TELLURIDE – President Obama may have thrown the ceremonial first pitch at the All Star baseball game Tuesday night, but here in Telluride, lovers of America’s favorite pastime had their eyes trained elsewhere. The Town Park’s softball diamonds hosted the women’s league’s three (tied) top teams, who played a heated three-(mini)game series to determine which squad would enter the season-ending tournament in the number-one bracket.
In a style befitting the three equally matched teams, Tuesday evening’s three-game tie-breaker ended very much the way it started – in a tie. So Parks and Rec. commissioners dusted off the Telluride Town League sports’ rule book to take advantage of a little-known, rarely used tie-breaking tactic: the highly sophisticated coin-flip.
As it turned out, Sherry Brieske of the Brown Dog threw scissors to the Slammers’ Brigitte Kusuno’s paper, winning the equally-clever rock-paper-scissors method of determining which team would get to call the coin. Brieske proceeded to achieve celebrity softball status by calling tails for her team, which is how the coin landed, thus catapulting the Brown Dog to the first-place seed in the A league women’s tournament bracket. (This is, in an unhappy twist of fate for the Slammers, despite the fact that the Slammers beat the Brown Dog in the first game of the evening, 12-7.)
The Brown Dog went on to play fourth-ranked Cantina Chicks and Salsa Thursday night, while the Slammers and Mountain Limo also duked it out once more (results were unavailable as of press time.)
“It’s a flip of a coin,” joked Brieske following the Tuesday showdown, speaking of how she thinks the three A-league teams will rank in the upcoming tournament.
Tuesday’s “tie-breaker” was, by all accounts, just another illustration of how competitive these three A-league teams (Slammers, Brown Dog, and Mountain Limo) really are this season. For speed of play, all batters had one ball and one strike against them stepping into the box, which meant that nary a batter let many pitches pass without taking a crack. And the 45-minute game limit assured that these three teams couldn’t afford to waste any time getting warmed up in the first innings.
After the Slammers beat the Brown Dog in the first game of the evening, they went on to play Mountain Limo. As is typical of the well-oiled Mountain Limo machine, the Drivers stepped into the batter’s box in the first inning and walloped Slammer outfielders with seven runs scored. Meanwhile, the Slammers’ bats didn’t get started until the third, but by the end of the inning the score still held at a lopsided 9-4, Mountain Limo.
Slammer defense finally got a handle on the Drivers’ batters in the fourth, thanks to a quick three outs nailed by spectacular outfielder fly-ball catches from Lorraine Heidergott, Sara Spencer, and Rhea Depagter.
Propelled by a Ruth Homan dispatch to far left center field, the Drivers came back from their scoreless fourth inning with two RBIs in the fifth; those runs proved precious, since the Slammers’ Deb Neiberger, Jessica Blount, and Depagter sisters Rhea and Brigitte (Kusuno) got on a batting streak and knocked in six runs to end the fifth.
With still a few minutes left on the game clock, Mountain Limo reluctantly took the field for a sixth inning. A huge Heidergott slam put the tying run on third base, but the Slammers weren’t able to capitalize and lost the race by a run, 10-11.
By the third game, only Mountain Limo stood in line to take the all-out first place, having won their only other game Tuesday evening. Yet the Brown Dog, whose members had had time to recoup after their earlier loss to the Slammers, established early on that they weren’t about to be the only team shut-out of this improvised tie-breaker tournament. Thanks to big hits and audacious base running from Michael Arnold, Karen “Roy” Mann, and Brandie Myers, by the fourth inning the Brown Dog had made beating Mountain Limo look like child’s play.
Anyone familiar with women’s A-league softball knows that beating Mountain Limo is, however, no small feat. Drivers Melissa Garvey and Heather Barber got things started for Driver offense late in the game, but their efforts proved too little, too late. Brown Dog took the win 10-6.
The Brown Dog win, incidentally, left spectators scratching their heads. Once again, these three teams were tied with the same record at the end of what was to be a tie-breaking evening. As per Parks and Rec. town league softball rules, the ranking then went to the best defensive team; or, in other words, the team that had allowed the least runs scored.
And yet again, a tie: Both the Slammers and the Brown Dog allowed 18 runs during the evening (Mountain Limo, meanwhile, allowed 20.)
So, to recap: The Slammers beat the Brown Dog. The Brown Dog beat Mountain Limo. Mountain Limo beat the Slammers. The Slammers and the Brown Dog tied for least runs allowed. Brown Dog’s Brieske called scissors then tails, and voila! The Brown Dog was seeded first, the Slammers second, and Mountain Limo third.
Got it? For further clarification on what, exactly, is going on in the women’s softball A league, just visit the sidelines of the upcoming tournament games, taking place next Tuesday and Thursday.