Central Lake Hosting Sixth Annual Maris Spaulding Softball Tournament
CENTRAL LAKE – Almost seven years ago, a young girl with her whole life ahead was taken too soon.
That girl was Central Lake’s Maris Spaulding.
Spaulding was an avid athlete and a third generation Central Lake softball player, but was diagnosed with leukemia and lost her battle with the disease in November of 2012.
For the last six years, Central Lake has hosted a softball tournament in her honor.
“Sports have always been extremely important to our family,” said Spaulding’s grandfather, Gary Johnson, a MHSAA Hall of Fame coach. “And because of that, that’s what brought Maris and I so close. We wanted to honor her in some way, it’s been tough without her here.”
Spaulding was a pitcher, just like her mom, and that makes this yearly tournament even more special.
“It is a pitching machine tournament, which as most people know, Maris was a pitcher, and so kind of the significance of the pitching machine is that she’ll be pitching for every team,” said her mom, Tracy Spaulding.
This year, Central Lake is hosting Mancelona and East Jordan for the tournament. It’s something that all the girls on the softball team and the community look forward to every year.
“My daughter’s on the team, is a pitcher and she looked up to Maris so it is special for her,” said Central Lake head softball coach, Becky Willson. “So, I think for a lot of the girls it’s just a day to remember someone that they looked up to when they were younger.”
It’s also an opportunity for the family to give back to the people who supported them through Spaulding’s fight with cancer.
“It’s us showing appreciation for the people around us and thanking them for everything they did for us when Maris was sick. So we’re doing it to give back to our community and enjoy being together,” said Tracy Spaulding.
The tournament will be structured more like a scrimmage and be ’round robin’ style. It begins at 10 am on Saturday at Central Lake. The concession stand will be open and there will be 50/50 raffle tickets, with proceeds going towards leukemia research and a scholarship in Maris Spaulding’s name.