With two outs in the fifth inning, trailing by seven runs and their high-powered offense sputtering, things looked bleak for the defending B-League champions Coors Light Chuggers in their semifinal coed softball game against Dart.
But as the rest of the B-League has learned over the past six seasons, Coors Light doesn’t give up. “When the going gets tough, the Chuggers get going,” said cocaptain, Mark Wallace.
The comeback happened so fast last Thursday, Dart didn’t know what hit them. Two-out Runs Batted In hits by Ross Chernin and Matt Bone were followed by an over-the-fence grand slam by Donnie House and just like that, in the space of four batters, the Dart lead of 12-5 was reduced to one run.
Dart scored one run in the 6th inning to expand the lead to two with the bottom of the Chuggers order coming up. Then the Chugger girls came through. Andrea Hughes singled off of shortstop Greg Cortez’s glove and following a fielder’s choice ground out, Christina Hefner drew a vital walk. After another fielder’s choice ground out, James Lewis drove in two runs with a triple over the right fielder’s head and then, running through a stop sign at third base, scored when the relay through sailed over the catcher’s head. The Chuggers’s defense then sat the Dart team down in order in the top of the 7th inning to earn a 14-13 victory and their fifth trip to the finals in six seasons, missing only the season they played in the A-League. Their opponent will be determined Monday night as Dart, Home Gas and Green Tech Solar all battle to see who gets a shot at dethroning Coors Light. The games are part of the playoffs for the 2014 Fall Adult Coed Softball League, put on by the Cayman Islands Little League Association at the Field of Dreams.
The Chuggers will be without Donnie House – who went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and five RBIs against Dart – this week because he’ll be away on a business trip. Chuggers captain Alan Markoff, who also went 3-for-3 against Dart, said the Chuggers will miss House.
“Donnie is one of the best shortstops in the league and he’s been on fire at the plate recently,” Markoff said. “But the way this team operates, someone different is always stepping up, and the heroes can come from unexpected sources.”
Markoff, who has been the Chuggers captain for 20 seasons now, said nothing surprises him with the current makeup of the team, the core of which has played together for more than 12 seasons.
“I’ve been a part of many teams in my life, but none as cohesive as this one,” he said. “We can sometimes struggle during the regular season, but come playoff time, we find another gear and start playing on a different plane.”
With the oldest average age in coed softball, the Chuggers looked like they were finally slipping into mediocrity this season – going only 6-5-1 in the regular season and finishing as the number four seed. But reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated and instead of mediocrity, the Chuggers are looking to cement their B-League dynasty with their fourth championship in five seasons and sixth overall.
Markoff said he knows that age and player turnover will eventually catch up with them.
“We already know that we’re losing one of our core women, Christina, who is leaving the island shortly after the season,” he said. “We already have four guys on the roster over 50 and four others at 45. But the great thing about slow-pitch softball is that defense and timely hitting, added to smart playing, can win games. That’s been the Chuggers formula for success.
“After our regular season performance, I’m as shocked as anyone to find us back in the championship game – from the winner’s bracket no less – but now that we’re there, I know the team is going to be focused on bringing home another title.”
They might be up there in age, but as the B-League knows all too well, you can’t count these old guys, and girls, out.
Aside from the B-League, the postseason picture has become clearer in the other divisions. The top flight is staging its title game on Monday night at 8:15 p.m. on field four, as the Tower Titans and KPMG A square off in game two of the A-League championship. Richard Campbell and the accountants crushed Baron Solomon and the marketing gurus, 21-8, last Thursday in game one.
In the C-League, regular season winners Intertrust Supernovas have advanced to the title game, which takes place Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on field three. Troy Brady and Intertrust cruised into the finals after convincing playoff wins over the PwC Sluggers, 27-7, and the Walkers Warriors, 11-0. Walkers have a chance at revenge if they can get by Bud Light in the semifinals on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. on field three. Rohan Marshall and the Bud Light crew lost their postseason opener to Walkers, 19-16, before eliminating PwC, 17-8, last week.