Bats crack at Special Olympics softball

Thompson Middle School student Adam Johnston celebrates with Sarah Messina, a teacher at TMS, after scoring a run in Wednesday's game against Oak Mountain. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The sound of cracking bats, cheering and laughter filled the fields at Alabaster’s Veterans Park on May 2 as the Shelby County Special Olympics hosted its final event of the year.

Dozens of special-needs students from 11 Shelby County schools took to the field to take part in a single-elimination softball tournament, marking the last Special Olympics event in Shelby County before the statewide games are held later this month.

Students from Thompson High School, Thompson Middle School, Oak Mountain High School, Oak Mountain Middle School, Pelham High School, Chelsea Middle School, Chelsea High School, Vincent Middle/High School and the Linda Nolen Learning Center took part in the daylong tournament.

“It’s hot out here, but you will never hear them complain,” said Shelby County Schools adaptive physical education teacher Patsy Maner. “They really enjoy it.”

During the games, the students were joined by school faculty members and other students who served as “buddies.” The buddies coached the athletes and encouraged them during the games.

The athletes often encouraged their teammates and led their teams in chants such as “Let’s go Eagles!” throughout the tournament.

The softball tournament came after separate Shelby County Special Olympics golf, track and field and bowling events held previously, Maner said.

“Softball allows the buddies to work more closely with the kids. They are great,” Maner said. “When the kids hit the ball, they get so excited, whether they make it to first base or home plate.”