Panhandle High School Baseball
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Bay, Bozeman & Graceville Participate In “Hits For Heroes”

Surprised ball players watch as a helicopter ascends to the field prior to a tournament game in 2014.

The excitement of Opening Day of the 2017 Florida high school season brought extra satisfaction to members of the Bay Tornadoes, Bozeman Bucks and Graceville Tigers on Monday. Beyond the chance to take the field for official competition came a game to honor America’s veterans through America’s favorite pasttime at the “Hits for Heroes” event in Dothan, Alabama.

Hits for Heroes began in 2014 as a way to to raise awareness and money for soldiers who are still deployed and who need support, encouragement and supplies. Through a partnership with the USO they raised over $28,000 dollars that was used for hundreds of care packages that were then sent to soldiers deployed overseas and local wounded soldiers.

The event has grown every year since the inaugural 2014 group of seven teams. With over 20 current participants it has expanded to host games at Northcutt Field in Dothan and also at Eagle Stadium in nearby Ozark. Action began with games on Saturday, February 18th, and continues until March 4th. Crestview, Northview, Niceville, Chipley and Blountstown will also make the trip and participate this week.

Monday’s results were not as favorable for Florida’s clubs. Bay fell 12-3 to Houston Academy; Geneva County, Alabama, downed Graceville 12-1; and Bozeman came on the wrong end of an 8-5 decision to Opp, Alabama.

A local wounded soldier is honored while throwing out the first pitch before a game in 2015.

The Bay Tornadoes (0-1) fell behind by a pair of runs in the first, but answered back to claim the lead with a three-run third inning. Amilcar Torres lined a leadoff single to right field and Charlie Owens walked to put ducks on the pond. Owens gave way to courtesy-runner Trent Rogers, and both base runners scored thanks to a single to right from Rashard Lucas. Lucas then scored on a passed ball to put Bay in the lead.

The Raiders answered right back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to retake the lead, this time for good. Things remained close until late, when Houston Academy pulled away with a seven-run sixth inning.

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