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Crowder Memorial tournament to take place this weekend


Cassidy Davis admitted she had been feeling overwhelmed by the work it took to be co-chairwoman of the Casey Crowder Memorial softball tournament.

“Last year was my first year doing the tournament,” Davis said, “and I had a blast organizing it and talking to the business leaders. I had a great time doing it.

“This year, I’ll admit, I’ve been frustrated trying to get it together with the demand on me. Then something happens and you realize that you forgot why you’re doing something.

“Overwhelmed is actually probably a better word than frustrated. You get overwhelmed with everything you have to do, and sometimes people don’t appreciate what’s being done.”

Then a simple request put everything back in perspective.

Davis said she received a text message from Samantha Plumlee, a player in the Pine Bluff American Eastern Little League, which will host the eighth annual tournament this weekend at Monroe-Ryburn Field.

“She texted me and asked if she could do something for the tournament,” Davis said. “I said, ‘Sure,’ and asked what she wanted to do. She told me her and her mother were going to make paper flowers with Casey’s name on them.”

As a former teammate of Crowder, Davis said the simple request — coming from a girl who never knew Crowder — moved her.

“This is why we do the tournament,” Davis said, “to let Casey’s memory live on.

“And for (Plumlee) to want to honor her, even when she didn’t know her, means it is working.”

On Aug. 27, 2006, Crowder was driving alone on U.S. 65 near Dumas when her car ran out of gas. Her body was found six days later with a black zip-tie around her neck. She had been strangled to death at the age of 17.

In 2007, Kenneth Ray Osburn was sentenced to life in prison in Ashley County Circuit Court. Osburn’s conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court in June 2009. The divided high court ruled that Osburn’s Fifth Amendment rights had been violated when investigators continued to talk to him after he asked to speak with a lawyer during an interrogation.

Despite the court’s ruling to send the case back to Ashley County Circuit Court, another trial has yet to take place. Osburn currently resides in the Ashley County Detention Center in Hamburg.

Melinda Crowder, Casey’s mother, said Friday a pretrial hearing is set for June 18 with the trial scheduled to begin on Aug. 11.

This weekend, though, the focus will be on remembering the life of Casey Crowder with current members of the softball league she once played in honoring her memory.

Aside from the softball games, which begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, money will be raised to fund scholarships for members of PBAELLS who are entering their senior year.

A special memorial ceremony will also take place from 1-1:45 Saturday. During the ceremony, Melinda Crowder will present the scholarships made available from money raised at last year’s tournament.

“It means a lot to me,” Crowder said of the experience. “Remembering Casey keeps her memory alive, so it’s very special to me. The scholarship money really helps out the girls. And Casey always loved softball.

“It just makes me feel good.”

Crowder said she hopes the biggest take-home message for the PBAELLS players and others who attend the tournament is a better understanding of how to avoid dangerous situations.

“Our main objective is to teach them what not to do when you’re alone,” she said. “We’re trying to teach them safety and awareness.

“Just the kinds of things to do to help them be safe.”