Play Ball! Congressional Softball Leagues at Bat

Posted September 17, 2008 at 4:18pm

It was a glorious finish for the Blue Pups, but fans of the fall softball leagues on Capitol Hill don’t have to wait until next fall to catch some championship softball.

The House Softball League’s championship wrapped up last weekend with a first-time win for the Pups (a team originally sponsored by former Rep. Ken Lucas, a Blue Dog Democrat from Kentucky.)

This weekend brings two more sets of competitions, for both the Senate and the Congressional softball leagues.

On Saturday, 32 teams will compete for the 2008 Senate league championship at West Potomac Park on Ohio Drive, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The semifinal games are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., and the championship round will begin no later than 10 minutes after the completion of the semifinals.

“We are looking forward to a great day of sunshine and softball. The tournament is the culmination of a great season, and this year’s is looking to be very competitive and should be very exciting. It’s anyone’s ballgame,” said Sonja Hoover, commissioner of the Senate Softball League.

Meanwhile, the Congressional league will take its battle outside of the District as seven teams compete for the championship at Beulah Fields in Alexandria, Va. Games will begin at noon, with the final championship round scheduled for 7 p.m.

For the 120 teams in the House league, however, the excitement of their final tournament has already passed.

The Blue Pups, who have never before made it to the final round, took home their first House title last weekend, winning the final game 16-10 against their seasoned opponents, Potomac Fever.

“It was unexpected, but it was great,” said Greg Mecher, a member of the Blue Pups. “I think we just got a good draw and got on a roll.”

Potomac Fever, which won the tournament in 2004 and 2006 and finished second in 2007, was optimistic about making it to the final game, according to team member Rob Walter.

“We had very good hopes of being there again … and we finished second, so it went pretty well,” Walter said. “We were happy because on the way to the finals we got to avenge our regular season losses.”

Despite the Blue Pups’ unexpected victory against Potomac Fever, Blue Pup team member Chris Huckleberry said the big moment came during the semifinal game.

“We beat the Insliders, a really competitive enemy who knocked us out of the tournament last year,” Huckleberry said. “It has been a few years since we beat them.”

“That was the best game of the tournament,” agreed Anthony Reed, commissioner of the House league. “The Insliders ended up losing by one run in the final inning.”

After their loss to the Blue Pups, the Insliders were forced to forfeit the consolation game for third place because of injuries. (Possibly too much sliding?)

“We had hoped to advance beyond the final four and win a championship,” Inslider team member Matt Anthes said. “But for the second year in a row, we blew a lead and were unable to advance.”

The Owego Fire Department, named in honor of team member Pat Gavin’s father who died while fighting fires, took third place after Insliders’ forefeit. For Gavin, winning that title this year had special meaning.

“This is the fifth anniversary of my father passing away,” Gavin said. “For us to go as far as we did in the tournament — that was a pretty special moment for me.”

Although the 48-team single elimination tournament technically concluded the House season, fans should not pack up and go home just yet.

On Sunday, Sept. 28, players selected from the top 16 House teams (excluding the Blue Pups) will compete in the 2008 all-star game against top players from the Senate league. Potomac Fever will coach the House all-star team, an honor reserved for the second-place winners of the House tournament.

That same day, the Blue Pups will take on the winner of the Senate tournament (to be determined this weekend) in the “King of the Hill” game.

“We had some teammates out of town for the House tournament, so it’ll be nice to have them back for one final game so we can all celebrate together,” Huckleberry said. “Win or lose, we’re just really looking forward to getting together for one last game and having some fun.”

For more information about the upcoming games, visit housesoftball.com, senatesoftball.org or congsoftball.com.