had a smile on her face."

Nicollette Curtis added, "You could never say anything bad about her. I don't think I ever saw her frown. Even if she had something to complain about, she would stay positive."

Kainz was able to make these deep and long-lasting impressions on her teammates despite playing with them for just one season.

"Charlotte played varsity softball her sophomore year," coach Jack Miller said. "She started most of the season as an outfielder for us and actually was third on the team in runs batted in with 19.

"Even though she had great potential as a softball player, she didn't come out her junior and senior seasons, specifically because of her love for bike racing. She informed me that even though she enjoyed softball, the season was in conflict with her motor bike races, which were often on weekends starting in the spring. Her first love was racing, and I certainly respected her decision."

Her teammates remembered her as a talented player.

"She brought a lot to the team," said Bella Matthias, the standout pitcher who was a freshman that season. "She always had a compliment for you and was willing to help you out, and on the field, she got some game-winning hits."

Kassel recalled, "She batted in front of me (in the lineup), and I remember (watching her from the on-deck circle and) thinking, she was just a tiny thing, but she could hit the ball a long way."

Weber said Kainz was also an inspirational player to others on the team.

"She always did everything 100 percent," Weber said. "She did everything with all of her heart."

Loss hit hard

Her tragic and sudden passing leaves a void for her former teammates.

"This hit us hard," Weber said. "This hits all of Greenfield softball hard as a whole. She impacted so many people; this is a real tragedy."

Newport said, "She will be missed by everyone in the Greenfield softball community."

Miller, the longtime leader of that community, concluded, "Charlotte was a very kind, wonderful, motivated young lady. I feel very fortunate to have been able to coach her for one season."

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