By Christine Keeling
Jess Tenney of the Meshel Mashers knocked a fly ball to right field and headed off to first base, as the crowd cheered.
The 33-year-old Austintown resident was one of 450 people who participated Thursday in the seventh annual Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities softball game at the Poland Community Baseball Association North Field Complex.
The games featured teams from MCBDD’s Bev MASCO and Meshel MASCO day programs, Leonard Kirtz School, Iron and String Life Enhancements, Gateways, ReaArc, Siffrin and Turning Point.
“It’s an opportunity for them to do what they see on television,” said George Gabriel, workshop director of Meshel. “They are all big leaguers for the day.”
No score was kept, batters swung until they hit the ball, and everyone got to run or ride their wheelchairs around the bases.
Kristin Seidler, 26, of Poland enjoyed cheering her team, the Purple Cat Pink Ladies, when she wasn’t on the field.
“I’m loving it,” she said. “I play Special Olympic softball, so I play a lot.”
Gabriel said the game was played originally between Bev and Meshel, but has grown over the years. Players and coaches from the Poland girls softball team, Youngstown State University Softball team and Poland Community Baseball all lend a hand. Players, he said, range in age from 5 to 80.
After a few innings, the players broke for a traditional ballpark lunch of hot dogs and chips.
“At the end of the day,” said Paul Iden, communication and development coordinator for MCBDD, “it is going to be a tie score and everyone wins.”