Sunday night was supposed to be a cold one for the newsies on the softball diamond, so said Pitcher/Meteorologist Andy Provenzano. It was chilly, but the adrenaline and excitement of week 3 more than kept us warm. Here are the highlights:
Andy throws a masterful high-arcing 2-strike pitch to strike out the lead-off batter. Two more defensive gems and it's a 1, 2, 3 top of the first.
The bats were alive in the bottom half, as Lauren Zakalik started the game with a hit. Chris Gervat and Matt Ondecker had some good rips to drive in a couple runs. The side was retired when a certain 11 pm news anchor struck out looking. First time that's ever happened in slow-pitch for me and I would love to cry foul, but it was a strike. He was just a fast-working pitcher and I guess I was caught a little off guard with the pitch and simply thought it was outside.
Three runs and damaged pride.
Our hot-hitting was contagious. Oliver Lawn Care, undefeated coming in, showed why. Hard line drives and grounders found their way through the infield and some hard-hitting ladies caught the outfield a tad off guard as they cut the lead to 3-2.
They followed it up with a nice defensive effort to hold us scoreless.
The momentum grew as Oliver put up five big runs on some hot hitting. Some were balls that just eluded us, like a lazy liner over LZ at third and two hard grounders that I couldn't come up with at short. They also found the holes in the D to gain a big advantage. The inning ended with a lot of pain. Shading their left-hand hitting center fielder toward second, I hustled behind the bag toward a rocket up the middle. It got under my glove and bounced off the inside of my knee. Luckily, it bounced back toward the bag and I was able to limp over and handle it and step on the bag for a force out. Actually, if luck was involved, I would have caught it.
We got some payback at the plate. Brian Hirten led off with a hit and LZ also got on base setting the stage for Gervat's laser over the right-center fielder's head. The speed on the base paths made it an easy homer, cutting the lead to 7-6 as we headed to the 4th.
Our defense is bend but don't break, and we get out of it with no runs allowed. Nicole made one of her two nice grabs in the outfield and Chris Gervat made a putout on a long fly ball to right-center.
We also couldn't get anything going at the plate, as we again hit them right at people.
Still 7-6, bad guys.
Again, no runs allowed thanks to a timely double play. A line drive to short and a streaking runner from second made it an easy play for me.
In the bottom half, Brian got a two-out single and then showed off some major league wheels. On a single to right center by Chris, Brian sped all the way around to score and when he rounded third he was running as fast as anyone I've ever seen on a baseball diamond.
A third straight shutout inning for the D.
With two outs, AndyPro laces a shot to the gap and turns it into a double. Nicole followed with a hit to drive him in and give us the lead for the first time since the second inning. Then a little wildness from their pitcher helped out a ton. I walked to load the bases and Proctor walked to push across two runs. Then, after someone made the obligatory, "They just want to walk" comment, Rob Zwemer chimed in from the batter's box.
"Not me! I want to hit it."
And he did-- a base hit up the middle that scored Jeff and Jamie Edmonds.
12-7 heading into the final inning.
First batter, a hard grounder to me. I make the play. One down. Second batter, a grounder up the middle, I cut it off and fire over to first. Matt makes a great stretch and scoop. Two outs. Third batter, another hot shot to me, this time the throw pulls Matt off the bag. One on, two out. Next batter rips another grounder my way, I scoop it up and touch second. Game. And a little redemption for me after a sloppy game with no hits at the plate.
WE WIN!!! (From left: Sammie (in daddy's arms) Matt, Becky Grant, JC, Nicole (sitting), AndyPro, Lauren Z., Jeff Proctor (back), Leah Rose (sitting), Jamie, Brian, Tori, Kylie Jo)
Definitely a team effort, both at the plate and in the field. Jamie hit the ball real hard in her first game of the season, but just had some bad luck in that it was right at someone every time. We go to week 4 with a 2-0-1 record and in 2nd place. No games next week for Memorial Day, we'll see you in two weeks.