As the sun began to set over Vivion Field on Saturday evening, Amber Brondel, United Way marketing and event director, reared back to release the first pitch of the inaugural celebrity softball game.
Brondel was one of 30 community members who participated in the benefit game for the United Way of Central Missouri COVID-19 Relief Fund, hosted by the Jefferson City Renegades at Vivion Field in Washington Park.
"I want to thank the Jefferson City Renegades for bringing us together," Brondel said to the fans before the game. "We are super, super thankful. We are so grateful for all of you (spectators) because our mission is helping people live their best possible lives, and we absolutely could not do that without our incredible community."
After the cancellation of the M.I.N.K. Collegiate Baseball League's season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Renegades organization decided to continue hosting scrimmages each Wednesday and Saturday, beginning earlier this month.
"It's really good competition, even though we're really not playing for anything other than just the fun of playing and providing entertainment for the community," said Steve Miner, president of the Renegades board of directors.
With the response of high energy games and positive crowd turnouts, Miner said the organization wanted to give back to the community, which has been supportive of the seasons' adaptations.
Thus, the concept of the Renegades' first celebrity softball game became a reality.
The co-ed softball game, which began at 7 p.m., featured an array of local "celebrities," playing for a good cause.
All ticket entries of $5, along with collections from donation jars and a 50/50 raffle, were donated to the United Way of Central Missouri COVID-19 Relief Fund.
According to Brondel, the relief fund supports agencies in the community that are addressing needs related to the intermediate and long-term effects of COVID-19.
The "celebrities" were split into two teams of 15, blue and gold, and played a total of nine innings.
Players included local law enforcement and firefighters, KCLR morning show host Scotty Cox, Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department Director Todd Spalding, Lincoln University head softball coach Christine Core, Cole County Eastern District Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher and Southwest Dental Care dental assistant Kori Gentges.
Gentges said Dr. Thomas Orme of Southwest Dental Care was originally supposed to participate in the game, but he sustained an injury before the game, so she decided to jump in as a substitute.
Along with the positive team atmosphere, Gentges said she was excited to get out and help support a good cause.
"It just brings the community together, not only just for a good cause but just to bring people together to feel like they have something to look forward to and feel like they don't have to be trapped at home," she said.
At the end of the night, the blue team pulled through on top, with a final score of 11-7.
Perhaps more important than the final score though was the money raised. After the conclusion of the game, Miner presented Brondel with a check for $1,312.
"People in the community need to help support each other. If you can't physically get out there and help somebody do something, donating money or something for a cause like this is the next best thing," Miner said. "In times like these, we all need to pull together, and that's really what the community needs."
The Renegades will be hosting their next scrimmage at Vivion Field on Wednesday.