Ozark hosted a college exhibition baseball game with a serious purpose to fight a devastating disease.
An estimated crowd of more than 3,000 people looked on as Drury University hosted the Missouri State Bears at U.S. Baseball Park in the Battle for Bell, a game that raises funds for the CoxHealth Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Clinic.
The Battle for Bell is named in honor of the late Howard Bell, a former Missouri State player who was the head baseball coach at Glendale High School when he was diagnosed with ALS in December of 2011. He was a member of the Glendale High School faculty for 28 years and served as a baseball coach there for 19 seasons. Bell had ties with Drury, serving as a longtime assistant to Mark Stratton at Glendale before Stratton came to Drury to start the Panthers baseball program in 2007.
Bell died in 2013, but both the Drury and Missouri State baseball programs remain committed to the fight against ALS. A portion of the proceeds generated from the fall exhibition game will go toward the CoxHealth ALS Clinic, which provides coordinated care and support to ALS patients in the region.
The Bears won the exhibition game 15-0.
Stratton is now the general manager of U.S. Baseball Park, an Ozark attraction that hosts games more than 220 days out of the year.
Missouri State won last year's game 4-1 and have won all three of the 'Battle for Bell' games with each contest decided by three runs or less.
The Panthers are coming off of a 32-25 season that saw them advance to the NCAA-II tournament for the second time in three years. Drury will return seven starters from its line-up as well as 10 pitchers who saw significant time on the mound last year. Panthers head coach Scott Nasby will be in his eighth season leading Drury's program, which will be its fourth playing all home games in Ozark.