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Softball league used as outreach ministry

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(Photo)
Richard Landers of Old Bethel Baptist Church throws the ball to first as Todd Wilson of St. Matthews Baptist Church looks on Tuesday night in Sikeston Coed Church Softball League action. Chris Pobst, Staff
SIKESTON -- More times than not the lights of the First Assembly softball field on N. Ingram Road shine down on hundreds of casual softball players wanting to participate in a friendly game of the sport they love.

The Sikeston Church Softball League provides that type of atmosphere for such an occasion and has for quite some time. They offer a family-friendly environment with intentions of showing what they're all about.

"It's an outreach ministry," League Director Scott Dugan said. "We try to reach out to some people who don't go to church and try to get them involved with it as much as we can. It's just softball but it helps bring people in."

Combining the sport of softball with the extended hand of the the local churches in the area has produced great success over the years.

"At one time, we had grown out of the field here," Dugan said. "We had to use the men's field at the complex and our field."

The 2010 season included a men's spring league, a men's fall league and a coed league involving both men and women.

There were eight teams in the spring league, six co-ed teams and they are predicting another six-to-eight teams in the fall.

"It's had it's ups and downs as far as numbers," said Brian Dowdy, manager of the First Baptist Church team. "One year we had enough for two divisions."

Dowdy has been apart of the league for six years now and is well aware of the message the league is trying to send.

"Being a church league, we want to make sure to set the right example for those who aren't going to church somewhere," said Dowdy. "Those of us who are members of the church, we have a huge responsibility to lead the life that everyone wants to know."

Including First Baptist, First Assembly of God, Old Bethel Baptist, St. Matthews Baptist, Wyatt Baptist and Bertrand Church of God of Prophecy are the teams that make up the coed league.

Anchor Baptist, Cape First of Sikeston, East Prairie Assembly of God, First Baptist, First United Methodist, Old Bethel Baptist, First Assembly of God and St. Matthews Baptist were apart of the men's spring league and will more than likely make up the fall league as well.

Although there are mostly representatives from their respective church on the field, the Church Softball League caters to whoever wants to participate.

"We always encourage new members to join," said Dowdy. "Most importantly, just as long as their going to church somewhere, that's our main goal. Sure, we would love for whoever to become a member of First Baptist Church, but just as long as your going somewhere, that's the main thing.

"That's what makes this league so special."

"We try to focus it on strictly church teams but, we've gotten into letting other teams come in," Dugan added. "It's an outreach program. We let people come in that normally don't go to church which is what we're about out here."

Dugan himself was hooked when he first started attending First Assembly of God. The family oriented and church oriented environment is what led him to accept a directors position with the league.

"I'm a product of it," Dugan said. "I used to not go to church at all. I started going to church with my wife and this was kind of an added bonus for me coming out here and playing softball.

"When it worked for me, it's hard for me to believe that it won't work for anybody."

With any sport, the Church Softball League is no exception when it comes to competitiveness. There are winners and losers on the field which leads to a bracket style tournament at the end of each season.

Although the spirit of competition is there, Dowdy said they are always conscience to remember why they are there in the first place.

"It's tough sometimes," Dowdy said. "We're a bit competitive sometimes but, that's just human nature to be competitive. But, we also have to do it within the limits where we want to be Christ-like in all we do.

"That's what makes it such a special situation out here."