Completes the perfect season, greatest team ever?
by Than Acuff
What a season for Pita’s OG’s. The merging of the comp and rec softball leagues into one league this year opened the door for a perfect season, and Pita’s barged through with bats swinging to go undefeated and finish with the softball league title when they took down the Avalanche 21-5 Thursday, August 18 at Gothic Field.
Granted, about midway through the season Pita’s OG’s were the heavy favorites to win it all. I mean, player/owner/manager Drew Stichter had put together one of the best softball teams in local history. I would say that in my 20 years of covering local softball there are three teams that stand above the rest: the Hills Brothers, Tully’s and now Pita’s OG’s. The Airheads too, actually, but for a different reason. Well, and the Rasta Hairnets, again for a different reason. Okay so, five teams stand out. Well, then there were the Gasholes, a classic team, and the Black Whale affectionately called the “pros and their ho’s” in their heyday.
But anything can happen in the post season and as the playoffs continued, it looked like anything was happening.
That “anything” was the Avalanche. The Avalanche is a classic local team and have spent the better part of their franchise career as a .500 team in the rec league.
Half of the team is between the ages of 50 and 70, the other half are about to head back to college and are the children of the aforementioned 50-70 somethings. They are a potent mix of savvy experience and youthful exuberance and can beat anybody, anytime or lose to anybody, anytime.
This year the Avalanche was on a classic post season run. They lost their first playoff game to the Whetstoners to drop into the loser’s bracket only to rattle off five wins in a row, including winning back-to-back doubleheaders, to reach the finals.
It was to be a David (the Avalanche) versus Goliath (Pitas OG’s) type of showdown in the finals. Only, this time around, Goliath would win. And rightfully so, I mean here was a team that, again, didn’t lose a single game all season, including winning their semifinal against the Talk of the Town with just eight players.
It was a packed house Thursday at the championship game with a who’s who of fans on hand. Edgar and Jennie Villanueva, Tommy Martin, Olympic athlete Aaron Blunck, folks grilling down the right field line and even a sketchy “random” out in the bleachers behind the centerfield fence. Every great sporting event needs a random, the sketchier the better. And everyone was there to see one of two things: either they wanted to watch one of the greatest playoff runs come to triumphant end, or they wanted to witness the completion of the only perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins.
The game opened as was expected. The Avalanche was held scoreless in the top of the first thanks in part to a 6-3 double play by Scott Sanders, and then Pita’s gave a little glimpse of what they’re all about in the bottom of the first. Michael Villanueva and Heather Duryea (who has now been on nine championship teams) opened with base hits and Sanders cleared the bags with a three-run home run.
Drew and Madie Stichter (sh**, have I been misspelling your first name all of these years, Madie? I could have sworn it was Maddie. Sorry) followed with base hits and then Rhett Yarbrough (sh**, have I been misspelling your last name all of these years Rhett? I could have sworn it was Yarborough. Sorry), Alice Krist and Mark Bortolin all connected for RBI hits for a quick 6-0 Pita’s lead.
Things were actually on course to be over in the bottom of the first inning as Pita’s was poised to blow it wide open before the Weil connection when Mikey Weil, Rebecca Ofsterdahl (Mikey’s sister) and Adrienne Weil (his wife) turned a 5-4-3 double play.
The Avalanche then rolled into their rhythm with walks, base hits and capitalizing on an error or two to generate runs. Mikey led off with an error-assisted single and reached third on a double from Nolan Blunck. Maggie Chlipala connected for a sacrifice RBI, Mark Reaman and Perdie Linehan walked to load the bases and Sam Reaman drove two home with a double.
But Pita’s is as Pita’s does, and they kept on swinging as Villanueva and Madie Cruse each slapped base hits and Sanders and Drew each crushed home runs for a 10-3 Pita’s lead. In fact, rough estimates combined with bad math and wild speculation leads me to think that both Sanders and Drew each broke Barry Bond’s record of 73 home runs in a season with those swings. That is, if you take their home run total from the softball season and extend that average to equal a 162-game baseball season. Actually, they blew it wide open because based on my math and approximate statistics, they would finish with over 160 home runs each.
At any rate, the bad news for the Avalanche, they were down 10-3. The good news, Pita’s had used three of their four allotted home runs per game already and there was still plenty of game left to play.
Keep hope alive!
Not to be outdone by the young guns and possibly delirious from the season the Cubs are having this year, Michael Blunck led off for the Avalanche in the top of the third with a solo home run. Mikey followed suit connecting for a solo shot, but the Pita’s defense was so sound that they robbed base hits to deny additional runs leaving the Avalanche down 10-5.
But hope springs eternal, whatever that means, and when the Avalanche held Pita’s to just two hits and no runs in the bottom of the third and Chlipala led off the top of the fourth with a single, there was a nanosecond when I thought I might witness the biggest upset in local sports.
But, that soon faded as Drew knocked a RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Madie in the bottom of the fourth. Sanders crushed a three-run shot in the bottom of the fifth and then Pita’s tacked on six more runs in the bottom of the sixth for a 21-5 lead that would stick putting a close to the only, at least in my memory, perfect season ever in local town league softball.