The ninth annual Justin Sheftel Memorial Softball Tournament was held on June 22 at Parkland High School and it was fun in the sun for more than 300 participants who had a good time for a good cause.
The tournament honors the memory of Justin Sheftel, who had just graduated from Parkland in 2005 when he was killed while crossing the street by a drunk driver in Ocean City, Maryland.
In honor of Justin, more than $80,000 has been awarded to various organizations, including The Miracle League, the Jewish Community Center, Cystic Fibrosis, the Allentown Boys and Girls Club, the Autistic Society of the Lehigh Valley, the Parkland Foundation and Allentown School District.
And another sizable portion of the dollars raised goes to deserving Parkland grads who embody many of the traits and characteristics that Justin possessed during his life.
The scholarships aren't always given to the most talented of athletes, but those who strived to do their best in everything they tried during the course of their high school careers.
You get the feeling that Justin would have really liked this year's winners of the $7,500 scholarships.
Paul Tajiri, a standout football player who was Parkland's scholar-athlete and the Doug Kern Award winner, was the boys recipient and Callie Krajcir, a member of the Trojans soccer, basketball and volleyball teams, was the girls honoree.
Krajcir will continue her volleyball career at West Chester and major in occupational therapy.
Tajiri, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is headed to Messiah College.
Both poured themselves into their school's activities and thrived in class, on the playing field and in extracurricular activities. Both were members of National Honor Society and highly ranked in their senior class.
"Paul is one of the finest young men I've ever had the privilege of coaching," Trojans football coach Jim Morgans said. "He's just a great kid."
Krajcir, too, was someone who you wanted on your team.
"It's a great honor to be a scholarship winner and fun to be a part of the Sheftel event," she said at the tournament. "I stayed busy in high school playing sports and being a member of the National Honor Society. I loved every minute of it. I am excited for the future but sad to leave all my teams behind."
PATRIETTE TO REPRESENT USA
Jess Epler, a standout softball player from Governor Mifflin High School in Berks County and Penn State-Berks, is spending this summer playing for the Allentown Patriettes 23U team.
She has been selected to represent the United States in international competition next June in Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. The tour is sponsored by American Independence Sports Teams.
Epler, who led Gov. Mifflin to Berks County and District 3 titles before graduating in 2011, began her college career at Delaware, but transferred back to her home state after suffering an injury.
She is coming off an All-American season at PSU-Berks, leading the nation among Division III players with a .615 batting average to go with school records 10 home runs, 15 doubles, 62 RBIs and 56 runs scored. She also shined in the pitching circle with 0.47 ERA and 11 shutouts.
Epler is hoping to secure the $10,000 needed to play on the USA team. For more info, see http://www.aist.us or write to Epler at 5051 Ridgewood Road, Reading PA 19608.