What started out with the idea of having a friendly game of wiffle ball during the week of Halloween in full Halloween costumes quickly turned into so much more as the Holmes Community College softball and baseball teams decided on seven-inning co-ed softball game and named Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital and their patients as the real winners raising over $4,000 for the hospital.
Coaches Kenny Dupont, Christa Childress, Karisa Coleman and Ryne Smith asked their players and managers to raise $30 to participate in the first-ever "Field of Screams" game at Charlie Donald. The 50 players and managers answered the call and almost tripled what would have been the initial $1,500.
Batson Children's Hospital is the flagship of Children's of Mississippi, part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC). As Mississippi's only children's hospital, Batson cares for kids from across the state, offering everything from emergency care to highly specialized heart and cancer care for kids.
The hospital treats about 150,000 children each year in more than 30 specialty areas, including newborn medicine, pediatric cardiology, neurology, and surgery. It houses the state's only pediatric intensive care unit and emergency department along with Mississippi's only pediatric treatment programs for cancer, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, congenital heart defects, and more.
"We were discussing different things that we could do with our teams together," Childress said. "We wanted a community event. Someone mentioned Blair Batson, and we wanted to do something around the holidays. We thought about a wiffle ball game, and we just kept working on it and came up with the idea."
"I think our girls loved it," she said. "It was a great team-bonding experience for both of our teams to be there to support each other. It also caused them to think about a bigger cause, and it could lead into us going down there and meeting some kids.
"It could not have gone any better. The kids were all involved. I didn't have one player who didn't participate and neither did baseball. That's a big thing there. Everyone got involved."
The Lady Bulldogs had Katie Dana of Carthage raise over $250. Baseball players Kameron Ferguson of Philadelphia, Nate Oswalt of Petal and Taj Porter of Mandeville even went further with Ferguson and Oswalt raising over $500 each. As a team, the baseball players raised over $3,000.
"I feel the baseball team really took off with it on the money side and really pushed that which is very impressive," said Childress.
Dupont was quick to give Childress the credit. "It was actually Coach Christa Childress' idea," Dupont said. "She approached us and talked to us about having a fundraiser softball game. We all got together and decided Blair E. Batson. Man it was a great one.
"We want to make it an annual event," he said. "The kids had a great time. In fact, last night they were wanting to have one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. They are all fired up about it. I can't say enough about Coach Childress, Coach Coleman and Coach Smith. Without those folks this would not have been possible. They just did a great job jumping in there, and everybody did."
"I can't say enough about how well the softball team did their part and the baseball team did their part," he said. "It was a total team effort between softball and baseball."
"We want to continue on and make it bigger," Childress said. "I think it's definitely something we can make bigger and better."
The softball and baseball players were divided equally to two teams coached by Coordinator of Athletic Programs Susie Jackson and Goodman Campus Police Commander Brian Wooten. Team Susie Jackson won 8-6 over Team Brian Wooten.
"I think we have a vendetta between Susie and Wooten so we are doing good," said Childress.
To see more photos, go to the Holmes Athletics Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/HolmesAthletics/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1885038201532723.