Big week for our seniors
If the weather cooperates, we’ll move closer to the end of our softball season Tuesday night.
The junior division ended Thursday, with PowerHouse Electric claiming the championship with 7-0 and 12-4 victories over Putt-Putt in the finals.
The senior division begins its tournament Tuesday. Wesolowski Insurance plays O.C. Hardware while Prep & Polish meets Unity Gardens in the openers at 5 p.m. The winners will collide at 6:30, as will the first-round losers.
By the end of the evening, the five-team league will have just three teams left – the winners bracket winner, the winners bracket loser and the losers bracket winner. A fifth team – South Bend Brew Werks – was knocked out in a play-in showdown with O.C. Hardware last Tuesday.
A single game is planned for Thursday between the losers bracket teams. The finals will be Tuesday, Aug. 22, accompanied by an end-of-season celebration. If this is confusing, look for a hand-made bracket elsewhere on this site.
Similar to the junior division championship, the seniors will play with announcers in the press box and a Dollar Day discount in the concession stand. In addition, pizza slices will be available from Holy Smokes. Ideally, we’ll have fans from all 10 Michiana Senior Softball League teams attending and enjoying the concessions.
All concessions and pizza slices will be $1 apiece.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate Tuesday, we’ll start the tournament with the same pairings Thursday and work with the managers to see if we finish it all on Aug. 22 or move the finals to Aug. 24.
This was a season of unprecedented parity in the senior division, thanks in large part to Steve Sporinsky’s care in filling openings on the five teams. Wesolowski earned the top seed with an 11-6-1 record, but Prep & Polish fell just a game short at 10-7-1, and Unity Gardens was within range at 10-9.
The two teams with the worst records still saw success and were competitive – O.C. entering the play-in at 7-11 and Brew Werks at 7-12.
A few years back, it wasn’t unusual for the championship team to post 22 or so wins with just a loss or two while other teams struggled. The quality is this league is more widespread now. All teams can show up with a legitimate hope of winning.
It’s been a good year. We need to start working now to make sure 2024 is just as good.
Fall ball update
Plans for Fall Ball are moving forward. Adam Kroemer is working on a joint league with the Mishawaka league, with games to be played at Normain Park. Neither their league nor ours had enough players to support a league of their own.
Adam is looking for players who are willing to manage any of the expected four teams. His contact email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe a banquet?
Adam Kroemer also is hoping to put together an end-of-year banquet for players who are interested. The goal is to have an event similar to past banquets – minus all the speeches and awards – sometime in the next two or three weeks.
Bob Torok has come up with a concept for a game that is aimed at keeping players active in their later years. He calls it “Squad Ball” and wants to try it out sometime this fall.
A simple version of the rules are these – participants are divided into three groups, which rotate between batting, the outfield and infield. Batters hit off a tee and earn points based on whether the ball lands in the outfield, the infield or is caught. No one has to run the bases or throw a ball.
Points accumulate for the squad until each of its batters has six swings. Then the batting squad moves to the outfield and the outfield squad moves to the infield while it’s the infield squad’s turn to bat.
Bob says the original idea of our league was to provide a way for older folks to enjoy softball without having to take a lot of physical risks. As the league became more popular, better players joined and the games became more competitive. And as we age, we all find our skills declining and we become less able to help teams win.
We would like to see Squad Ball keep our friends active longer. We envision this as a game that can be played in an hour or so, probably on a weekend morning and as a precursor to a lunch somewhere.
Bob White has an equally interesting idea. This one focuses on players who want to have productive batting practice before their regular games.
Players could meet an hour or so before game time and take a certain number of swings. Points would be scored with hits that meet certain criteria – down the left-field line, for example, or into the right-center gap. If hitters participated often enough, we could keep standings.
Another benefit: Players who regularly play positions where they don’t do a lot of fielding could position themselves where they see more fly balls or grounders, depending on the work they need.
This is a concept that could help players who just swing hard and don’t actually focus during other batting practices. It’s also an idea that could be refined as others offer ways the concept can be improved.
For example, the Byers Complex has had a standing invitation to open to our league early – if players would be willing to help install fences. If 10 volunteers helped with fences for 20 or so minutes, the fields would be ready, and those who volunteered could enjoy the early practice.
We have a lot of opportunities to make the league better. This is an idea that comes at no additional cost. If you like it, tell us. And please continue to bring ideas of your own.