Softball games bring local elementary schools, families together for night of fun


It was another fun night at Space Coast Stadium at the 13th annual Faculty Challenge softball game. Manatee Elementary (celebrating here) defeated Viera Charter School 23-12 and Quest Elementary beat Ralph Williams 20-6.


Another year, another fun night at Space Coast Stadium.

The 13th annual Faculty Challenge Softball game was everything it was expected to be Friday night. Children cheered on their teachers, collected autographs and souvenirs from one of the game’s sponsors, Chick-fil-A.

Families from Manatee, Quest, Ralph Williams and Viera Charter all got to interact, and in some cases, renew old acquaintances.

And then there were the games themselves. Quest beat Ralph Williams 20-6 and Manatee defeated Viera Charter 23-12.

“There were a lot of fans out here,” game organizer Todd Zgonc of Manatee said. “It was loud as usual. You couldn’t hear anybody out there. It was a good thing. Another fun night. People running into each people, that’s what it was all about.

“I must have seen 10-15 former students. I saw people from other schools saying ‘Hey.’ All those connections were out there. That’s part of being a neighborhood.”

Heavy rain during the day led to a mud-soaked parking lot, but the field was in great condition due to the hard work of the Brevard County Manatees staff.

The crowd was estimated to be close to last year’s record-breaking draw of 3,222. Although the game is not considered a fundraiser, proceeds from the game will benefit all four schools.

Both games were close early on before the winners were able to pull away.

“We did it for the children,” said Quest’s Lori Kessel and Katie Caruso.

Getting a solid pitching effort from Dan Hicks, and a grand slam and two doubles from Mark Gotcher helped, too, as Quest was able to score 20 runs on 20 hits.

“That’s unusual,” Kessel said. “That’s never happened. They played well, though, too. They batted well, they fielded well and they did a great job. We’re proud of Ralph Williams Elementary.”

Viera Charter took a 3-0 lead on Manatee in the top of the first, but following back-to-back triples by Tabby Best and Trent Makousky, Manatee would score seven runs in the bottom half of the inning.

Viera Charter would tie it on a grand slam by Jaryd Clark, but Manatee would put together another big inning and go on to the victory in a very entertaining game.

 “It was a lot closer than I expected it to be – and that’s a great thing,” Zgonc said. “We’d love (to play) Quest next year. Quest proved their point this first game. Manatee did what we did. That would be fun.”

If there was an award for the most enthusiastic crowd of the night, it would have to go to Viera Charter, which not even brought a lot of people to the game, but also had their own cheerleaders.

“We have such a great school and such great enthusiasm,” Viera Charter’s Damian Germain said. “They were so pumped up for us to get out there. I think we gave them a game worth watching.”

If there was one thing Friday night proved, it’s that after 13 years, the enthusiasm for the game is only getting stronger. After all, it brings families from four local schools together for a good time.

“There’s other event in this area that does that,” Zgonc said.

NOTE: For photos from Friday night's action, go to this link: