Game 3: Field of Newbies
Coach does whatever it takes to avoid a forfeit, with startling results
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Game date: July 6, 2009

Score Box
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7   R H HR
3 0 2 0 0 5 3   13 22 1
Up To Date
7 2 0 4 1 2 X   16 X 1

Team reviews fielding assignments with coach. (Moffitt)

Entering his fourth season as team skipper, coach Wolan has never forfeited game. Incidents such as sweltering heat waves, a deep DL list, multiple game time no-shows, even a player mutiny were not enough to force the skipper to throw in the towel. However, a Fourth of July weekend coupled with the first sunny weekend in weeks was forming into a perfect storm that could break the streak.

Hours before game time, four of the team’s starters had reported that they would miss the game, namely Grimard, Smith, Eno, and Bergstein. With no replacements, coupled with the loose of players from the previous season, the team was facing such a severe player shortfall that the word “forfeit” was uttered around as the only means of escape. But thanks to some last minute negotiations, Muldoon and Wolan were able to recruit enough last minute recruits to avoid an embarrassing forfeit.

Roster Round-ups

Making their start in today’s game were five players that had never played the game before. From Russia, the team welcomes Stella Guseynova, Michael “Misha” Efimov and last second recruit Alexei “Ivan” Kvasov. From India, the team welcomes Bhavani Vankineni and last second recruit Avinash “Avi” Potluri.

Stella brings to the team many years of tennis experience, which the coach hopes will translate well in fielding. Fans of the team should recognize “Misha”, the team’s other photographer. “Misha” apparently felt it was time to put the camera down and see how the action was from the other side of the lens while supporting his team in its hour of need.

“Ivan the Terrible,” a last second recruit, looks forward to participating in any match-up where he can stomp the competition with his bare feet. Another last second recruit was Avi, who is a star cricket player from India with over 20 years of experience in the game. Coach hopes Avi will remember that there four bases in softball, not two, and will not mistakenly return to home plate after reaching first. Finally, the team welcomes Bhavani, who has no experience playing any sport. Coach hopes that Bhavnai’s preseason practice will be enough to help her make contributions to the team.

Finally, thanks to some heavy last minute negations and deal making, Elliot Eno agreed to come and play in the match-up. His presence alone is enough to strengthen the outfielder situation.

Who’s Up First?

Since neither team knew for sure who the home team was, a decision was reached to flip a coin and decide. Since no one had any change on them, a bar of yogurt was flipped instead. The decision went to Up To Date.

Game Summary

Pitching primarily to Verdasys today was Wolan, who has not pitched a full game (offensively or defensively) since Game 12 of the 2007 season.

Top of one, Verdasys got to work quickly. Mike O’Connor, the team’s 2008 hit leader, gets the inning going with a single. This was followed by a single from Colby. Muldoon got the team on the board by batting in O’Connor with an RBI single. Next up was Aleksey “Alex” Kireyev, who bats in Colby with an RBI single of this own.

Team struggled initially in fielding. (Moffitt)

Following Aleksey was A-WOL, who struck out in four pitches, his first K since Game 11 in the 2007 season. Upset with the at bat, Wolan tossed his bat into the fence near the dug-out exclaiming “I waited 10 months to play softball just to strike out?”

Continuing in the bat antics was Avi, who after hitting the ball into a fielder’s choice ran to first base with the bat still in hand. “I thought that was what you do. In cricket, you are supposed to hang on to the bat after you hit the ball.” commented Avi.

Misha followed with his first career base hit and RBI, driving in Don Muldoon. And not to be out done, Misha would also run to first with bat in hand. Eno would hit into a force out at second to end the top half of the inning.

Bottom of one, “Up to Date” greets Verdasys with a line-drive shot hit directly to Ajeet at short, who made an incredible catch for the out. “I was trying to protecting myself, so my natural instinct was to catch the ball” comments Ajeet.

