Screaming Eagles play Fireflies, gives inclusion opportunity for special needs athletes from Chapin

The Columbia Fireflies are competing for a South Atlantic League championship, and individually hoping to make it to the majors. However, what they did Saturday afternoon may be as memorable as anything they have accomplished on the diamond.

The Fireflies played a very special doubleheader, welcoming the Screaming Eagles for a scrimmage before their game against the Greenville Drive. The Screaming Eagles came away with a big win, but no one loses in an event like this.

The Screaming Eagles are a Chapin-based team welcoming special needs athletes of all ages from the Columbia area. Saturday, those athletes heard the cheers from their families and friends as an announcer’s booming voice announced their names over the stadium public address system, just as when the pros step up to bat.

“They’re ecstatic. They’re just having a ball. We really thank all the folks who’ve let us come out and do this,” said Screaming Eagles Coach Jason Mack. “It’s a great experience and a great day to do it.”

Fireflies players pitched, caught, offered tips, and cheered on the Eagles, running alongside them around the bases and even providing lifts when needed. Every single Eagle connected for a home run Saturday, and all were welcomed to home plate with high fives and congratulations from their hosts.

Patrick and Jenny Bowers of Chapin founded the Screaming Eagles last summer, hoping to provide an opportunity for people with special needs to be included in sports, starting with soccer and baseball. Their son helped lead the team Saturday, launching hit after hit.

The team is a nonprofit run primarily by volunteers, and its leaders have found the Columbia area ready to welcome the players warmly. In addition to the Fireflies, the Eagles have taken on the University of South Carolina and several local high school teams.

“It’s a work in progress but it’s really growing,” Mack said Saturday.

Long-range goals for the Screaming Eagles include building a Miracle Field including both indoor and outdoor sports facilities for the special needs community.

The group is always in need of volunteers, and new athletes are always welcome. More information is available at  Screaming Eagles Website

Categories: Chapin, Columbia, Richland County, Sports

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