After a year off because of COVID, the popular and long-standing First Responders Cup girls softball tournament returned this year for the 19th time.
The annual September competition in 2021 was played on the fields at Barcroft Park in Arlington, with three age groups and some 20 teams participating, including the age 16-18 Arlington Impact National and 14-16 Arlington Sage. There also was a 12-under age group.
Check a future issue of the Sun Gazette and this website for results from the tournament, which began in 2002 to honor of the local first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack. Proceeds raised from the tournament are donated to Pentagon Disaster Relief charities.
There were four teams in the 12-under group, 10 in the 14-16 division and the rest in the 18-under category.
Teams from the Virginia Glory program, run by Bishop O’Connell High School coach Suzy Willemssen, participated in each age group. Glory teams won the 12-under and 14-under divisions in 2019 and an 18-under squad finished second.
This year, the Marymount University Saints women’s softball team, which will play its inaugural season this coming spring, helped run the competition. Marymount will play its home games at Barcroft Park.
“I’m so excited that our first community-service event centers around not only our sport, but more importantly, honoring the victims and heroes of 9/11 on the 20th anniversary,” Marymount head softball coach Paige Knussman said.
Marymount’s schedule is not yet complete, but practice for the team will begin in early 2022.
The Division III Marymount team will compete in the Atlantic East Conference, where Wesley College and Cabrini University were the top two softball teams during the 2021 spring season. The Saints will play a full conference schedule in their initial campaign.
Knussman previously coached women’s college softball at William Peace University and at her alma mater, Salisbury University, as an assistant at each spot.
At Salisbury as a player, Knussman was a two-time first-team All-American. She ranks second in Salisbury history with 192 RBI, is tied for third in home runs (33) and ranks seventh in hits (224).
Knussman helped lead Salisbury to three NCAA College World Series and four NCAA tournament appearances.
The 2022 Marymount roster has not yet been announced.