Beginning this morning a couple of area softball teams will be getting in some preseason work and helping out a worthwhile cause in the process. After a year’s hiatus the Miriam Burnette Memorial “Striking Out Alzheimer’s” tournament returns for its eighth season of competition.
Bulloch Academy will once again be the host school, with Southeast Bulloch, Effingham County, Westfield, Briarwood and Pinewood joining the tournament field as well.
“We skipped last year because Georgia Southern was doing work on their field,” said Willow Pond executive director and co-organizer Chandler Dennard. “We are excited to bring it back to the Georgia Southern softball field, which is where all of the games will take place.”
“In the past, we have had more teams and done it over two days,” Dennard said. “Two days of softball is a bit much in the heat of July. This year we decided to ease back into it with just six teams, and get it all over in one day.”
The tournament began when Dennard was the Gators’ head softball coach in 2011 as a way to get some preseason work in. It was then changed to the Miriam Burnette Memorial tournament as a way of honoring Dennard’s close friend Darron Burnette’s mother, who passed away after battling Alzheimer’s.
“When Darron’s mother died, we decided to tie in a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s with the tournament,” Dennard said. “That also kicked off our foundation known as Rocking out Alzheimer’s disease, or ROAD.”
“Our ROAD foundation was recently honored as one of the top 50 fundraising groups in America for Alzheimer’s,” Dennard said. “Last year we raised over $80 thousand dollars, with most of that coming from the money raised at our spring concert.”
“This year with the tournament, and another concert in the spring we hope to raise even more money,” Denard said. “Our concert in the spring will be a Fleetwood Mac tribute band called Rumours.”
Today’s games begin at 9 a.m. at the Georgia Southern softball field with Southeast Bulloch taking on Pinewood. At 10:30 a.m Briarwood and Effingham will play, followed by Westfield and Pinewood at noon. Southeast Bulloch and Briarwood will square off at 1:30 p.m. before Bulloch Academy hits the diamond for the first time in 2019 as they take on Effingham County at 3 p.m. Brairwood and Westfield will play at 4:30 p.m., with Westfield and Effingham scheduled for 6 p.m. The day concludes with Bulloch Academy and Pinewood squaring off at 7:30 p.m.