By Portia Williams
Branch Rickey Park was galvanized with the latest tunes, smiles, and pink for breast cancer awareness at the SOMC Celebrity Softball Game held Saturday.
Former Pittsburgh Pirate, Al Oliver rendered the invocation, who also encouraged the players to enjoy themselves, and avoid injuries if at all possible. A balloon launch was performed to honor breast cancer survivors.
Chris Moore, Shawnee State University (SSU) baseball coach, said they are elated about taking part in the Celebrity Softball Game.
“Jennifer Schackart and Aubrey Roy came and asked would Shawnee State University baseball be willing to participate, to open up the doors of Branch Rickey Park, and do whatever we can to host the Celebrity Softball Game,” Moore said. “So, they brought it to us, and we are looking for opportunities to get involved in the community, so it was kind of a natural fit for us. We have people, who not only like playing softball, but like getting out and doing things like this.”
He said cancer is something that most people have been impacted by in some way.
“Hopefully, it means a lot. Obviously, cancer affects a huge number of us, and I don’t think there is probably anyone on the field participating, or anyone in the stands who hasn’t been affected one way or another,” Moore said. “So, for us to be able to come out, and raise awareness for this particular event I think it means a lot. We are seeing a good number of fans in the stands today, and I think that it is going to be a great event.”
The Pink Team was led by coach Wendi Waugh, and players included Theresa Ruby, Dr. Suber, Ashley Spencer, Tasha Wilson, Leigha Tanner, John Harcha, Randy Arnett, Dr. Navo, Matt Roy, Jeff Hamilton, Ben Dunahue, Mike Mershon, Bill Rockwell, Jake Snyder, Ryan Stewart, Amy Flinders, and Bryan Davis.
The Blue Team was led by coach Mike Raies, and players included Amy Hughes, Kim Bauer, Rebekah Clevenger, Hannah Dittoe, Samantha Cullum, Devan Scarberry, Steve Sturgill, Chris Moore, Derek Moore, Dan Shirey, Chad Knittle, Lauren Helbig, Brandon Griffith, Keenan Perry, Eric Putnam, and Megan Ashton.
Skeeter Smith threw the First Pitch, and Linda Donaldson was catcher for the first pitch. Both Smith and Donaldson are cancer survivors. The game was umpired by Vicki Napierkowski.
There was never a dull moment at the Celebrity Baseball Game, with special guests, SSU Bear, SOMC Wellington the Health Hound, and Wendy from Wendy’s Restaurant who also made a special appearance.The game was called by Trent Williams.
The event was enhanced with music provided by DJ Frankie Frank. Materials containing cancer awareness and prevention information were made readily available.
Jennifer Schackart, Community Events Coordinator for SOMC, said staff from SOMC and SSU came together and put some thought into collaborating on a community event.
“Shawnee State and Southern Ohio Medical Center, brainstormed about some different things that we could do in the community that already promoted wonderful things that both organizations do,” Schackart said. “And Paint It Pink is an activity that is receives a tremendous amount of support already in our community, and it was just another way to make it even bigger and better.”
Portsmouth has a rich history in baseball and softball, which made the thought of hosting the event even more appealing.
“We have such a great baseball, softball history in our area, Al Oliver, Gene Bennett, so it was just a great mix. So, we came up with this idea, and had no idea how it was going to go, but it seems to be extremely successful thus far today,” Shackart said.”It is just a great time to bring awareness, and to celebrate our survivors, and to really get the message out there to our community.”
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter@PortiaWillPDT.