Last Modified: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 8:04 PM
SULPHUR — Several local and national personalities will put their softball talents to the test on Jennie Finch-Daigle’s celebrity all-star team in nine days.
Sixteen all-stars, led by Olympic gold medalist and Sulphur resident Finch-Daigle, will take on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team in the Battle on the Bayou on July 13-14 at McMurry Park.
The rosters for each team were released this week. Headlining the all-star lineup are former major league pitchers Casey Daigle and Patt Rapp, Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach, Sulphur Mayor Chris Duncan, former New Orleans Saints running back Buford Jordan and Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Nate Livings.
Finch-Daigle said she’s eager to play against the Wounded Warriors. They initially couldn’t fit the tournament in to their summer schedule.
“We’re very fortunate; when I approached them they said our whole next year is booked,” she said. “I said ‘Come on, find us a date, please. I’d love for you guys to come to Sulphur. I know what this community is capable of and how supportive they are and what a great event this would be for the Southwest Louisiana community.’
“So we’re very blessed to have them here.”
Event committee chairman Thom Hager said preparations are moving along quickly, adding that it’s a must-see weekend for the Lake Area.
“I think it’s the biggest event that’s hit Sulphur. I really do,” Hager said. “With Jennie Finch, a great Olympian athlete, some of her players and great MLB players, it’s a testimony to the heart of Southwest Louisiana. We’ve got a few surprises in there with Randy Roach and Chris Duncan … those two fine athletes will make players play up to their standards.”
The Wounded Warriors will field a team of 11 players from the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. The players hail from 10 states, and David Van Sleet (an Army veteran) and assistant coach Taylor Billingsley reside in Florida.
Joshua Wege is a double amputee from the Marines who came to Sulphur in May to promote the Battle on the Bayou, and he said he’s anticipating a pair of hard-fought games.
“Any team we go up against, I don’t care who it is if they’re all-stars or Olympians, we should be able to beat them,” Wege said. “It’s kind of intimidating at first, but when you get out there (Finch-Daigle) just becomes another opponent. And just because it’s her, it makes it that much more exciting to try to get out and win because you could beat Jennie Finch.”
Finch-Daigle and Hager agreed the tournament will be a good chance for Southwest Louisiana to pay tribute to the military in a fun athletic atmosphere. Hager said it’s a rare opportunity that the community should take advantage of.
“These (games) aren’t going to be just a ‘let’s get together and throw the ball around,’” Hager said. “It’s like having all the planets aligning. You don’t get to see it very often.”
It still remains to be seen which way the McMurry Park scoreboard will align when all-stars and soldiers take the field next week.
• Jennie Finch Daigle, Casey Daigle, Crystl Bustos, Mackenzie Vandergeest, Toni Mascarenas, Pat Rapp, John Thompson, Randy Roach, Casey Martin, Spud Devall, Nate Livings, Buford Jordan, Kevin Mench, Chris Duncan. Coaches: Doug Gehrig and Billy Navarre.
• Tom Carlo, Joshua Wege, Tim Horton, Matt Kinsey, Saul Bosquez, Nick Clark, Kyle Earl, Randall Rugg, Dan Lasko, Todd Reed, Greg Reynolds.