All in for summer ball
By Bobby Reyes
Times Staff Writer
Remember that guy who gave up? Neither does anyone else. Or, so the saying goes.
Not everyone longs for the chill that comes from spraying “tough actin’” Tinactin on athlete’s foot, or the icy burn from rubbing Icy Hot on sore muscles. But what every nostalgia-ridden former athlete does long for is the art of the competition.
They long for the feeling of sending the ball over the fence to ecstatic cheers of the crowd, making a leaping dive to catch a fly ball for the third out, or touching home plate after rounding the bases. These accomplishments are few and far between in the adult world. Fortunately, the coed summer softball league is underway, giving aging adults another shot at reliving past glories.
While every team wants to say they’re going to the ‘ship — the championship, that is — only two teams will vye for the title. A summer’s worth of games await this year’s five competitive coed teams, and we will preview each team here.
Powerslams: Not so powerful, or are they?
The Powerslams are the lone new — but old — team to hit the baseball diamond this year. With a roster of oldies but goodies, they’re more likely to be slamming down PBRs before the game than slamming home runs out of the park.
With a team motto of “if only we could catch,” the Powerslams have set the bar low this year. But don’t be fooled — their dismissive behavior toward their talent is the classic “it’s so overt it’s covert” strategy.
This adult version of the Little Giants seeks to mimic the fictional success of the Springfield Nuclear Plant softball team, which claimed the 1992 Springfield city championship with a roster of second and third picks.
“Clayton (Pierce) is a home-run hitter,” team manager Sam Denham explained. “And Wesley (Mayfield) is the best pitcher in the hills.”
While the obvious lack of skill makes the Powerslams primed for a Disney movie, wagering enthusiasts wouldn’t bet on the team. Then again, that could make them this year’s dark horse.
Phanny Bandits: Ready to spank the competition
The Phanny Bandits have only taken a few short years to become one of the most prominent franchise teams in the league. This ragtag team that used to be District 5 has progressed into the Mighty Ducks/Team U.S.A. from the second edition of the film in recent years. This year, the Phanny Bandits are hoping to progress to the version of the team that beat the varsity squad at Eden Hall in Mighty Ducks 3.
Rumors swirling around the diamonds at Jorgensen are that this could be their year. The first line of defense for the Bandits will be pitcher Liam Mortell. Rumor has it he pitched three no-hitters in a women’s slow-pitch league in Japan. Additionally, third baseman Colten Yoast is the social media guru of the team — crossing his path may garner a tweetstorm of Trump proportions. In the outfield is American Idol hopeful Joshua Strickland. His seductive tones are rumored to be the Bandits secret (well, not anymore) weapon.
When viewing the previous three years, the meteoric rise of the Phanny Bandits sheds an eerie similarity to the fictional Flint Tropics. While team manager, head coach and star player Taylor Miller has no R&B hits like Jackie Moon, the Phanny Bandits could be a real threat if they can find their Ed Monix. Perhaps all they need is a washing machine to trade.
Leanne Grace: Not depending on grace this year
Back for another title bid this year is second-year team Leanne Grace. Last year’s newcomers finished second in the league, and the taste of the podium has only whet their appetite. Their consistency rivals that of Tony Romo’s injuries.
“We’re playing to win,” team manager Kody Platt said. “It’s that simple.”
Last year, Leanne Grace made a name on the backs of their consistency, and this year appears no different.
“We’re looking to be more fluid on the field,” Platt said, noting that the majority of last year’s roster has returned.
Like the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Leanne Grace is hoping that a solid, familiar lineup will elevate them to the top of the podium. Likewise, they won’t be depending on any miracles.
Shondeck Financial: Bringing a fan to the field
If you’re not first, you’re last. At least that’s the approach Shondeck Financial is taking this year. The Ricky Bobby motto seems fitting, as Shondeck came out hot last summer but was upset in the tournament.
Shondeck will rely on their talented roster of returning players. And while they’ve come up just short of a summer and spring title over the past year, they’re pulling all of the stops for a title run this summer.
Like so many great athletes before them, their team is littered with players that ooze of legend-in-their-own-time status, thus requiring nicknames such as Connor “The Curveball” Clark, who’ll be pitching to Bre “The Human Octopod” Navidi.
“She stops everything,” Scott Shondeck explained. “It’s like she has eight arms.”
Perhaps the biggest threat is that of Tanner “The Myth” Stillwell.
“Rumor has it he has hit a softball so hard it turned inside out, multiple times,” Shondeck said.
While their nicknames are strong, one thing that remains is the bitter taste of last year’s finish, which has prompted them to a more so-reckless-it-may-even-work approach.
So, what’s their game plan?
“I’ve got one word for you,” Shondeck stated. “Dingers, dingers all day!”
Ol’ Miner: Marinated better than the rest
The team formally known as Chamberland has found a new identity, and while they’ve shed their former name for a new one — and not a symbol — they haven’t changed much else.
Having been a dominant force over the league these past few years, Ol’ Miner is the equivalent of infamous powerhouse icons like Shooter McGavin, Cobra Kai or Globo Gym.
They are quite simply the team to beat.
The shade they’ve thrown over the league doesn’t end there either — with a new identity, Ol’ Miner is attempting to lay low and remain off the radar until game time, hence the lack of information they’ve provided for this preview.
Vagueness aside, one thing is sure: bring A1 sauce and be ready for a good game anytime you play Ol’ Miner. While every other team is just trying to duplicate the perfection of Ol’ Miner’s marinated steak, the team has upped the level of intensity, literally — they’ve moved onward, and upward, to playing to a higher standard.
Similar to the juicy tang of those buffalo wings at the Ol’ Miner Sports Bar upstairs.
(Bobby Reyes can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)