Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hounds Win $350 for Make-A-Wish Foundation

By virtue of our championship season, we were awarded a check in the amount of $350 on our behalf to the Make-A-Wish foundation of America. That money should go a long way in making a kid's dream come true. Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children that are facing life-threatening illness.

If feels great to know that just by playing good softball we are able to make a difference. It's all the more important when you consider the effect the lousy economy has had on charitable giving as a whole. Well done, team.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Team MVPs

Time to announce the team MVPs for Fall 2009. It was a close vote and in the end there ended up being ties on both the guys and the gals side. First, the ladies:

Camille - Camille had subbed for us before, but only until this season was she a full-time Hound. And what an addition she was. She came through with clutch hits coupled with solid fielding mostly behind the plate, but also at 2B and RF. Who will ever forget her huge RBI triple at the end of the final to seal our victory.

Margaret - What can we say about our Cy Young winner that hasn't already been said. Whenever she is pitching, we have a very good chance to win. Solid fielding, timely hitting, and overall leadership round it all out. She is a complete player. Went 3 for 3 in the championship and sparked the game-winning rally.

And now, the guys:

Iain - Mr. Clutch as I like to call him was a stellar performer all season long and through the playoffs. He looked like he was hurtin' at times out there, all the more reason to respect what he was doing. His batting average was an unbelievable .846.

Jason - This guy was our silent assassin, our T-1000. Whether at the top of the order or the middle, he did tons of damage to opposing pitching. None of his hits were cheap. In the field he was a shutdown outfielder who you didn't want to hit it anywhere near to. Led the team in hits(tied), home runs, RBIs, and runs scored.

So there you have your MVPs, team. However there were also other Hounds receiving votes:

Amelia - Due to scheduling conflicts Schimmy didn't really get going for us until the 2nd half of the season. When she did finally play, she brought an added dimension to our lineup. It's no coincidence that after she started showing up, we became an offensive juggernaut.

Cindy - All C-Rod did was come to every single game and play solid fundamental ball for us. She was our most disciplined hitter, I don't recall her swinging at a bad pitch all season. Hit a solid .438 in the regular season.

Diana - D.Lo made huge strides this season and distinguished herself at Catcher and 2nd base. She is a prospect to watch in upcoming seasons. She also supported the team loudly and unconditionally.

Juiena - Juice emerged as a reliable No.2 starter for us in the 2nd half of the season. She seemed to perform better with each start, and we were victorious in every game she pitched. She is also one to watch for next season.

Mega - Our reigning MVP's numbers weren't quite what they were last season, but Mega's hits always seemed to come at critical moments. He really elevated his game in the playoffs, capped by his 2 home run performance in the final. He has my vote for World Series MVP.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zog: Hounds Take the Title

It was a quick 1-day turnaround from the semi to the final. One game in which two teams enter and only one could emerge as champions. We were back at Riverbank State Park, a place where we have experienced both triumph and tragedy. The breeze was crisp coming off the Hudson River, and we were eager to take the field and keep the momentum from our previous outing. Our opponents were a club called Balls of Steel, a tough opponent that held their own against us on opening day. We knew a challenge lay ahead, and this game proved to be a fitting final.

Margaret once again took the mound for us and pitched a great ballgame. No walks as usual. Let's tip our caps to Balls of Steel, they are a hard-hitting team and were basically able to score two runs an inning against our ace pitcher. Our defense was generally good, even if we did have some mishaps from time to time. There were some defensive highlights though, including Amelia's nifty catch of a sinking liner, Camille bailing out yours truly with a heads-up play at the plate, and Jason's near over-the-wall catch which would have been the play of the decade let alone the game.

Our offense also consistently put runs on the board throughout the game. Mega was the star of the show, hitting two big home runs for us. Iain, Jason,Camille and Alan continued to rake, but Balls of Steel stayed with us step for step. Soon it was the top of the 3rd and they were only down by a couple.

I never thought a positive turning point for us could be an opponent's home run, but that proved to be the case tonight. One of their boppers(#22) got a hold of one and hit a solo home run over the wall to cut our lead to one run. It was a nice little moment for him, but he took it too far and proceeded to act like a complete jerk as he rounded the bases. It was a Bush league move which motivated us and couldn't have been good for his softball karma.

