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Hawks soar at Friendship Park

Alisa Harding is the team cathcher. (click for larger version)
August 04, 2010 - Orion Township's adaptive softball league is something of a secret, it seems, but Jennifer Vezina says she'd like to see the word get out.

"I know we've got a lot more kids who could benefit from it," said Vezina, Orion's recreation program supervisor. "Many parents don't even know the league exists."

The team – the Orion Township Hawks – Is made up of persons age 13-25 with developmental disabilities.

Some have physical impairments, some don't, but one thing is sure -- they all appear to have fun.

Tyler Krueger is happy to come home. (click for larger version)
Out on the field at Friendship Park, where home games are played Thursday evenings during the May-July season, the Hawks are about 15 players strong this year; most are students from the Lake Orion Community Schools special education program.

Like other teams in the league, the Hawks follow regular slow-pitch softball format rules, with low impact, low injury balls and a tee if necessary.

Special gear is also allowable if needed – including the beeping softball used by one sight-impaired young man, who caused the crowd to erupt when he connected Thursday evening.

"The beeper ball is a first for us," said Vezina, noting the Orion Township team has been in existence at least a dozen years. "We had a parent help us find one online and it's working out well."

Over the course of the season, the team played against teams from Waterford, Rochester and Troy.

Chris King sends one flying. (click for larger version)
While the regular season concludes Thursday with a team picnic and end-of-the-season awards, a make-up game is scheduled for August 12 at Friendship Park, when the Hawks step up to the plate against longtime Lake Orion rivals: The Clarkston Wolves. Game time is 6:30 p.m. at field four.

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