LAWRENCE — With the swing of the bats and the roar of the crowd, there were also tears and sadness at a softball tournament Saturday.
Delamano, a local non-profit organization committed to domestic violence prevention, dedicated its 11th annual softball tournament in memory of Milka Rivera, 39, her daughter, Sachary Montanez, 19, and son, Max Ariel, 16, who were allegedly shot to death by Rivera’s boyfriend, Jose Luis Tejeda, in their South Lawrence home in Sept. 5, 2011.
During the opening ceremony, Milka’s sister Carmen Lizzette Rivera could not stop crying. She thought of her sister, an avid softball player, her niece, who had just started college, and her nephew, who was a standout football player for the “Reggies” at Greater Lawrence Technical High School.
Rivera along with Milka’s cousins Marisel Sevilla and Damaris Flores attended the game.
“I think of them every day and it’s a constant emotional battle,” she said. “There are days when I don’t want to do anything or see anybody and I try not to cry. It puts a big strain on the family.”
Wendy Luzon, Delamano co-founder and a candidate for city counselor, said this is the first time in the tournament’s history that female players have played in the game. Her husband, Raul Polanco, started the tournaments.
“We wanted to give women a chance because domestic violence affects mostly women,” Luzon said. “This was one of our biggest tournaments and most successful because we were able to provide a lot of information and resources.”
Luzon said 13 teams played in the tournaments, including three all-women’s teams, The Latin Stars and The Amazonians both of Lawrence, and another group from Chelsea.
“We named the team the Amazonians because they are fighters and strong women who do not give up,” Rivera said.