March 27, 2002 – With spring comes softball, and with softball comes the sixth annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament. The traditional dual contests — among girls' teams and, separately, among men's squads — will take place April 5-7 at the Winston Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay on St. John.
"It's a lot of fun, and the games are very competitive," Janet Cook-Rutnik said.
Gayle Deller, who with her husband, George, directs the tournament, said the girls she expects to play in the 2002 tournament have vastly improved their skills over the last few years. "And there's a tremendous amount of sportsmanship among the girls," she said.
She expects teams from the Central High, Educational Complex and Good Hope schools on St. Croix[ and from All Saints, Antilles, Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean on St. Thomas. Last year, Good Hope took home the trophy.
As the men's teams have yet to sign up, Deller said, she's not sure who will play. There are four available berths, and they'll go to the first four men's teams to sign up, she said.
The tournament will open at 3 p.m. on April 5, with girl's games at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the first men's game at 8:30 p.m.
On April 6, the girls' play begins at 9 a.m., with the last game starting at 6 p.m. The men will play at 8:30 and 10 p.m.
On April 7, girls' games begin at noon. Since the tournament is a round-robin format, how many games are played on Sunday will depend on how the winners' list develops.
Rutnik and her husband, Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Andrew Rutnik, organized the tournament six years ago in memory of their daughter Ruby, who died in 1996 at age 21 in a car crash in Washington, D.C., where she was attending college.
Ruby Rutnik was well known as a star pitcher at Antilles School. Her birthday is April 9, and the tournament is scheduled each year to coincide with that date.
The tournament is a fund raiser to support college scholarships for St. John young women. So far, scholarships totaling $22,500 have been awarded to five women: Tessa Williams, Khania Dawson, Tiffany Rogers, Kirsten Maise and Jessica Buchalter.
Rutnik said the goal now is to establish a $100,000 endowment. She said about two-thirds of that money has been raised.
Scholarship applications for the 2002-03 academic year are available at Connections. They must be submitted by May 15. The scholarships are for one year and renewable for a second.
Rutnik said the St. John Majorettes and St. John Rescue will operate the food and drink concessions at the tournament. The two groups will use the money raised through sales for their own projects.
Annual commemorative T-shirts will be sold for $15 at the games and at Connections. Sponsorships of game innings are $100.
For more information, call 776-6809 or Connections at 776-6922.
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