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Hoping for defeat: Softball showcase raises $$ for autism

Hoping for defeat: Softball showcase raises $$ for autism

They went to bat for autism awareness.

The Fontbonne Hall softball team’s autism awareness showcase returned to Bergen Beach’s McGuire Fields bigger and better than ever on April 30. A record-breaking 22 varsity and junior varsity teams from all five boroughs took part in the fund-raiser — up from 17 last year. Coordinator and Fontbonne Hall softball coach Frank Marinello expects the showcase to keep growing — if he can secure more field space.

“If we build this right we can be 30 teams next year,” he said. “I had to turn away a lot of teams. I turned away probably 10 teams because we just didn’t have the fields.”

Marinello started the event for his 16-year-old nephew Joseph Gavinelli, who has autism, but the condition is near to many players, too.

“It touched home for a lot of people, so to see this just warms my heart,” said Fontbonne senior Gabby Casagrande, who has friends and family dealing with the autism.

Teams donated $200, raffle items, and bake-sale goods for the chance to play in the showcase, and at the end of the day, the organizers raised more than $9,000 for autism awareness.

“Fontbonne has done a really great job of organizing everything, getting so many teams together, everyone one showing support for the members of the team who have family members with autism,” Poly Prep senior Honor Sankey said. “It’s really supportive and brings everyone closer together.”

It also gave clubs a chance compete against squads they don’t see often during the regular season — something that drew Poly Prep to the event this year.

“It’s great to see the participation and see a lot of teams that we don’t get to see too often, so it is kind of cool,” Blue Devils coach Mildred Piscapo said.

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