The Coors Light Chuggers have been here before.
For the third straight season, the Chuggers won division two of the Cayman Islands Little League Fall Adult Co-ed Softball League. For the second straight season, they will play for the championship when they take on Master Batters on Monday, 5 November, at 6:30pm.
Over the last three seasons, the Chuggers have a dominating 28-8 regular season record, but that regular season success hasn’t translated to the playoffs. Last fall, the Chuggers lost by two runs in the semi-finals to the eventual champion Glovernauts and this past season, Coors Light lost by a run in the final to KPMG A.
Since winning their last championship with a 4-0 playoff run in the fall of 2007, the Chuggers have been mostly very good over the ensuing 10 seasons – seven of which were in the D-I ranks – winning more than 61 per cent of their regular season games.
However, in the play-offs, they’ve struggled over those years, going 8-9 and they’ve lost in the semi-finals three times and in the finals twice.
Time may be running out on the Chuggers, who have the oldest average age in the entire co-ed programme. Team captain Alan Markoff states what his team lacked in youth, it makes up for in experience.
“I think we calculated that we have something like 547 years of ball-playing experience on our team,” Markoff said. “We might not be the youngest of teams, but we do know how to play the game.”
This season, with a true double elimination format in the playoffs, the Chuggers have not lost in the postseason and will have two tries to win one game against the one-loss Master Batters, who have reeled off three straight wins after getting pounded by Maples in their opening play-off game.
The match-up seems to favour Coors Light (9-3 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs), who not only defeated the Master Batters (5-6-1 in the regular season and 3-1 in the playoffs) twice this season – a 21-3 thrashing on 22 August and a 19-17 win on 3 October – but haven’t lost to them since 2004. Markoff, however, states he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“They haven’t had much success against us for a long time, but most of the games we’ve played against each other have been close. We have had to come back against them a couple of times and when we played them last, we had to hold off a big late-game rally.
“They’re a good hitting team and if we don’t bring a good defence, we’ll be in for a struggle.”
Coors Light has been fairly good in this season’s playoffs, but have had some defensive lapses that have led to a lot of unearned runs. In its first game against Maples, the Chuggers blew an 8-4 lead late in the game by giving up five runs – on three two-out errors – in the sixth inning. But the Chuggers roared back with five runs in the bottom of the sixth, leading to a 13-11 victory.
Against Watercolours, it looked like the Chuggers were in for a long game when the first three opposing batters in the first inning scored. But some good defence got the Chuggers out of the inning without further damage and in the second inning, the Chuggers set a team record by scoring 10 runs and taking control of a game they eventually won 15-11.
Markoff states clutch hitting has saved Coors Light thus far.
“Big innings have saved us so far. We’ve scored more than half of our runs in the playoffs in two innings. That’s great, but I’d really like our offence to be a little more consistent throughout the game.”
Markoff went on to say the Chuggers need to put together their best game of the year on Monday and win the first game of the potential double header.
“Our team isn’t made for double headers. We need to win the first game and be done with it.”