It’s typically infrequent that a game will end early because of the Twenty Run Rule. That’s a good thing, since exercising the “mercy” ruling throws salt in the wounds of an already embarrassed loser and prematurely sends the winner packing. It’s no way to lose, or win, a softball game.
Yet that’s just how a whopping eight women’s teams finished their matches Tuesday night, with all four evening games ending early due to the Twenty Run Rule.
“It seems that it’s been happening more this season,” said Telluride Parks and Recreation Assistant Ryan McGovern of the Twenty Run Rule’s use. No one knows why, for sure, but there are some theories.
Some blame this season’s new women’s format, which is exactly like the men’s in that the teams are separated into A and B leagues at the start of the season. In the past, all of the teams played each other in the early season, and the rankings after those matches then determined which teams were A-league material, and which weren’t.
The new format was instated after complaints arose from players last summer that the schedule didn’t include an end-of-season tournament; this was due to the fact that there is simply not enough time in the summer softball season to have both a league-determining round-robin schedule at the beginning of the season and a tournament at the end.
Susan Heard, whose B league team Las Montañas merged with A league team The Darkside this season, said the apparently lopsided matches in both the A and B leagues this summer is an effect of the two leagues’ unsettled nature. “If this would have been the format last year, it would have worked great,” she said. “But every season, people switch teams, people quit – it’s always changing.”
An insufficient number players on both the Las Montañas and Darkside rosters at the start of the season forced the two teams to merge, in effect creating a brand new team that was put into the A league on the assumption that “The Darkside of Las Montañas” would be able to “hang” in the A league. Currently the team boasts a winning 3-1 record.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the men’s and women’s leagues has to do with physiology. Every summer, there is an exodus of women players from the league due to pregnancy. And every summer, other players return to the field following their pregnancies – pending babysitter availability.
As for Tuesday’s games, the A league ASAP Slammers crushed the Bubble Loungers in four innings, 24-0, while A league leaders Mountain Limo served Treb Curves a resounding 25-5 defeat. In the B league, Last Dollar flattened Telski, 21-1. In the evening’s later games, and The Spank emerged victorious from their game against the Telluride Tomboys by, you guessed it, A 20 run margin.
Despite the lopsided score, the Spank/Tomboy match did at least deliver some entertainment. The pink-clad Spank girls were even more vociferous than usual, giving credit where it was due for a few players who rose above the Spank’s normally laissez-faire approach. Defensively, shortstop Ramona Bruland was a one-woman powerhouse, picking off Tomboy runners as if she were swatting flies. And at the plate, batter Kip Smith stunned Tomboy outfielders with not one but two homeruns.
“Are we surprised Kip hit another homerun? Of course not – she’s The Beast!” said teammate Scrappy Spank following Smith’s second homer, which added three runs to the Spank’s already commanding lead. Thanks to her big night at bat on Tuesday, Smith has been christened with a new moniker: Spank Me Home (her old jersey – Holy Spank! – is rumored to be retired).
The next women’s matches will be on Tuesday, and the next men’s games will be Monday.