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Buddy Ball inspires with every pitch

Members of the Madison County Buddy Ball League played their final game of the league’s first season, Saturday.

The rain held off until the end of the children’s game with the adults being able to play one inning in the rain before ending the season.

“We had a fantastic Buddy Ball season,” League Coordinator Missy Bowman said. “It seemed like each week went very smooth.”

Madison County Buddy Ball is a non-competitive league which gives children and adults with any type of disability the opportunity to be a part of a team.

“Our son Justice played in the Challenger League in Farmington last year,” Bowman said. “It just boosted his confidence so much that we decided to bring it to Fredericktown, so he could play with some of his friends. We decided to call it Madison County Buddy Ball.”

The season consisted of 13 players in both the kids and adult divisions with about 25 buddies. 

Bowman said they ended the final Saturday with a picnic celebration at the park with about 100 people. 

“Our hope for next year is to have enough players to have more teams and to also have enough players for all the buddies to be matched up to a specific player,” Bowman said. “We are hoping to start a little earlier in the spring, in hopes of playing when it’s not so hot. We are also hoping to increase the season to six weeks.”

Bowman said she was surprised this season by the way everyone came together to support the league.

“The support was far greater than Danny and I could imagine,” Bowman said. “All of the expenses for the league were covered by area businesses. All of the after-game snacks and drinks were provided by different churches, businesses and individual families in our area. The food for the picnic was also donated by businesses and families of players and buddies. We even had a photographer that volunteered her time to take pictures of the players, buddies and of the whole group.”

Bowman said the goals of the league were to stay safe, have fun, make new friends and learn a little about baseball, and she believes they exceeded all of them.

“At the beginning of the season, all of the players were nervous about playing,” Bowman said. “We even had a couple players that did not play the first game. By the end of the season, all of the players had more confidence in themselves and all were playing in the games.”

Bowman said she asked one of the parents of a teenage player what her daughter learned from playing Buddy Ball her response was, “Abigail has definitely learned that she can participate in playing a sport without fear of being teased or ridiculed. She said that she was afraid to play at first because of how other kids at school treated her when she made mistakes or did not do well.”

The adults said they learned teamwork, responsibility, motivation and most of all they enjoyed playing baseball.

“My personal thoughts on this program, it is one of the most empowering projects I’ve experienced,” Mindi Montgomery said. “Each of these players is given exactly what they need to become strong and confident on and off the field. Watching these players learn, grow and enjoy themselves as they interact with their buddies is such a blessing. I am so thankful that the Bowmans have the heart and dedication to make this a reality for Madison County.”

“I learned to treat everyone the same,” Buddy Gage Montgomery said. “Everyone has the ability to play. Sometimes they just need a little help.”

The young “buddies” seemed to enjoy the experience every bit as much as the players.

“I like helping my friends have fun,” Buddy Molly Clauser said.

“It was a good way to make new friends and help our friends play ball,” Buddy Will Clauser said.

“The thing that I liked best was there was no team that would win,” Buddy Ella Clauser said. “I did not feel the urge that we needed to win. We were all there for fun.”

Molly, Will, and Ella are the children of Joe and Jessica Clauser. 

“We are proud of our kids for being so eager to spend time helping their friends play softball,” Joe and Jessica Clauser said. “The players were so excited to get to participate. It was a great experience for everyone. Thank you to Danny and Missy for investing so much time in organizing the league to provide such an awesome opportunity for kids and adults.”

Bowman said if there was enough interest and support she would consider expanding Buddy Ball to include another sport.

“I would like to thank all of our sponsors, all of the coaches, volunteers, families and all of the buddies,” Bowman said. “Without each one of them, this season would not have been possible.”

Bowman said through the generous donations of the following sponsors the expenses for the season were covered at no expense to the players: SMTS, Sargent Construction, Gifford Lumber Company, The Pig Bar-B-Q, Mowear USA, Country Mart, Parkland Healthmart Pharmacy, Bess Insurance, Mike Thompson & Sons LLC, Black River Electric, First State Community Bank, OPAA! Food Management Inc., Cap America, Casey’s General Store and Dairy Bar. Thank you to Audra Bastie for taking the photos and Miranda DeOrnellis for providing face painting at the picnic.

Madison County Buddy Ball League kids division pose for a photo. 

Madison County Buddy Ball League kids division pose for a photo. 

Madison County Deputy Luke Nickelson (left) and Fredericktown Police Officer Ethan Nickelson help Abby Roach out as her buddies for the last game of the Madison County Buddy Ball League's season.

Madison County Deputy Luke Nickelson (left) and Fredericktown Police Officer Ethan Nickelson help Abby Roach out as her buddies for the last game of the Madison County Buddy Ball League’s season.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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