By Scott Prater
Players Pool capped an impressive run through the post-season tournament Aug. 7, racking up 25 base hits in a 22-2 win over 4th Space Operations Squadron in the Schriever Intramural Softball championship game.
The team, made up of players whose squadrons were too small to field a team, averaged more than 20 runs per game during its playoff drive.
“I don’t think we were even challenged really,” said Players Pool captain Craig Thompson. “With our full team out here and with everybody hitting, we’re a pretty tough team to beat.”
The team ended the regular season tied with defending champion 4th SOPS and 2nd SOPS, but pulled out all its stops during the tournament.
“We have a lot of leaders on this team and we got hot at the right time,” said Players Pool pitcher David Sanders. “That’s not always a good combination, but we gelled pretty well.”
The team caught fire early, cranking out 10 hits and nine runs in the first inning. Sanders followed by inducing three pop flies in the bottom half of the inning, holding 4th SOPS to one run.
Then the fireworks began again in the second, when Players Pool added another 13 hits and 12 runs.
Darren Pearson ignited 4th SOPS comeback bid when he led off the second inning by smashing a line-drive double off the fence in left field.
But, the rally was short lived.
Two batters later, Sanders scooped up a sharp grounder and threw to Troy Mitchell, who stepped on second base and completed a double play with a rocket to first. On the very next pitch, Thompson took a would-be base hit away from a 4th SOPS hitter and threw over to first to end the inning and strand Pearson at third base.
4th SOPS had one more chance to keep itself in the game in the third inning when Kenny Smith smoked his second hit of the game and scored his second run, but that was all the scoring 4th SOPS could manage and the game ended by virtue of the 20-run mercy rule.
4th SOPS players fought valiantly, and the loss didn’t seem to spoil a season that saw them win 15 games. The team finished the regular season with 11 wins and took the top seed heading into the tournament. Both of its double-elimination tournament losses came at the hand of Players Pool.
“We were the defending champs and we made it to the championship game again this year,” said team captain Myron Bryant. “We’re happy where we finished. We’re the number one ‘squadron’ team on base.”
Meanwhile Thompson credited Sanders for pitching a gem of game and David Hagar for his hitting and defensive play at third base. Sanders collected three hits while Dan Lampi went 4-for-4 at the plate with a triple, a double and two RBIs.
Lampi was most impressed with how his teammates hung together throughout the season, despite the fact that they came from so many different squadrons.
“Our camaraderie was great,” We didn’t have unit pride, but the sport brought us together and we were able to find some pride as a team.”