Accent the positivity, eliminate the negativity
by Than Acuff
If I had a nickel for every time someone said, “We were close to beating Pitas,” I’d have, well, a dime. One team that will not be saying that to me is Elevate, as they crumbled under the Meatsticks’ onslaught Tuesday night at Gothic field.
Elevate claims that when they first joined the league four years ago, I roasted them in the press and now look where they are. They turned hot toward the close of the regular season, climbing into the fourth seed for the playoffs and opened the post-season with a 16-3 win over the Whetstoners. And with their first test of legitimacy passed, they got their next big test against Pitas.
And it was a beast of a test, like the AP US history final I took junior year of high school that made up half of my grade.
I ended up dropping from a B+ to a C- in that class that year (I can’t be bothered with the ramifications of Adlai Stevenson’s nomination as the Democratic candidate for president two times in a row) and let’s just say Elevate was dropped from a B+ to a C- as well after bombing their game against Pitas as badly as I bombed my final.
As always, I’m searching for a good upset and the thought was that Pitas would overlook Elevate and Elevate would rise to the challenge to pull off said upset.
But Pitas player/manager Drew Stichter wrecked it all for me when he reminded his team prior to the game, “These guys are good.”
And they are, but just not that night.
For a brief moment in time, say the first inning and a half, things were working in Elevate’s favor.
CJ Hoover opened the scoring when he drove a ball to the gap in right field and got on his horse bound for third. An uncharacteristic decision error by Pitas sent a long toss off target to third trying to throw him out and the ball squirted loose and Hoover scored.
Elevate then held Pitas to just two runs in the bottom of the first inning as the top of their batting order went two for five with only Stichter doing the damage with a two-run home run.
Elevate then tied it up in the top of the second inning when Spencer Davis crushed a solo shot on a rope over center and it appeared that Elevate had some pop in their bat and some hop in their step.
The one problem is, even if you can hold the top of Pitas’ batting order to a scant few runs, there’s still the middle and bottom of the batting order to deal with. For example, they’ve got Roland Mason—who has numerous local softball titles to his name and played collegiate baseball—batting seventh.
Jessica Johnson started off their first rally of the game with a single, Mason followed with a single and while Jared Martin pulled off a shoestring grab at third to deny a RBI base hit, Cody Sexe was next and he smacked a RBI double off the fence.
Callie Jo followed with a RBI hit and while textbook relay by Elevate nailed a Pitas runner heading home, Scott Sanders and Heather Duryea each pushed runs home with hits, a mishit by Stichter turned into a RBI double and Emily Crooks had Pitas up 8-2 with a single to left.
Pitas cooled off the next two innings, scoring just two runs but Elevate was equally chill as well, not scoring any. If you’re going to beat Pitas, you got to score during innings when they don’t.
The gut punch from Pitas came in the fifth inning when Pitas turned a 1-6-3 double play in the top of the inning and then tacked on five more runs in the bottom.
Sanders doubled and scored on a single by Rhett Yarbrough. Crooks singled and scored, a double had two runners on and Thomas Mclean stepped to the plate to jack a three-run shot for an 18-2 Pitas’ lead.
Pitas then pulled off another double play in the top of the sixth inning, sealing the Elevate loss for good and sending them packing to the loser’s bracket.
The loser’s bracket is now stuffed with talented teams and that will be a dogfight as the Avalanche, the Whetstoners and Elevate, to name a few, are all now playing with their backs against the wall. But, as NCAA Division I slalom champion, U.S. slalom national champion, Olympian and recently retired U.S. Ski Team member David Chodounsky once said, “Don’t give up, it’s a grind sometimes. It sounds cheesy but it’s true. If you really love something get after it but you have to keep it fun and learn how to deal with failure. It’s not success that keeps you going, it’s how you deal with failure and move on because it will happen.”