By Brian Hoffman
Salem Memorial Ballpark will be the site for “The Last Inning” this Saturday, an annual event celebrating recently graduated high school senior baseball players. Two seven inning games will be played with teams comprised of players who graduated in the spring of this year.
The annual event was initiated in 2020 when the COVID pandemic cancelled the high school season. It gave the seniors a chance to get on the field, and it was such a success it was decided to make it an annual event for senior players. The event is sponsored by the Salem Red Sox and the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame. There is no charge for the players and the event is free to the public.
Players are divided into four teams and each will receive a shirt with their team color, uniform number and name. The players will wear their team hats and either white or gray pants. All area teams were invited to send players.
The first game is scheduled for 4 pm with the Red team meeting the Green team. The Red team will have players from Franklin County, Lord Botetourt, Alleghany and Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy. Coaches are Barry Shelton from Franklin, Seth Bradley from Alleghany and Tanner Holt from SMLCA.
The Green team is comprised of players from Northside, Salem, Auburn and North Cross. Players from Salem High include Eli Bowery, Ben Bowers and Hunter King. Coaches are Kelly Dampeer and Trent Cundiff from Northside, Wes McMillan from Salem and Scott Smith from North Cross.
Following the Red versus Green game the Salem-Roanoke Baseball Hall of Fame will present the Posey Oyler Scholarship and the Kelvin Bowles Scholarship. Also, the seven finalists for the Ray Bellamy Award, honoring the High School Player of the Year, will be presented a framed certificate and the overall winner will be announced.
Game two, between the Navy Blue and Gray teams, will begin following the award presentations and a “spruce up” by the grounds crew.
The Gray team is comprised of players from Cave Spring, William Byrd, Hidden Valley, Jefferson Forest and Eastern Montgomery. Hidden Valley’s Randy Boone, Jason Taylor of William Byrd and Ricky Lonker of Cave Spring will be the coaches.
The Navy team will have players from Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Glenvar. Highlanders on the team are Clay Caldwell, Will Underwood and Jake Veverka and coaches, all from Christiansburg, are Dale Nelson, Tom Meadows and Roy Jones.
As mentioned, there is no cost to attend the games and concessions will be available.