Softball Report, June 1 & June 8 » A lose and a win
A Double Update
by Joe Thielen, manager, Eastside Hill Nightcrawlers
Nightcrawler fans everywhere may have missed last week’s installment of our weekly updates. This was not because there was no game. Far from it. Once again, our liberal media took a vacation and failed to report the real news. That’s right. Sportswriter Joe Thielen, a self-described liberal (who recently admitted to thoroughly ‘appreciating’ the writings of Friedrich Engels) took a five day vacation immediately following last week’s game. Mr. Thielen has missed several key stories in the past, but, as a member of the “drive-by media,” promises to make it up to you when he has news he actually wants to report.
Last week, June 1st, was the Nightcrawlers’ 3rd loss, technically because of forfeit. The Nightcrawlers experienced a Bermuda Triangle week, which resulted in a shorthanded team, and sadly, forfeited the game due to an absence of ladies. The official score was 1-0. Scheels helped the team out by giving one of their ladies to fill in, but even then, the Nightcrawlers were shut out, and lost the game 9-0 (unofficially). ”This made me sad,” said manager Joe Thielen, “and it was only after a long trip away from Wisconsin that I was able to see the full picture of what it means to be a Nightcrawler.”
June 8th would be different. After an extended and rainy 12 innings of play, the Nightcrawlers finally claimed their first victory of the season. The game was highlighted by the arrival of 3 new Lady Nightcrawlers in Kasey Schmidt, Rachael Bejin, and Kristi Dussett.
Middle Reliever Josh Zeug stepped up to the mound to cover the Nightcrawlers in a real pinch. Starter Ken Symanski had contracted a bout of the Rocking Pneumonia, and backup pitcher Kris Lyberg was suffering from Boogie Fever. After a shaky, three-run first inning, the Nightcrawlers defense settled in behind Zeug. The defense would give up another run in the 4th, allow three runs in the 6th, and a solo home run to left field in the 7th.
The Nightcrawler defense extended the life of the evening several times, and the team gave up a season low in runs. The infield played impeccably throughout the game, turning one double play and making several solid defensive stops on hard-hit ground balls. Early in the game, Mark Schueller caught an opposing base-runner off-guard by completing a force-out from left-center field to third base. Shortstop Doug Loechner-Wright saved at least two runs with an acrobatic dive to snag a line drive, pulling the Nightcrawlers out of a bases loaded jam in the 8th. Most heroically, Andy Plank ended the 11th inning with a throw from left field to home to stop the go-ahead run at the plate.
The Nightcrawlers once again played some classic small-ball, starting in the 2nd inning with a sacrifice grounder by Sara Thielen to move Mark Schueller home from third base. Scoring would not resume until the 6th inning, when the team scored five runs. All three of the rookie Lady Nightcrawlers would score in the inning.
The Nightcrawler offense picked up again in the bottom of the 7th. Kelly Frasier would start the frame off with a single. Joe Thielen hit a weak ground ball to first base, but was able to beat the throw to the bag, advancing Frasier to third. Kristi Dussett followed up with a hard-hit ball that drove in Frasier and moved Thielen to second base. Rookie Kasey Schmidt followed up with a groundball that scored Thielen, tying the game and forcing extra innings. Sadly, Plank was not able to continue the scoring, grounding out to end the frame. His heroics would come later.
Extra innings became arduous and grueling for members on all sides. Joe Thielen finished out the game in right center with a pulled upper quad, and Kristi Dussett pressed on at first base with a sprained foot. Strong defense dominated the spare frames until the bottom of the 12th. Thielen started things off with a one-out, bloop single. Dussett drew a walk, followed by a hit up the middle from Kasey Schmidt, loading the bases. Andy Plank then came through in classic old-school fashion, hitting a sacrifice fly to right field for the game-winning RBI. Members in the crowd remarked on the startling resemblance Plank had to Gene Larkin in the 1991 World Series. As the game ended, pitcher Josh Zeug was seen hugging Joe Thielen behind home plate. Awkwardly.
Next week, the Nightcrawlers face a formidable opponent in Valleybrook Church at 8 p.m. Thielen spoke optimistically after the game. “I’m thinking about this self-quoting thing, and it really seems to work to tie the story together,” Thielen wistfully remarked, “This game seems like one of those that turns the tide for the season. We needed the shot in the arm that the new Lady Nightcrawlers provided tonight. I think the team we’ve got can do some real damage down the stretch and hopefully take it into the postseason. All the pieces are in place.”
Joe Thielen is the manager of the Eastside Hill softball team, and actually does enjoy the writings of Friedrich Engels, employing the philosophies quite liberally in the game of slowpitch co-ed softball.