VLK's 2016 Softball Season

'_When we win a game, it's a team win. When we lose a game, it's a team loss.'

' Coach Buttermaker, Bad News Bears

When I reflect on my experience organizing VLK's 2016 Co-Ed softball team and our first season together, I find this quote from Coach Buttermaker especially true. Even though we weren't as successful as we all went into the season expecting to be, we bonded as a group, improved defensively, and started to form a team dynamic by learning each other's strengths on the field. As Coach Pat Summitt once said, 'You can't always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.' This statement holds a valuable truth we can take with us, carry beyond our first season of Co-Ed softball, and apply it to everything we do. Learning to compete and challenge yourself will never be a negative quality to have. Our final record might show every game as a loss, but I still believe the smaller and more personal victories achieved are what should give us a sense of pride when we think back on this season.

Moving on from the 'life lessons,' I would like to personally admit that slow pitch is a lot harder than you might expect. I honestly thought I would be able to walk out there and pick up right where I left off in my college softball days, but boy was that far from the truth! I spent many Friday nights after the games trying to figure out why it just didn't seem as easy as it used to be. Slow pitch softball has its own crazy rules which makes it an entirely different game from baseball or fast pitch softball. I have listed a few of them below for your leisure:

  • You play with 10 players, 5 guys and 5 girls, and must alternate genders when deciding the batting order.
  • The game lasts for 7 innings, or 1 hour ' whichever comes first.
  • You begin each at bat with 1 ball and 1 strike. This one is easily forgotten.
  • Over the fence home runs are not allowed, they count as an out.
  • The pitcher has to alternate ball sizes for guys and girls (the girls use the 11 inch ball, and guys use a 12 inch) and has to pitch the ball at a certain arch height while making sure it crosses the plate just right for it to be a strike.
  • Stealing bases is not allowed.

Despite the interesting rules, we really enjoyed our time spent hanging out at the games socializing and getting to know each other a little better. For example, one night we played two games with four hours of down time between each one. Those hours were mostly spent eating pizza, drinking beer, and discussing the latest news on Building Information Modeling... or maybe it was game strategy. Either way, I am confident that we probably had an ESPN 'Web Gem' worthy play at every game (if you don't know what a Web Gem is, you definitely need to look it up. They are awesome to watch). Some of our season highlights includes several in the park home runs (Justin & Bryce), Justin's Grand Slam, turning quite a few double plays (Matt-Sarah-Bailey, Justin-Bailey, Matt-Justin-Bailey), throwing out a runner at home from right field (Ryan-Justin-TJ), Sarah's diving catch, and TJ being a stud on the mound. As you can all probably imagine, the high expectations that come with a group of our nature motivates us to always strive for perfection in everything that we do. However, no matter how much effort is made to be flawless, we still had our fair share of 'laughable moments.'

  • Our team name 'The Furr Outs' ' no one else understood. I can't imagine why not_
  • Going to the batting cages during lunch, and watching Richard and Brad try to hit the 70mph fast balls. Also, the fact that we even went to the batting cages during lunch and didn't change clothes_
  • At our first game when there was a runner on first, a ball hit to RC, and Josh threw to Justin covering second. The throw beat the runner by 3-4 steps, but when we turned to see if the umpire called her out, he was chatting with someone in the stands. Thankfully, the other team was honest about her being out.
  • Our main girl sub gothit in the leg by a throw from short stop. Pretty sure she didn't play a game after that forcing us to bribe/threaten girls to play every week_. which still didn't work.
  • The umpire yelling at us for having beer in the dugout, along with many other offenses
  • Haley had to wear a jersey with the name 'Big OG' on the back while playing for another team who was short players one night.

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  • All the girls had simultaneous leg cramps in the second game.
  • Sarah hitting the ball to short stop with Richard on first and the opposing team wondering why he didn't sprint all the way to second base and 'finish the play,' even though he was dead out. I had to explain that we're 'too old for that.'
  • We learned Joe knows how to do a cartwheel.
  • Getting beat by teams with players whose ages averaged a good 10 years younger than us.
  • As a coworker kindly pointed out, going 'O'fer' on the season just makes me laugh.

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In all seriousness though, I would like to say thank you to all of our devoted players who persevered through the long season, (which lasted a month longer than originally scheduled thanks to our extra rainy spring this year) and those who were consistently at the games, helping make my life a little easier! I would especially like to thank VLK for sponsoring us and providing the opportunity to participate, we had a great time!

As Coach Buttermaker also reminded us: 'Come on, fellas! Rome wasn't built in a day.'

We will get 'em next season!

2016 'Furr Outs' Softball Team Roster:

Amelia Garrett

Angela Mitchell

Bailey Craighead

Brad Minton

Bryce McCarthy

Erjon Troqe

Haley Thurston

Joe Bloodworth

Josh Wilson

Justin Hiles

Katherine Thomas

Matt McGowen

Richard Hunt

Ryan McAllister

Sarah Gardner

TJ Sanders

Zack Sprinkle