Softball tournament honors fallen wildland firefighters
CHINO VALLEY — The sixth annual Wade Parker Weekend Co-ed Softball Tournament will be played over Father’s Day weekend, June 16 and 17, at Community Center Park’s Little League fields, 1615 N. Road 1 East.
Parker, a Chino Valley High School graduate who played baseball and softball for the Cougars, was one of the 19 wildland firefighters who died while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013. The tournament is played in their honor.
Each participating team pays a $300 entry fee. All proceeds from the tournament go to the Wade Parker Memorial Foundation, which operates a fifth-year scholarship fund in the firefighters’ names.
Event organizer Jerry Garcia, Parker’s baseball teammate at Chino Valley, said the softball tournament’s games start at 8 a.m., Saturday, June 16, and Sunday, June 17, and will run all day on both days. Contests are played for six innings or one hour, whichever comes first.
Money raised from a home-run derby, a raffle, a single-elimination cornhole tournament (1 p.m. June 16 at the Community Center, $20 per team fee, engraved tumblers to winner) and a single-elimination horseshoe tournament (7 p.m. June 16 at El Charro Norte on 2879 N. Arizona Trail, $20 per team, engraved tumblers to winner) will also be donated to the fund.
The single-elimination home-run derby ($20 per person to compete, winner gets a Yeti 65 cooler) and the raffle ($5 per ticket or five tickets for $20) begin at noon on June 17, also at Community Center Park. Garcia said hunting rifles and binoculars are among the prizes being raffled off. Raffle winners must pass a background check.
“We want to get people to the raffle,” Garcia said.
The 31-game, double-elimination softball tournament can accommodate 16 teams. Fourteen squads, mostly from Chino Valley and Prescott, had registered through May 12. Before the first pitch on the 16th, the National Anthem and a prayer that Parker once wrote will be read to the crowd. The tournament ends at 5 p.m. June 17.
There’s no home-run limit in this tourney, but each team must pay its registration fee before its first game on June 16, Garcia said.
Thanks to the success of their past fundraisers, the memorial’s founders expanded the scholarship fund into the Wade Parker Memorial Foundation in 2017. A firefighter remains on the board of directors.
Garcia added that the Parker Foundation in 2018 will grant two scholarships — one for a graduating senior studying public safety and another for a graduating student-athlete in the quad cities of Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley and Dewey-Humboldt/Mayer. Garcia visited Prescott High School on May 17 to award one of those scholarships.
Another memorial fund recipient this year was Chino Valley Little League, which received a $4,500 donation to pay for new catchers’ equipment and new mounds at the little league’s fields.
Garcia added that the fund later plans to pay for new scoreboards at fields around Chino Valley.
To register for the softball tournament, make donations for the raffle, help with any event or ask questions, call Garcia at 928-533-1624. Registration ends Sunday, June 10.
Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.