August 2, 2009

Let's Play Some Ball!

The MSCR Summer Softball league came to a close on Friday with a championship game between Eat at Joe's and Bowl-a-Vard. You might remember them from this post - they were the too-competitive team - or this one.
Anyway, we went 5-0 the second half of the season, so we played these guys again for a plaque and the pride of being 'champions' - not that valuable, but even so, I was nervous and antsy before the game.
The game was the most intense softball game I have ever been a part of. We were the visitors, and I was batting fifth. With two outs in the top of the first inning, I came up to bat with runners on first and second. I swung at the second offering after the pitcher made a great first pitch. Unfortunately, I grounded it right at him - it wasn't even a slow, bouncy little dribble of a hit that I could beat out. No, I hit a sharp groundball and was out by a step. I then began a pilgrimage around the outfield, playing left-center, left, and then right-center. Defensively, I sat out the first inning. Bowl-a-Vard scored one run after a leadoff double just inside the third-base line. We got out of the inning only down 1-0, so that was a small victory. In the second inning, we tied it at 1 after a string of hits.
In the bottom of the third, I almost made a highlight-reel catch. The other team's leadoff batter was a guy who loved to pull it sharply down the left-field line. I was playing left field when he came up the second time and was expecting some action. He hit a fly ball on the first pitch - it was probably 20 feet behind third base and foul by about 10. I was playing fairly deep since he is a good hitter, so I took off (losing my hat in the process) and dove for the ball...all I got for my effort was grass stains on my shirt and a sore back all weekend.
The game progressed along tied at 1. My second atbat came leading off the fourth inning. Unfortunately, I grounded back to the pitcher again. Gah! Even worse, the inning ended with the bases loaded - if I had been able to get on, I would have scored and perhaps we would have put some crooked numbers up on the scoreboard. Nope. This game was all about Jeff dragging Eat at Joe's down.
At least I left my troubles at the plate. In right-center field I played some solid defense, as the entire team shut down Bowl-a-Vard's potent offense. I caught a deep flyball in right center, and would have thrown a runner out at second on a forceout if the second baseman had held on to the throw. Our pitcher Daniel got some key strikeouts (including the other team's super-competitive pitcher -with the bases loaded! He definitely threw his bat down in the dugout after that gem) and the infielders, although not perfect, buckled down to get the outs when we needed them. My last at-bat of the game came in the top of the sixth. Still tied 1-1, I came up with 2 outs and a runner on first. The other team had a pretty weak defender in right field, so I was hoping to turn on a ball and hit it down the line. Our shortstop Megan was on base, and I was pretty confident she would score if I could come through. Well...there's a reason one of the tags of this post is anti-clutch. I did turn on the ball, but didn't get it in the air enough. The first baseman was able to knock it down and throw to second base for the forceout. Oh well.
Seriously, though, this is slow-pitch softball. It's insane for a game to be tied 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth. And the top of the seventh. And the bottom of the seventh.
Finally, Eat at Joe's got in business in the eight inning. With two outs, Nick (one of the outfielders) hit a solid single to center field. Our right fielder Somer plated him with a double to center...after Daniel hit a deep double and came around to score on a single, we ended the inning up 4-1. Ecstatic to have our first lead of the game, we still had to get three more outs to be crowned champions. I went to right-center field for the bottom of the eighth. Daniel induced two quick popouts, but then things got a bit dicey. A walk, a single, and an error on a fielder's choice loaded the bags with two outs. The next batter lined a single up the middle - I ran over to field it and threw it back to Rachel at second base, almost catching the girl rounding the bag too far. Two runs scored on the play and now the lead was only 4-3...with their leadoff batter coming up to bat. Luckily, he grounded to shortstop, Megan threw to Danielle for the force at third, and EAT AT JOE'S IS THE LEAGUE CHAMPION WOOO BREAK OUT THE CHAMPAGNE!

We shook hands with a stunned (and oh-so-sportsmanlike) Bowl-a-Vard team - okay, it's not fair to lump them all in the jerk category. Some of their players were actually pretty nice, and I'm sure they're all good people. They just didn't come across that way on the diamond. After we picked up our gear, we celebrated at Villa Tap.

Congratulations, Eat at Joe's. It was definitely a fun year.

Final Stats:
0/3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
16/24 .667 .680 .917 1.597 9 0 7

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