Last Modified: Friday, July 13, 2012 10:47 PM
SULPHUR — The final score was just a number; the cause was the real winner.
Before a crowd of 2,300, a group of Wounded Warriors showed Southwest Louisiana that disabled doesn’t mean defeated.
The group of war veteran amputee softball players rolled to a 16-8 win Friday night over the Bayou All-Stars, who were led by Sulphur resident Jennie Finch-Daigle.
“It is great to come out here for for these guys to show what they can do,” said Finch-Daigle.
What the Wounded Warriors showed was a solid brand of softball in the first of two games between the squads. The exhibition series will end tonight with the second game at McMurry Park starting at 7 p.m.
“This is a great atmosphere to play in,” said Wounded Warriors head coach Dave Van Sleet. “This is a great crowd. We love playing in places where people seem to really appreciate us.”
Finch-Daigle’s team was comprised of former and current professional athletes and a few local celebrities, including mayors Chris Duncan of Sulphur and Randy Roach of Lake Charles. For the record, the two mayors combined to finish 0-for-4 on the night, but did make contact in each at bat.
As for the Wounded Warriors, they pounded out 21 hits in the victory.
But the real number that mattered was the $181,000 the community raised for the Wounded Warrior program.
“To see the talent these guys have and what they can do is amazing,” said Kevin Mench, a former major league baseball player and member of the stars team. “Other people might see it as a problem (their disabilities) but they see it as an opportunity.”
The Warriors took advantage of their opportunities in the game and used them not only to win but also impress the crowd.
“It was really energized out there,” said Wounded Warrior Josh Wege. “There is nothing better than this.”
The injured veterans know that in a way they are the lucky ones. They made it back.
“We all got a second chance to be athletes,” said Wege. “Not everybody gets a chance to come back.
“Some people say ‘Hey, it is just a game’ and to chill out, but for us it is not. It is a second chance. “
The week-long rain, including early Friday’s downpour, didn’t put a damper on the evening, which also featured a home run hitting contest won by Mench and a parade of local veterans prior to the game.
“The weather turned out to be awesome,” said Wege.
They are hoping for more of the same tomorrow. And the Wounded Warriors are promising to be ready once again.
“Give me a night’s rest and I’ll be golden,” said Wege.
It seems he and his teammates already are.
• Where: McMurry Park in Sulphur.
• When: 4 p.m. Gates Open, 5 p.m. Batting Practice, 6 p.m. Home Run Derby, on-field veterans’ parade, 7 p.m. Game.
• Tickets: $10.