ELIZABETHTOWN — Sunday saw first-responders from around the region slug it out for the title of top troop, and to raise money for a good cause.
“We raised way more than we expected,” said organizer and Elizabethtown firefifghter Chase Lancaster. “We were very pleased with the turnout.”
The first-ever Battle of the Badges was a fundraiser for the Bladen County Public Training Facility at White Lake, which, Lancaster said, is being renovated primarily by volunteers. The facility is in need of improvements to the training tower and kitchen.
The tournament — open to any fire, law enforcement, or EMS personnel — raised money through participation fees, as well as by holding auctions or raffles for softball gear, apparel, and cash. In addition, baked goodies were sold, and inflatables were enjoyed by children.
Weeks before the event, the tournament’s entrants were maxed out at seven teams representing not just local teams like a joint collaboration between the Clarkton and White Lake fire departments or the Elizabethtown Fire Department, but from surrounding areas like Gray’s Creek and Sampson County.
The day’s events began at 8:30 with a worship service led by the Rev. Eckie Lancaster. After the first pitch was thrown at 9 a.m., the double-elimination tournament was underway under blue skies.
“It was a very close tournament,” said Lancaster.
The Elizabethtown Fire Department beat Gray’s Creek 4-3 to take home bragging rights, followed by Gray’s Creek in second, and Sampson County Fire in third.
“Everybody had a good time, I think,” said Lancaster. “There will definitely be more to come.”
Trent Blackburn won the youth home-run derby, belting four balls out.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.