After making a second quick out, the general inexperience of the team began to show as “Up to Date” would capitalize and rally for seven runs. It was 7-3 “Up to Date” after one.

Top of two, Verdasys failed to get anything going. A shoeless “Ivan the Terrible” debuted by making his first career hit, a single, in the inning.

A change in fielding strategy

After the first inning, an observation was made that most of “Up to Date’s” batters were not hitting the ball into the outfield. To help avoid another rocky inning, the team felt it would be best to reassign fielding assignments in an attempt to exploit this weakness. The following chart on the the right documents the changes.


This move strengthened the infield by moving the mobile Aleksey to FIF and Avi, an experienced cricket fielder, to catcher, thus allowing the team to make plays at home. A-WOL and Ajeet switched roles to let the more experienced A-WOL be the infield work-horse. While the move strengthened the infield, it put the outfield at risk of being more exposed. To compensate, Muldoon was put in charge of outfield so he could position players as he see fit.

The move paid off as Verdasys would limit “Up to Date” to just two runs in the second. The score was 9-3 “Up to Date” after two.

Verdasys got those two runs back in their half of the third. A-WOL hit a two-out blooper into shallow left field to drive in Colby and Muldoon. In the bottom half of the inning, the reshuffled fielding unit kept their opponent off the board, shutting them out and holding the score at 9-5 “Up to Date”.

While improved, the team’s defense still had a risk that “Up to Date” would eventually uncover in the fourth. With two on, A-WOL’s “Evil Twin”, (by virtue that both were wearing the same pants, not by relation,) belts a ball into deep right field, leading to a 3-run ITP HR. The team would score one more to make it 14-5 “Up to Date”.

Verdasys threatens in the top half of the fifth. With two on and two out, Don Muldoon hits the ball deep down the right field line. However, A-WOL’s “Evil Twin” makes a spectacular running catch on the line while skidding to rob Don of what was likely to be a 3-run ITP.

Aleksey gives "Shoeless Ivan" a crash course on fielding. (Moffitt)

“I can’t believe he went after the ball like that” commented an “Up to Date” player. “He got injured doing that last season.”

Ironically, Don would not have to wait long to return the favor. In the bottom half of the inning, A-WOL’s “Evil Twin” hit another ball deep into right field. This time, Don was prepared and made a behind the head running catch to rob the batter of another extra base hit. This play helped limit “Up to Date” to just one run in the inning, making it 14-5.

Down by 9 in the sixth, Verdasys rallied to put the game within reach, all the while making career highlights for many in the process. Aleksey go the inning going with single. Next up was A-WOL, who belted a ball outside the reach of the center fielder for an RBI triple. Wolan would then trot home on an Avi RBI single, his first career hit and RBI.

After a Misha single, Elliot hits his first double as a member of Verdasys Softball, driving in Avi. Next up was Stella, who hits an RBI SAC, her first career RBI. The play scored an enthusiastic Misha, who scored his first career run. Bhavani would cap the scoring with an RBI single, her first career hit and RBI, driving in Elliot.

“Glad to see all the work with Bhavani during spring training beginning to pay off already” commented coach Wolan.

Next up was “Ivan”, who popped out. Bhavani was caught off guard and was forced out as first for the double play. “Why you can’t have more than one person on base? There’s plenty of room” commented Ivan regarding the play.

Ivan the Terrible

The bottom half of the inning introduced “Ivan the Terrible” to the infield as he and Misha switched places. There apparently was some commotion about this move from the “Up to Date” bench as Aleksey gave “Ivan” a crash course on fielding… in Russian. Unsure what they were saying, or if they needed more time, an interpreter was requested by the “Up to Date” bench.

On the field, “Ivan” would make his fielding presence known by stopping a line drive with his chest. "The ball hit me in rib cage, but I didn't feel anything” said Alexei. “It was like I was wearing [bullet proof] vest.” He was, however, unable to convert the stop into a force out at first. “Next time, I will stick out my glove out at ball like Ajeet."

