Sometimes-windy kickball tourney sets up June 23 championship

Robert Andrews and Sam Schlenner

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In an effort for employees to get out of their work clothes and into shorts and T-shirts, Oakland University Recreation and Well-Being kicked off its first-annual Employee Kickball Tournament on Tuesday, June 14.

“We wanted to provide something just fun for employees to do on their lunch breaks,” said Stephanie Willis, Employee Wellness Coordinator. “Definitely trying to get more of the guys involved in some of our wellness programs and definitely got them out here today.”

“When I heard about the kickball teams, the league and the tournament, I thought it would be a good chance for us to get together,” said Oakland University Police Chief Mark Gordon. “And do the same thing we used to do when we played softball, which is get our people out here together.

The championship game is Thursday, June 23 at 12:10 p.m. on the RAOC Superfields (upper fields).

June 14

Four teams battled it out in two high-scoring games. The Hammer Toes (structural) played the School of Health Sciences (SHS Kickers) and the second game of the day had the Oakland University Police Department (Suns Out Guns Out) play against the Department of Development and Alumni Relations (K-Ballers).

The Hammer Toes, who packed offensive firepower and played solid defense, got off to an early lead and sealed the deal at 8-1.

“We’ve been practicing twice and every practice we had a player get a little sore, but the boys are doing real good,” said Hammer Toes co-captain Greg Meeham. “We’re having all kinds of fun.”

Even though the SHS Kickers lost, they were able to get out there and have fun.

“Kind of a moral booster for the department, fun thing to do,” said SHS co-captain Terry Dibble. “Get everybody together and have fun.”

The K-Ballers beat Suns Out Guns Out 11-3.

The K-Ballers had a defensive strategy coming into the game. They made sure the infield gaps were covered by placing their taller players in the infield in order to cover more ground.

“We made sure we had some tall folks that could reach for infield balls,” said co-captains Erin Sudrovech and Millie Gervais. “Those of us that were a little shorter in stature but perhaps a little lighter on our feet, we were around the outfield.”

June 20 — Semis

If 20 mph wind and 30 mph gusts affect a baseball game, they wreak havoc in kickball. Seemingly OK shots wisp foul without a prayer, and even throwing someone out at first from short becomes a struggle.

The scores the semifinal on blustery Monday, June 20, were accordingly uncontrolled. The Hammer Toes beat Kickin’ It Old School (First Year Advising Center) 9-1 and K-Ballers beat Pitches Be Crazy (OUWB) 13-10.

Old School grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but at the end of the second it was 4-1 in favor of the Hammer Toes. Old School’s second basewoman caught two fly balls to help end the inning.

Old School tried to answer in the top of the third with a big fly to center field, but it was caught. It was followed up with a fly to second base, which was caught.

“Sorry, I tried to keep it on the ground,” the woman said walking back to the dugout which was a line of people on the third base side.

FYAC then managed a double off a huge fly to left field which was just fair.

The next kicker hit a foul to the left. It caught the wind and landed on top of the hill that borders the eastern edge of the upper rec field which held the diamond. This happened as a helicopter flew to the west of the game, heading north. Tough flying up there?

A base hit put the runners at first and third, but a subsequent grounder led to an out at home and no more runs for Old School.

The Hammer Toes followed up that threat with one of their own. They just squeezed in a triple to left field.

A ground-out didn’t score the runner on third, but another fly to left (no catch) did. 5-1.

A double scored one more run and the score was 6-1 Hammer Toes at the end of the third.

Old School almost manufactured some runs in the fourth. The Hammer Toes pitcher bobbled a grounder to put a runner on first. A screaming line to left put made it first and second.

After a strikeout, a grounder that just stayed fair on the left side prompted a force at third, and another out put the rally to bed.

The Hammer Toes led off the bottom of the fourth with a bunt, just barely kicking the ball. No bunts allowed. Out.

A fly to left center was the second out. Then they loaded the bases.

But first base caught the next fly and the Hammer Toes stranded three.

Old School left the top of the fifth scoreless with two fly balls and a bunt.

After the shortstop caught the first out in the bottom of the fifth, a deep line to left allowed a triple. A ground-out got the second out but also the seventh run for the Hammer Toes. 7-1 after the fifth.

The sixth saw the FYAC scare again with runners at first and third, but a fly ball to left field made them yield.

Bottom of the sixth. Hammer Toes up. Over the third baseperson’s head. One runner on.

A fly to left center went to the ground. Runners on first and second. The initial runner slid into second. Ow?

Left field caught the next fly. One out.

A hit on line with short sent runners to first and third. A blooper on line with second scored a run. A hit in the same direction pushed the score to 9-1.

The top of the seventh was Old School’s last chance. They had to make up eight runs and tie to continue.

First person up kicked it to third base. One out.

The shortstop got the next one and just missed right of first base, forcing him off the bag. One runner on.

Third base caught another. Two outs.

Yet another ball to third base. This time he dove. Game over.

The third baseman was Juan Cantu. Because of the dive into the field turf, he had rug burn below the knee. He said it was worth it.

The Hammer Toes drove off in golf carts. One of them passed some Old Schoolers on the way across the field.

“Good game,” one of the Hammer Toes said.

Sudrovech of the K-Ballers, who won their game against Pitches Be Crazy 13-10, said the wind made the game more difficult.

“We had to work out the weather patterns,” Sudrovech said. “We just made sure that we followed through, did what we needed to do to clinch the win.”

As for her individual contribution:

“That’s why we have a scorekeeper, my friend,” she said. “I don’t know.”

Gervais said they played as a team, and that there’s no “I” in said word.

“That’s why we don’t know how many runs we each scored,” Gervais said. “Cause it’s all about the team.”

“That’s right,” Sudrovech said. “It’s all about the team. It’s the team runs that matter.”

Are they ready for the Hammer Toes?

Wooooooooooooooo!

The championship game between the K-Ballers and Hammer Toes is Thursday, June 23 at 12:10 p.m. on the RAOC Superfields (upper fields).

More information about the kickball tournament can be found (here) under programs and events, or by contacting Stephanie Willis at [email protected]