The fast-pitch softball season is the most open one in years because Jose’s Escape Pirates are not dominating as usual. At least they’ve still got Johnny Johnson Sr, a Pirates stalwart. He said: ‘We’ve added a few new players, but in a sense they’re old players because they played with us last year.’
He feels the main reason Pirates are struggling this season is because the rule over pitching action has been changed. In fast pitch this season pitchers can no longer do ‘windmill’ actions, they have to pitch much slower with gentle underarms. It seems a mockery of the term ‘fast-pitch’ and has negated the Pirates strength because their pitchers, brothers Rupert and Rudolf Whittaker were virtually unplayable.
‘The Whittakers get a lot more speed with windmill than the modified style,’ Johnson groaned. ‘Right now the Old Providence Colombians are on top and they’re saying that the Pirates are back where they belong.’
Pirates now rely on new pitcher Lucio Guillermo Archbold. The Colombian has been on the island nearly two years. He played softball for Old Town in Providence in his homeland. Archbold said: ‘The centre fielders are messing my game up, but that is sport. At least we’re having a good game today.’
Pirates turned their fortunes around in beating Latinos 15-8 at the Field of Dreams on Sunday in their first victory in four matches. At least this league can boast it is truly a family orientated one because there are three father-son pairings in the league. Curiously, all the sons have the same names as their dads. Johnson Jr plays for Colombia.
Rupert Whittaker and Lawrence Taylor both have sons playing fast-pitch for opposing teams.
Johnson Jr is 20 and an aspiring Major Baseball League pitcher. He has been in college in Indiana on a baseball scholarship and still harbours hopes of making it as a pro. The 6ft 3in Johnson can throw at 90mph and has a trial lined up in July with a Canadian team.
Pirates batter Hilton Dixon was one of several of his team-mates who hit a home run. ‘It gave me a lot of satifaction,’ he said. ‘Today was my first game of the season. We’re not doing too well but it’s early and we haven’t practiced much yet.’ Denis Martinez was another Pirate who had a good game with the bat and in the field.
Latinos’ big hitter was Luis Clarke who got his side’s only home run. ‘I’m pleased with my hit but losing is part of the game, you can’t win every time. I’m having a good season personally and Colombia is a pretty good team. We have some hard batters and soon we’ll have a surprise from Cuba. We’ll definitely have a chance of winning the championship then.’
Pirates player-coach Marlon Thomas said: ‘We’re not doing so well because instead of fast-pitch we’re playing modified. This season we don’t really have any established modified pitchers and the Whittakers cannot adapt effectively. I think offensively too, we’re not as sound as we were last year, but hopefully we should pick up in the next couple of games.’
Old Providence is leading the three team league, unbeaten in four matches. Pirates are all Nicaraguans and Latinos are a mixture of Colombians and Nicaraguans. Thomas feels that having sons playing in the league helps the bonding process. ‘It’s very good and helps a lot in that sense. The people who come out and watch the games make positive comments about that. It’s good for the league and we hope to have a fourth side in the next couple of weeks. Latinos keep saying they’re getting some brilliant Cubans in soon but I’m not worried, it’ll make the league a lot more competitive if they do and I’m looking forward to that.
‘Finally, I would like to thank all our sponsors, particularly the league’s sponsors Westin Casuarina Resort, we’re really appreciative of their pitching in of funds. I also want to thank some of the other sponsors, like Jose’s Escape, Greenlight, CMB, Lee’s Office Products, Donald’s Video Rental, Cayman Auto Diagnostic Clinic and Deutsche Bank.