Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tourney returns to Memorial Park
For the record, host Otsego finished with a 1-2 record at the Third Annual Rylee Lou Charity Softball Tournament at Memorial Park on Saturday, April 15.
Not that wins and losses were the most important thing on Bulldog coach Jake Knash’s mind during the event.
Rather, he was more concerned with raising money and awareness for children living with Type 1 diabetes. Children like his daughter, Rylee, who was diagnosed with the disease at three years old in 2014.
“The event was a great success,” Knash said. “It was awesome to see so much of the community involved in the charity efforts. We live in a very giving community.
“And all (eight) teams involved either purchased a t-shirt or made a donation to the charity.”
As has become a tradition, Rylee threw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the tournament, which uses the money raised to send children with Type 1 diabetes to a special summer camp.
“That’s always cool for me as a dad,” Knash said of catching the first pitch from his daughter. “(Rylee) is to the age now where she really understands what her charity does for others. That’s our main goal, to help kids who are living with this disease.
“This charity event is a lot of work, but it is so worth it to be able to send kids to summer camp.”
Knash said the charity wouldn’t be possible without the help of a small army of volunteers, led by his wife Sarah Knash.
“The volunteers and the people behind the scenes do an awesome job,” Jake Knash said. “None of this would be possible without my wife, Sarah. She puts so much of her energy and passion into the charity. She spends countless hours making sure we reach our goal.
“Overall, I think it is a great way for our team, community and family to get involved and help others.”
As for the play on the field, the tournament started well enough for Otsego with a 14-3 win over Grant in six innings.
The Bulldogs fell behind 2-1 after the first inning but came back with five runs in the top of the first to take command.
Kelsey Scheuer singled three times in the win, while Kassie Laduke, Lilly Laws and Kayla Bailey each had two hits. One of Bailey’s hits went for a triple.
Ashley Lewis and Kassidy Wesaw added a solo home run and a double, respectively.
Laduke pitched all six innings—striking out seven and allowing six hits—for the win.
Otsego then fell 16-1 to South Haven and 7-4 to Buchanan.
“South Haven played outstanding all day,” Knash said. “They outscored their opponents 40-1. They just have a tough group of girls.”
Roni Powers singled twice to go with a single from Sam Holden against South Haven, while Lewis went 3-for-4 with a double and a run against Buchanan. Wesaw added a single, a double and two runs against Buchanan.
“I felt like my team really hit the ball well,” Knash said. “We improved our team batting average to .325. We are still struggling on the mound right now. Our ERA is too high to win close games. If we can get our ERA down, I think we will turn the corner.
“I was very happy with our finish against Buchanan. They are a good team and solid program. We battled, but just had one rough inning when we gave them four runs.”