Friday, September 18, 2020

Elevate closes out regular season with 17-7 win

Fires, protests, a pandemic—and the playoffs

by Than Acuff

That’s one creepy-ass sun in the evening sky. Red Dawn? How bout Red Dusk.

Contact Hollywood for Red Dawn sequel.

Red Dusk, Wolverines Reborn.

(Cue the movie trailer voice)

Thirty years later and the United States of America is under attack, again. But this time it’s coming from inside the house, the White House.

Now I could go on and on with an entire screenplay but it was pointed out to me again, albeit very nicely, that I spend a lot of time when writing about softball, not writing about softball, so… let’s get to the game. Let’s just say it would be an awesome movie and in a surreal twist of fate, Michael Moore will be cast to play the president. I mean they’re doing a third Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, how could Hollywood say no to…Red Dusk, Wolverines Reborn.

Tuesday night Elevate faced the Whetstoners and it was like watching the passing of the torch to the next local softball team that thrives on a delicate mix of talent and chemistry.

The Whetstoners were that team for so long but their time may have come and gone while Elevate is on a yearlong mission building around a core of camaraderie with some additional flecks of talent. Plus, they finished the regular season last year in first place only to flame out in the post-season, so there’s that.

The Whetstoners arrived to Gothic Field two players short of a full squad against Elevate but that certainly didn’t affect them in the opening innings of the game.

Meanwhile, Elevate had pretty much punched their ticket to the playoffs as the third of three teams to make it into the COVID-shortened post-season. But, there’s still the need to generate de mojo heading into the playoffs so there was that incentive for them, that and the aforementioned flame-out.

Nevertheless, the Whetstoners were in their classic Whetstoner mode to open. While Elevate shortstop CJ Hoover did turn a 6-3 double play to quash the initial Whetstoner uprising in the top of the first inning, the Whetstoner defense held Elevate to two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to some outstanding work by Heather Culley in left field.

The Whetstoners came right back in the top of the second inning as Chris Durante led off with a single, moved to third on a double from Pete Basile and then both scored when Culley cracked a two-RBI single, causing one Elevate outfielder to pee her pants. Now I wouldn’t normally point that out but she did, so I will, just to set the scene. A couple of more Whetstoner base hits loaded the bases and Michele Fitzgerald came through with a two-RBI single for a 4-2 Whetstoner lead.

Basile and Jordan Willoford tacked on two more Whetstoner runs through the next two innings with RBI base hits and the Whetstoners were grooving with a 6-2 lead through four and a half innings.

But then Liz Wigginton joined her Elevate teammates and when she chased down a pop-up in shallow right field to make the grab, the game shifted. That and the fact that the Whetstoners finally got two more players to make a full squad, which threw their energy into slight disarray.

Elevate seized on the shift to start generating things the Elevate way. Brent Chambers led off with a triple and scored on a single from Heather Theiss. Wigginton, with her family in attendance, backed her defense with some offense to single and score on a two-RBI triple from Christian Allen. Durante did stem Elevate’s rise temporarily when he gunned down a runner at home plate but Jared Martin doubled and Jess Johnson scored two more Elevators with a base hit for a 7-6 Elevate lead.

From that moment on it was all Elevate, all day. Theiss started the next rally off with a two-RBI single, Sam Kay came off the bench to smash a two-run home run over the right field fence, Martin and Johnson tapped two more RBI base hits and Becca Pavlik capped it off with a sacrifice fly RBI and a 15-7 Elevate lead heading into the sixth inning.

Elevate catcher Gage Halston chased down a pop foul to add insult to the Whetstoners’ injury while Allen connected for another two-RBI base hit for a 17-7 Elevate lead.

Durante provided one more defensive highlight for the fans when he smothered a hot grounder and fired to second base while falling down for the force out, proving the Whetstoners’ stick had a little pluck left, but no peck as Elevate closed out the 17-7 win.

Playoffs are a one-night deal this year with the top three teams the only ones getting a shot at the title in both leagues but that happened Wednesday, August 19 (as in yesterday) and the Tuesday/Thursday playoffs happen Thursday, August 20 at Gothic Field starting at 5:15 p.m. So you can still make that and then read about it, and other things, next week.

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