Another summer, another slow-pitch season
It’s summer. It’s softball. So, let’s get down to it with a correction from a story I wrote last week.
Apparently, the 2007 competitive league final was not as close as I mentioned.
A Lobar player explained to me that the Talk of the Town came out of the loser’s bracket and had to beat the Lobar twice to win the title due to the double-elimination format. Whereas the Lobar was in the winner’s bracket and only needed one win for the title.
So… When the Lobar won 11-10 for the title, they didn’t win by just one run but really by one game and one run.
Or something like that.
Anyway, let’s fast-forward to the present and the opening day game of the 2008 season at Pitsker Field Monday, June 2 between the Lobar and the Last Steep.
The owners of the Last Steep have reached out beyond the restaurant business to start up a sports franchise in local amateur sports.
Their hockey team won the 2008 town league title and now they’ve expanded into softball, sponsoring an incredible amalgam of local slow-pitch talent.
The Last Steep squad is comprised of players from past champion teams, including the Talk of the Town and the Airheads, as well as some competitive league all-stars and one retired police officer.
The new team would receive their first and biggest test of the regular season on opening day, facing the Lobar.
The Lobar used the off-season to acquire more talent, bulking up their already solid line-up for a potential title repeat.
After Monday night, it appears there’s a new team on the block. Then again, the season is only one week old.
After a three up, three down performance by the Lobar in their first at-bat, the Last Steep opened the season with a two-run effort in the bottom of the first inning.
Kathryn Long and Neil Gainous swatted base hits and scored when Michael Blunck poked a single to right center.
Josh Schumacher added a third run to the Last Steep lead in the second inning with a lead off, stand up triple and scoring in the bottom of the second inning.
The bottom of the Lobar batting line-up came through, scoring the team’s first run in the top of the third inning.
Bob Piccaro stretched a single into a double with some heads-up base running and scored when Sue Wilson tapped an RBI single.
But before the Lobar could get rolling, Blunck made a backhand stab at third to deny Michael Villanueva a hit and end the top of the inning.
Villanueva returned the favor and robbed Blunck of an RBI base hit completely laying out to snag a line drive to the gap in right center but the Last Steep put together a two-out rally to score two runs.
A single by Amy Shellenberger loaded the bases for Jerry Heal and Heal drove a ball to deep right field scoring two runs to build a 5-1 Last Steep lead.
The Lobar bats remained silent in the top of the fifth connecting for just one base hit but the defense of Lobar shortstop Roland Mason held the Last Steep at bay in the bottom of the fifth inning.
After making a leaping grab in shallow left field for the first out, Mason scooped a grounder, tapped second base and fired to first for the 6-3 double play to end the inning.
Piccaro looked to spark some offense for the Lobar in the sixth leading off with an opposite field double and scoring on a single by Melissa Neuner.
Neuner scored on a double by Mason but the rally ended as quickly as it started, leaving the Lobar still down two runs with an inning left to play.
Aware of the potential power of the Lobar hitters, the Last Steep added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to build a 7-3 lead.
The Lobar put together a brief scare in the bottom of the seventh inning when Brian Murphy and Hillary Buscovick led off with base hits.
Ashley Allen stepped up with one out looking to advance and possibly score the two runners on base. Allen connected for a line drive to right field bound for the fence until Shellenberger charged to the ball for her second highlight catch of the day to deny the Lobar a shot at a comeback.
The Last Steep turned the third out to preserve the 7-3 win, living up to the preseason rumors about the “new Last Steep” team.