Shouts of joy and sighs of dismay were heard throughout two evenings of softball games during the ninth annual SRS United Way Softball tournament held to benefit United Way agencies throughout the Central Savannah River Area.


During this year’s tournament, held at Boyd Pond Park, more than $11,500 was raised to help benefit 11 local United Way agencies.


“It’s gratifying to take a concept and see it successfully grow,” said Eric Schiefer who helps develop the draft for the tournament. “When I was first approached with the idea, I never thought it would become such a successful charitable fundraiser.” Schiefer is an engineer for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC.


More than 150 players participated in the tournament with more than 25 volunteers umpiring, keeping score and manning the concession stand. In addition to Schiefer, SRNS volunteers Allan Hickman and Jerry Zipperer coordinated the event.


“The hard-work pays off when the team owners get competitive and want the best team. So more money is continually raised, creating an ever increasingly large donation for the charities,” said Hickman.


Owners raise money for their team and then, during the draft, “buy” team members who range from $20 to $370 depending on skill level.


SRNS Deputy Director Steve Howell put together the team that took first place in the tournament, raising more than $2,000 for the United Way agency Area Churches Together Serving.


Prior to the tournament, each team selects a designated United Way agency to sponsor. During the closing ceremony, each team receives a monetary donation for the agency it sponsored. The amount of the donation depends on what place the team finishes. There are no losers. Every team earns money toward its designated charitable organization.


Since the first SRS United Way Softball Tournament, more than $115,000 has been raised through this annual event to help those in need throughout the Central Savannah River Area.


“We couldn’t have hoped for the tournament go better,” said coordinator Allan Hickman. “The turnout was great. We had talented teams who gave the spectators something to cheer for.”