"Artist at Work", Muldoon driving the ball down the line for an ITF-HR. (Moffitt)

Elliott Eno made his defensive presence known with a running shoe-string grab into shallow left field. "Wow, he runs fast,” said Colby. “One second he's deep in left, the next he is running after the ball not too far away from third.”

In all, “Up to Date” would scratch together two more runs to make it 16-10.

And so, to the top of the seventh innings we go with Verdasys in need of 6 runs to keep the game alive. After an Ajeet ground out, Mike-O and Colby got the stage set for Don Muldoon, who hits another ball deep down the right-field line. Unlike his previous at bat, A-WOL’s “Evil Twin” could not field it, leading to a 3-run ITP HR, the first for Muldoon in this two seasons with Verdasys Softball. Aleksey follows with a single but then gets doubled-up on an A-WOL fly ball to end the game.

And so, for a game that was nearly forfeited the team managed to make a game of it and narrowly missed a win, falling to “Up to Date” 16-13.

Post Game Reaction

The “Planet Mike-O Post-Game Show” started with some comments from coach Wolan, followed by a Q&A session.

“What can I say? For a team whose roster composed of players with little or no experience, I think we did fairly well. As a team, I think we did well with fielding and hitting. We had a few blunders with base running, but that should be expected given the roster we had. Team leadership was strong and was definitely a big help to the newbies on the team.

A-WOL was the defensive workhorse of the game, if abit over dramatic. (Moffitt)

“I think we did a great job exploiting our opponent’s weaknesses while doing a good job at adapting to their attempts to exploit our own. You know, for a game that was on the verge of forfeit, not only did we play a good game, but we could have won it if a few more plays went in our favor.”

Q. Several starters were absent from today’s game. Individually, who do you think stepped-up the most?

Whenever a bulk of your starting players are absent, you will need other players on the team to step-up and fill-in. A-WOL did a great job filling in at short. I think be caught 6 or 8 fly balls and converted a few force outs with Colby at second. He became the defense workhorse of the team, and that is what we needed today. He ever pitched most of the game.

In addition, Don stepped-up in a big way by helping the new players understand the game and even guide them as they played.

As for the outfield unit, I believe Don and Elliot did a great job covering the field despite not having experienced players to back them up. They also did a great job at directing the outfielders.

Q. What are your thought on the batting line-up and its outcome?

I think it was effective. There’s little what could have been done to improve our scoring, if anything.

After the press conference, Aleksey mentioned that “the real reason why we lost is because the other team had like 20 bats while we only had 3. They had many more bats [than us], so there was no way we could beat them.” Win or lose, Alexei “Ivan” Kvasov mentioned that “the game was the most fun I've had in a long time." In fact, he later signed on with the team after the game.

Grimard was then reached for comment regarding why he could not play in today’s game. “Who schedules a game immediately after the Fourth of July holiday?”

The show ended with Aleskey saying "Why are we celebrating? We didn’t win game."

Big Bats
  • Muldoon: 3 for 4 (3-run ITP HR) with 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored.
  • Colby: 3 for 4 (2B) with 3 runs scored
  • Aleksey: 3 for 4 with an RBI and one run scored.

  • Web Gems
  • Ajeet: Line-drive snag at short. (1st)
  • A-WOL: bobbled-catch of a fly ball at short. (2nd)
  • "Evil A-WOL": running catch of a fly ball on the line in right field to rob Muldoon of extra base hit. (5th)
  • Muldoon: running catch from center field into right field. Play robbed batter of extra base hit. (5th)
  • Eno: running catch of a flair hit into shallow left field (6th)
  • A-WOL: multiple acrobatic fly-outs around short.

  • Miscellaneous - Falls on field:
  • O’Connor: 0
  • A-WOL: 7

  • Game Photos | Stats from the Game | Scorebook | Absent Fan Report