Thursday, June 25, 2015

It Was the Shirt All Along – 6/24 vs. The Performance Enhancers

Emily H: player of the game, with magic jersey

All during the spring & the first couple of games in the summer league, we were convinced that Bryce was flat out destroying the ball because of his extensive baseball background & all-around athleticism. But on Wednesday, we discovered his secret—the magic shirt.

Yes, Emily H showed up for Wednesday’s game wearing Bryce’s jersey—& went on to gather well-deserved player of the game honors on the strength of a 3 for 4 game that included 3 rbis & 2 runs scored. Emily says she’s not giving Bryce his jersey back, but it appears that as long as one of them is sporting the magic shirt, we’ll be in great shape.

Gustav went 4 for 4!
In fact, Wednesday’s game was a rollicking & high-scoring affair in which we defeated the Performance Enhancers 23-15. It was not exactly our most crisp defensive game, but we more than made up for it with a lot of hitting. With the game called after the top of the 6th because of light, we managed to score in every inning, & even managed to send all 11 hitters to the plate in a 7-run 3rd.
Lauren went 3 for 4, hitting one line drive after another!
The Performance Enhancers got the scoring started with 3 in the first, but we answered back with 6 in the bottom of the first. Gustav, Lauren, Matt & Colin all led off with singles, & then with one out, Nicole lined a single to left to plate two runs (Gustav had already scored on Matt’s hit.) Yours truly hit into a force play, but did drive in the run, then Mark followed with a single, & Emily came up with the first of her rbi hits. There may have been a discrepancy between the score we had kept & the one the ump kept, but if so, it was in our favor, as he credited us with six-runs.
Matt at the plate: 3 for 3, including a 3-run homer & a sacrifice fly!
We shut the Performance Enhancers down in the second, & then went back to work. With one out, Gustav & Lauren both singled, then Matt smashed a 3 run homer. Colin followed with a bloop triple—not something you see every day, & Emily K drove Colin in with a single.
Colin hit for the cycle thanks to the old bloop triple!
In the 3rd the Performance Enhancers got back 2 runs, but we had our big inning coming up. Yours truly led off with a single, followed by singles from Mark, Emily H & Cameron, the latter two each driving in runs. With one down, Gustav & Lauren each singled (Gustav’s driving in a run), then Matt hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Kristina, who’d reached on a fielders choice. Colin followed with a double to score Gustav, & then Emily K drove in Lauren & Colin with a double to complete the scoring.
Emily K: solid game as always--single, double, 3 rbis!
The Performance Enhancers scored 2 again in the fourth, but we answered them with 2 of our own. Yours truly led off with a single, then with two outs Cameron doubled home Emily, who’d reached on a fielders choice. Kristina then followed with a single to drive in Cameron.
Kristina at bat: base hit, run scored, rbi!
The wheels kind of came off the Underhanded Compliments bus in the top of the 5th—probably an inning best left to everyone’s imagination. Suffice it to say that the Performance Enhancers came back from being down 12 to really make a game of it, scoring 8 runs. It was not our proudest moment.
Nicole at the plate: 2 for 4 with a big 2-run single in the first!
But we came back in the bottom of the 5th to score four runs. Matt led off with a single, then Colin hit a 2-run homer. With one out, Nicole singled, & yours truly followed with a single as well. Mark singled in Nicole, but was called out for making the turn—a bad call, because no tag was applied, & that isn’t a force play, but so it goes. Emily H followed with her third hit, a hard smash up the middle to drive in Matt, who was pinch running for me. We shut down the Performance Enhancers in the top of the 6th, & took the win.
Cameron: 3 for 4 with a double, & has stepped up to pitch while Triffid's away.
Really great performance, as everyone chipped in. Everyone had at least one hit, & everyone either scored a run or drove one in—most players did both. Really proud of this team!
Big game for Emily H - 3 hits, 3 rbis!
& the magic shirt is our new secret weapon!

Next Week: Battle for 1st Place with Energy 350!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Two-Game Special: 6/10 vs. PC Load Letters & 6/15 vs. Indy Team #6

Matt in action against PC Load Letters - also a
High softball season is upon us! Not only are the Underhanded Compliments playing every week in the Irving Park Summer League, we’re also involved in big pick-up games & are looking forward to fielding a squad for the Friends of Doernbecher Softball Tournament next month. Meanwhile, yours truly is playing with my over-55 Boomer PDX League team & enjoying taking the field on both sides of the ball.