In the top of the 4th, we blew the game open. Margaret(3 for 3) started the rally and the top of the order kept it going. Camille came up to bat and hit a hard shot over #22's head in leftfield. Iain then hit one down the 3rd base line that also got past him, making it back-to-back RBI triples. It was fitting retribution for us, and ol' #22 learned quickly how humbling this game can be. Mega cemented the rally with his 2nd homer of the night, a two-run shot.

We were now up 16-11, and Margaret protected the lead beautifully for us. They were able to get two across in the top of the 7th, but the final out was fittingly a comebacker to the pitcher that was handled with no problem. With that, the game was over and the celebration could begin. Hounds are Champions. Final Score: Hounds 16, Balls of Steel 11.

We had an outstanding season. Save for one fluke game, we dominated this division. If we can keep our group together, we have a good chance of being a dynasty. Thanks to all of you for being a part of the magic. It may be a cliche, but a manager really is only as good as his players. And I had the best, most dedicated players in the league. I hope you all join me again in defending the title come Spring 2010.

Yo Hounds, We did It!! What a great way to head into the long, softball-less winter months... 'til next season, everybody!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Zog Semi-Final: Hounds Humiliate ZooMass; One Win Away from the 'Chip

The playoffs are once again here and we came into this game with a single-minded determination. Having stumbled the last two Zog seasons at the semi-final hurdle, we Hounds were eager to exorcise the ghosts of post-seasons past. It was a gorgeous fall Sunday night and we were at DeWitt Clinton Field, a good ballfield with a nice playing surface. In the opposing dugout was a team called ZooMass, the team which had handed us our one loss in the regular season. In the back of my mind, I knew that loss was a fluke and that we would have the upper hand this time around. Just how much of an upper hand, even I was surprised to see.

Margaret was our starting pitcher and she once again showed why she is our staff ace. She pitched a 1-2-3 top of the 1st, and soon it was time for us to bat. After a hit and two walks loaded the bases, Iain stepped up and hit a grand-slam home run. That home run set the table for the entire evening. After the 1st was over, we were up 6-0 and ZooMass already looked defeated. They made their first of several protests throughout the game. After a brief delay to reference the rules, their protest was shot down. That seemed to make us even more motivated to stomp them, and our offense continued the scoring barrage inning after inning. Every Hound had a part to play, but some standouts were Jason T, who had a monster 4 for 4, 2 home-run game, the aforementioned Iain(4 for 4), Amelia(2 for 3, 3 RS), Mega(3 for 4, HR), Wink(3 for 3, 3 RS), Alan(3 for 3), and Camille(2 for 3).

ZooMass continued to stop play every inning to protest(what exactly I don't know), but we just continued to focus on our business.They were able to ruin Margaret's shutout with a clean home run, but soon it was the last inning and they were down by more than 20 runs. We closed the game out with a nifty 6-6-3 double play. Final Score: Hounds 23, ZooMass 2.

To say we were impressive tonight would be a massive understatement. However, we haven't won anything yet. We have a big game tomorrow night against what I am sure will be a very good team. Let's bring the same focus we brought tonight, and we will be very difficult to beat.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Zog: Final Regular Season Player Stats

Here are the final regular season player stats. Once again, thanks to everybody that stepped up and helped score our games.

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Zog: Hounds Squash the Spiders

Our final regular season game was set for a brisk Monday night at Riverbank State Park. We came into this game knowing a playoff berth was secure, but also knowing that we needed to head into the playoffs with a solid effort. Our opponents were the Spiders, a team that needed to win to have any chance of making the playoffs. After the pre-game pleasantries were exchanged, it was time to play ball.

Juiena was once again our starting pitcher, and she was a battler all night. As the home team we took the field first, and we were quickly behind the 8-ball. A series of defensive blunders exascerbated what could have been a fairly easy inning, and by the time the top of the 1st was over, we were down 5-0. Soon it was 8-2, and some of the Spiders started getting cocky. What they didn't know is that we were just getting the started. The bottom of the order sparked a furious rally in the 2nd inning, highlighted by Alan's 3-run home run, his first as a Hound. Another highlight was Kim, who filled in beautifully for us, getting on base twice and scoring two runs. We took the lead 9-8 and we would never look back. Our defense settled down nicely, and a small-ball rally in the 5th padded our lead. Juiena closed them out in the 6th after a brief scare for the complete-game victory, crushing the Spiders' playoff hopes for this season. FInal Score: Hounds 14, Spiders 12.

