Play ball! The 16th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament kicks off Friday at Winston the Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay.
The first game is scheduled at 3 p.m. with the opening ceremony planned for 6:30 p.m. Games will be played from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and the tournament wraps up with the championship game 1 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s going to be a real competitive event and you’ll see teams from all the islands,” said Andy Rutnik, Ruby Rutnik’s father.
This year teams from Central High School and Educational Complex on St. Croix, Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas, Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John, Elmore Stoutt High School on Tortola, and a combined St. Thomas private school team made up of young women from Antilles School, All Saints School and Sts. Peter and Paul High School are expected to compete.
Rutnik said Tortola won last year.
The event raises money for the Ruby Rutnik scholarship fund, named in honor of the Antilles School star pitcher who died in a car crash in 1996 while attending American University.
The tournament held on a weekend near her April 9 birthday.
This year, the tournament also honors the memory of her brother, Amos Rutnik, who died in a St. John car accident on June 26. Amos Rutnik played an integral role in organizing the annual tournament and shared announcing stints with his father.
“All the things we do this year are a little more special because he was a big part of the tournament,” Andy Rutnik said.
A picture of Amos Rutnik will join Ruby Rutnik on the t-shirt sold this year to raise additional money for the scholarship fund.
Food and drink will be sold by the Love City Pan Dragons.
To date, the scholarship fund has assisted 38 students with more than $122,000 in awards and will give out another $10,000 this year to students heading off to college or to attend Gifft Hill School.
Ruby Rutnik attended what was then Pine Peace School and is now called Gifft Hill School.
The tournament raises money through the sale of innings and sponsorships. Innings are for sale at $100 each. Sponsors will be announced at the beginning of each inning and throughout the weekend. To buy an inning or sponsorship, contact Andy Rutnik at 693-8069 or email him at email@example.com.
Scholarship applications are available at Connections mail service in Cruz Bay and Coral Bay on St. John, from guidance counselor offices or by contacting Rutnik.