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Battle of the Bats a home run for Special Olympics Forsyth County

FORSYTH COUNTY — A battle went down Saturday, and Forsyth County came out on top.

Three local Special Olympics softball teams were among 28 that participated in the seventh annual Battle of the Bats tournament at Central Park. And all three won their brackets to take home a first-place trophy.

The tournament allows athletes to practice and play before the state games in October, according to Linda Fitzpatrick, Special Olympics Forsyth County coordinator.

“They don’t have an opportunity to compete in what I’m going to say is a typical environment,” Fitzpatrick said. “We really try to strive in playing unified.

“So this allows them an opportunity to really participate in not only sports but to compete just like typical athletes do.”

Twenty-seven teams traveled from all over Georgia to compete in different brackets. One team made the trek from South Carolina.

Forsyth County residents cheered for athletes ranging in age from 13 to 50 on three teams — the Mystic Batters, the Golden Gloves and the Loose Cannons — and a skills team, the Skittles.

“There’s just so much fun and fellowship and excitement,” Fitzpatrick said. “Yes, they all want to win. But to them, it’s all about competition and playing and doing their best and really kind of socializing and seeing everybody.”

On the field Saturday, they shared more than a goal to win.

“The camaraderie that this event creates,” she said. “We have over 350 Special Olympics athletes that are here, plus their families, plus the volunteers. So we have 1,000 people, give or take.”

To add to the feeling of fellowship in the tournament, seven of the teams are unified.

“Half [on those teams are] Special Olympics athletes and the other half are typical peers who are playing with the athletes,” she said. “And that just kind of puts the icing on the cake for us.”