This comeback victory was a great way to head into the playoffs. Let's keep the eye of the tiger as we head into the post-season.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zog: Hounds Clinch

I was just looking at the standings that were just posted. The way I see it, we have officially clinched a playoff berth. Only the top 4 make it and the 5th place team can only finish 3 and 3 at best. Well done, team.

Zog: Hounds Thrash the Sliders

For our penultimate game of the regular season, it was over to Colonel Charles Young Field in Harlem to take on the Sliders. We came into this game sitting pretty at 3 and 1, knowing that 4 wins would probably be enough to get us in the playoffs. It was a perfect night for a ballgame, and after a brief delay, it was time to play ball.

Juiena got the nod at starting pitcher looking to build on the success of her previous outing. She pitched magnificently, walking no one and allowing only 2 runs all game. Behind her, our defense really stepped up and looked like a well-oiled machine.

Our offense was also outstanding on the night. Everyone had a part to play, but the star of the show was Jason T. who hit 3 home runs, all well-hit shots. He and George were a strong 1-2 combo, going a combined 7 for 8 with 4 home runs and 11 RBIs. Mega went 2 for 3 with an opposite field solo home run. Push and Cindy combined to go 5 for 5 with 4 runs scored and 4 RBIs. Alan had a great game too going 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. All in all, it was a great effort by everyone and our opponents seemed relieved when the game was finally over. Final Score: Hounds 21, Sliders 2.

With 4 wins sewn up, we can go into our final regular season game nice and relaxed. Let's keep the pedal down and continue this momentum all the way to the playoffs.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Zog: Player Stats Through 4 Games

I'm sure some of you are curious to know what your stats are. Big thanks to everyone that has stepped up to score our games. It's because of you guys that we have this useful information. We have some great looking batting averages on this team...

Zog: Hounds Get Back on Track

The place was Roosevelt Island.The time, a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon. Our opponents were a group called Suds N Strikes, and we knew we had to re-bound from our tough loss last game. We came out ready to handle business and it was time to play ball.

Margaret was starting pitcher and was her usual dominant self. Meantime, our offense exploded for 8 runs in the first two innings. Wink, George, and Amelia were a formidable 1-2-3 combination, each going 2 for their first 2. No home runs in this game for us, we just strung together hits and were disciplined at the plate. Soon we were up 8-1. We made a pitching change midway through the game, Juiena stepping up to take the ball. She pitched admirably but was let down by several errors by the defense. Our offense added some more runs, but our opponents kept battling, and we entered the last inning only up 12-8. Suds tacked on a couple and had the tying run at the plate with two outs. That's when Wink got the ball to put out the fire. He got the one batter he faced to pop up harmlessly to center, mission accomplished. Final Score: Hounds 12, Suds 10.

This was a great win for us, because everyone contributed in some way, that always feels good. We are now 3 and 1, and are in good position to make a playoff run. We still have plenty of work to do though, and I have a feeling there are no weak teams in this division. Let's stay focused.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MAJA: Margaret & Iain Win Team M.V.P. awards

Congratulations to Margaret & Iain for being voted team M.V.P.s in our MAJA Sports 2009 Central Park Softball Summer League campaign. Thanks to everyone that voted, it's a great reflection on our team that 9 different Hounds received votes, showing we are a balanced team that does not rely on just one or two players to carry us.

Margaret was our ace pitcher all season long. She dominated the league with a record of 7 and 0 and an outstanding ERA of 2.86. It was because of her great pitching that we were able to often jump out to big leads on our opponents, and her impeccable control on the mound(no walks all season) made sure our opponents were never able to score any cheap runs. She also contributed with the bat, hitting a respectable .391 and driving in 6 runs.

Iain was a new addition to our ballclub but he stepped in right away like he always belonged. He led the team with a torrid .750 batting average, and it seemed like every time he was up to bat he was driving in critical runs. His play at third base was also outstanding. He fielded everything that was hit his way, and he demoralized our opponents with his glove & arm. How can we ever forget his dramatic solo home run in the quarter final that carried us to victory and the showdown with Double D's.

I would be remiss if I did not talk about a couple of Hounds that I believe deserve honorable mentions:

Dave– The big fella was a critical part of our offense. He led the team in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, and hits(tied). He also displayed cat–like reflexes at first base. I know he saved me from at least 3 or 4 throwing errors. He was also able to infiltrate the enemy camps through flirtation.

