Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Co-ed Kickball: Season 6 (Almost) Recap

It's been kind of a crazy season in kickball. Most nights, we have barely enough women to meet the minimum (three) and field a legal team, which has occasionally forced me to sit out while Amber goes out and plays. (We can't bring Marla out for every game. And it's getting even harder now that she's more mobile.) But still, if you count preseason games (I do) and playoff games, I still got 8 games, just like last season. That's actually the ideal number, I think.

Last season, we finished barely over .500 (7-5), but caught some breaks, and had a 9th inning rally in the championship game to win the league. This season, if you count the preseason game and Monday's playoff game, our team's record is 7-2-2 - and that even includes one forfeit loss!

Now...about those ties. Our games are becoming increasingly low scoring, mostly due to improved defense. Against most teams, if you kick a ball into the outfield, it will be caught, so pretty much your only chance offensively is to play 'small ball' - bunts and sacrifices. We've been doing it that way (me especially) for a while now, but now everyone is doing it. And against a good team, you'll be fortunate to score more than two runs in a game. And that results in ties. We had our first two ties ever, this season. We're like a soccer league now! (Regular season games can go to a 10th inning, but not an 11th inning.) I think one thing the town should consider to promote offense is reducing the number of outfielders from four to three to help open things up a bit. A kickball doesn't carry like a softball does.

So, you're playing a team that bunts well, and is virtually guaranteed to get first and second with no outs. How do you defend? Well...basically it comes down to, well, not throwing the ball away. Offensively, many of our runs have come when the throw to first goes haywire, allowing someone else to score from second, for instance. Many times, the best play is to eat the ball, load the bases, and try to get the force out at home next batter. It seems like we've been doing that a lot lately; in fact, in our playoff game on Monday, the game ended when the other team's would-be tying run was called out at home. (Exciting!) When a runner is on third with less than two outs, is probably when funky pitching is most important: keeping the kicker off balance and making it harder for them to kick one into the outfield for an automatic sacrifice fly. It also helps to have fielders with strong arms that can fire the ball to home plate in a hurry.

The stats from this season (prior to tonight's game):

Season batting: 18 H in 24 AB (.750), 1 RBI, 9 R, 1 2B, 0 BB/K. A sizeable improvement from last season's .645 average. And, I got a double! Yay! (The double came as a result of a bunt almost going foul. The other team waited for it to roll foul, but it never did, and while they stood there watching it, I ran to second.)

Season pitching: 7 starts, 5-1-1 record, 1.51 ERA (10 ER in 59.2), 3 K, 4 BB (3 IBB). Another career low ERA...for now. That could change tonight. (Our opponent in the championship game is the #1 seed, and the only team that has beaten us on the field this season.) And the days of 10+ strikeout seasons are long gone due to the smaller strike zone, but at least I got three this season. (All of those came in one game. Pretty much the only way to get a strikeout anymore is to pitch fast, with spin, and hope they're not ready for it.)

I'll add an update to this post after the game is over. I think our odds of repeating as champions tonight are about 50/50. Goooo team!

UPDATE 10:30p: We lost. Totally jinxed us with the "career low ERA...for now!" comment. But I did finish with a career high batting average, at least.

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