Triffid pitching against PC Load Letters - player of the game based on her fine pitching, not to mention a 2-run homer!
But between one thing & another & all this softball, I seem to have missed posting about our June 10th game versus PC Load Letters. It was another successful outing for the Underhanded Compliments, & we started off strong, as the first seven batters all reached base safely, & 6 of them scored. Gustav led off with a double, & Lauren followed with a base on balls; Matt then singled to score Gustav, while Colin doubled home Lauren. Matt scored on Emily K’s rbi single, Bryce doubled to drive in Emily, then Nicole walked. With one out, Triffid hit a sacrifice fly to score Bryce, & we were up 6-zip before PC Load Letters had batted—then shut them down in a three-up, three-down inning.
Bryce: 3 doubles against PC Load Letters
We added a run in the second as Steven led off with a single, & Kristina followed with a single that actually scored Steven from first! There was some creative outfield play by the opposition, but Steven also showed off his speed. PC Load Letters opened their scoring in the second with a single, a triple & a sacrifice fly, but we answered with two of our own in the third as Matt & Colin began the inning with back-to-back home runs. The bottom of the third was noteworthy for a creative double play. There was a lead off single by friend of the Compliments Katie L (from the Huevos Grandes team), & then with one out, Colin initiated a double play that went shortstop to first, with Mark then firing to Emily K at third to record the final out.
Cameron rocking the fright wig behind the plate vs. PC Load Letters
We added three runs in the fourth as Mark & Triffid hit back-to-back one out singles, & then with two outs, Cameron singled to send them both home. PC Load Letters answered with one in the bottom half as they strung together 3 two-out hits, & after 4 we led 12-3. We pushed it to 14-3 in the tops of the fifth in a two-out rally of our own, as Matt singled, Colin drove him in with a double, then Emily K followed with an rbi single.  PC Load Letters went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Emily K has had a fine season both hitting
Yours truly led off the sixth with an infield single, & Triffid then smacked one on a line to center field for a two-run home run! We allowed 2 runs in the bottom half, but held a comfortable 16-5 lead, which we pushed to 18-5 as Gustav led off with a double & with two out, Colin smashed a 2-run homer. Emily K & Bryce followed with hits, but that was the end of the scoring. PC Load Letters went quietly in the bottom of the 7th. Triffid was named player of the game, & deservedly so, because her pitching was as always deadly accurate. She, in combination with Cameron behind the plate, had the opposition guessing wrong all evening.
Colin on second base after another extra base hit! He's been crushing the ball this summer.
Our game against the Indy Team was a contrast to that easy win. Although the Indy Team entered the game 0 & 2, it was worth noting that both losses had been close & that they’d scored a lot of runs. In fact, they came out charging in the top of the first as after one out their next four hitters reached on three singles & a misplay. With two outs, three more hitters reached on two walks & a single, & they sent 10 players to the plate before we finally set them down—the result: we were trailing 4-0! I believe we were all a bit startled not only to be down, but then to only manage one hit of our own in the bottom of the first—a single by Matt—though it’s true that Lauren was robbed of a sure single as their third baseman barely snagged a line drive that was ticketed for left field. In fact, more of the ball was out of his glove than in it, but he managed to hold on. The Indy team then added a fifth run in the top of the second, & we were down by five.
Cameron toes the rubber against the Indy team while Emily K takes her stance at third base
In fact, things were starting to look a little desperate, as our first two hitters in the second were both put out on fly balls to left field. But Nicole got things going with a solid single, & yours truly followed with a single up the middle. Jessica then singled to drive in Nicole, Mark singled to drive in Rob who was running for me, & Steven, Kristina & Cameron all followed with rbi singles. After two the game was 5-5, & we began to feel as though order had been restored! In fact, thanks to a fine double play started by Colin, we set the Indy team down in order in the third, & then went to work in the bottom of the inning.
Colin has also had a great season in the field at shortstop!
Lauren led off with a walk, & with one out, Colin drove a deep opposite field shot for a two-run homer. Emily K & Rob followed with singles, & with two outs (Emily being erased on a fielder’s choice), yours truly singled home Rob.
Lauren at the plate against PC Load Letters
But as their previous games suggested, the Indy team could score runs. They plated two in the top of the fourth, with Colin making a fine play on a line drive to record the third out & keep them from tying the game or taking the lead.
Nicole at second, Kristina in the outfield; solid defense & hitting from both of them in both games!
The bottom of the fourth was really our inning however. With one out, Kristina singled, & then with two outs, we mounted a big rally. Emily H stroked an rbi single, & singles by Gustav & Lauren loaded the bases for Matt, who then unloaded them with a deep bomb to center for a grand slam! Colin followed with a deep home run of his own, & like that we were up 14-7.
Gustav at the plate - solid hitting all year & solid defensive play at various positions!
Still the Indy team battled back with a two out rally of their own in the top of the sixth. Gustav made a fine catch in left, battling a tough sun, to record the first out, & Matt made a really fine running catch in center to get the second. But then a walk & consecutive singles brought a run home before Nicole made a nice snag of a grounder to end the threat.
Rob behind the plate against the Indy team - the newest "Handy" had a solid 2 for 3 debut with an rbi & 2 runs scored!
We kept the pressure on in the 6th. Yours truly led off with another single up the middle, & then with one out, Mark blasted a 2-run home run. After a second out was recorded, Kristina singled (going 3 for 3), Cameron tripled, Emily H singled him home, & Gustav finished the scoring with a triple of his own to score Emily. We were up 18-8.
Emily H in the outfield, Mark at first against the Indy team. Emily had two hits & a walk, while Mark had a single & 2-run homer!
The Indy team didn’t quit. In fact they added three runs in the 6th, & our good defense saved us from the score being closer—Colin made two fine plays, as did Lauren in right field. When it was over, we’d prevailed 18-11 in what was by far our most competitive game of the summer so far!
Jessica behind the plate against the Indy team--another fine performance with 2 hits, including the first rbi against the Indy squad.
Next week: June 24th vs. The Performance Enhancers!

