The illness is the Stage 4 breast cancer that Tracey Super-Freedman, the mother of Fair's classmate, teammate, and fellow cocaptain Andie Freedman, has been battling for 31/2 years.
And the one swing is the mighty cut that Fair, pinch-hitting for Freedman, took in a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament game on May 5 with everybody wearing pink shirts and Super-Freedman sitting on the sideline with her heart in her throat because at the end of every inning her daughter and her daughter's teammates put their hands together and yelled, "For Tracey."
It was Fair's first at-bat in a month.
This story starts when Fair, a four-year varsity player who was the Cheetahs' leadoff hitter and speedy centerfielder, took off to chase a line drive in the gap in the third game of the season. Her right knee collapsed, and she went down "like a ton of bricks," according to her mother, Robyn Fair.
"I knew it was bad," GCIT coach John Holland said. "This is a girl who has caught for me with a broken finger. When she couldn't move and I saw the tears in her eyes, I said, 'We've got to get the ambulance.' "
An MRI revealed the "triple crown" of knee injuries. Lexy Fair's doctor told her she would need surgery and six to eight months of rehabilitation.
"But he told me that if I worked real hard on physical therapy, I could put off the surgery and maybe come back and play," Fair said. "I knew I had to do it. I felt like as a captain I had to set an example for my teammates."
She attacked her therapy with the tenacity she usually brings to the softball field. She wanted to play again. But she had another source of motivation.
"I look at what Andie's mom has been going through with cancer and chemo and everything," Fair said. "My knee compared to that, it's nothing. I know how much she loves to watch us play. It's like she lives through watching us, like we're her inspiration.
"I knew I had to come back because I knew I wanted to keep playing for her."
Freedman said she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer when Andie and Lexy were freshmen at GCIT. The girls have been close friends since they started playing softball together as eight-year-olds in Deptford, but the sport became more important than ever in high school.
"I call it my softball family," Super-Freedman said. "When January hits, I know March is close and it's almost softball season and I will be with my softball family. Everybody has been so supportive. But the best thing for me is that softball makes me feel normal.
"When you go through something like this, you want to feel normal. When I'm at the softball field and it's all about the kids out there, I'm normal again."
Fair said the entire team is close, since many of the girls played youth softball in Deptford. But Fair and Freedman, the team's only seniors, have a special bond.
"I call my Andie 'Mommy Girl,' and I call Lexy 'Mommy Girl,' " Super-Freedman said. "I'll yell 'Mommy Girl' and they'll both turn around."
It was serendipity that Fair's return from injury would coincide with the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament in which GCIT was playing at Triton on the weekend of May 4-5. Fair took the field for the first time on May 4, and Holland figured he would find a way to use her at the plate on May 5.
"I told her I'd find a spot for her," Holland said. "I didn't know where, didn't know when. I thought maybe she could give us a spark."
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Freedman and Super-Freedman, the GCIT players had pink T-shirts made up to wear on that sunny Saturday with the words "Find A Cure," on the front and "Praying for Tracey - Stay Strong" on the back. They made and hung a sign on the fence in tribute to Super-Freedman, too.
"I couldn't believe it," Super-Freedman said. "It really was so overwhelming for me. It was so special. It was the best day I've had through this whole thing."
In the fourth inning of a semifinal game, GCIT and Clearview were tied, 0-0. The Cheetahs got two runners on base. That's when Holland decided to send Fair to the plate for the first time in a month, as a pinch-hitter for Freedman.
Fair was wearing a knee brace. She knew she wasn't going to beat out an infield single.
"Before the game, the girls were teasing me that I couldn't bat because I couldn't run," Fair said. "I said, 'That's OK. I'll hit it over the fence.' "
Fair has played a lot of softball. She has batted countless times. But this was different.
"I was so nervous," Fair said. "I didn't know what I was going to do. But then I just put it all aside. I didn't even think about my knee."
With the count at 2-0, Fair said the next pitch was a fastball "right down the middle."
She took a swing.
One special swing.
One special swing that sent the softball soaring over the center-field fence, a three-run home run that sparked the Cheetahs to a 5-0 victory and the tournament title.
"When she slammed that ball, I couldn't believe it," Super-Freedman said. "It was a miracle hit. We're all jumping around and she's gimping around the bases on her bad knee.
"There wasn't a dry eye. I saw men crying over that hit."
Super-Freedman credits her softball family with helping to create the positive attitude that has helped her make progress in her battle with breast cancer. She's optimistic. She said her most recent scans were clean.
Fair continues to rehabilitate her knee. She has taken a few more at-bats since May 5. She hasn't hit another home run.
She knows she never will forget her one special swing, her "miracle" hit.
"She was so happy when I did it," Fair said of Super-Freedman. "I know she was proud of me for doing it. That's the best part for me."
Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports