Tuesday, March 15, 2011
CHAPEL HILL, NC--Much of the Chapel Hill community was concerned with their team not hitting shots. Off the basketball court, though, a small segment hit pretty much everything they looked at. As the rain level started to rise, and the temperature started to drop, Chapel Hill's own Ligers, the CoRec Recreational League Softball team comprised exclusively of law students, bared their fangs and took hold of a softball game like Mary Ellen "Bucky" Bonner takes hold of a bad cite-checker. The Ligers intimidated their opponents--the "Carolina Week," an all-journalism-major team-- . . . and then inundated them, not only at the plate, but also with heads-up defensive play and explosive base-running.
The Ligers emerged from hibernation a tad slow--the Carolina Week scored a total of four runs in the first inning. The outfield, with Mary Ellen Bonner and Stu "Pottstown" Pratt at right, Skipper Scotty Strickland at center, and Mabes "Mudville" Mabry at left, let a couple runs get by on the slick-running astroturf that night. And the Carolina Week's starting pitcher came out throwing some of the best junk balls that the Ligers will probably see all year. Still, the Ligers, with Skipper Scott Strickland as third base coach, managed to grind out two small-ball style runs to keep them in it.
And then the deluge came. Not only did the sky open up, but so did the Ligers' offense. In that inning, they scored five runs, thanks to power-hitting by McCotter, Cowan, Biggers, and the rest of the lineup, and smart base-running. "Yeah, I think it all began when I hit that ball through the gap," said Ligers' first-baseman R. "Tricky" Dick McCotter. "After that, [the pitcher's] confidence was just shot." And so it seemed, with the Skipper, the Hillary "Liger" Lyon, Dan "the Swatman" Cowan, Colin "Don't Call Me Fairness" Justice, and Bigglesworth Biggers (and even Mudville Mabes) all contributing to a huge five-run inning.
Making their last defensive stand in the pouring rain, the Ligers continued to play heads-up ball. Jeremy "Slick Willy" Wilson continued the same steady, confident game at the mound that he showed all night, and he was able to throw together a strike-out and two fly balls to end the 5th. Mudville caught a clutch fly ball to right, but the real web gem came when the Skipper, paddlewheeled in from deep center to lay himself out to catch a blooper that landed a few feet behind second base . . . and in his glove. "Yeah, uh, I guess that my emotion just got a hold of me. The drills--when you practice that stuff, you don't even think."
Ozzie-Guillen-style "smart ball" notwithstanding, let's hope the Ligers continue "not thinking" as the season wears on--it apparently translates to victories.
Jackson "Mabes Mudville" Mabry is a free-lance writer based in Chapel Hill, NC and Dallas, TX. His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The Atlantic, National Review, Sports Illustrated, and The Sporting News.
Why Colonel Sartoris?
Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.