Rutgers plays Titans in blind softball
The Rutgers softball team played its game Sunday morning blind.
Held at the Rutgers Bubble, the team played the New Jersey Titans Blind Baseball Team in a Beep Baseball Exhibition — an adaptive version of America’s favorite pastime for blind, legally blind and visually impaired athletes, according to the National Beep Baseball Association.
Blind athletes can connect with beep baseball through sounds, and they literally, "play it by ear." The ball and bases make different sounds so players know where to swing and run.
In this alternate version of the game, players do not circle bases like they normally would — outfielders can get a runner out by picking up the ball before they reach a base. If the batter makes it before the ball is picked up, it is considered a run.
The Scarlet Knights softball team competed with the Titans by blindfolding themselves.
“Rutgers softball is very much looking forward to competing in beep (base)ball," said Jay Nelson, the Rutgers head softball coach in an interview with the Rutgers Athletics Department. "Meeting with and learning from the players on the New Jersey Titans will help our athletes understand and appreciate the shared passion for the game loved by both teams ... There are no barriers when it comes to the human spirit and its determination to conquer and surpass all challenges put in its path."
The Titans roster lists a range of diverse players, from a 9-year-old girl to the 65-year-old manager of the team, Steve Rutch, who lost his sight due to Type 1 Diabetes.
"I can't tell you how excited we are to play this game," he said. "We're trying to spread the word about athletics for disabled people ... We just want people to know anyone can play the game, and once they get involved, there are so many options to be active and competitive.”
The Titans are 1 of 28 National Beep Baseball teams in America and are eligible players in the World Series of Beep Baseball, which will be held in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in August.
Rutch has visited the Banks before to raise awareness about physically challenged athletes. He recently ran a clinic on disabled athletes on Cook campus, where he demonstrated a variety of adaptive sports, such as beep baseball, goal ball and wheelchair basketball. He plans on furthering his passion for adaptive sports by joining a blind ice hockey team.
"From the time I step foot on the field, I'm not blind anymore," he said. "You just want to play the game. I'm going to do everything I always wanted to do. You have two options when you're blind. You can sit around and wait to die, or you can do something with your life, and I'm going to do everything.”