The Congressional Softball League is essentially the “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” of the sporting world during the regular season — the rules are made up, and the points don’t matter.
But that’s not true when the playoffs roll around.
The CSL’s annual postseason tournament kicked off on a beautiful Saturday at Beulah Fields in Alexandria, Va. The strictly enforced one-hour time limit, called balls and strikes and full-sized diamond made this a decidedly different experience from the average Mall game. Thankfully, the conditions were (nearly) perfect for a day jam-packed with softball — your correspondent has the sunburn to prove it — and the CSL’s sluggers did not disappoint.
The day kicked off at 9:15 a.m., when the Brookland Sluggers upset the Peace Corps Villagers in a competitive four-inning affair. It didn’t feature the big hits or diving catches of some of the day’s later games, but it was perhaps the most entertaining, because of a muddy infield that caused most batters to wipe out spectacularly coming out of the box.
On another amusing note, iced coffee replaced beer as the drink of choice in both dugouts. Either there’s a line even CSLers won’t cross, or everyone was simply hungover already (it was a Saturday morning, after all).
As the morning progressed, two clear favorites emerged in the six-team Red Group: The GSPM PoliTricks and the Fallen Angels. The PoliTricks, armed with a potent top-to-bottom lineup and all-star fielding, dispatched two opponents in quick succession by invoking the mercy rule (a 10-run gap after four innings means the game is over). The Angels, meanwhile, were one of only two teams on the day to record a 20-0 victory.
The favorites ended up taking the group’s two berths by going 2-0 each, but that didn’t mean the rest of the day wasn’t worth watching. The aforementioned Sluggers-Villagers game was highly entertaining, and the late-morning matchup between Read the Fine Print and Booze, Win or Lose featured enough fantastic catches to fill your average SportsCenter highlight reel.
Ultimately, the biggest takeaway from the Red Group is that the Fallen Angels and especially the PoliTricks — neither of which your correspondent saw before Saturday — will be serious contenders in September’s bracket round.
The White Group’s Saturday slate was disrupted by a couple of teams canceling at the last minute, but the early afternoon still brought some excitement to Beulah Fields. The second-ranked Microsoft Bada Bings took the field for two consecutive dominant performances, laying the groundwork for what could be a long playoff run.
It wasn’t a total cakewalk, though: Microsoft got an early scare from upset-minded Hudson Institute in the White Group opener. Hudson played impressive defense against a slugger-filled lineup and even managed to take a brief lead in the third inning. Then the Bada Bings woke up, knocked two balls out of the park and promptly took an 11-run lead.
The Bings cruised in their next game, a 20-run shutout of 33rd-ranked Big League Chu, and predictably sealed a bracket berth. Big League Chu quickly rebounded to pull out an epic comeback win over Hudson Institute, but the DOT Triskelions spoiled the rally by taking the group’s other bid on two forfeit wins.
Your correspondent couldn’t stick around to watch the smaller Blue and Gray Groups play in the evening games. But we’ve got results anyway, and there was no shortage of excitement.
The No. 41 Fearless LEADers used a 7-5 upset win over No. 8 Agent Orange to secure the bid from the Blue Group, in which they were the third-best of four teams based on regular season ranking (though they did win 11 games, as good or better than most teams in the league).
The Gray Group featured three teams with nine-win resumes, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when the 17th-ranked Hank’s Hitters took home the bracket berth. The surprise came when Senate candidate Hank the Cat apparently showed up to cheer on his team. For those of you who haven’t been following Virginia politics this election season, Hank is a cat from Virginia running for one of the state’s Senate seats. Really.
That’s all for this week, folks. Tune in to @CQRCSoftball next Saturday for live updates from the second day of CSL tournament group play.