Archive for Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Chinstraps and mouthpieces: Men’s slow-pitch softball abuzz after Sunday game

July 2, 2002

Every sport has its moment when the mighty titan falls.

Some team rises from the dirt and assembles a performance worthy of accolades, a George McFly uppercut to Biff's unsuspecting face.

This great feat doesn't occur often, but when it does, the masses rejoice.

Sunday, the situation presented itself once more.

Field A, Heritage Park Softball Complex, Olathe.

The Kansan Sharks defeated Briarwood 12-8 in a men's slow-pitch E division battle.

Yes, this event may fall short of other great triumphs Doug Flutie and Boston College upending Miami, coach Rollie Massimino and Villanova stunning Georgetown and Joe Namath and the New York Jets clipping the juggernaut Baltimore Colts.

Sure, this wasn't the majors, it was the lowest division in the slow-pitch ranks.

But as I sat on the four-day disabled list with a bum knee and watched my fellow Sharks celebrate an unlikely victory against a major opponent, I realized this great moment in sports history.

Take Briarwood, a team with players sporting league championship T-shirts circa 1993. The team probably has titles from the 1980s, but shirts can only stand so many washings before they must be retired.

The team also was 16-0 in the spring season, 16-0 last fall and 18-2 last summer.

Briarwood had upwards of 40 consecutive victories. For the purpose of passing the story down to grandchildren, we'll call it 56.

Even greater, though, was the story behind the Sharks' young franchise. The team joined the Olathe league last summer and endured an expansion-like first season. The team, made primarily of current and former University of Kansas sportswriters, limped to a 1-19 season. In the fall, the team went 5-11.

This spring, the Sharks managed to win five of their last six games and finished the season 6-10. Now, at 2-4 this season, the Sharks could post their first winning season in team history.

It's unlikely that the game will be an ESPN Instant Classic, but the team could be in line for an ESPY.

This team could snag the ESPY for most inspirational.

The U.S. soccer team might be more deserving for its World Cup run, but my vote goes to recent college graduates against veterans in their 30s and 40s. Americans fighting to the end against the Germans was grand, but it's hard to be inspired at 6 a.m.

Sarava, the horse that prevented War Emblem's triple crown in the Belmont Stakes, is another finalist. A well-deserving nominee, especially considering he's an injury away from retirement, or the glue factory.

But once again, one can't overlook the sheer athleticism needed to play this game for the ages known as softball.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, the match-up was a doubleheader and the Briarwoods took the second game, 12-7.

The two teams will meet again later in the summer, with what could be another great battle.

Heritage Park Men's Slow-pitch Division E softball it's fantastic.

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