“The worst night of the year.” We often reflect on this quote when we ponder the end of yet another softball season. For those of us who count on the camaraderie, competition, and fun of playing softball, the end of the season makes you think about the long nine months till the next season starts. With a high level of expectation having clawed our way back to the championship, Brandywine was hoping to extend the season one more night, and go for the crown. Unfortunately, a team that seemed to have our number all season had other ideas, and for the fourth time this year, Goshen found a way to shut us down, and capture the Church Athletic League crown for the 2018 season. In reality, they truly deserved to win, as they proved to be a huge run-producing powerhouse against the entire league. So we extend our sincere congratulations to Team Goshen. Still, we take a moment to think about what could have been, and in reality how close we came to pulling it off, despite our first ever, losing record!
With nearly a two week layoff, BVBC and Goshen were finally able to wrap up the 2018 season as we met in the championship round. The task was tall, but simple: win one game, and force a winner-take-all championship. With nearly all our players available, BVBC was optimistic we had the lineup to complete the task. As the game began on Monday night, August, 6th, it sure looked like Brandywine came prepared for the fight! We quickly got on the board in the first, scoring three runs off a Homerun from Josh Shannon (2-2, 2B, HR, 3RBI). Josh’s monster shot into the right field woods fueled our optimism that this could be our night! Setting up Josh was leadoff hitter Mikey Carroll (2-3, 2-1B), and Mitch Ruoff (1-3, 1B) who hit back-to-back singles. With our quick 3 run lead, Brandywine sent a message to Goshen, limiting them to just one run in the first two innings! This was largely in part to great pitching from Josh, and great defense from Joe Scalia at shortstop. Joe’s defensive skills were on display in the bottom of the second, when he caught a low-liner, and quickly threw to first to catch the runner and secure a double play. So into the third, Brandywine still held on to a 3-1 lead, hoping we could rekindle our offensive groove.
Unfortunately for BVBC, we gave up five runs to Goshen in the bottom of the third, surrendering our lead. Still, only trailing 6-3 into the fourth, we never doubted our ability to fight back. Never doubting though, is not enough; our offensive reality was that BVBC sent three up and three down in three consecutive innings (2-4)! This is no way to win a slow-pitch softball game. Yet still, we kept it close, and heading into the fifth trailing 7-3, we were hopeful to step out of our funk. Things began to look up for us in the top of the fifth. With a one out double from Josh, Joe Scalia (2-2, 2-1B, RBI) stepped up to the plate and hit a RBI single. With two outs, Tim Cura (1-2, 1B) was next, hitting a bloop single into short left-center. When Mark Horne (0-1, BB) got on board with a walk, the two out bases loaded threat looked like the beginning of a two out rally, but it was not meant to be, as our deep hits seemed to always find the Goshen defender.
Despite our single run in the top of the fifth, Goshen was undaunted and racked up five more runs in the bottom set, claiming a 12-4 lead. The question remained, could we finally turn the corner on our offense and put together a comeback over the final two innings? We quickly realized the answer was no, as once again we were three up and three down in the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, despite stellar plays from the outfield, which included an amazing catch from Mike Figueroa in right-center and the same from Steve Montgomery in left, we still surrendered three more runs to Goshen. A 15-4 deficit in our final chance in the seventh, proved to be a task we were simply not up to. Despite solid cracks of the bat from the bottom of the lineup, we just kept finding Goshen’s gloves instead of grass. Just like that, our season ended with a 15-4 loss.
Now, as I like to frequently say, I am the perpetual optimist! Sure, its disappointing to not end the season with a pair of wins. But some might say it was truly amazing for us to even be in this position! 2018 proved to be a challenging year. In the first half of our season, just securing 9 or 10 players proved problematic. This challenge largely influenced our 0-4 start to the season. In fact, our first 2018 win did not occur till June 26th! That was 11 months since our last win back in 2017!! Despite this losing record, it was apparent, that our team had the talent. and we certainly had the determination. In that final week of June, BVBC found our winning ways, securing three consecutive victories. Our one run loss to Goshen to conclude the regular season sent a message that Brandywine would be a force to reckon with in the playoffs. This proved to be true, as we edged out Trinity in our first game and later eliminated the Four-time champs. So, without doubt, it is safe to say that BVBC had a solid team, and 2018 will still go down as a good season.
Thanks to all our guys and our supportive families who make this such a fun game to play year after year. Our fans are always appreciated, braving the humidity, the gnats and mosquitoes, and of course the occasional foul balls. Thanks to Russ and Elam UMC who dedicate their time and efforts to our league. Where folks can enjoy Christian fellowship and competition. Have a safe and restful off-season, I hope to see everyone back for 2019!