Tournament pitches in to help Ruffsdale woman
It is time once again for softball teams to battle for a tournament championship at the Allied Waste Services Sports Complex.
Ad has been the case the past six years, the teams that take part in the slow-pitch competition will be doing so for a worthy cause.
The seventh annual Pitch-in, One-Pitch tournament is set for Aug. 9 and 10 with proceeds benefitting Ashlee (Roebuck) Preisach. The first pitch is expected to be thrown at 9 a.m. Aug. 9.
“Not only is she a longtime friend of the family and my sister's, she was a substitute teacher,” explained Tawnia St. Amant, an organizer of the tournament with her sister Mandy Schnorr. “Another reason we thought about her, she always played softball in (Greater Scottdale Girls Softball League) and so did her sister.”
Preisach is a 2004 graduate of Southmoreland High School, who lives in Ruffsdale. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1997 and is currently on the transplant list for a kidney and pancreas.
She admitted she is quite “humbled” that this tournament is being held in her name. Talking about it brought her to tears.
“This is the most extremely humbling experience of my life,” she said. “We always say that Mandy and I have been friends from before birth. They're absolutely dear friends. I can't thank them enough. The outpouring of the community and the support is just amazing. I'm so blessed to live in our community.”
A former substitute teacher in the Southmoreland School District, Preisach had to stop working in March 2013 due to declining health and vision.
In July 2013, her son Tripp was delivered via emergency C-section at only 33 weeks. Lengthy hospital stays followed for Tripp and his mother.
She currently undergoes dialysis three days per week for four hours and in February lost her vision in her left eye.
“We're looking for live donation. We're just hanging in, keeping our chin up hoping to stay well, just waiting for the phone call,” Preisach said.
St. Amant and Schnorr were instrumental in starting the tournament in 2008.
Since then, the event has raised funds for a different cause each year of its existence, beginning that first year with the fight against leukemia. Others have included the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.
In 2013, $5,008.20 was raised for Sydney Hawk. Hawk, 5, was diagnosed in March 2013 with Philiadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her grandfather, Joe, was a longtime teacher at Southmoreland Elementary School.
St. Amant said that number will be exceeded this year.
“We've raised more than we've ever raised,” she said. “After last year was such a success, we thought, ‘Let's do this for Ashlee.'”
Each team pays a $250 entrance fee to participate in the tournament. The roster limit is 15 players and all squads must have a minimum of four females on the field at all times.
“For the most part, the teams that started with us have stayed with us,” St. Amant said. “From there, people hear about it and want to put in a team. “
Games last seven innings or 50 minutes. There is no attendance fee for those who wish to watch the action. Plus, those who attend can take part in refreshments donated especially for the tournament.
“We've had a tremendous amount of generosity with people donating food,” St. Amant said. “Every year, GSGSL donates the food they have left. This year, we've really had a tremendous amount of people donating food.”
St. Amant said many members of Preisach's graduating class are making donations to the tournament, plus local churches have been quite generous.
Aggressiveness at the plate is probably suggested, since each batter comes to the plate with a 3-2 count, meaning a batter sees only one pitch. A foul ball is an out.
“A lot of people like that, because it's different,” St. Amant said. “You've got to be ready.”
Preisach plans to attend the second day of the tournament, as a family wedding will keep her away the first day.
“We will be there,” Preisach said.
If there is inclement weather, an alternate weekend will be chosen.
St. Amant explained the group to be known as the Pitch-in Foundation applied for nonprofit status, which will allow the group to accept donations on-line throughout the year.
Perhaps by 2015, the hope is to branch out to other fundraising events, such as a golf tournament.
Those who wish to donate to the cause may call Schnorr at 724-875-7354.
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.