Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. It was the Acers’ season.
There was some juggling around in the beginning, when the Blue Sox were in the lead for a while, and then it looked as if the undefeated Champs were going to make their move, but basically, the Acers had it, inching ahead all the way to the end.
Last week was the final game in the Gilpin County Adult Co-ed Softball League regular season and the Acers came out on top with 12 wins and 2 losses, but they weren’t celebrating just yet.
2017 Final Standings
Blue Sox- 10-6
For the last two years in a row, even though the Acers were at the top of the league at the end of the season, the Champs came back in the tournament to reclaim the trophy and the name.
But it didn’t happen this year.
Perhaps it was the Acers’ mantra, “Not again, not again,” that turned the tables in the tournament.
Perhaps it was that the Champs gave all they had in Saturday’s games, winning all of their games and trouncing the Acers, 15-4, in their match.
Saturday’s games were played under dark skies and intermittent rain, but energy was high throughout the five games. When the teams showed up on Sunday, it was to be either a three-game or four-game finish, the winners having to win by two games.
Sunday dawned almost sunny for a while, but then the field became puddled. The Champs beat the Blue Sox, 12-3, and the Acers beat Ned’s, putting the Acers against the Blue Sox in the loser’s bracket.
The Acers won and the competition was on, with the two teams facing off in the semi-championships.
At this point, the Champs were undefeated in the tournament. It would take two consecutive wins for the Acers to take it all.
First, they had to beat the Champs once. They went up to the bat in the first inning and gained a 5-1 lead and hope gleamed in their eyes. If only they could hang in there. Every swing was meant to count and in the second inning, consecutive strong hits put people on base and subsequent hitters brought them home, ending the inning with an 11-1 score.
The Acers’ defense was hot, making great horizontal catches, bullets to first. They gained another run that wasn’t answered in the third inning, did nothing in the fourth and anti-climactically, won the game in the fifth inning because of the 10-run rule after five.
There was not much celebration in the dugout; it was too tense. The Acers knew they had to do it again and this is where the Champs usually came out hitting.
Team manager Len Cortez told the Acers, “Just start out like we did last time.” Not quite, but then Len was batted in and the first inning ended with the Acers up 1-0. In the second inning, two more runs batted in and they were up by three. The Champs were having a tough time, getting it going, lots of fly outs coming off wet bats and balls.
It was 6-0 in the third. Finally, the Champs scored a couple in the fourth. Acres got up to 9 in the fifth and the Champs made their move, bringing it to a 9-6 score, enough to quiet the chatter for awhile.
All throughout the tournament, the two teams carried on good-natured banter, which defined the tone of the season; more fun than drama.
The sixth inning ended with a 10-8 score. Acers went scoreless and it was all up to the Champs to bring in three runs. It didn’t happen and the mighty Champs were brought down.
As the Acers claimed the trophy, which kept falling apart, they wanted to know if the Champs were going to change their names. “Heck no,” said the Champs. “We still have more wins than the Acers.
They only have one championship, we have three.”
Len Cortez said his team won because of the team effort. “We picked it up when we needed to. Yesterday was tough; they handed it to us, but now we are the new Champs.”
(Originally published in the August 3, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)