- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - It seemed as if it took “David” 2 minutes to travel that last 60 feet on this Thursday night. But when the man closing in on his 70s crossed home plate, Field 8 at Cargill Park erupted.

A sense of triumph wasn’t present simply because No. 4 extended his softball team’s lead in the waning moments. And it wasn’t due to the fact David has never scored a run.

You see, less than an hour after he found home at Cargill, David, like many of his teammates, stepped off a bus in downtown Shreveport with no place to go.

No address, no shower, no bed. Just a tent.

For several members of The Hub: Urban Ministry squad, softball has become their life, their hope.

“Whether it’s homelessness or poverty, hopelessness is worse,” said Myles Roberts, The Hub’s pastor and a team staff member.

The Hub has offered a chance to play competitive softball in a men’s league on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you head to Cargill Park, it won’t be hard to spot The Hub. The team, dressed in electric blue, has a standing-room only congregation of fans. They laugh an hug, knowing they’ve escaped the real world, even for just an hour or so.

If you ask “Albert,” the Hub’s star player, the softball team was his idea. Thanks to decision by Roberts and Lovewell Center director John Robertson, a team was realized.

One by one, The Hub drove perspective players to the league’s headquarters to sign up.

About half the team (and fans) is homeless. In addition to The Hub staffers, the rest of the group is made up of people living at the Fairmont apartments and Ledbetter Heights.

The bus was donated by the Word of Life Center and local businessman Steve Nichols.

On game days, players head to The Lovewell Center “first thing in the morning” to pick up their uniforms.

“Everybody wears their jerseys all day,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of like high school.”

The players and fans fill a bus at Hub headquarters and depart one hour before the first pitch.

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