We’ve been playing in the SJSL since day one six years ago. We’ve have some tremendous teams over the years and made some tremendous playoff runs, but sadly had yet to come away with a championship until this kickball season.
The Spring 2016 Honey Badgers were the greatest team that I have ever had the pleasure of participating on. When I look at the individuals on our roster, I’m still baffled at how we were able to pull it off. We are a much older roster than most teams, we’re not as athletic, nor as strong, and we have several players who cannot kick past the infield.
However, we were all on the same page and had the same goal. I’ve been on great teams where the sum was greater than it’s parts, but never to the extent as this team. We all found a way to contribute, worked together, and simply clicked. It was amazing.
Our playoff run was the thing of legends.
Our first round game was against We Got the Runs, a team that we had narrowly defeated by one run with some insane 7th inning heroics earlier in the season. We were very evenly matched, and we knew it would be a battle.
The game turned out as advertised. Runs were hard fought and both defense solid. The huge swing play was with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 1st. Their captain blasted a shot to deep right field. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think Sarah had a good shot to get it. It was really well struck. Undeterred, she kept running at it, and by some miracle was able to get to it where she made one of the finest finger tip catches I’d ever seen. This would be an early 4 run swing in our favor and really built momentum for us.
There was some very big kicks by Ed and Dave throughout the night, and Sarah would later have a huge 2 out kick for us as well to knock in some hard fought runs.
With a 1 run lead, and nerves a plenty the unlikely tandem of Dustin at shortstop to Julie at 1st base sealed the deal for us. Julie could not of picked a bigger moment to make her two finest plays of the season. They were not easy plays at 1st. It was a hard fought and amazing victory.
Our quarterfinal matchup had us a fairly strong underdogs against The Slobber Bobs. They had defeated us 8-3 in our earlier meeting. They have some very strong kickers, run the bases very aggressively, and also field very well. A tough match up for sure.
Our gameplay was to play great defense and make sure that we backed one another up on defense on every play. We knew if we could somehow keep it close, that maybe we’d have a shot. The strategy going in was to kick often and early to their 1st baseman. We felt that we could have some success moving base runners doing that and hopefully frustrate them as well.
It was a 1-1 tightly contested match as expected, until we were finally able to bust through with a big inning late in the game breaking down the 1st base line. Wow, it was great.Before we knew it, we were up 11-1 in the 6th and they were getting very frustrated and we could feel the momentum on our side. We were able to close them out and advance. A perfectly played game against a very strong opponent.
In the finals we were set to square off against Suck My Kick who beat us 3-1 earlier in the season. They have some tremendous kickers on their side, but we always play them well and I could tell by our body language we were going to give them everything we had.
We screamed out of the gates putting up 8 runs in the first. They weren’t ready for that, and some in team bickering had begun. We couldn’t of asked for a better start. When their second baseman asks for me as the pitcher to move so that he can see better (sorry, but I’m going to stand where I can best benefit my team within the rules), I knew that we’d gotten into some of their heads a bit.
They are a very strong and determined team and were able to answer back with many runs of their own. However, with every run they were able to score we could answer right back padding a few here and there to our lead. We would eventually put up 19 runs which was plenty enough to put them away and win the championship.
It did feel pretty great to finally win it all, and what made it even better was they we won it playing right, with our guys, and didn’t go out and get some ringers to carry us. With the oldest core in the group, I’m not going to lie and didn’t think we’d be able to win a championship without breaking up our core group. So to win with Dustin and Kevin who’ve been with me since day 1 was amazing!
Kevin grinning ear to ear hoisted me high into the air! His excitement was so great to see! Steve and others attempted to do their best Gatorade shower with water bottles on hand. Wow, what an amazing crew.
So many players gave it their very all, played the best game they could, and did whatever the team asked of them. It as truly teamwork at it’s finest. An amazing job by a pretty amazing group of teammates!!!