The Village Panthers Special Olympic softball team traveled to Des Moines for the State Softball Tournament on August 3, 2013. The State Qualifying Tournament, hosted by the Panthers on June 29, included teams from Emmetsburg and a new team from Sioux City East High School. The Panthers beat Emmestburg 17-0 to win the tournament and move on to state.
At State, the Village Panthers defeated the Genesis Development team from Boone in the first round with a score of 14-1 and defeated the Genesis Development Team from Belle Plaine in the championship game 14-0.
Bob Stewart pitched both games to help the team to another gold medal. The Panther’s rung up five in-the-park home runs in the state tournament, one from Matt Petersen and four from Cody Meendering. Coach Deb Middle commented, “The team played very well together both offensively and defensively. RBI’s came from several individuals and each player stepped up when needed.”
In the past five years, the Village Panthers have won four gold medals and one silver medal at the State Tournament. Due to their history of success, the Panthers were invited to represent the State of Iowa in the Special Olympics 2012 National Softball Tournament in Oklahoma last September. That group of players, who earned Silver Medals at the National Tournament, is being honored as the Grand Marshals for the Sheldon Celebration Days Parade this Labor Day.
Members of the Panthers softball team are Zack Arrick, Nicole Arens, Jessica Webb, Darcy Espey, Justin Groen, Bob Stewart, Scott Wheeler, Cody Meendering, Matt Kramer, Mike Kramer, Matt Peterson, John List, Charles White, and Keith Krumm. Unable to participate was team member Stephanie Landhuis.