The Meridian Star
Saturday marks the first annual Ben Hammond Memorial Softball tournament at the Sammie Davidson Complex.
The tournament is raising money for the Ben Hammond Endowment Scholarship Fund at Mississippi State University. The scholarship will be eligible for a MSU bound senior with a 3.0 grade point average or better from Southeast Lauderdale. If no one fits the bill, it'll be opened up to other seniors from the area.
It is in memorial of Southeast Lauderdale student, Ben Hammond, who died in February at 13 years old after a farming accident.
Family friend Holly Wilson said the Hammonds wanted to do something in Ben's honor.
He had played baseball since the days of t-ball and was a huge Bulldogs fan, so marrying his two loves into a memorial tournament seemed like the right thing.
"All the proceeds from the tournament are going towards the scholarship fund," Wilson said. "By doing softball, they could include coed teams and it not just be a baseball tournament ... they didn't want to exclude anyone."
With 32 teams — 16 men and 16 coed — Saturday is set to be a day of softball, starting at 8 a.m. and running through the evening until a winner of each division has been named.
"Honestly, we've been really excited about the participation," Wilson said. "[The family] is looking forward to a big turn out on Saturday."
Each team paid a registration fee to cover the cost of the facility and tournament expenses, but any left over profit from will be added what is raised from concessions and the selling of t-shirts during the tournament. Tax deductible donations can also be made at the tournament and directly to Mississippi State.
The Hammonds are hoping to run the tournament and endowment for the next five years, if not beyond.