The Americo Chuggers finished the regular season on a strong note in prepa-rations for the play-offs, with a 15-9 victory over the Master Batters in co-ed softball action at the Field of Dreams Thursday.
Combined with a 26-2 drubbing of Fortis just before the Christmas break, Americo finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak, during which they outscored opponents 121-27.
On Thursday, William Foster, J.B. Lovinggood and Steve Walsh all hit three-run home runs to pace the Chuggers offence.
Still, Coach Alan Markoff was not satisfied.
‘I think we were a little flat after the long holiday lay-off,’ he said. ‘We need to be better prepared for the play-offs.’
The Chuggers have good reason to worry about the play-offs, based on recent history.
Despite a combined 32-7 record over the past three regular seasons, Americo is only 1-3 in the play-offs during that time span, with its only victory coming by forfeit.
‘We’re like the Atlanta Braves of co-ed softball,’ said Markoff. ‘We need to be more like the Florida Marlins.’
Americo has dominated in many of its games this season, thanks largely to a high-powered offence that scored 300 runs for an av-erage of more than 23 runs per game.
Defensively, however, the Chuggers have been inconsistent, and they lost three of the four games in which they gave up ten or more runs.
‘We made six errors against the Master Batters, and we have to do better than that,’ said Coach Markoff. ‘We were lucky Becca Bernard bailed us out of a possible big inning with two outfield put-outs in the fourth, when we were only up by two runs.’
After having six players miss games with injuries – including Emily Schutt, who missed her final game with the team against Fortis after hurting her shoulder cutting a bagel – Americo heads into the play-offs healthy, with the exception of Rachel Smyth, who has been slowed down with a broken tail bone.
‘The Christmas break gave us a chance to heal, but it also made us a little rusty,’ said Markoff. ‘We’ve got to be at our best form if we’re going to have any success in the play-offs.’
The fifth through twelfth place teams in the league will start the play-offs this week.
Americo, along with the other top four teams, have a bye in the first round, and will begin the play-offs next week.