Jason T.– This guy brought a quiet intensity to our team that was much needed. He hit at a .700 clip, mostly in the leadoff spot. He also covered tons of ground in the outfield. Along with Jason C. they were a formidable combination in left field.

Pushpita– Push was a steady presence for us all season long. Her contributions weren't always visible in the scorebook, but she was no less important to our success. She was responsible for the most clutch hit by any Hound in the regular season, that two-out game-tying hit vs SCN. She also did some fine work with her glove.

All in all, it was a great season with many memorable moments. Thanks to all of you for participating!

Zog: Hounds Take an 'L'

Having started the regular season 2 and 0, the Hounds headed back to DeWitt Clinton field to take on a UMass alumni team, ZooMass. It was a perfect night for a ballgame, and we were ready to take the field.

George got the ball for his first start of the season. After the way he pitched, it could quite possibly be his last. After a good first inning, he became erratic in what seemed like never-ending 2nd and 3rd innings. We also kicked the ball around a little, which did not help matters. By the time Mega came into the game to close out the 3rd inning, we were down only 8-3. All things considered, it could have been worse. We still had a chance to turn the tables.

Unfortunately, our offense failed to put together the big inning we needed. Wink and Iain did all they could to keep us in it; the Winkster going 3 for 3, and Iain going 2 for 3 with a 3-run homer. However, it would not be enough as our rally fell short in the last inning. Final Score: ZooMass 10, Hounds 7.

This loss is really disappointing because our talent level was much higher than theirs. They just made very few mistakes and their pitcher did not walk anybody. I take full responsibility for this one as having a different starting pitcher would have made a big difference. At least we are still 2 and 1 and we still control our own destiny.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Zog: Hounds Win Best Team Spirit Award & $100 for Make-A-Wish

Just got word from Zog that our team won the Best Team Spirit Award for the Spring/Summer Season. The award was voted on by all participating teams. This marks the 2nd season in a row that we win the award. Anyone that has been in our dugout knows that we always support one another and never, ever get down on each other. It also doesn't hurt to have some of the comedians we have on the team to lighten the mood.

Best of all, the award includes a $100 check on our behalf to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that we are representing a great charity, but this award reminds us that we are making a difference just by participating.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Stumble at the Final Hurdle

It was a brisk Saturday afternoon in the city and  the championship was on the line in Central Park. Weather had prevented this series from happening for about a month, and we were champing at the bit to get on the field. The trophy was on display for all to see, and all that was left was to throw the first pitch.

Our staff ace Margaret took the mound looking to continue her dominance. Unfortunately, our opponents had other plans, and we appeared to be a bit tight from the long layoff. They were able to hit bleeps and bloops all over the field, and were also aided by some Hounds miscues. By the time the top of the 1st was over, we were down 5-0. We fought right back in the bottom of the 1st, Dave hitting a 3-run homer. But after that, they shut us down. They tacked on some runs and we stayed quiet. Final Score: Soft Balls 8, Hounds 3.

For Game 2, coach took no chances and put Margaret right back on the hill. This time our defense was much better, but our bats continued to stay dormant. Let's give credit to Soft Balls too though, they made some nifty plays in the field to keep us off the scoreboard. Both teams matched each other blow for blow until the bottom of the 5th. Soft Balls scored a run on an error and heading into our last licks we were down 1-0.

The first two batters of the inning made harmless outs and now it was Alan's turn up to bat. What happened next will forever shroud this series in controversy. Alan hit a tough ground ball to the 3rd baseman, who fielded it cleanly but his throw pulled the 1st baseman off the bag. Alan was clearly safe; I was pumping my fist knowing we were still alive before I realized the ump had actually called Alan out. A massively blown call at completely the wrong time. There were even guys just walking in the park who saw that the ump blew the call. Who knows what would have happened if Alan had been called safe, but I liked our chances with one of our best hitters(Dave) due up next. Regardless, we're not going to win many games by not scoring any runs, and we shouldn't have left our fate to the umpires. An epic pitcher's duel closes out the 2-game sweep. Final Score: Soft Balls 1, Hounds 0.

The season is over but the dream continues.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zog: Hounds Tackle Huskies, 8-5

For Game 2 of the Zog Fall season it was over to the infamous Colonel Charles Young Field in Harlem. We have had many misadventures at this field, but fortunately on this night, the field was not as bad as it has been in the past. It was a late evening game, and our opponents were NYC Huskies, a UConn alumni team.

