Hundreds of softball fans attend 8th annual event

Even the nearly constant threat of rain couldn't dampen the spirits of local softball fans this past weekend as hundreds descended on Waymart for the 2018 Homer Dome Classic.

The eighth annual event began on Friday evening and ran through Sunday afternoon at the athletic complex adjacent to the RD Wilson Elementary School.

This year's tournament attracted players from as far away as the Lehigh Valley, generating a great deal of money and awareness for the much-anticipated field renovations.

“We really lucked out for the most part as far as the weather goes,” Bob said. “It was a great weekend. We had bigger crowds than the last couple of years and the competition was excellent.”

A Good Cause

Funds raised from entry fees and concessions all go to the renovation fund, the centerpieces of which are new field lights, permanent rest rooms and an updated concession stand.

“It's been a long time coming,” Bob said. “My staff and I have put in a lot of work, but it's all going to be worth it in the end.”

The Homer Dome Classic has received staunch community support from its inception, and this year was no exception.

In fact, the event received a donation of $3,000 from NextEra Energy Resources, a company out of Juno Beach, Florida.

“We're very grateful to Dan Moretz and his company for the generous donation,” Bob said. “It's very much appreciated.”

Barna also expressed his appreciation to Joe Gillott of Waymart Little League for all his help.

On the Diamond

This year's edition of the Homer Dome Classic featured two divisions of softball competition.

In Modified action, 10 teams from Pennsylvania and New York battled all through the weekend in a quest for the crown.

By the time the rains finally came on Sunday, only one team remained standing. Hawley Diner reeled off five consecutive wins and was awaiting an opponent in the title tilt when Mother Nature had the final word.

Davis Excavating and Wargo Flooring were locked in an elimination game when action had to be halted. Davis was awarded the win and consequently finished second with just one loss overall.

Meanwhile, Hawley Diner earned its second tournament championship in the past three years.

In the Big Ball bracket, AJ's Bar & Restaurant of Carbondale emerged victorious, edging out runner-up Oprisko Kielbasa

Center Stage

Perhaps the most popular event of the entire weekend was the All-Star Game.

This contest features players from the Wayne County Blue Collar League.

Dunn’s Sawmill was the East sponsor, while Lungs for Deb backed the West. Managers from each team nominated two players. Bob Barna skippered the East, while David Smith led the West.

Justin Collins led off the game by teeing off on eventual MVP Jim Watson with a solo homerun to get things started.

Both teams ended up with two runs after one inning of play. The East squad opened things up in the second with a seven spot.

Mark Granquist seemed poised to take home the MVP honors after starting off with two homeruns in his first two at-bats.

However, Jim Watson Jr. eventually captured the award. He hit a mammoth homer of his own and then struck out two batters in the last frame to seal the victory for the East squad.

The final score was 18-6

Another added attraction for this year's Homer Dome Classic was a horseshoe tournament. This event featured eight teams of men and women in a double elimination format.

In the end, Mat and Nate Lapka of Browndale walked away with the gold medals.

“That was definitely a lot of fun,” Bob said. “We're hoping to make horseshoes even bigger and better next year.”

Looking Ahead

Plans are already afoot for next year's tournament, with an eye toward the 2020 event.

If everything goes according to schedule, Barna hopes to make the 10th annual event something special.

“We're hoping that all the renovations are done by then,” Bob said. “If we could have our 10th anniversary tournament on the field with the new lights and everything … that would be amazing.”

As for the 2019 tourney, Barna believes games will have to be moved due to the renovations. However, he doesn't anticipate it going much further than the RD Wilson diamonds next to the school.