April 7, 2006 – "Play ball!" shouted Janet Rutnik as the 10th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Tournament, kicked off Friday at the Winston Wells Ballfield on St. John.
Oops. Out went the lights, a victim of a V.I Water and Power Authority outage.
After about a half hour of waiting, the power came back on and the game between the St. John Lady J's and Charlotte Amalie High School got under way.
"Weather, rain, but we've never had WAPA go out," said Andy Rutnik, laughing as he referred to the woes that have plagued the tournament during its 10 years.
Only four teams are participating, a fact that disappointed organizer George Deller. He said this is the first year that Antilles School, which Ruby Rutnik attended, has not been in the mix. And St. Croix's Central High School, the winner for the past two years, did not make the trip.
Andy Rutnik said girls from both Antilles and Central were playing in a basketball tournament on St. Croix. This left those teams without enough players.
The event was supposed to run through Sunday, but instead will wrap up Saturday night due to the reduced number of teams.
"We've got to try to get the food sold between today and tomorrow," said Love City Pan Dragons president Corine Matthias, worrying because the group prepared enough food for three days instead of two.
The Pan Dragons are raising money for their activities by selling conch, fry fish, souse, and drinks as well as barbecue, baked and fried chicken.
But the players were ready to play and win.
"Last year we would have won, but we had to forfeit the first game," said CAHS left fielder Aretha Benjamin, 17, as she and the team headed for the ballfield.
Ayana Milligan, 17, of Educational Complex said she and her team members arrived early Friday from St. Croix.
Kanikwa Ashly, 11, of the Lady J's said she and her teammates "hope to win."
As the skies darkened, friends and family gathered to cheer on their favorites.
St. John resident Bryan Morton, 12, said he came because he wanted to see his family members play.
It was also family day for the Rutniks. In addition to Andy Rutnik's sister, Fran Rutnik, the senior Rutniks, and Sophie, Amos, Cindy, Christian and Jessica.
"I hope I live long enough to see Jessica out there," Andy Rutnik said as his 16-month-old granddaughter, ran off some of her youthful energy on the ballfield.
The event raises money for the Ruby Rutnik scholarship fund. Ruby, a St. John resident, was a star softball pitcher at Antilles School. She died in 1996 at 21 in a Washington, D.C., car crash while attending American University.
The tournament continues Saturday. St. John will play Educational Complex at 10 a.m. At noon, CAHS will face off against the Tortola Panthers. Tortola will take on St. John at 2 p.m., with CAHS and Complex playing at 4 p.m.
The championship game will start at 8 p.m. Saturday with the top visiting team playing the top home team.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.