Margaret once again got the nod at starting pitcher. She performed well, holding the Huskies to only 5 runs. Our defense was sharp for the most part, with Iain making a couple of outstanding defensive plays to demoralize the Huskies. On offense, the top of the order carried us, with Jason T. the star of the show. He went 3 for 3 with 2 home runs, including a leadoff shot. Mega also had a big game, going 3 for 3 with a 2-run home run. Of the ladies, Camille was a standout, going 2 for 3 with an RBI, and playing very well behind the plate. We were able to overcome a baserunning blunder by your captain in the last inning, and hold on for an 3-run win. Final Score: Hounds 8, Huskies 5.

All in all, it was a solid win against a good opponent. We are now 2 and 0 and have put ourselves in a strong position to start the season. We should all feel good about that as we head into this holiday break.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zog: Hounds Pound Balls of Steel to Start the Season Right

Having finished last season respectably in the top 4, the Hounds were eager to take the field once again and start a new season. The fall season is only 6 games long, making each game that much more important. 

For opening day we headed over to DeWitt Clinton Park in Midtown. This field has always been good to us, and today would be no different. In the opposing dugout was Balls of Steel, a solid-hitting ballclub with a a few good fielders that made the mistake of not having enough females. Perhaps they could have gotten away with it against another team, but not the Hounds.

We were up to bat first and from the very beginning, we were able to find the holes in the defense. Iain, Dave, and Braden each had monster games. Iain had two home runs and 6 RBIs, Dave had a home run and 5 RBIs, and Braden also had a home run and 6 RBIs. The rest of the squad contributed too, it was an all around team effort offensively.

Our starting pitcher was Spring/Summer Season MVP Margaret. As usual, she pitched very well. For the most part, we made the defensive plays we needed to make, and were able to keep a big lead throughout the game. By the time the last inning rolled around, the result had long been decided. Nice work, Hounds. Final Score: Hounds 22, Balls of Steel 10.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Zog: M&M win Team M.V.P. awards

Congratulations to Margaret and Mega for being voted team M.V.P.s for the 2009 Zog Spring/Summer Season. The awards were voted on by their fellow Hounds.

Margaret was indispensable to our team with her outstanding pitching, solid fielding, heads-up play, and overall leadership. She was by far the leading vote-getter among the females.

Mega was also an integral part of our success this season. He was a steady presence in the lineup throughout the season, and he led the team in numerous important offensive categories, including hits and RBIs. He also contributed with good pitching when we needed someone to step up.

Cheers to you, Margaret & Mega, you have a drink on me at the next team get together!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Zog: Team Photo

Zog: Hounds Lose a Heartbreaker 7-6; Season Over

After having finished the regular season an impressive 9 and 3, the Hounds were back in the playoffs looking to make it to the final. For this semi-final matchup, we were faced against Who's On First, a team we had already beaten handily(twice). It was a very hot day in New York and we were playing on one of the best fields you could hope for. 
WOF jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st off Mega, our starting pitcher. He did very well to hold WOF in check after that until our offense exploded for 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th. Iain was the catalyst, hitting a Grand Slam home run to put us in front 4-2.  WOF then scored some key runs that put us down 7-4 heading into the bottom of the 7th. We then staged a quick rally to make it 7-6 with no outs and the tying run on 2nd. But out hopes of a comeback were dashed  with a double play and a harmless fly ball to left. Just like that, our season is over. Final Score: WOF 7, Hounds 6.
We have to just tip our cap to WOF. They must have been preparing for this opportunity, and more power to them. They hardly made any mistakes, made great plays in the field, and had timely hitting. We can hold our heads up high knowing that this game could have gone to either team give or take a few breaks. This marks the 2nd season in a row that we lose 7-6 at the semi-final stage. It's frustrating, but I intend to channel all that frustration into improving my game for next season, and to improving the team in general.
That marks the end of the season but not the end of the Hounds. We shall be back to fight for that championship again. We shall take the lessons learned from this campaign and build on them. It was an honor to have played alongside you, we had a great season and we should all be proud.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Prevail on an Epic Playoff Saturday

