April 6, 2003 – With the Winston Wells Ballpark field under water on Sunday, organizers of the 7th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament on St. John were forced to call off the remaining games of the event.
"You can't do anything about Mother Nature," said Gayle Deller, who with her husband, George, organized the tournament in memory of Ruby Rutnik, the daughter of St. John residents Andrew Rutnik and Janet Cook-Rutnik.
Rutnik, who was a champion softball player at Antilles School, died in 1996 in a car crash in Washington, D.C., where she was a college student. Her birthday is April 9, and the tournament for local high school girls' softball teams has always been held on a weekend near that date.
This year's tournament got under way on Friday, with the Antilles School Hurricanes upsetting the defending champions for the last two years, the Good Hope School Falcons, by a score of 7-5.
Central High School, Educational Complex and Sts. Peter and Paul School also were planning to play in the tournament.
Saturday's games were canceled due to rain that continued throughout the day. The weather cleared a bit on Sunday, but by then the field was too soaked for play, Deller said.
Last year, the final duel — between Good Hope and the Educational Complex Barracudas — was postponed because of rain. The deciding game was played later on St. Croix, with the Falcons emerging as the victors.
"Almost every year, the rain has been a problem," Deller said, joking that anytime the island needs rain, it should schedule a softball tournament.
The remainder of the event will be rescheduled on St. Croix, Deller said, with the dates and schedule to be announced.
Local men's softball teams were to play in a separate mini-tournament at night that also is part of the event.
Until this year, the girls' teams were vying for glory, a trophy and a listing on the perpetual wooden plaque kept by the winning school until the next year's event. Funds raised through sponsorship of game innings, sale of T-shirts and other means went toward one-year $2,500 college scholarships renewable for a second year for St. John young women. The 11 awards given out so far to six recipients total $27,500.
This year, because all of the high school teams are from St. Thomas or St. Croix and many of the participants and supporters of the tournament are from those islands, the scholarship fund board voted to begin awarding a third $2,500 scholarship — to the school of the winning team. The team's school is to appoint its own committee to select the recipient.
St. John girls in good academic standing who plan to attend or are attending an accredited college or university are eligible to apply for the 2003-04 new award. The deadline for submitting applications is May 15. For more information, contact the Rutniks by calling 776-6809.
The goal of the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund Inc. is to establish an endowment which will provide ongoing funding for the annual awards. "This goal is two-thirds to completion," publicity states.

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