STARS GATHER FOR SOFTBALL GAME
By: Joe Shivak
Photos By: Alycia Reche
Nashville, TN ( June 11 )………Celebrities put down their country music instruments and picked up bats and gloves for the 21st annual Celebrity of Hope Softball challenge on a hot Saturday morning. The charity event between the Grand Ole Opry and “After MidNite with Blair Garner “ took place at Geer Stadium, home of the Nashville Sounds baseball team. The four inning game ended with a win by After MidNite, 9-5.
After MidNite had a productive 3rd inning, scoring four runs with a score already tied at 5-5. Thanks to a triple by Rob Boranis, and a home run by Shane Tallent, and a deep fly ball to center field by Jake Owen, the winners increased the score to 9-5 which held up in the last inning. Tallent had his niece who is suffering from stage 4 cancer pinch run for him. She circled the bases in quick order while the defense scrambled to get control of the florescent yellow ball. Owen’s long fly ball was misjudged and dropped by center fielder Vince Gill with two outs already on the scoreboard. The back and forth game soon turned one sided with this strong offensive burst.
Opening the 4th inning, the Opry team could not muster any runs, as the first batter Blake Geoffrion flied out to center for the inning’s first out. Kerry Collins flied to short for the second out. Robin Meade walked on four straight pitches. Nicole Schulz, a 19 year old leukemia survivor, a City of Hope patient and aspiring Country singer batted for Gill and was safe at first on a base hit. With two runners on base, Ty Brown would fly to right field, scoring the last out and ending the game.
Brown scored for the Opry Team in the second inning after making it to third base. The MidNite team scored two runs in the bottom of the inning, giving them a 5-4 lead.
The Opry team would tie the score 5-5 on a fly ball to left field by Chris Lucas. After MidNite would have two quick outs by Joe Nichols and Julie Roberts, but a triple by Boranis and the home run by Tallent pushed them to the win.
After MidNite earned their second straight victory in front of a CMA Music Festival crowd estimated at 10,000.
Schulz, a Miss California Teen United States 2010, said, “ As a two-time survivor of acute myeloid leukemia, I am forever connected to hope through the lifesaving treatment I have received as a patient at City of Hope.” For the first time in the game’s history, two City of Hope supporters hung out in the dugout and got into the game with the stars, thru a contest held nationwide.
The event helps raise money for City of Hope, a leading research and treatment center for cancer. For nearly 100 years, City of Hope’s pioneering research has brought the world closer to cures for many life-threatening diseases.
The team’s rooster were :
Grand Ole Opry
Blake Geoffrion (Nashville Predator )
Chris Lucas (LoCash Cowboys)
Denise Jones (Point of Grace)
Two Foot Fred
AfterMidnite with Blair Garner
Rob Boranis ( Tennessee Titans )
Preston Brust (LoCash Cowboys)