St. Patrick’s Day Softball Tournament a Hit with Players, Community

Jason Noffsinger and Sue O’Donnell enjoy the action at SaddleBrooke Senior Softball's annual St. Patrick’s Day Tournament. (Photo by Dennis Purcell)

Jason Noffsinger and Sue O’Donnell enjoy the action at SaddleBrooke Senior Softball’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Tournament. (Photo by Dennis Purcell)

Terry Hurley

It was a great day for the Irish and everyone else involved in SaddleBrooke Senior Softball’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Tournament at the community’s gem of a ball field.

The large crowd was treated to gorgeous weather, free food, lively music, entertaining commentary, and exciting games.

The wearing of the green was everywhere. Shamrocks, green derby hats, and decorations adorned the park. The coaches’ boxes were green, as were the batter on-deck circles, which were also shaped like shamrocks. Many of the spectators and players got their Irish on with festive green attire.

There wasn’t any corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, or Irish soda bread but there were plenty of free hot dogs, brats, beans, chips, soda, and water. As usual, Doug Wagers from Window Wizard did the cooking. Patrick Shaffer, DDS was the tournament sponsor.

The tournament featured four games by the lads and lassies who played in the league’s winter season.

The first two games included community league players. The home team won the first game 15-8, as shortstop Sue O’Donnell, fittingly in green, dazzled the crowd with outstanding defensive plays. There was no luck involved. The visiting team won the second game 23-19, scoring nine runs in the last inning.

Between games, tournament director Jessica Passoni recognized the association’s many volunteers, inviting them onto the field. These included umpires, scorekeepers, a webmaster, field crew, league commissioners, the rules committee, and the board of directors.

The third game pitted competitive league players. They didn’t disappoint. In a well-played game, the home team battled back from a 5-1 deficit in the fourth inning to win 12-5. Lynn Laureys hit a two-run homer over the fence and outfielders Mark Adolph, Eigen Brand, Tim Ward, and Tom Oxnam made some impressive catches.

The last game of the day featured recreation league players, apparently attempting to see how long they could extend the afternoon. The home team gave up eight runs in the last inning but held onto win in a thrilling 27-26 game. Misty Atkins hit a grand slam for the winners, fielded like an all-star at shortstop, and wowed everybody with her Usain Bolt-like running around the bases.

Throughout the games, public address announcer King Mitchell provided lively, entertaining commentary and good-natured ribbing. “Let the comedy begin,” he said as an outfielder misplayed a ball in the first inning of the first game and, “You gotta use your mitt” when a fielder appeared to try catching a ball against his belly. Disc jockey Leroy Johnson played an eclectic mix of music ranging from Irish songs to old favorites and contemporary artists like Beyonce, adding to the festive atmosphere.

“It was a fun day for all involved,” said Passoni. “We had a great turnout once again from the community and our players got a chance to display their athletic skills in front of neighbors and friends. Everyone was a little bit Irish today.”

SaddleBrooke Senior Softball is in its sixteenth season with more than 190 men and women competing Monday through Friday year-round in five different leagues based on ability. The tournament is one of four holiday events conducted every year. The next one is Memorial Day. The spring season is expected to kick off next month.

If interested in playing, volunteering, or simply watching the games, go to saddlebrookesoftball.com to learn more or contact Jim Smith at jmssoftball99@gmail.com.