The Oklahoma Christian University baseball and softball teams dressed in their Halloween best last night for a friendly game of slow pitch, as the teams hosted their fourth annual Halloween fundraiser game before the Harvest Festival. The game raised funds for the Bethany Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital.
The annual Halloween game began four years ago when Head Baseball Coach Lonny Cobble and Softball Assistant Coach Jessica Ruckman wanted to create a way for their programs to come together to help the community. The Halloween costumes, though not part of the initial idea, became a tradition.
“It started out as something fun the baseball and softball teams could come together and do, then we had the idea for the Halloween game,” said Ruckman. “Players would dress up in costumes and give out candy to the kids that come and the adults, too. Then, we started thinking about it, and we thought, ‘This would be a good way to raise some donations for any type of program, even a little bit.’”
Ruckman said the softball team volunteered at Bethany Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital a few years ago and, as they developed a personal connection with the organization, it became a place that is close to the program’s heart.
“We try to give to someone different every year,” Ruckman said. “It may only be three or four hundred dollars but it is something we can do while we are already out there having fun. We like to invite a whole bunch of our friends and family out to the game.”
Ruckman said she enjoys seeing the athletes have fun at the end of a long off-season, and it is something fun they get to do while not being competitive or serious. She said she encourages students each year to come out and support their fellow students and a great cause.
“They enjoy getting out there, having fun and getting to play slow-pitch, because they never get to do that,” Ruckman said. “They have been working hard all semester — they’re getting up five days a week, practicing at 6:30 a.m. — so they really had a lot on their plate this semester. This is a good way to kind of wind down the off-season. It’s a fun event, students get to see how baseball and softball players are and it is for a great cause, even if you can only chip in a couple of bucks. It is nice to see students, alumni, faculty, staff and players come together in one setting to be able to help out this great organization.”
Senior Luke Reynolds played in his first Halloween game last year. He said the costumes were one of the best parts of the game.
“This was my second year to be in it,” Reynolds said. “Last year was fun. It was my first experience with Halloween games. They didn’t do them at my high school or junior college, so it was fun. Last year, Colton Brown came as a princess, so that was definitely probably my favorite. It was interesting to see a big guy like that in a princess costume. It is fun to see what everyone comes up with for costumes.”
Senior Kaylee Upton said she also enjoys dressing up for the event and feels it is a time for both teams to be together and play a fun game relaxed game.
“Normally, when you are playing softball, it’s competitive and you don’t goof off,” Upton said. “But for this, you can goof off. It’s just fun to play with your friends. Costumes are my favorite part. It is not just a fun game, it is for more. We’re trying to help out the community. It is not just an excuse to go put a costume on or have fun with the baseball guys, it is to actually benefit someone.”