CAP Center benefit softball tournament set for this weekend

Published 4:27 pm Thursday, June 2, 2022

Not far from one of Vicksburg’s busiest intersections, sports and goodwill will also intersect.

The Fifth Annual Strike Out Child Abuse Benefit Softball Tournament is scheduled for this weekend at Halls Ferry Park. The event will feature more than 20 girls’ fast-pitch teams from three states, with all of the proceeds benefiting the Exchange Club of Vicksburg’s Child and Parent (CAP) Center.

The CAP Center is a private, non-profit agency committed to preventing child abuse and neglect. It assists families in Vicksburg and Warren County in developing healthy, non-violent family relationships.

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“We’ve got good ballclubs ready to come play, and for the right reason,” tournament director Mike Foley said.

The Strike Out Child Abuse Tournament was started in 2018 when, CAP Center board member Jeremiah Pant said, he joined the organization and was looking for a project. His daughter Maddie was playing travel softball and he saw a chance to merge two of his passions.

“We needed ways to fundraise and came up with some crazy stuff that wasn’t making any money,” Pant said. “The first year we had the softball tournament, we raised $10,000.”

The Strike Out Child Abuse Tournament has gone on to generate more than $30,000 for the CAP Center in its first four years. Pant and Foley are expecting to generate about half that number this year alone.

For the first time, the tournament will cover two days instead of one. Recreational teams in the 8U, 10U and 12U age divisions, as well as 14U, 16U and 18U competitive travel teams, will compete. Squads from across Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas have registered to play, Foley said.

“We’ve got quality ballclubs coming to play. It’s a big deal. We have teams from Madison, Starkville and lower Louisiana. The other day we signed one up from Arkansas,” Foley said. “The goal is to get to 30 teams. I don’t know if we’ll get there this year because some teams have schedule conflicts. But we’ll get there next year.”

Since the tournament is a fundraiser for the CAP Center, Pant and Foley are hopeful that it will be a community event and not just one for the teams and players involved.

Games begin at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the last games start around 5 p.m. Admission is $10 per person per day, or $15 for both days, and children under 6 are admitted free.

In addition to the money raised from the gate and concessions, sponsorships for the tournament are available for $100.

“The more the public comes to support it, even if they don’t have kids playing, they support the CAP Center. The more the merrier,” Pant said.

Students or groups needing service hours are also invited to volunteer. They can email Pant at jeremiah.pant@gmail.com for information.

“If there are high school students that need service hours, we have jobs,” Pant said with a laugh.

Foley and Pant said it has also taken a community effort just to get the tournament going. The City of Vicksburg’s agreement with Sports Force Parks gives that facility’s management group near-exclusive rights to host tournaments in Vicksburg on weekends.

Foley said a cooperative effort between tournament organizers, city officials and Sports Force Parks management allowed the Strike Out Child Abuse to proceed at Halls Ferry Park.

“We appreciate the mayor and (South Ward alderman) Alex Monsour, (North Ward alderman) Michael Mayfield, and the city and Sports Force for all that they’ve done, because they made it happen,” Foley said.

The CAP Center tournament is the first of two big softball events in Vicksburg on back-to-back weekends. The “Stars Over Mississippi Showcase” tournament is scheduled for June 10-12, and will bring 110 teams to the city. Games in that tournament will be played at Sports Force Parks, Halls Ferry Park, and the Betty Hearn Softball complex adjacent to Halls Ferry.

STRIKE OUT CHILD ABUSE TOURNAMENT
• Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4
• At Halls Ferry Park
• Admission is $10 per day, or $15 for both days
• The Strike Out Child Abuse Benefit Softball Tournament is a fundraiser for the Exchange Club of Vicksburg’s Child and Parent (CAP) Center. The CAP Center is a private, non-profit agency committed to preventing child abuse and neglect.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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