Regardless of age, ability or stamina, the game of softball is still available to all Green Valley sluggers thanks to the BAJA Sporting Club's new Spirit League.
According to Jim Brewer, president of the BAJA board of directors, “The concept started about two seasons ago when some players were just not up to two double-headers a week anymore. Some couldn’t commit to playing two days per week, some may have lost a step or two, some hadn’t played in a long time and weren’t sure how they would perform, and some ... just wanted to play for fun.”
Jim Hill, founder and current Commissioner of the Spirit League, worked with other BAJA Senior Softball league members, fellow BAJA Softball Commissioners and the Board of Directors to add the Spirit League, which plays on Fridays at the Chuck Catino Softball Complex on South Camino de la Canoa in Canoa Preserve Park. The existing Allison and Catino competitive leagues also play Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, January through March, at the park.
The new Spirit League uses a modified five-on-five-on-five format, Brewer said. Three teams of five to seven players play at the same time.
One team is at bat, and one is on the left side with players at third base, shortstop, rover, left field and left-center field. The third team is on the right side at second base, first base, right-center, right field and rover.
To help ensure consistency, Brewer explained, the pitcher and catcher are from either the Allison or Catino leagues. They pitch and catch for both teams, but do not bat. They also serve as umpires for the game.
Every player on each Spirit team bats twice around, regardless of outs, and the number of runs they score are tallied. Teams swap positions until each has batted.
At the end of this cycle, the team with the most runs gets three points, the team with second-most runs gets two points, and the team with the third-most receives one point, for a total of six points per game. They take a short break, then do it all over again, for two games played every Friday.
Play for the new league began on Jan. 11 with the two games or a double header for each team.
Dorie Carroll summed it up best recently: “At the end of the games, we weren’t really sure who won right away. And you know what? No one truly cared. Sure, we all competed very hard, but we all had a blast just playing the game we love. And that is the ‘spirit’ of the game this league has given us.”