Missouri baseball and softball ‘beat hunger’ in third annual charity match

The Fight Hunger Charity Game raised around $1,000 for people in need.
Missouri's baseball team does the hand motions to popular song "Baby Shark" during Friday's annual Fight Hunger Charity Game. The baseball team beat Missouri's softball team 4-0.

There was an aura emanating from the Mizzou Softball Stadium.

Both dugouts chomping their hands along to “Baby Shark” in between at-bats. The crowd belting the chorus of “Country Roads” after the opening line plays. It was pure, unbridled joy.

The atmosphere at the Missouri baseball versus softball Fight Hunger Charity Game on Friday night was as relaxing and carefree as a sporting event can be. Childlike, even.

“I think a big thing is like they’re [the baseball team] kids again,” Steve Bieser, Missouri baseball head coach, said. “I mean, they're just out on the ball field having a great time, relaxing and playing their game.”

The impact of this simple fall evening goes beyond the apparent liveliness of its inter-squad scrimmage. More than playful bickering between the two teams, this game raised a projected $1,000 for people in need.

Every fall, the two Missouri squads team up and face off in a fast-pitch softball match for charity. Fans are encouraged to bring canned food or cash donations for Tiger Pantry and The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.

Even though this game is for the community, the teams’ competitive instincts shine through. Neither team is a pushover; softball made the NCAA Tournament, and baseball narrowly missed out last season.

2019 marked the third outing between the two teams. Softball took the inaugural matchup and baseball knotted up the series last year. Baseball captured the throne once again this year, shutting out softball en route to a 4-0 victory.

“Whenever we come out to play this game, the one thing I want to see us play is really good defense and to see our infielders make a couple plays,” Bieser said. “It’s a different ball, a different distance that they're away from the ball, but [I] see them react well.”

In the second inning, sophomore Cameron Swanger laced a two-RBI single into the outfield to open up the scoring. The next batter, junior Clayton Peterson, mashed a two-run bomb to give baseball a commanding lead that it would not relinquish.

“[It is a] very fun hearted game we play and I know for them it’s probably a little more serious because it's their sport,” Bieser said. “It’s a good feeling whenever you see guys that take this game seriously. They get a chance to come out and celebrate it and have a good time.”

The Fight Hunger Charity Game is, unmistakably, a celebration. The softball team sings and dances in the dugout. “Sweet Caroline” is infectiously jolly. It’s a celebration of baseball and softball and a celebration of life.

It’s also a celebration of community as well as a way of giving back to it.

“That's definitely the underlying meaning behind this game, to raise money for the food bank, food pantry and also to give our time,” Bieser said. “The one thing we can do very well is give our time to the food bank and continue to support them.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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