Monday, August 8, 2011

Not Illegal, but Frowned Upon Part 1

Thanks a lot, bin Laden.

CAN Softball Tournament Part 1

So this past weekend was the Capital Alumni Network league-wide softball tournament. It was, basically, ridiculous.

I may have talked about it briefly last week, but this weekend was the most fun I've had in a long, long time. Bruised/cracked rib, notwithstanding (more on that later).

It all started Friday night with Katie's birthday at Public Bar on 18th St. downtown. I met one of the other Katies (yes, there are many -- three we regularly interact with, in fact) at Farragut North, and we walked over to Public around 6 p.m. Now, going into the night, we learned our first softball game in the tournament was scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Taking into account checking in with tournament officials and warming up, that meant we needed to meet by 6 a.m. at the field.

The tournament is held at the Goddard Softball Complex, near NASA. It's at least a 45-minute drive from my apartment. So I woke up at 4:30 on Saturday morning. Shoot me in the face.

So what did I do? I naturally stayed out until past midnight on Friday, and I didn't get to sleep until 2:30 a.m.

Katie's party was great fun, as always, and I'd never been to Public before. It's pretty awesome. It has a great roof-top patio, which was luckily quite pleasant on Friday despite it being August in a swamp environment. Evan made the wise decision to check out by 9 p.m., given the ridiculous wake-up call just a few hours away.

Major props to Lindsey and Carnell for not even showing up until after 10 p.m., knowing full well they had to wake up just more than six hours later. Although one of them was more successful than the other. More on that later haha.

Once midnight rolled around, I knew it was time for me to begin my trek home. I got to the Dupont station, and the escalators were out. Now. If you're unaware, the street escalators at Dupont are some of the longest escalators I've ever seen -- the kind where you get vertigo when you have to walk down because of how high up you are.

Multiply that by several drinks, and I'm just glad I arrived at the bottom of my own volition and not due to gravity.

I got on my train and tried not to fall asleep. The train arrived at the Bethesda station, where a station operator got on and announced, "if you stay on this train, you will be going back downtown."

Ah, shit. That's no good. Apparently all red line stations between Bethesda and Rockville were closed and out of service. I made my way upstairs to the street to find a fleet of shuttle buses waiting for the passengers. Except there are no signs on them, and they're not all going to the same stations. I got on one bus, and someone got on and announced, "if you're not going to Grosvenor or White Flint (I wasn't) you shouldn't be on this shuttle."

Mother of God.

Signs. Invest in them. Let us know where to go before we get on the damn buses.

I finally found the correct bus, and ended up at the Rockville station. I asked the driver, "aren't you going to go to Shady Grove, too?" He said, "No, you need to go wait on a train to get there."

It was 1:30 in the morning at that point. Train service isn't exactly prompt or frequent at that time of night. I could not envision myself waiting on a train to ride one stop. So I just hopped in a cab and got to my car.

I finally got in bed by 2:30, and set my alarm for my brief two-hour nap. The poor dog was so confused. She normally greets me all happy and waggly when my alarm starts going off. Saturday morning, at 4:30, she was still on the couch, looking at me with half-closed, sleep-filled eyes, as if to say, "you have got to be outside your damn mind."

Hard to argue with that.

After I took her outside, I got in the shower. Upon getting out of the shower, I see a missed call and a frantic text from Lindsey. Apparently Carnell is not quite as cut out for the rock-and-roll lifestyle as some of us haha. He was not answering her repeated calls or texts. Well, nothing to do but get to the field and keep calling. He did eventually make it!

It was still dark the whole drive there, and the sun only started to poke its head out when we met up to carpool to the field. We set up our tent to claim our spot and started warming up.

Because of our stellar regular-season record, we were playing in a preliminary round game against a team with a similarly stellar regular-season record. So 1-13 N.C. State took on 2-12 Delaware for the right to face No. 2 Michigan (13-1) in the winner's bracket.

Here's my thing: it was a double-elimination tournament, and we had as good a chance as any at winning a game in the tournament, which is something a lot of teams weren't going to be able to say. Let's take care of business and play up to our potential. We WILL win if we can do that.

It was actually pretty intense. It went back and forth the whole game. We jumped out to a 3-0 lead early. Delaware battled back and took a 5-3 lead. We fought back again and retook the lead at 7-5. Delaware tied it at 7, then took a 9-7 lead. We scored four runs in the top of the sixth to take an 11-9 lead.

Normally, we play seven-inning games, but because there were so many games that needed to be played, the ump said we'd call it after six innings if one team was ahead. So we went into the bottom of the sixth up 11-9 with Delaware needing three runs to win outright. Naturally, they scored two runs immediately to tie the score at 11. Then they loaded the bases with no outs.

Now, in slow-pitch softball, there's a mat behind home plate. If the pitch hits the mat, it's a strike. It's hard to consistently hit the mat. All they needed was a walk to win the game. The first batter swung early, and popped it up to shortstop. The second batter lightly tapped it back to the pitcher. Evan threw home for the force out. Bases still loaded, two outs.

The next hitter popped it up right to the left fielder. It was one of our best defensive inning of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time. We faced bases loaded with no outs, and if a run scored, we would have lost the game.

Instead, we held them and proceeded to score four runs in the "one-pitch" rules in the top of the seventh. Basically, every pitch is either a walk, a hit or an out. If the pitch is a ball, you walk. If it's a strike or a foul, you're out. Intense.

Four runs and three Delaware outs later, we'd won our first game in the tournament. Man, LET'S GO. It was spectacular.

We won as many games in the tournament as we did all season, and it was so incredibly satisfying, especially after one of the Delaware players was being an asshole to our first baseman after a questionable call where she should have been called out. Whatevs. Victory.

After the game, we questioned the wisdom of swinging the bat at ALL during the bases-loaded, no-outs scenario. Chances are, Evan is going to walk ONE of the three hitters that were coming up. Just playing the odds, it's damn hard to hit the mat every time. And you had THREE chances to walk ONE batter and win the game! Take your chances on the strikeout and force Evan to hit the mat every time. As Sean said after the game, "Don't even bother bringing a bat to the plate. Force him to make the pitches." Alas, they did not do that. We won, 15-11, after scoring eight runs in the top of the sixth and seventh innings combined. LET'S GO!

After an hour break, we played No. 2 Michigan, and, predictably, lost. But we put a scare into them.

They were routinely destroying teams in the regular season, and they were probably expecting to roll us, too. But we led 2-0 after the first inning, and we were tied 4-4 after the third inning. They took a lead, but they were only up by four after the fifth inning. We put a little scare into them when the game probably should never have been that close in the first place.

Michigan eventually scored a bunch of runs, and won in the end. But we held our own pretty well considering how good a team Michigan was.

That'll do it for part 1 of the CAN Tournament Extravaganza. Coming later, the exciting conclusion, including my cornhole prowess, my possibly cracked rib and giving the team nicknames for our jerseys next season.

Good times.


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