Wheelchair Softball World Series has wet start in Biloxi

Wheelchair Softball World Series has wet start in Biloxi
Etheridge says he hopes spectators will take note of the determination of the players. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Etheridge says he hopes spectators will take note of the determination of the players. (Photo source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - With the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd, and the slosh of pouring rain; athletes in the 40th annual Wheelchair Softball World Series played through the weather.

"Love this sport. Unfortunately it's raining right now, but got to play rain or shine," said athlete Larry Richardson from Michigan.

Parking lots at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center were transformed into four playing fields for the international sporting event.

The President of the National Wheelchair Softball Association, who happens to be from Mississippi, says a repeat location for the series is an honor.

"First time last year down here and then to be asked back to back rarely happens,"  said Chris Etheridge. "We were asked, so it's a big deal."

Coliseum executive director Matt McDonnell says he considers it a privilege to host the 19 teams again. When he was first approached with the idea of holding the event on the coliseum grounds, it didn't take much to convince him.

"Out of 250 plus events a year that we do, there's none that is any more special than this event that we have here right now," said McDonnell.

Rounding bases, fielding balls, and making amazing plays in blinding rain, many say the athletes are nothing short of amazing.

"It's a mixture of rugby, smash into each other, mess up the double plays and things like that," said Andrea Hampton from Michigan.

The teams came from all over the world, including Nigeria and Korea. Wataru Horie helped his team from Japan beat the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Sports is for everybody, it doesn't matter. People with disabilities, or everybody. Competing, having fun, everybody," said Horie.

The attitude of determination is what Etheridge hopes people will take from watching the games.

"Whatever you did before you got hurt, there is an adaptive way to do that now," said Etheridge.

The championship games will be played on Saturday,  Aug. 13, and the public is invited to watch.

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