Despite bad weather that cut into play and a scheduling issue that derailed the opening ceremony, the 21st annual First Responders Cup girls softball tournament went well and had plenty of “spirit and excitement,” according to longtime organizer Jack Belcher.
The 20-team event with four different age groups was slated for Sept. 10 and 11 at Barcroft Park. All Sept. 10 games were played.B0ut the entire day of action, including championship games, was rained out Sept. 11, with inches of standing water on the dirt fields that morning.
“What are you going to do? It was one of those years. You can’t beat Mother Nature,” Belcher said. “We had a great day of Saturday action and games. Some teams and fans were wearing patriotic T-shirts and things.”
Belcher pointed out that at least one day of action was held, in comparison to one year when an approaching hurricane canceled both competition.
The tournament is held to honor the victims and first responders of the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Many of this year’s teams in the 12-under, 14-under, 16-under and 18-under age groups were from Virginia and Maryland.
After the Sept. 10 games, Virginia Glory teams, run by Bishop O’Connell High School girls softball coach Suzy Willemssen, were the top seeds in the 14, 16 and 18 age groups. The Shamrocks were the top from the 12-under division.
The Arlington Impact had teams entered in the 16- and 18-under age groups. The 18-under Impact won last year’s tournament.
Other teams in the tournament were the Liberty Blue, Maryland Integrity Layne, Lakeshore Lightning, Maryland InteGRITY, Virginia Thunderbolts, Cassedy, TEAM RVA Regulators/Warriors, Firebirds, Virginia Stars, Hampton Roads Frontline, Inferno, Gold Coast Hurricanes, Orion Hunter Elite and National-Kellogg.
“Now we are looking forward to the 2023 tournament on Sept. 9 and 10 next year,” Belcher said. “We are always looking to make this tournament bigger. Maybe one year we will have artificial-turf fields to play on.”