11/30/07 — Hits for dollars help with campaign

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Hits for dollars help with campaign

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 30, 2007 1:46 PM

It was all for their community.

A young softball player slid into home plate -- then did a few backflips to celebrate his run. Out in the field, another was doing flips and splits all around his teammates.

And a pitcher even rolled a few balls on the ground to several batters.

It was one of the craziest softball games you will ever see -- all to benefit those in Wayne County in need.

The teams -- the United Way of Wayne County "Fast and Furious" and the North Carolina Community Credit Union (NCCCU) -- were less concerned about runs and errors than they were about raising money to assist with the United Way's 2007 campaign.

Normal rules of the game were tossed out. Anyone could purchase runs or more at-bats for any player. They could buy a grand slam, a walk and even an out, making the game even more interesting.

United Way had secured two celebrities for its coaches, Jerry Narron and George Whitfield.

After United Way Campaign Chairman Jimmie Ford threw out the first ball, Fast and Furious took the field, with about 20 players.

After three outs, Fast and Furious was up to bat. Bethany Perry was the first to have to bat the opposite way after a donation was made to see her do so. Although she got a hit, she was out at first base.

Umpires police Chief Tim Bell and Judge Joe Setzer sometimes looked the other way when violations occurred, all in the name of fun. At one point during the game, Setzer even picked up the ball that had been thrown to home plate and tagged a player out.

There was a lot of excitement throughout the game, especially when Mark Metzler, playing for Fast and Furious, was caught between third base and home plate. He was finally tagged out.

Before she could be tagged out running from second to third base, Fast and Furious player Julie Daniels ran into and fell onto a NCCCU player. But she did pick him up and dust him off before going on to third.

Fast and Furious led the score throughout the game.

With only 13 minutes remaining in the game, the score was 13 to 8, in favor of Fast and Furious. Play heated up on both sides.

But NCCCU could not get ahead of Fast and Furious, who won the game 27 to 8.

Coaching for the NCCCU team was Tony Presson, who kind of fell into that position when the head coach was sent on a temporary duty assignment by the Air Force.

"It was definitely not a normal game," he said. "Being able to buy runs, I figured we needed the help so we had to buy our runs, buy our way into the game. But it turned out they had more money on their side."

Presson said he hoped through the game, the word got out about United Way.

Mark Metzler had been recruited to be on Fast and Furious. "I did all right," he said. "I haven't played softball in quite some time. "It was a great time and I was glad I could help out United Way."

The game was one of United Way's community challenges that came about through the Bring It On campaign, said United Way Director Steve Parr. It raised $491.

"This is what it's about," Parr said. "This is grassroots fundraising. This is about the community. It's about looking out for the kids and our future."