It might’ve been April Fool’s Day, but this softball event was no joke.
It’s called Super Saturday, and it’s an annual fundraiser for Lutz Softball, a recreational fast-pitch league for girls ages 5 through 18.
On April 1, several hundred softball families gathered to cheer on more than 20 teams, soaking in the daylong festivities at the Oscar Cooler Youth Sports Complex.
Besides a full slate of softball matchups, there was plenty to keep attendees amused, from family friendly games and activities, to numerous vendors and countless raffles.
“This is probably the biggest Super Saturday we’ve ever held,” said Mike Cook, president of Lutz Softball Inc.
“Every year, it’s gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” added event coordinator Jennifer Bommarito. “This is quite a bit bigger than it started out to be.”
Held each spring, Super Saturday is one of the league’s two major fundraisers. The other is Fall Festival, in October.
Amid softball rivalries and competition, Super Saturday gives young athletes a chance to unwind.
“This is actually like a fun day for them,” Bommarito said, “where they actually get to goof all a little bit…and not have to be so serious.”
Mike Bosworth, who has coached in the league since 2013, said the annual shindig also helps foster positive interactions among families.
“People are…competitive with one another, and when you do an event like this, it gets you to know other people, and it softens those relationships on the field,” he explained.
Other parents agreed.
“I think it brings us closer,” said parent-coach Rainey Rosenberger.
“It’s just fun to get families together from the community,” parent Natalie Brown added.
Another parent, Maggie Mixon, believes the event has nearly become a Lutz tradition.
“It’s phenomenal — just to see the community come together, in the spirit of collaboration,” she said. “It’s just a good, old-fashioned, small-town gathering.”
Among the afternoon’s top highlights was the parents’ tournament — and it’s unlike any other.
A 16-inch blooper ball was used, bases were run in reverse, fathers batted with their non-dominant hand, and kids served as coaches.
“It’s fun and confusing — everything’s backwards,” Rosenberger said, smiling.
The sports complex’s ballyhooed concession stand was another draw.
From biscuits and gravy during early morning games, to mushroom Swiss burgers and buffalo chicken wraps, there’s never a shortage of tasty grub offerings.
Bosworth, whose wife, Alissa, is the concessions manager, said parents from other youth leagues — Brandon, Carrollwood, Wesley Chapel —can’t say enough about the ballpark’s spreads.
“The parents are always like, ‘You guys have got the best concession stand we’ve ever seen, anywhere,’” Bosworth said.
Super Saturday, meanwhile, couldn’t have come at a better time for the softball organization.
On March 8, two suspects burglarized the Oscar Cooler Sports Complex during early morning hours, causing losses in excess of $5,000.
“That (robbery) threw us for a loop tremendously,” Mike Cook said.
In wake of the incident, the league has received “overwhelming” community support, with donations from the likes of Home Depot, Walgreens, Lowe’s and Ford.
Over $1,920 has also been raised, via a GoFundMe page.
Lutz Softball, formerly known as the Lutz Leaguerettes, also has seen quite a transition since January 2016, when the organization announced it was offering a recreational fast-pitch league for the first time in its 37-year history.
Just six months later, its slow-pitch leagues were discontinued because of dwindling registration and an overwhelming preference for fast-pitch. The fast-pitch league now claims to have about 200 participants, the highest figure in several years.
Lutz Softball Inc., is a PONY (Protect Our Nation’s Youth) Softball affiliate.
Published April 5, 2017