10 rec teams, nine comp teams, four men’s teams
Softball is a time-honored tradition in the valley that dates back more than 30 years and is a sign that summer is here, or at least on its way.
Believe it or not, the 2008 Crested Butte softball season is just days away, with opening day set for Monday, June 2. Crested Butte Parks and Recreation director Bob Piccaro and his assistant, Kelly Beam, spent all of Memorial Day in the office in an effort to get every team the best possible schedule.
And while winter appears, at times, to refuse to release its grip on the north end of the valley, a growing legion of softball players have been shuffling out to the fields the past couple of weeks to prepare for the upcoming season in the sun.
The 2007 slow-pitch softball season came to a climactic finish in both the competitive and recreational leagues.
The Lobar finished the year with the competitive league title, edging out an 11-10 win over the Talk of the Town in the championship game.
Recreational league renegades, the Gas Holes, made a miraculous post-season run, winning two double-headers in the playoffs for their first championship.
The Colorado Freeskiers owned the sporadic men’s league play for another piece of hardware for their shelf.
Twenty-three teams are signed up for the 2008 season—10 for the recreational coed league, nine in the competitive coed league and four teams for the men’s league.
Competitive league will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays with games going on at Pitsker, Gothic and Tommy V Fields.
Recreational league play will take place on Tuesday and Thursdays at Pitsker and Gothic Fields and Men’s League will be Thursdays at Tommy V Field.
All games are scheduled to start at 5 and 6:30 p.m. This year brings new changes to the local interpretation of the game. First and foremost, the softball board of directors addressed the issue of playoff eligibility.
In years past, players were required to participate in half of the regular season games plus one extra game. In other words, a player must play in eight games of a 14-game season.
The plan was an effort to prevent teams listing “ringers” on their rosters who would only make it to the post-season.
It turns out, with summer busy enough as it is, players had a hard time making the required amount of games and were therefore unable to participate in the post-season.
“It was really hard for some people to meet the quota,” says Bob Piccaro. “It would be a shame that you’re on a team and because of work you can’t make the playoffs.”
As a result, a couple of options were presented to the softball board during the off-season to remedy the situation, and in the end a compromise was made.
This season, the requirement has been dropped from half of the games plus one, to half of the games minus one.
That is, in a 14-game season, a player must now participate in at least six games.
Furthermore, single-walled aluminum bats will be allowed at Pitsker Field. Last year, men were required to use wooden bats because the leftfield wall was moved in closer due to road construction.
This year, men will have the option of using wooden bats or the single-walled aluminum bats tested by a handful of local sluggers over a week ago.
“They were well received,” says Piccaro. “The ball definitely comes off the bat more lively.”
Piccaro adds that as of press time, only the single-walled bats approved and provided by the Parks and Recreation Department are allowed.
Ultimately, Piccaro asks that everyone remember that softball is just a game.
“It’s recreation. Play as hard as you can but be fair,” says Piccaro. “Remember, the umps are doing the best they can.”