The SaddleBrooke Senior Softball winter season kicked off last month with 14 new players. Some of them have an extensive background in baseball or softball, some are new to the game, and most haven’t played in years. What they have in common is how excited and happy they are to be back on the field.
Patti Rubel, a snowbird from Pennsylvania, is experiencing her first winter here. She loves softball and was excited when she found out the game was played at SaddleBrooke. She started playing as a child and continued during her school years. She played for a number of years in adult women’s leagues and co-ed softball when she was working. She only stopped once she married and had children. Though she hasn’t played in about 35 years, she says the experience so far has been wonderful. The people she’s met have been friendly and helpful, and she knows some of those old skills will come back with time.
Sean Lewis played intramural sports, including softball, in college and as a young adult until “life got too busy.” This snowbird from the Seattle area hasn’t played in about 27 years but was still surprised that his throwing range, strength, and hitting power have diminished in spite of being in pretty decent shape. Nevertheless, the games can’t come soon enough, just like when he was in Little League. He says, “It’s a blast. All the players are very welcoming, supportive, and friendly, and the facilities and league organization are so well done.”
Unlike some of the other new players, Jim MacDonald doesn’t have prior softball experience. The last time he played anything similar was Little League baseball in the fifth grade. He decided to play after watching his brother-in-law in the league and has been pleasantly surprised by not only the fun everyone is having, but also by the camaraderie and sportsmanship displayed. “I’m very pleased with every aspect of the program: the low cost of entry, the skills practice program, the outstanding facilities, the superb program organization, the excellent coaching, and the friendliness and helpfulness displayed by all of the folks who have welcomed me with open arms.”
A recent retiree from Michigan, Mark Anderson played baseball and softball through high school and some in college but hadn’t played in about 35 years. He decided to play again because it seemed like a great way to stay young, both physically and mentally. Like many, he thought he was in pretty good shape until he started running around on the field and was surprised by the level of physical conditioning required to play well. He’s found the league inviting to new players and encourages others to give it a shot. “You might just feel young again,” he says.
Greg Stroud played baseball and softball almost all his life until work got too busy. He last played almost 20 years ago. He’s knocking off the rust, but it takes time. He can still hit the long ball, but sprinting—if you can call it that—he says is not what it used to be. At the end of the day, however, the Oro Valley resident is happy to be playing ball with a good group of guys in such a nice setting. “Well organized, lots of games, uniforms, umpires, laser-leveled field, covered dugouts and fan seating. What’s not to like?”
SaddleBrooke Senior Softball is in its 17th season. Games are played Monday through Friday starting at 9 a.m. There are four games on Monday and Tuesday, two on Wednesday and Thursday, and four on Friday. There are 27 teams in the current winter season in nine leagues, accommodating every skill level. For more information, visit saddlebrookesoftball.com.