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  • Jim Townsend

Emotional Day at PHS Softball Complex

Saturday proved to be an emotional day at the PHS softball complex. The Raiders hosted the 15th Annual Suzanne J. Buche Cancer Awareness Tournament, followed by a bit of a sendoff ceremony to longtime coach Jack Anderson who is retiring at the end of the season.

Pictured above is Matt Buche, Bridger Buche and Danielle Kingery.

The tournament is held in memory of Suzanne J. Buche. Suzanne was the husband of Matt Buche and mother of Danielle (Kingery) and Bridger Buche, two former standout athletes at PHS. Suzanne lost her battle with cancer during Danielle’s senior year at PHS.

The tournament, now in its 15th year, is dedicated to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, while at the same time honoring those who have battled or are currently battling cancer. On Saturday, the event crossed the $100,000 raised milestone.

The festivities started off with a ceremonial first pitch by one representative of each team (Portland, Reed City, Owosso and Dundee) who has been impacted by cancer, as well as a Bridger Buche representing the Buche family.

Portland’s first pitch was thrown by cancer survivor Bill Townsend, my father and father-in-law of long time PHS coaching volunteer Sarah (Lefke) Townsend.

The Lady Raiders started the tournament off strong with a dominating win over the Coyotes of Reed City. In the second game the Raiders fell to a very strong Owosso team, and in the third game they fell to state ranked Dundee, who was the eventual tournament champion. The Lady Raiders ended the day one and two.

Matt Buche presents a plaque to Jack Anderson.

At the conclusion of the tournament, the Buche family presented a plaque to Jack Anderson in recognition of his long service to PHS and support of the SJB tournament. Anderson is retiring at the end of the season. He has been the head coach of the PHS varsity softball team for 39 years. Anderson has almost 1,000 career softball wins and has received coach of the year honors multiple times. He has led the Lady Raiders to numerous league and district crowns, as well as two state finals appearances.

Kevin Veale presents a plaque to Jack Anderson.

PHS Athletic Director Kevin Veale also presented a plaque to Anderson for his long-time dedication to the school and its athletic programs. Veale also announced that starting next year, the Lady Raiders first home tournament each year will be named in honor of Anderson. Anderson coached football for PHS for several years and retired as a teacher from PHS.

Anderson’s wife Cheryl, children Kristen, Jeff and Julie, their spouses, grandchildren, as well as the coach’s father and brothers, and mother-in-law were also in attendance. The family announced an exciting new addition to the PHS softball complex, the Jack Anderson Portland Softball Hall of Fame Plaza. Construction of the plaza is being funded entirely by a generous donation from the Anderson Family. If you would like to donate, please contact PHS Athletic Director Kevin Veale.

The emotional day ended with a small gathering at the Wagon Wheel’s Oak room where Anderson welcomed many former players and their families, along with many friends and relatives.

Anderson’s final game coaching on the PHS field is scheduled for this Tuesday when the Raiders host their pre-district game.

For more pictures of the festivities on Saturday, please check out our photo gallery on the Beacon’s Facebook page.

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