Lauren made a fine play in right to squelch the Indy team's 6th inning rally

Friday, June 5, 2015

Easy Living: 6/3 Summer League Opener vs CLEAR

The Underhanded Compliments, Summer 2015 edition! Front row: Kristina, Matt, Lauren, John, Triffid, Bryce; second row: Nicole, Steven, Jessica, Emily K, Colin, Gustav, Mark, Emily H, Cameron; missing: Hayden & Robert
Wednesday June 3rd was a day teeming with ominous clouds—not a promising outlook for an evening softball game. But though teammates checked in from various locations around Portland reporting steady rain throughout the day, things stayed dry over on the north/northeast borderline where both Irving Park & I are to be found—dry, that is, until I decided to walk over to the park a bit after 5:00 p.m. In fact, I walked in a steady drizzle, pausing at times to check the Underdog website & various weather sites for any relevant news. But I when I reached Irving, the Underdog sign was up, & the teams playing the 6:00 p.m. game were ready to play. The drizzle stopped, & our 7:30 game would take place as scheduled.

Indeed, our final Spring League playoff game this past Sunday & our Summer League opener were quite a study in contrasts. The Sunday game was played under a hot sun that could easily have been transported from July; the Summer League opener under skies that easily could have time traveled from April. The playoff game was tense, hard fought, even chippy; the Summer League opener was so laid back that it had the feeling of a game played at a picnic.

Our opponent was CLEAR, a company team like many in the Irving Park Weeknight Summer League; last summer we knew them as the PECI Killer Watts. Playing as the visiting team, we opened the scoring in the first inning, as Gustav led off with a double & took third on a bad throw from the outfield. With one out, Matt doubled to score Gustav, & Bryce followed with a triple to send Matt home. Emily K followed with yet another triple to drive in Bryce, & then with two outs, Colin doubled to plate Emily K. The scoring ended when yours truly singled down the third base line to score Colin, & we led 5-0. CLEAR strung together three singles to lead off the bottom of the first & score a run, but Colin, Gustav & Mark combined on a double play to take away their momentum, & immediately following that the third out was recorded on another grounder to Colin at shortstop.

We failed to score in the second despite lead off hits by Jessica & Mark, & CLEAR did plate a run in the bottom of the second to make it 5-2. Emily K observed after the inning that we were “playing their game, & we need to play ours,” which I thought was right on. That changed in the third, as with one out Gustav walked, Lauren singled & due to some poor play on their infield sent Gustav home & reached third herself; Matt then scored Lauren with a sacrifice fly, Bryce followed with a triple, Emily K hit a booming double to score Bryce, Nicole lined a single over third to send Emily K home, Colin singled, & yours truly singled to send Nicole home. Just like that it was 10-2. Then in the fourth, Jessica collected her second hit of the day, Mark singled, & Steven followed with a base hit to score Jessica.

In the bottom of the fourth their lead-off batter tripled & scored on a fielder’s choice. Following an out, CLEAR mustered another single & had a little rally going, but Colin made a fine stop on a grounder & threw to Emily K at third (who made a fine snag of the throw) to cut down the lead runner, & the next batter grounded back to Triffid at pitcher to end the inning.

The fifth was yet another big inning for us. Gustav led off with a single & took second on the throw; Lauren singled Gustav home, then Matt hit a 2-run home run. Bryce tripled (his third of the day!), & Emily K scored him with a sacrifice fly. Following another out, Colin doubled, & yours truly drove him in with a single, followed by back-to-back singles by Triffid & Jessica to score the 6th run of the inning, & just like that it was 17-3. Although the first two CLEAR batters singled in the bottom of the fifth, a double play started by Triffid, who threw to Jessica at second, who then made the turn took away any steam they had, & the game was called after 5 innings due to time.

On the official Underdog website the score is given as 14-4, which is wrong, but since only runs allowed count in the Underdog standings, no great harm is done by that. The actual final was 17-4.