After a very successful regular season, the 2nd season was upon us. We were faced with a challenge right off the bat, forced to play a single-elimination first round game against the 8th-seeded team, WOJ. The field was immaculate, the sun was shining bright, and we were eager to get on the field. Amy H. came out despite still nursing an ankle injury to support us. After a testy pre-game exchange between the two teams, it was time to play ball.
We were home team, so we took to the field first. Margaret was our starting pitcher and she had a quiet top of the first. Then it was our turn to bat, and we quickly got on the board through a base hit from Jason T. and a home run by Dave. However, after that, we found it difficult to score. Their pitcher was arcing the ball well and handcuffing our batters. Luckily, Margaret continued to pitch very well and the defense behind her was outstanding. 
WOJ found a way to tie the game on a 2-run home run midway through the game. Then the contest became an exchange of great defensive play. WOJ stayed with us blow for blow. We entered the bottom of the last inning tied at 2-2. Iain came up with one out and nobody on. He then drove a ball deep to right, and once it got over the rightfielder's head, we knew the game was over. He circled the bases for a game-winning solo home run. We mobbed him at home plate and all let out a huge sigh of relief as we knew our season would continue. Alan had been saving some shaving cream just for a moment like this, and we all had some fun with Iain as you can see below. Final Score: Hounds 3, WOJ 2.
Our victory against WOJ meant that we moved on to the best-of-three semi-final against Double D's. They were the defending champs and had given us a tough game in our regular season meeting, so we knew we were in for a fight. Some members of their team had been talking a lot of smack in the build up to this meeting, so the tension between the two teams was high. No one had any way of knowing though the battle that would ensue.
For Game 1, Margaret once again got the starting nod. Double D's was up to bat first, and they came out strong with the help of some suspect Hounds defense. Before we knew it, we were in a 10-3 hole in the 2nd inning and it looked like the game might be getting out of our reach. Fortunately, Double D's pitchers could not find the plate and they walked us back into the game. We exploded for 8 runs in the bottom of the 2nd to storm out in front. We would never look back. The defense settled down, we tacked on some more runs, and we entered their last turn at bat with a 15-10 lead. They scored a couple of meaningless runs before we closed it out. Final Score Hounds 15, Double D's 12.
For Game 2, George took to the mound looking to continue the momentum we had from our big comeback in Game 1. This time, we were up to bat first, and jumped out to a big lead. Dave and Jason C. each had a home run in the top of the 1st, a 3-run shot and 2-run shot respectively. Unfortunately, George's command was off and he walked too many batters. This allowed Double D's to get back in the game. They made it close before the skipper decided to put Margaret in the game in the bottom of the 5th to close it out. She did a phenomenal job, inducing their best player to pop the ball up to 3rd with the bases loaded and two outs. In the 6th, we closed them out 1-2-3 to seal the win and the series. Final Score Hounds 12, Double D's 10.
This was a hard fought series between two good teams. I tip my cap to Double D's as they pushed us to the limit. It's unfortunate that some of their guys chose to act like complete jerks, but that was beyond our control. I am just glad we were all able to keep our cool and let our play do the talking. 
The only thing left between us and the championship is a 3-game series next Saturday afternoon. I know that if we play up to our capabilities that no team in this league can keep us from the Chip. Onward to glory, Hounds.

Monday, August 10, 2009

MAJA: Game vs SCN 8/1/09

Zog: Final Regular Season Stats

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Zog: Hounds Handle Who's On First(Again)

With a playoff berth already clinched, the Hounds took the field at Riverbank looking to finish off the regular season strong. Who's On First once again lay before us. We had already defeated them a few weeks back, so we knew they would be eager to avenge that loss. This game also held significance in terms of playoff positioning. The air was thick and both teams were primed for a fight.
As the away team, we were up to bat first. and scored 3 quick runs in the 1st inning. Dave and Braden each had RBI singles. Margaret got the call on the mound, and pitched well. We had some defensive miscues that allowed WOF to hang around and keep it close. They scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st, then we exploded for 7 runs in the top of the 2nd. Wink, Dave, and Braden each had 2-RBI hits. 
We built up a 10-3 lead before they changed their erratic pitcher. Their new pitcher did some good work, and their shortstop made some outstanding defensive plays. They then mounted a rally in the 5th inning to make the score very close. They were threatening with two runners on base and the top of the order coming up with no outs. We then turned a fantastic 4-3-5 triple play, aided by two absent-minded base runners. Just like that, we were out of a potentially big inning. That proved to be the turning point of the game. We added a couple more runs off a solo home run by Mega and an RBI single by Karim. We then closed them out with authority in the 7th. Going back to last season, this is the 3rd time in a row we have beaten WOF. They must hate us by now. Final Score: Hounds 12, WOF 8.
We finished up the season with a solid 9-3 record, which is good enough for either 2nd or 3rd place. Now the playoffs are upon us, and our record counts for nothing. Every team in it is back to square one, and it's win or go home. It's going to come down to which team makes less mistakes. I know if we play to our capabilities that we can win the whole damn thing.

