The phrase "batter up" has even more meaning this year in the Grove City Buddy Ball League.

Players who are not able to swing a softball bat themselves are able to use a "batter up" machine built and donated to the league by the May We Help organization.

"It (the machine) helps make them feel connected to playing the game," said Wayne Kintz, a Buddy Ball League board member. "Thanks to this device, they are able to use a bat rather than have someone hit for them.

"The joy on their face when they let go (of) that string and the bat connects with the ball, it's indescribable," he said.

May We Help is a Cincinnati-based volunteer organization, which opened a Columbus chapter a little more than two years ago.

"Our mission is to help people who are differently-abled pursue and participate in their passions, whether it be sports, art or music," said Stephanie Zwerner, chairwoman of the Columbus chapter's board of directors.

"We also do some projects that seek to improve the quality of life and ease of living for our clients," she said.

Many of May We Help's volunteers are engineers, handymen and programmers, Zwerner said.

"Our volunteers have the know-how to create devices that aren't otherwise on the market or available to our clients," she said.

"Most of the machines and devices are built by our volunteers from the ground up," she said.

The "batter up" machine was designed and built by volunteers from the Cincinnati chapter, Zwerner said. When a player pulls a string attached to the device, the machine swings a bat for them.

The Columbus chapter's projects have included sensory chairs that provide students who have stimuli issues with an enclosed, calming and distraction-free space in their classroom. It has also provided adaptive bicycles, implements that allow disabled youngsters to fish and a flotation device that allowed a youngster with cerebral palsy to float by himself in a swimming pool.

"We provide all of our devices free of charge," Zwerner said. "It allows people to do things they wouldn't otherwise be able to do."

To show its appreciation, the Buddy Ball League presented a $1,000 check to the May We Help Columbus chapter.

Anyone interested in donating to or volunteering for May We Help, or who has a project request, can visit maywehelp.org.

The Buddy Ball league is in its second year.

This year, more than 100 players are participating in league games on Saturday mornings.

"We have three games each Saturday morning with over 100 kids playing," Kintz said. "I say kids -- we have players from age 3 on up and even have a few adults who play on Saturdays."

An adult league held on Tuesday nights wrapped up its season June 20. The Saturday league season will finish on July 8.

In the Buddy Ball league, each player has a volunteer "buddy" who helps them bat and make their way around the bases. Every batter gets a hit and scores a run -- and games always end in ties.

On a recent Saturday morning, Ashlie and Ryan Dompier were watching their 7-year-old son, Myles, play with his teammates on the Buddy Ball Pirates team.

Myles was born at 24 weeks and suffered a cerebral stroke as a newborn.

The Dompiers moved to Lancaster from Denver earlier this year.

Finding out about the Buddy Ball League in Grove City "was amazing for us, because Myles has never had a chance to play sports," Ashlie Dompier said.

"He loves sports, loves watching his brother play baseball and loves watching racing, football and baseball on TV at home," Ryan Dompier said.

"He's never had the chance to go outside and play with kids his own age.

"Myles gets to go out there and have fun like any other kid," he said. "He experiences the joys and the frustrations of playing just like any other kid. He gets to be outside and be active, just like any other kid."

For his parents, "it gets really emotional watching him play," Ryan Dompier said.

"There are no words to describe the feeling. Myles spent a year in the infant ICU and wasn't expected to live.

"Now, he's out here doing things we were told he never would be able to do," he said.

"You want to cheer for him, but he doesn't like it when you cheer for him," Ashlie Dompier said with a smile.

The Buddy Ball League provides an opportunity the Dompiers never expected to find.

"You look out and see teen and adult volunteers -- there's usually twice as many volunteers as there are players," Ryan Dompier said. "The volunteers at Buddy Ball are angels."

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