Chrisi Lerchen knew Gage Ocker was a ‘player’ before she decided to go out with him. In fact, that Ocker had ‘all the right moves’ may have been one of the biggest reasons she decided to date him.
But seriously folks, Lerchen and Ocker do have a lot in common, a lot to build a relationship upon.
They’re both highly visible student-athletes at their respective schools.
They’re both among the top performers in their sports in Lebanon County.
They both perform at positions which initiate the play of their sports.
Andy they both are very competitive and truly dislike losing.
Their bond isn’t all about sports, but it sure is based in them.
“We’re really similar,” said Lerchen. “We do get along. And it is because of sports, because we can relate to each other. I’ve dated guys before who didn’t play sports, and after I’ve had a bad game, it’s been like, ‘I don’t know why you get so mad.'”
“I like that she plays sports,” said Ocker. “But we’re kind of the same person. We’re so much alike. Her mom asks me the same questions she would ask her, and we have the same answers all the time.”
Lerchen, a senior at Annville-Cleona, is the top softball pitcher in Lebanon County. An acknowledged leader for the Little Dutchmen, the key to Lerchen’s effectiveness on the mound is an ability to combine movement on her pitches with pinpoint accuracy.
Gage, a senior at Cedar Crest, is one of the finest quarterbacks locally. A multi-sport athlete, Ocker is just as proficient at throwing the ball, as he is running with it and leading the Falcon offense.
“I don’t know if she has overall speed, but she has junk,” said Ocker of Lerchen’s softball prowess. “I’ve seen her play softball a lot. I can’t see much of her high school games because I’m playing baseball at the same time. But I’ve seen her pitch and play shortstop in travel ball a lot.”
“He’s pretty good,” said Lerchen of Ocker’s gridiron skills. “He’s fast and he likes to run with the ball. Yeah, I think he’s a pretty good football player. I know he plays other sports, but I think football is his favorite.
“I’m not really concerned about him getting hurt, because he’s a tough guy,” Lerchen continued. “I’m proud of him. I try to give him as much support as I can. I try to do cute little things for him, like before games putting notes on his locker.”
Ocker and Lerchen have been an item for about a year-and-a-half now. They became acquainted with each other at an Elco football game, were later formally introduced at a post-game gathering and then reconnected on the social media Facebook.
“I met her before, through one of my best friends,” said Ocker of Lerchen. “But I saw her on Facebook, and talked to her, messaged her on Facebook. When I first saw her, I pretty much knew I wanted to go out with her.
“She’s really fun and out-going,” Ocker added. “And we have this kind of connection, especially with sports and stuff. But it was something I knew right away.”
“To make a long story short, I was at an Elco football game, and he came over to me,” said Lerchen of Ocker. “I was at a party after the game and we talked. The next spring he saw me on Facebook and asked me out on a date. We’ve been together ever since.
“Yeah, I thought he was pretty cute – pretty cute,” added Lerchen. “He didn’t talk much and he was kind of shy. But oh no, that’s not his personality.”
But all that similarity and competitive nature does have its drawbacks. Not only are Ocker and Lerchen competitive with others, they’re also competitive with one another.
“She has to be right,” said Ocker. “Sometimes we go at each other. It’s mainly me with football, and she brings in softball.”
“We’re really competitive,” said Lerchen. “We bicker back and forth everyday. Like a softball is harder to hit than a baseball. He think he’s right. But I always have to be right.”
So here’s what the inquiring minds really want to know: ‘If Lerchen would face Ocker pitcher-against-batter, who would win? Would the result be a hit or a strikeout?’
“That’s a rough question,” said Lerchen. “I don’t know. We really haven’t tried it. But I think if he came up in a game, I could strike him out.”
“I like baseball and she plays softball,” said Ocker, who’s also a member of the Cedar Crest baseball team. “I would say it’s easier to hit a softball than a baseball. But she would argue against me.”
And while sports certainly provides a commonality for Ocker and Lerchen, the time constraints involving their individual pursuits can also put a strain on their relationship. But the two make time for each other, and do their best to make it work.
“I don’t think it (sports) get in the way,” said Ocker, “because we have practice at the same time.”
“With football right now, practices are after school,” said Lerchen, “and I have a job after school. So we make time after that. Summers are good. Once I wake up, we hang out and I go to softball at night.”