Just Sayin' - Take me out to the Ballgame!
by Rhonda Ross
With spring training for our American League Champion Texas Rangers rapidly approaching in March and opening day at the Ballpark in Arlington a scant two months away on April 6th it’s almost time for the Umps to yell “Play Ball!” But, even before that happens, amateur athletes all over North Texas will be signing up for the spring league season. More years ago than I care to admit I used to be a catcher for a softball league where I worked. These days I don’t play anymore (knee surgery) but I avidly follow two teams full of friends.
There is nothing like the sound of a bell-like PING as a stainless steel bat meets a perfectly thrown softball and redirects it towards the fences. I love the way the dust flies up around the feet of a base runner as they round third base headed for home. Even more than all of that, I love the camaraderie of a team during the game and the downtime after when deep discussions about the pitching, the hitting, and yes, the umps, takes place over a cold-one paired with great food at the local watering hole. Whether it’s a sultry hot summer night in July or a chilly “get your blanket” fall evening, there is nothing quite like a night at the local ballpark during softball season. By the end of this month the adult spring leagues will be starting up again and I can’t wait for the first pitch. My problem is, I’m involved with co-ed adult softball and believe it or not, there is no co-ed softball available here in Southlake.
I know men are from Mars and women from Venus, but it is apparent we can only meet in leagues outside of the city limits.
Consequently, every Tuesday and Friday a large group of men and women who are residents of Southlake along with a sprinkling of folks from other surrounding towns all meet up at the Hurst Athletic Complex to play co-ed adult softball sporting team shirts touting their Southlake sponsors. From the early evening until well after dark you can catch the action of one game after another on four adjoining fields. The complex is a short drive down Precinct Line Road from Davis Blvd. with state of the art ballpark lighting, restrooms and a concession stand situated right in the middle for easy access from all fields. There is a fantastic children’s play area with that spongy, recycled rubber-type floor for safety and the kids play nestled in between the surrounding fields just a few steps from Mom or Dad. Here in Southlake we have top-notch fields out at Bob Jones Park but my teams can’t play there.
Though my teams only play on Tuesdays and Fridays the fields at the Hurst Athletic Complex are full every night of the week, Monday through Friday. For a $350 per team registration fee the teams get 10 games with a City playoff and the winners get Hurst City Champions t-shirts and a trophy as tall as your arm. My Tuesday team is approaching a 100 game win streak with three back-to-back season City championships under their ball caps (and ponytails) and both teams have collected multiple trophies.
These are serious ballplayers, they are not kidding around. There are as many power hitters of the female gender as there are men and all the players’ field as well as they hit. As a former catcher I was horrified to see that those who follow in my footsteps typically don’t even wear protective gear, these are hard-core baseball people. To give you an example of their dedication, the catcher on my team is female and last year she took a full-swing foul tip to the face that lifted her in the air and knocked her down on her back. By the time the first player reached her she was awake and rolling on the ground holding her face, which was bleeding profusely. Paramedics were called (thankfully, the station is right next door) and before she could even be carried to the dugout she was telling me to wipe her face off, she wanted to keep playing. Cooler heads prevailed, the game continued, and I went along to the emergency room, where doctors confirmed a solid broken nose. I’ve seen them play with broken fingers, torn-up knees, back pains and bleeding feet but they never give up. It’s the love of the game.
After surgery on her nose and a season spent cheering from the bleachers, our catcher is back but she now wears a high-tech mask completely blinged out in rhinestones ala Southlake. We’re still playing in Hurst and while we love the City and its people maybe we’d like the opportunity to play here at home and hang out at one of the great Southlake restaurants after the game. There used to be co-ed softball here in Southlake and I’m not sure why it ever left. Maybe it’s time to bring it back.
Rhonda is a native of upstate New York transplanted toSouthlake twelve years ago now growing and thriving in the Texas soil. After raising her Dragon son and sending him off to college Rhonda went back to school herself to earn an Masters in English from TWU. She remains active in the Southlake community in a variety of ways, including Greater Southlake Women’s Society and her work with Southlake Style.