April 6, 2012
Softball and baseball fans and players enjoyed a special home run derby show at Charlottesville High School Friday night. Some of the top men's slow-pitch softball players in the country were in town including Rusty Bumgardner and Jeff Hall. The competition was sponsored by Softball Nation and served as a fundraiser for the CHS baseball team.
"It's a blessing," said Bumgardner, who travels all around the country for events and tournaments. "It's an opportunity we get to give back. A lot of people don't see this side, but it's fun, you get to come out of here and talk to people and meet new people. "
"To be able to have them come to Charlottesville," added director of Softball Nation Rich Jones, "And put on a demo and be part of this fundraiser that the Charlottesville baseball team's doing is unbelievable because they are two of the most well-known softball players in America. Softball is one of most popular sports there is, more people play softball than any other athletic, recreational sport."
After a demo from the pros, derby competitors paid $20 to hit. Each player got 10 swings, the top four advanced to the second round, and the final two advanced to the championship round.
Proceeds from the event, which continues tomorrow with a tournament at Darden Towe Park, go towards the Charlottesville baseball team.
"These guys are professionals, I like to see how far they can hit," said Charlottesville sophomore infielder Sam Wright. "I've never seen anybody hit this far and I think it's pretty cool. And helping the baseball team raise money to get new equipment is just awesome to me."
The Corner Restaurant donated food for the concession, which will also help benefit the team.
Bumgardner played football and baseball for Wake Forest and played professionally for the Florida Marlins. Both Bumgardner and Hall play for slow-pitch Team 454, part of the USSSA. Hall is the owner of East Coast Athletics.