MAJA: Final Regular-Season Player Stats

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MAJA: Hounds Cruise Into Playoffs with a Sweep

The final weekend of the MAJA regular season was upon us, and we took to the field knowing we just needed a split to clinch first place overall. Our opponents were Roseman's Ringers, a middle of the road ballclub that was fighting for their playoff lives. Unfortunately for them, they proved to be little challenge for the Hounds.
For Game 1 George took the mound looking to build on his recent strong outings. He pitched well, and did not walk too many batters. The defense behind him was solid. On offense, Jason C. led the charge, going 3 for 3 with a solo HR in the leadoff spot. Jason T. also homered. Pat and Karim drove in 3 runs each. We grabbed a big lead and the skipper decided to put Margaret in the game in the 5th inning to close it out. She did a great job and the result was never really in doubt. Final Score: Hounds 9, Roseman's 4.
For Game 2 , Margaret got the starting nod. She did her thing and kept their hitters off balance. On offense, we had a very solid game, with everyone contributing to the cause. We exploded for 9 runs in the first inning, and we soon realized it was not a matter of if, but when we would mercy them. Our answer came in the 4th inning, when Iain capped off a 3 for 3, 4 RBI game with a 2-run home run. Final Score: Hounds 12, Roseman's 2.
We finished the season with an outstanding record of 13 and 1. No other team displayed such dominance throughout the season. This team was built to win a championship, and we have put ourselves in a very good position to do so. But we have to stay humble as next week we face a single elimination first round playoff game. We have to be prepared for anything, including the possibility of our opponents bringing in ringers. I am confident we will be up to the challenge. 

Monday, August 3, 2009

Zog: Hounds Lose

There is no need to dwell on what happened out there tonight. We do need to learn from this though. I don't ever want to feel this way again and I hope none of you do either. It's one thing to lose, but to lose the way we did tonight should not be acceptable to us at this point. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Sweep; Snatch Victory From the Jaws of Defeat

Coming into the penultimate weekend of the regular season, the Hounds were looking to solidify their position at the top of the standings. In the opposing dugout was SCN, a cellar dwelling club with little left to play for but pride. After a brief weather-related delay, it was time to play ball...
Game 1
For the opener, George took the mound and asserted himself right from the start. The spinner was working and the control was also there. Defensively we were tight, and didn't allow SCN any extra outs or bases. On offense, we scored early and often. Dave and Amelia went 3 for 3 in the third and fourth spots respectively. Amelia had 5 RBIs in the game. Jason C. hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot. It all added up to a mercy victory in the 4th inning. Final Score: Hounds 11, SCN 1.
Game 2
This would prove to be the more exciting of the two games, perhaps our most exciting of the season. We came in with a lot of swagger after having mercied them, but our play was not up to par. Our bats fell silent for long periods and we weren't as tight on 'D' as in the first game. Let's give SCN credit though, they played us very tough. This was clearly their championship game. We exchanged runs before they strung together some solid hits and took a 6-5 lead into the top of the 6th. We were down to our last out of the game with no runners on when we suddenly staged a miraculous rally. Wink, Kari, and Jason all managed to get on base, albeit on bloops. Push was now up with the bases loaded and two outs. She came through with one of the most clutch hits of the year, a clean single to left that scored the tying run. Then our pitcher Prashant laced a fly ball to left that gave their outfielder all kinds of problems. It fell in for a 3 RBI triple and it looked like we were on our way to victory. 
George came into the game in relief, and this time, his control was not as sharp as in game one. He walked a couple, they scored a run, and the winning run was now at the plate with two outs. Luckily, their hitter hit a fly ball to left that was handled easily by Jason C. It was a real nail-biter. Final Score: Hounds 8, SCN 6.
11 and 1. I repeat ,11 and 1. It will all be for nothing though unless we keep playing good ball. We have been having some shaky moments the past few weeks. Let's come out next week with the goal of putting in two solid performances.

