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Ruby Rutnik Memorial Tournament Gets Underway

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April 4, 2008 — With the crack of the ball against the bat, the 12th annual Ruby Rutnik Memorial Softball Tournament began Friday at Winston Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay.
"We have six teams, which is the maximum we can have," said organizer Andrew Rutnik. "This tournament is going well into Sunday."
Andrew and his wife, Janet, hold the tournament in honor of their daughter, Ruby. A pitcher at Antilles School, she died at age 21 in a car accident in 1996 while attending American University in Washington, D.C. The tournament is held around her birthday.
The tournament raises scholarship money, and Khyra Powell, 16, of Tortola's Elmore Stoutt High School team, would like to receive the $2,500 scholarship that goes to a girl from the winning team's school.
"It's a good opportunity," she said, adding that she hopes to attend law school in London after she's done with her undergraduate studies.
Her team got off to a good start. It beat Antilles 8 to 2 in the first game of the tournament.
"We didn't argue, we didn't cuss, we just motivated each other and listened to our coach," said Elmore Stoutt player Jelisa Potter, 14.
The Elmore Stoutt coach is former St. John resident Terry Chinnery.
The British Virgin Islands government funded the trip, including the teams' stay at the Westin Resort and Villas, Potter said.
In addition to Elmore Stoutt and Antilles, teams participating include a team of St. John girls organized for the event and teams from Eudora Kean High School and a combined Sts. Peter and Paul and All Saints School, both on St. Thomas, and Central High School on St. Croix.
Different girls had different reasons for entering the tournament.
"I like to play softball," said Shekaya McCarthy, 15 and an All Saints student.
Ce'Amba Amory, 15, said she joined the St. John team for entertainment.
And Alejah Raimer, 13, said she's playing to represent St. John.
Both Andrew Rutnik and his wife gave lots of credit to the community for their help in making the tournament happen.
"Many of our supporters have been with us for 12 years," Cook-Rutnik said.
The girls look forward to playing in the tournament, said Ruby's sister, Sophie Rutnik.
"We get more and more support every year," she said.
George Deller and his wife, Gail, used to coach, but now they organize the tournament schedules and keep the games on an even keel.
"We love the game because you're needed," George Deller said. "A lot of kids are depending on me to do a good job."
As they have for many years, the Love City Pan Dragons steel pan members were on hand to sell food at the concession. Pan Dragon organizer Elaine Penn said the money raised through the sale of food goes to fund Pan Dragon operational expenses.
Friday's games brought out a good crowd.
St. John resident Lisa Penn said she was there to show encouragement for her daughter's team from St. John.
St. John resident Milton Samuel said it was important to show support for the players.
"If everyone came out, the kids might have more interest in playing ball," he said.
St. John resident Devon Otto, 18, was hanging around by the field entrance.
"I came to see the girls," he said. "I want to see the girls."
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