Sunday, July 12, 2020

Avalanche wins 2018 softball season opener


by Than Acuff

What do we do? One could get on Facebook and comment about how the Vail buyout will affect the cost of living and impending increased lack of affordability or, one could go to work and try and make some money to be able to afford to live here.

But that’s not why we moved here, to work to be able to afford to live here.

Although… I gotta be honest. How sick would it be if they ran a gondola from the East River Valley floor to the peak of Crested Butte Mountain? There would be two stations along the way where you could load/unload. One at the Paradise Warming House and another at a warming house on top of Paradise Cliffs so we can enjoy our Brie and Chardonnay while watching groms launch Paradise Cliffs before continuing up to a rotating restaurant on the summit for 360-degree views. Plus, we could host World Cup races that start on top of the Headwall.

My armchair assessment of the situation is that Vail wanted Okemo and Sunapee because they want a larger presence in the Northeast, an area where more than 55 million people live. They just had to take Crested Butte, an area where 10,000 people live, as part of the deal and we will remain the redheaded stepchild resort, which I’m okay with. Sure, we get ignored while the other kids get more attention but we also get away with more as a result because no one is paying attention. One potential benefit to us: If you follow the trickle-down economic theory made famous during the Reagan era, the gear is going to get that much better at the annual Crested Butte Snowsports Ski Swap and I will benefit.

I put the ass in assessment, though.

One thing I am paying attention to is the local softball leagues, which just opened another season on Tuesday, June 5. It’s the same local softball league that was here when Dick Eflin and Fred Rice started this ski resort. It’s the same softball league that thrived when the Callaways owned the resort. The same softball leagues that remained when the Muellers took over and the same softball leagues that will continue while Vail is in town.

With that, the 2018 season opened Tuesday, June 5 at fields throughout town and what better way to open the summer of softball then catching some single-wall small-ball action at Pitsker Field.

And oh, what an opening it was. Grills were grilling, beer was flowing, tunes were blaring and Alec Lindeman, aka Bobby Digital, nailed the National Anthem on the microphone.

Oh, the rocket’s red glare!

Not to mention Michael Villanueva, proud father of both Koa and newborn son Rio, tossing out the first pitch.

“I guess it was because I almost died.”

Unfortunately, the game didn’t quite live up to the pregame hype as the Avalanche eked out a 5-4 win over the latest addition to the local softball ranks, the Eleven.

The Eleven is a mix of some new faces and old to the league with a core group of linchpin players. Aforementioned linchpin players such as Andrea Schumacher and Ryan Kay, who each connected for base hits to drive in runs for a 2-0 Eleven lead.

Now the Avalanche is the same ol’ same ol’, except for Mark Reaman, who has opted out of the 2018 season. Yet there’s no shortage of talent on that team as Reaman’s kids, Ben and Sam, remain on the team along with their friends, bringing a wealth of youthful talent to the team once again. The Weil family is on for another season as well, as are the Chlipalas, and Jim Schmidt returns to pace the sidelines in what appears to be a war of attrition between Schmidt and Ronco as to who will have the most years of softball seasons in Crested Butte.

Sam Reaman led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored when Adrienne Weil rapped a double through the infield. Nolan Blunck and Maggie Dethloff combined for back-to-back powerbunt singles to load the bases and Mikey Weil scored two, stroking a grounder up the middle for a 3-2 lead.

Billy Watson and Reaman combined for two base hits in the bottom of the second inning and Blunck added a little sauce to his bat to knock a two RBI double for a 5-2 lead.

The Eleven bats showed some more life in the top of the fourth inning when Ryan Kay led off with a triple high off the fence in left and scored on a double by Josh Schumacher. Katy Kay punched a sac hit to advance Schumacher to third, and a single to shallow right by Grant VanHoose pushed Schumacher home to pull the Eleven to within one.

By the fifth inning the excitement of opening day had worn off as neither team could manage any offense the remaining two innings and the Avalanche did just enough to seal the 5-4 win.

By the way, Vail buying Crested Butte is not the end of the world. But, when the end of the world does come, and it will, cockroaches will be playing softball using plastic bags as gloves and plastic bottles as bats while eating Twinkies, and I will be there to cover it.

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