Patrick Hosken | Staff Writer
When Chautauqua’s softball season kicked off at the end of June, players were often barefoot, enthusiastic and out to have a great time. Nearly a month later, not much has changed.
With the championship games only two weeks away for both the men’s and women’s leagues, the season is in full swing. The games, while always maintaining a recreational atmosphere, have begun to heat up.
At a stifling 84 degrees, Monday’s temperature may have encouraged some to stay inside and cool off. Softball players, however, came down to Sharpe Field for a pair of contests that saw the Interns beating the Fashionable Gentlemen 12-9 and the Slamming Cheetahs pouncing on the Arthritics 23-8.
The 5 p.m. game was a historic one, according to commissioner Andrew Zachry, because it was the first to use newly purchased bright neon yellow game balls.
Just before the opening pitch, the Interns crowded near the pitcher’s mound for a rallying battle cry that rang out on the lakeside field:
“We’re gonna gut ya, and we’re gonna probe ya!”
The first inning saw the Gents take the lead with a single run, but the Interns came on strong offensively, running through their entire batting order and scoring seven runs. The Interns kept their game tight out in the field, not allowing the Gents to catch up to their lead.
Out on the field, both teams, predominantly shirtless, kept the atmosphere friendly and enjoyable, with constant cheering from both benches. Interns player Lenny Fernandez cracked a homerun and came back to the bench shouting, “It’s because my mom was watching!”
From the stands, a lone female voice chimed back, “That’s my boy!”
The Gents also brought some strong defense after the first, keeping the Interns from scoring any more runs until late in the game, when they ran in five more. Despite some strong catch-up play by the Gents, the Interns took home the win by holding strong at 12-9.
At 6:30 p.m., the sun sat low, a breeze cooled things down and the Slamming Cheetahs took the field. The Arthritics lingered near the bench for about 10 minutes amidst a scramble for players because they had a shortage due to injuries and scheduling conflicts.
Once the game got underway, the Arthritics managed to get a run early on, though the Cheetahs quickly took the lead, racking up seven runs by the end of the second. The disjointed Arthritics suffered because of the lack of a cohesive team, with some temporary players recruited moments before the game.
In the final inning, the Cheetahs cemented their status as the superior team that day, bringing in a whopping 11 runs to finish off the Arthritics 23-8.
Though the heat persisted into Tuesday, it didn’t stop players in the women’s league from meeting for two games at Sharpe Field. The Belles served up league leaders the MOMS their first season loss at 10-8, while the Boomerangs bested the Chautauqua Lakers 13-11.
Clad in their powder-blue T-shirt uniforms, the MOMS’ offense came out strong, getting some good base hits and scoring three runs in the first. Though they allowed a few hits in the field, the MOMS defense held tight, preventing the Belles from catching up.
In the third, the Belles capitalized on some holes in the MOMS’ defense, scoring three runs, putting the game at 6-3 MOMS. Just as the Belles were catching up, MOMS player Tracy Barakat slammed a homerun, reinvigorating the team’s spirit. The celebration was short-lived, however, as the Belles came back with six big runs in the fifth and final inning, beating the MOMS 10-8.
The 6:30 p.m. game matched up the Boomerangs with the Chautauqua Lakers, teams who had only won one game each at that point. All that changed when the Lakers answered the Boomerangs’ five runs with eight, inspiring the Boomerangs to come back and score seven more late in the game. Though the Lakers managed to land two more, the damage was done, and the Boomerangs got their second win of the season, winning 13-11.
If these games are any indication, the MOMS and the Belles seem to be emerging as the dominant teams in the women’s league. In the men’s league, the Slugs are in a celebratory season, having just surpassed their 250th career win in early July. They sit poised with the Arthritics as the senior teams, though the younger Interns and Slamming Cheetahs are on the rise.
With the championship games in early August, the season is winding to an epic conclusion. Those games promise to be just as barefoot, enthusiastic and fun as the rest, and Sharpe Field is the place to find it all.