Softball brings the sizzle to Paul Laney Memorial Tournament

Softball brings the sizzle to Paul Laney Memorial Tournament
Jim Miller

High-flying action can be expected at this year's tournament.

                        

Summer always brings the heat to Holmes County, but on July 29-30, softball fields all over Holmes County will heat up with some dynamic softball play that will bring in great talent for a great cause.

The Paul Laney Memorial Softball Tournament will take place July 29-30, where a total of 42 men’s teams from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana and all over Ohio will converge on Winesburg Park to participate. In addition, there will be more than a dozen women’s teams and close to twenty 16-U teams that also will compete in an event that spans 10 different softball fields throughout the two days before everything comes to a finale in Winesburg on July 30.

Those who haven’t attended the event might be shocked to see all the people surrounding Winesburg Park Field during the finals.

“It’s an incredible sight,” said Leroy “Peewee” Miller, one of the board members. “We have been so blessed by the community support. Softball is such a big draw in this area, and we have some incredible teams and talent who come from pretty far away to play.”

The Paul Laney Tournament was founded in 2015, and while softball is the central theme, what bonds players and fans together is the mission behind the games.

According to Miller, the goal is to help local families with large hospital bills through softball and to glorify God and help enlarge his kingdom by doing so, and it all started to honor Paul Laney’s memory.

The leadership team behind the tournament has built its foundation on I Corinthians 10:31: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Since its inception the founders created a clean and fun environment for softball teams and fans to attend.

According to Miller, the weekend event has grown into something special, and what makes it so meaningful is it is people caring about people while having plenty of fun playing softball, listening to music, and simply relaxing and enjoying one another’s company.

“This is just people helping people in need, and softball, music and food is the way we do it,” Miller said. “We all feel as though we’ve been blessed. We are just the hands and feet of the operation, and God has always taken care of the rest.”

The tournament is named in honor and memoriam of Paul Laney, a longtime scorekeeper at nationals. Several years ago Laney passed away due to cancer, and several of the board members traveled to his funeral and became friends with the Laney family. Because of a mountain of medical bills, the men returned home and formulated a plan to raise funds to help the family.

The focus on helping others in need began with the Laney family, and softball was a common ground. The tournament has since branched out to include many area families in need.

Each year the Paul Laney Tournament committee takes applications from others throughout the community who have seen a need elsewhere. Applications to submit a name to be considered for financial help will be made available during the week of the tournament.

The committee has gone to great lengths to try to make this weekend tournament a festive and entertaining time, packed with things to do for the whole family.

The tournament encompasses a total of 10 area softball fields around the greater Holmes County area such as Winesburg, Sugarcreek, Dundee, Killbuck, Berlin, Benton, Millersburg, Mt. Eaton and Dalton.

Miller said because of the number of teams playing, the action will begin earlier this year, starting with games at 8 a.m. on Friday. It will be nonstop softball action from that point on. Eventually, all the winning teams from each field will congregate at Winesburg Park Field on Saturday, where the finals will take place, along with several other special moments.

“We never thought when we started it would be this huge, and we always want our faith and our purpose to be a light to others,” Miller said.

Last year saw an all-star team take on Wounded Warriors Softball Team in an exhibition game on Friday night. Miller said they are always seeking to keep things fresh and new, so this year they designed a new Friday evening extravaganza at Winesburg Park.

Miller said four all-star teams will play three games that night, with the teams consisting of players from around Holmes County, Middlefield, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Each coach can create their own team from players from their respective regions, with no more than two players coming from any single team.

“The coaches can pick the best of the best,” Miller said. “It’s kind of a neat way to bring these guys who are competing against one another to play together as teammates. This weekend is all about being competitive, but it’s also about having fun. These all-star games should be popular and draw a big crowd.”

In addition, Friday evening will boast a huge candy drop. Last year’s drop was provided by ultralight planes, which flew overhead and dropped candy for the kids.

In addition to the softball, a lineup of musical talent will perform in Winesburg, where there also will be plenty of food available.

The Friday night lineup includes Broadway at 6 p.m., Sixstring at 7:15 p.m. and The Brandenberger Family at 8:30 p.m. Saturday’s play card includes Liberated at 12:30 p.m., Call of Grace at 1:45 p.m. and Country Road Ramblers at 3 p.m.

There will be plenty of food, so families can enjoy a night out either watching softball, listening to music or perhaps some of both.

The benefit raffle will feature a 60-inch Toro lawn mower, an 8-by-12-foot Miller Storage barn, a hunting blind, a Magnum U16 E-bike, $1,000 cash, a $500 fresh Alaskan seafood gift card, a Lake Erie fishing trip, a Yeti cooler filled with meats, a recliner from Schlabach Furniture and more.

In addition, there will be a raffle designed just for women that will include a package from Young Living, a gift card package of more than $1,000 to local stores and restaurants, a Tupperware basket worth $600, a spa set from Lemongrass Spa, a Norwex package, a wine and cheese basket and more, with the big item being a Pampered Chef package worth more than $2,400.

Tickets will be available throughout the tournament and online at www.laneytourney.com. All the proceeds will help local families with medical bills.

For further information, log on to the tournament’s website at www.laneytourney.com, where there will be live bracket updates and plenty of other information.


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