Softball season comes to an end

| 14 Jun 2012 | 11:59

WEST MILFORD — The West Milford Girls Softball Association (WMGSA) held its annual picnic and awards ceremony at San Cap Field on Saturday June 2. It was a fun-filled day for all of the girls who playT-ball through majors (ages 5-14) and their families, with the presentation of participation medals, trophies for winners of the Longest Hit Contest, food, clowns painting faces and making balloon animals, pony rides, a DJ, and a fast-pitch booth.

The picnic day is also the day for playoff games for the Majors and Minors Divisions, bringing an end to the regular season. The playoff winners in each division then play a Championship game for first place trophies.

Challenged by Mother Nature Last year, the league faced challenges of rain causing poor field conditions that resulted in the cancellation of almost half of the season. This year they faced much of the same, but thanks to the combined efforts of league directors, coaches and parent volunteers most games in all divisions were able to be rescheduled.

For the picnic and playoffs, volunteers worked hard, starting in the wee hours of the morning raking out, and even using backpack blowers to groom the the San Cap fields to repair muddy field conditions left by heavy rains Friday night. Games that were scheduled for play at the Presbyterian field complex were moved to San Cap due to flooding on the fields. Mother Nature finally relented, giving them a beautiful mostly-sunny day. With only one playable Majors field and one playable Minors field, games were delayed by two to six hours or more, but the girls did get the opportunity to play.

But for some, that opportunity was bittersweet. In the playoffs, all teams have an opportunity to make it to the championship game. In an upset that has become a regular occurrence in the past several years, a first place team was knocked out of thechampionships by the last place team.

Anatomy of a first-place team Team 6, sponsored by the West Milford PBA, has been a cohesive Majors team for the past three years, with some players together even longer since they also played together in the Minors Division. As a Minors team, “Maroon 11” led by Coach Scott Quigley, the girls had a winning regular season in 2009, but lost in an upset in the playoffs to the last place team, knocking them out of a spot in the championships. The following year, Quigley drafted most of the same girls to his Majors team. In a new division, with a new sponsor and new colors (yellow/black), the team chose the nickname “Hornets” and rallied in their first year in the Majors division to make it to the Championship game; but they were unable to win the first place trophy. But Quigley said “The girls never lost their spirit.”

In 2011, teams in the league saw limited playing time due to rain, and the young team did not make it past the playoffs.

This year the PBA team had an incredible season, winning 9 of 11 games with four games rained out. The girls had fun on the field, in practice and in games, and often stayed late after games playing for fun, helping each other with skills, and encouraging each other to excel.

With seven “senior” players (eighth graders-all on the honor roll at school), newer players showing promising skills and eager to learn, and a team “family” mentality, this was the best chance the Hornets have had in years to win a championship.For the seven girls moving on to high school next year, it was their last chance in this division. With their season record, positive attitude, and team spirit, a championship win looked as though it was finally within their grasp…

The Majors playoffs Due to conflicts with school events, instead of a two-day playoff schedule, all four playoff games were played on Saturday, the day of the picnic.

In game one of the playoffs, Team 1, sponsored by West Milford Dairy Queen andmanaged by Tony Germano, had a season record of 6-5. They faced Team 5, sponsored by Wayne Wyatt & Son andmanaged by Carmen Scangarello, with a 4-4-2 season record. Team 5 won the game and waited to see who they would face next.

In Game Two, the Majors team with the second best season record of 7-4, sponsored by State Farm Insurance andmanaged by Doug Paget, defeated Team 3, sponsored by Lakeland Auto Parts and(season record 3-8-1) managed by Keith Van Nortwick, in a “sudden-death” final inning nail biter in their first game of a double-header. Team 2 then lost their chance for a spot in the championships in a Game Three upset loss to Team 5. Team 5- Wayne Wyatt & Son earned the first spot in the Championship game.

In the final playoff game that was moved from Presbyterian field to San Cap and delayed nearly seven hours from its regular scheduled time of 11:30am, Team 4 (Light Blue Shirts) sponsored by Mark Lindsay and Son Plumbing, Managed by Jodi Gerstenmaier, with a last place record of 3-9-1, faced Team 6 (Yellow Shirts) sponsored by the West Milford PBA, Managed by Scott Quigley with the 9-2 first place season record. In an exciting, fast paced, low-scoring game, the girls on both teams made great plays, spectacular hits, fly ball catches, and close-call slides into bases. Team 4 was able to pull ahead by one run in the top of the 7th inning. The Team 6 “Hornets” fought back with a game-tying runner on base with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, but fell short when she was instructed to steal third base and the attempt was thwarted by a throw from the catcher to the third baseman for the tag-out; bringing a heartbreaking end to the season for Team 6 with a final score of 4-3.

Once again the chance to play in the Championship game was taken from the “Hornets” by a last place team. Once again a team with a last place record reveled in the glory of the win and the opportunity to play in the Championship game for a chance to win it all.

Team 4-Mark Lindsay and Son Plumbing and Team 5-Wayne Wyatt & Son will face each other in the final Championship Game to battle for the First Place Title for the Majors Division.

Minors Division Playoffs The “curse” of the first place team in the playoffs reared its ugly head again in the Minors Division. Team 4, sponsored by Napa Auto Parts, Managed by Eileen Marzalik who had a tied last-place record of 2-9 won a Championship spot and will be facing Team 2 Sponsored by Victory Graf-EX, Managed by Dan Carle with a second-place season record of 8-3 in the Championship Game for the Minors Division.

Mother Nature interferes again Both Championship Games were scheduled for Monday June 4th, but the games were rained out and will be re-scheduled.

It just goes to show that it’s anybody’s game to win or lose in the playoffs!

More fun to come for the Girls and Coaches

In addition to the Championship game, players will be chosen from the Majors teams and Minors teams to play an All-Star Game for each Division, and the WMGSA will also have their annual “Coaches’ Classic” game on a date TBD in near future. It’s all about fun for the girls (and the Coaches), and they sure seem to be having it in the WMGSA.