Monday, July 5, 2010

The Perils of Co-ed Softball

After more than 20 years away from the softball diamond, I joined the union's team at school this summer, organized by one of my colleagues in the English Department.

So far, the best news is that I have not been injured. I've been lucky. (It helped that I never had to chase a ball down in the outfield and only rarely had to run hard on the base paths).

During the course of the season, as you might expect with a team as old as ours, a host of injuries cropped up: hamstring pulls, broken toes, aching backs, sore shoulders, ankle sprains, even migraine headaches and gastro-intestinal pains. (Food poisoning? One too many pre-game hotdogs at the Wawa? Your guess is as good as mine!)

Medical tape and knee wraps weren't nearly enough to keep us on the field. We were candidates for a MASH unit. Somehow, we managed to recruit enough new players to the team to compete in most of our games and complete all 14 of them.

The next best news is that the team I play for, the APSCUF Rams, ended our season with an 8-6 record, good enough to sneak into the Chester County Co-Ed Softball League's divisional playoffs.

You wanna talk about long-in-the-tooth long-shots playing above their collective heads? Jamie Moyer's got nothing on us. I will be 59 next month and I am not the oldest head on the team. Dr. Frank Fry, the chairman of the kinesiology department (who is in far better shape than I am), is our oldest player at 60.

Our starting pitchers, Dr. Kevin Flynn (professor of accounting) and Dr. Tom Legg (professor of history), are both in their early 50s. (I sure hope none of them are ticked off at me for putting such personal info "out there, on the internet.") A slew of other players are between 45 and 50. I am hazarding a guess here, but if you asked me to put a number on the average age of our team at the start of the season, I would say 45.

How we ever managed to win 8 games against teams whose players who are in their 20s and 30s is beyond me.

We lost our first game to Downingtown Middle School, 20-0. (Actually, it was the faculty of DMS we played that evening, but we were so inept it likely would not have mattered much if it was 6th graders who took the field against us.)

The class of the league's Western division is a team called Kicking Puppies. We were so offended by their team name we threatened to call PETA. They rolled over the other teams in our division like a tank, collectively out-scoring their opponents by more than 160 runs. That's a whupping of an average of 12 runs a game. (Surely it's no coincidence this total happens to coincide with the number of runs needed to end a game early when the "mercy rule" kicks in).

They finished the season at 13-1 and the only team that managed to defeat them all summer was ours. Don't ask me how. We did it with smoke and mirrors and stellar defense (for one evening anyway) that belied our real abilities. I think we got lucky that night. Or maybe they were just missing their best sluggers? That could be, too.

We squeaked into the playoffs last week with an improbable last-inning win against The Square Bar (unabashed plug here: The Square Bar is our favorite West Chester post-game watering hole, and not just because it's convenient to all four of the fields we use. Any summer night you go there, you'll likely find at least two dozen soaking wet, sweaty softballers downing post-game brews and chatting as amicably about their errors as their heroics).

Both teams needed to win the game to become one of the four divisional playoff teams. Flynn, our best pitcher, had a summer class to teach that night and couldn't play. Legg started but got pounded in the first inning. By the end of the second, the Rams were down 8-0. We clawed back (or maybe "hoofed back" is the anatomically correct word given the species of our team name) to tie the score in the fifth, 10-10.

The Square Bar posted four unearned runs in the top of the 6th and our hopes for the playoffs looked bleak. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th, they finally came to rest on the slender shoulders of 40-something Dr. Cheryl Wanko, professor of English. Somehow, her ground ball up the middle of the infield eluded the pitcher, shortstop and second baseman and the two men on base both scored to tied the game. Two batters later, Tom Legg nursed a dramatic walk and Wanko trotted home with the winning run.

It was the second "walk off walk" of our campaign.

Don't toss out that roll of medical tape just yet! Bring on those Kicking Puppies! The playoffs start next Sunday evening, July 11th.

With any luck, maybe we can avoid the dreaded mercy rule! (Either that or we call in PETA and wage a wicked protest!)

Go Rams!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like your having a great time Chuck. I love that your beating the young bucks on occasion.