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Wertenberger Memorial Tournament Still Growing after 10 Years

Hundreds flocked to King City this weekend for a memorial softball tournament named for a Union Star graduate.
(KING CITY, Mo.) When a small community like Union Star loses one of its own, the effects can be felt four years. Stacey Wertenberger's case is no exception. 

Hundreds of people flocked to King City over the past three days for the 10th Annual Stacey Wertenberger Memorial Softball Tournament.

Wertenberger, a Union Star graduate, died in a drilling accident in January of 2005. An avid softball player, his friends felt a memorial tournament would be a proper tribute. 

"He always liked to play and we were still playing at that time, so we just thought that would be the best thing to do," tournament organizer Bob Mahlandt said. "There's a lot of community support from both Union Star and King City. We're getting some Savannah and also St. Joe."

Ten years later, the event continues to grow. A record 17 teams signed up this year, despite the wet weather forcing a move nine miles northeast to King City. 

"Every year, this tournament brings back memories, and they're all good memories," Stacey's daughter, Samantha said. "Every story, it's a laugh. Even a cry once in a while, but every memory, every cry, every tear, it's a good one."

Proceeds from the tournament go towards a scholarship for Union Star High School seniors, repairs to the town's softball field, and donations towards needy families at Christmas. 

"Without the help of Stacey's friends, it wouldn't be where it is today," Stacey's widow, Jovita, said. "The kids are getting a little bit older and weaker and some don't play anymore, but they still come up, try to help out, and cheer on the kids that are playing."

It's a time to reunite with friends and loved ones and make memories year after year while reliving memories spent with the tournament's namesake. 

"It's pretty awesome to see all the people that still come out to support my dad," Samantha said. "It's an awesome time. We get to come out and hang out with people we don't get to see very often."
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