Not that winning isn’t important, but it will probably be the last thing on the minds of those who signed up to play in the Vanessa Masucci Softball Tournament being held the weekend of July 20-22 at the Greater Lynn Babe Ruth complex.
The focus instead will be on remembering and celebrating the life of a daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, former classmate and in some instances a former teammate who died tragically last September.
Masucci grew up in Lynn, attending Sacred Heart grammar school and later St. Mary’s High. She was a mother and a second-grade teacher at Connery Elementary School at the time of her death. Her husband, Andrew MacCormack, has been charged with her murder, and is awaiting trial.
When her family and friends started looking for a way to honor her memory, it was Masucci’s love of softball (she played for Lynn Shore Little League, pitched in Babe Ruth and was a first baseman-designated hitter for St. Mary’s) that led to the idea of holding a softball tournament.
Greater Lynn Babe Ruth generously offered up its fields for the weekend and those friends, family members, former co-workers, classmates, sorority sisters from Bridgewater State University and teammates started putting together the co-ed teams (there were 10 or 11 at last count). The format will be double elimination. Hitters will start with a 1-1 count and the games will be timed. There will be five men and five women on the field at a time and the batting order will alternate.
“This means a lot to us,” Joe Masucci said. “The biggest thing for my family is that we wanted an event to remember her by and we wanted something that everyone could go to and have a good time. We wanted a fun atmosphere, seeing everyone out there wearing No. 9 (Vanessa’s number) and having a good time. That’s how she would have wanted it.”
In the spirit of having a little something for everyone, there will be a bouncy house for the youngsters, slush, food vendors, face painting and even a visit from the Disney character “Moana.” Masucci said they also might include some lawn games, like corn hole and Frisbee. There will be T-shirts for sale and raffles, including one for Red Sox tickets. His sister, Angela, is also looking into getting an obstacle course, Masucci said.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Masucci said of the support the undertaking has received.. “We’re getting donations from so many people. I don’t even recognize some of their names. Some are her friends from college (Bridgewater State University and Salem State). You never realize how many lives she touched until people who you never talked to reach out and donate to her cause.”
The money raised through the tournament will help fund a scholarship in Vanessa Masucci’s name.
Among the committee members and others who have helped put the tournament together are Ashley Laramie; Jim Beliveau and Jeff Earp from Greater Lynn Babe Ruth; Ryan Beliveau, Kevin Harrington of Harrington Trophies; former St. Mary’s softball coach and current Danvers High softball coach Colleen Newbury; Erica Richard (Classical High softball coach and former teammate of Masucci’s at St. Mary’s), fellow teachers Colleen (Clancy) Bransfield (also a teammate of Masucci’s at St. Mary’s) and Nicole Oak; Sara (Fitzgerald) McCabe (a friend, classmate and teammate at St. Mary’s), assistant tournament director Jim Kefalas and his daughter, Katie Savastano (a St. Mary’s teammate), Janelle (Bruno) Hegarty and Tony Brunoand Jessica Walsh, a sorority sister of Masucci’s from Bridgewater State University.
“We’re going to try to have a good, fun atmosphere,” Joe Masucci said. “We want everyone to have a good time, laugh, tell stories about her. I’m excited. I know it’s going to be tough at first, but it will be good.”
One of things the family is looking forward to is having Vanessa’s daughter Adrianna, who was 13 months old when her mom died, throw out the first pitch of the tournament. Joe Mascucci, who will probably be on the other end catching it, said his niece has been practicing.
The first games of the tournament start Friday, July 20, at 5:45 p.m. They’ll be played on the baseball fields, not the softball field.