Columbian, Calvert set to Strike Out Cancer

The game opponent has changed, but the overall foe and the effort remain the same.

Columbian will play in its fourth-annual Strike Out Cancer game today, with Calvert taking the place of three-time opponent Fostoria at Tornado Field.

The crosstown rivals will take to a field accented with lavender foul lines and bases – lavender is the universal color for cancer awareness – in an effort to raise money for Financial Assistance for Cancer Treatment.

“It’s just a great event,” TC coach Curt Mellott said.

“Our kids rally enjoy it. They have a lot of fun with it, as much fun as you can with something that deals with a situation like this. They enjoy what they’re able to do for others,” he said. “It’s a good example of helping others and doing something for the community.”

As of Wednesday, the teams had sold more than 200 T-shirts, as well as an unknown number of awareness wristbands.

Reineke Ford and United Insurance provided the T-shirts, Rock Run Bulk Foods helped with the balloons and helium and Tiffin Hardware lent a hand with the paint.

Activities begin at 4:30 p.m. with a ceremony honoring those battling cancer and those who have lost that battle, which will include the release of approximately 150 memory and honor balloons.

Each team will also have an individual making a ceremonial first pitch, with a main first pitch by a stage-four cancer survivor. There will also be a cancer survivor serving as a ceremonial pitch catcher.

The game begins at 5 p.m.

This will be Calvert’s first time in such a game, but Columbian has turned it into an annual event.

In April 2009, Ron Mowery, father of then-TC player Jake Mowery lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Mellott said the son wanted to do something to raise awareness and the thought of wearing pink hats was discussed.

The next year, Mellott and friendly rival Brooks Lance at Fostoria talked about doing a little more, deciding to hold a special game to raise money for Community Hospice. The game brought in $2,000.

Fostoria hosted the game in 2011, with proceeds going to Fostoria Community Hospital Hospice. The game and Fostoria returned to Columbian in 2012 to again raise money for Community Hospice.

Lance moved on to coach at Van Buren this year, and Mellott contacted Calvert coach Dustin Ritchie about becoming part of the game.

It was an easy sell.

The game not only let the 2002 Columbian graduate to match wits against his former coach, but also gave him and the Senecas a chance to take part in what he knows is a good cause.

“It’s actually a huge honor, not only for me as a coach, but for the whole program,” Ritchie said. “It’s really exciting for me to go head to head with him.

“I hope a lot of people around town are able to come down to the game and see how special it is.

It’s something that’s very special and it’s something that Curt has made into something that’s fantastic for this city and to raise money for people in need,” he said. “It’s great for the community. Hopefully people can make it down to Columbian’s field and witness and help donate what they can to this game.”