Really a fun game all around. Four players went 3 for 3 (Bryce, Colin, Jessica & yours truly), while Emily K & Gustav went 2 for 2 with a sacrifice fly & a walk respectively. Although we had a big line-up for the opener, everyone had a chance to play a lot.

We’ll probably need to focus a bit more against some of our upcoming opponents, but it was fun to have some “Easy Living” following the tough playoff game.

Sorry there are no photos this week except the team photo. The light wasn’t great, & I was having too much fun to get the camera out! But we do have the team photo, which I especially like, & as a bonus, we also have a little Miles Davis for your listening pleasure.

Next week: 6/10 game vs. PC LOad Letters (& yes, that O really is capitalized!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Almost… Semi-Finals vs. The Syndicate 5/31

Still smiling after the game! Front row: Cameron, Lauren, Triffid, Hayden; Second row: Kristina, Emily K, Nicole, John, Zeb, Bryce, Emily H; Third row: Gustav, hiding behind Emily K (though you can see his shoulder); Mark, Tyler, Colin, Jessica

The final day of May came on Sunday & brought with it the final day of the Underdog Irving Park spring softball season. The schedule called for us to play The Syndicate at 1:30, with the other semi-final matching Basic Pitches & BAM, with the winners playing in a 4:30 final. It was a beautiful day & just about perfect for softball.

We’d played a close game against The Syndicate earlier in the season, as they won 13-12 with a 2-run comeback in the bottom of the 7th. They are a formidable team, but we also knew we had a shot.

Zeb: big home run to open the scoring, & a big double in the 7th!
In fact we opened the scoring as Zeb hit a long home run in the top of the first, but The Syndicate came back in the bottom of the inning to score three. However, with one out in the top of the second, Colin doubled, & yours truly followed with a single to score him. Triffid then blasted a drive to center; the outfield had been playing in, & it turned into a clean 2-run homer. Mark then tripled, & Nicole drove him in on a fielder’s choice ground ball. Although The Syndicate scored one in the bottom half on a double & single, Colin initiated a fine double play to end the inning, & we led 5-4.

Lauren: two solid hits & a run batted in
We were held scoreless in the top of the 3rd, & then in the bottom of the third, after the first two batters were out, The Syndicate strung together a triple, single & double to score 2 runs & take a 6-5 lead. But we weren’t daunted. In the fourth with one out, Emily K singled, & then after the second out was recorded Colin doubled & yours truly followed again with a two-run single. We had the lead once again—& we held The Syndicate scoreless in the bottom of the 4th!
Emily K: big hits in the 4th & 7th!
Yours truly: 2 for 3 with 3 rbis - I will take that.
Hayden had yet another big hit!
The 5th looked to be our inning. Mark led off with a single, & Hayden followed with a base hit. Cameron then singled to drive in two runs, & Emily H followed with our fourth consecutive hit. After two outs were recorded, Lauren singled to load the bases, & then Bryce hit a 2-run double. We had a lead of 11-6.

Emily H had a 2 for 3 day & finished the season swinging a hot bat!
Mark: another great game at the plate & in the field - 3 for 3.

Bryce had another great day: double, triple, 3 rbis
Sadly, the bottom of the inning belonged to The Syndicate. There were lots of clean, powerful hits, & also some errors on our part. Still, it should be noted that both Colin & Bryce made great plays to record outs, or it could have been worse. When the dust had settled, The Syndicate had scored 7 runs to take a 13-11 lead.
Triffid's home run (obviously not pictured here) was a huge blow in our second inning rally, & a 2 for 3 day overall!
We got one run back in the top of the 5th when Colin hit a booming home run to left center. Triffid & Mark tried to keep the rally going with 2-out hits, but we weren’t able to get them across. Then The Syndicate rallied for 6 more in the bottom of the inning to lead 19-12 going into the 7th.
Colin: major power as evidenced by his 6th inning homer. Also a 3 for 3 day
There isn’t any quit in the Underhanded Compliments, however. Cameron led off the inning with a double, then with one out Gustav singled & Zeb doubled to drive Cameron in. Lauren drove in Gustav on a ground ball out, then Bryce tripled to score Zeb. Emily K singled to send Bryce home, & with two outs we had the tying run on deck in the person of Colin, but it was not to be. The final out was recorded, & The Syndicate took the game 19-16.
Gustav had a big hit in the 7th & had a great season overall, despite playing through an injury

To recap the rest: Basic Pitches defeated BAM soundly in their semi-final 19-5, & then dominated The Syndicate in the finals 22-6. We finished in third place (of 9 teams) for the season with a record of 5-3-1, which is a strong finish indeed. It was a fun season, & most of the team got together at Old Town Brewing Company afterwards for pizza & cold beverages!
Final Standings

Great season! Really proud of this team.


Later this week: Summer League begins!


Some of the photos in this post were taken by Jessica & Mark. Thanks!