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Keep your eyes on the ball: Adult League Summer Softball

With 220 teams, Adult League Summer Softball is a big “hit” in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Posted: June 11, 2009 4:10 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Adult League Summer Softball is in full swing.

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It's an hour filled with the regular "pring" of aluminum bats on balls, followed by the rapid scraping of feet turning the base paths, the pops of balls in mitts - and a lot of heavy breathing. This is Adult League Summer Softball, and with those bat-prings adding up to total scores in the neighborhood of 30 runs, there is a lot of opportunity to get out of breath. But it's worth it - for the camaraderie, the exercise and for stress relief. 

 "I just enjoy it, the socialization. After a bad day at work I come out here and hit the ball hard. It's great," said Mitch Zippay.

Zippay, 44, was playing first base for the coed softball team, Team Blue, which squared-off against the Villains last Sunday at 4 p.m. on Central Park's Field 2. She (yes she) said she had played ball in high school and been involved with softball at Central Park since 2004.

Zippay's sentiments were seconded by Frank DiAcri, the assistant coach of the Villains. "I like to get out and get exercise," he said. At 41, he said he'd been playing softball for five years.

But there were others who were new to the league. Shannon Angelidis, 34, was playing third base for the Villains and said, "I'm a sub here. It's my first game with them. But I love softball."

That's a lot of ball
There are city-run adult softball leagues in the summer, fall and spring, and things can get busy. Cynthia Tarver, the adult sports recreation supervisor for the city of Santa Clarita, said there are a total of 220 teams in the summer league. That breaks down to 144 teams in the men's league, which plays on Sunday mornings, and evenings on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The coed league, which plays on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, has 70 teams. The women's league, which plays on Thursday evenings, has six teams.

The minimum age for the adult leagues is 16, and the games are played all over the SCV. In addition to Central Park, Tarver said there are games at Bridgeport Park, Newhall Park and Bouquet Park.

The summer season is divided into two rounds. Tarver said that in round one, each team plays five games. "There is movement between rounds," she said. "You can move up or down, depending on your standings." That means A-League teams that are struggling may play round two in the B League. And B-League teams that are walking away with it might move up to A. Tarver said that prevents weaker teams from having to struggle for 10 weeks and promotes more good times.

"The winner of round one in each division gets a playoff berth against the winner of round two," Tarver said. She added that each playoff winner gets a plaque and each player on the team gets a team award.

"The city is very appreciative of the returning teams, new teams and those businesses and organizations that sponsor them to play in the league," Tarver said. "The city realizes that this is an economically hard time for all. But the fact that 220 teams registered in the summer league lets us know that organized sports programs are valued within our community."

Sunday smackers
Team Blue and the Villains met at 4 p.m. on a Sunday when the Lakers played on television at 5 p.m. Though the Villains would be late to their TVs, and Team Blue had a second softball game immediately following, no one seemed to mind. They were having a blast.

Softball games are seven innings, but often don't get that many innings in before time runs out. The following game was scheduled to start at 5:10 p.m. and the umpire was right on top of things. As it turned out, they did get all seven in. But with 31 runs being scored, just barely.

You could call it 31 runs per hour.

Team Blue coach Amalia Sanchez, 40, noted that her team and the Villains were fairly evenly matched age-wise. She said that there were a couple "younger" teams in the league that were "very good."

Her husband, Frank Sanchez, 42, said he felt the male players on most teams were generally of similar ability but that the women players on a team could make all the difference.

Whether that was the case or not, as the final at-bat for the Villains began, they were behind 20 to 9. They got things going, and scored two runs, but the final score was 20 to 11.

And no one seemed to really care. It was good sportsmanship and smiles, with the Villains hurrying to their cars and Team Blue stepping up to the plate against Pick Serv, Inc.

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