Pictures from game vs SCN (8/1/09)

Here are some great shots from our game today. Big up to all those who passed the camera around and made these happen.

Monday, July 27, 2009

MAJA: Team Stats Through 10 Games; MVP Candidates

Here are the team stats through our first 10 games. Some real standouts have emerged:

1. Dave - The big guy is hitting for both average and power. Leads the team in both HRs and RBIs.

2. Iain - Hitting at a .722 clip, which leads the team. Has also flashed the leather big-time.

3. Jason T. - "Shoeless Jason" I call him. All he does is get on base, score runs, and cover tons of ground in the OF. Leads the team in hits(tied), runs scored, and base on balls.

4. Margaret - Where would we be without Maggie Ballgame. Her outstanding pitching and heads-up leadership have made us a much better team than if she wasn't around. Her ERA is a mind-boggling 2.67, unheard of in rec softball.

5. Hounds Team 'D' - The thing I am proudest of this season is our team defense. We have made so many outstanding defensive plays this season. Even when our bats weren't alive, our defense has carried the day.
(click to enlarge)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Sweep the Defending Champs

Looking to keep the momentum going, the Hounds got up nice and early to play Double D's, the defending champs at Heckscher Field. Unfortunately, our opponents didn't share our punctualness and they didn't have enough people until about an hour after our games were scheduled to begin. Needless to say, the first game was called a forfeit.
For Game 2, they were barely able to field enough, but the game did get underway. The Skipper put Margaret back on the mound, seeing no need to stray from our winning formula. She continued her impeccable run of form and never let Double D's get a big rally. After a team defensive lapse in the 1st inning allowed them to score a questionable run, we proceeded to play that solid Hounds 'D' for the rest of the game. 
On offense, our bats were mostly quiet. The load was carried by the top of the order. Jason T. and George both went 3 for 3, and Amelia drove in 3 runs on 2 hits. We scored 4 runs total, and went into their last at-bat leading 4-2 with a runner on 3rd base and one out. Their hitter then proceeded to hit a comebacker to Margaret. She checked the runner at 3rd, and threw over to the firstbaseman Dave for the 2nd out. The not-very-fast runner at 3rd must not have known what type of team he was playing against, because he tried to score on the play. Dave threw a seed to the catcher Karim who was perfectly positioned, and the runner was out by a mile. Silly, silly man. Final Score: Hounds 4, Double D's 2. We finagled our way into the bar a little early, and after a torturous wait for the food, the promised subs, dogs, and pizza were delivered. It hit the spot.
Our record now stands at 9 and 1. I think it's pretty safe to say that we are in the playoffs. Now it's just a matter of sewing up a top seed and getting some kind of advantage. I've checked the schedule and it seems like our final two opponents are on the weaker end of the spectrum. Let's continue to dominate...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Get Back to Dominating; Record Now 7 and 1

After losing their 1st game last week, the Hounds were eager to take the field again and get back to sweeping their opponents. In front of us lay I'd Hit That, a team who's record stood at .500 coming in. However, some of our stars were absent, so we knew we had to play well to win both games.
For Game 1, starting pitcher was our ace Margaret and she lived up to the billing. She continued her run of impeccable control, and kept the I.H.T. hitters uncomfortable. Behind her, we played good defense, for the most part. We definitely had a couple of miscues, and that allowed them to stay in the game. On offense, the thumpers were not out and we struggled to score. We actually only scored in 2 of the 5 innings that we batted. We scored four in the 3rd and three in the 3rd. They chipped away at our lead before bringing the tying run to the plate in the top of the sixth with two outs. Their hitter lined a shot to right field that scored two and it was starting to look dicey. All of a sudden, the umpire called the batter out for taking too many steps out of the batter's box before making contact. It was a tough way to lose a game for them, but the guy was like 5 feet out of the batting box. Final Score: Hound 7, I.H.T. 5.
Game 2 was a different story altogether. We kept the defense pretty much the same, Margaret once again getting the starting nod. This was more like a true Hounds game. Our pitching and defense was outstanding throughout. We were down 1-0 in the first couple of innings. Then, our offense came alive. Dave had a big 3-run triple, and Iain followed him up with a 2-run home run. We exploded for 7 runs in the top of the fifth, and after that, one could clearly see that I.H.T. were demoralized. Margaret helped her own cause with an RBI double, and Jason C. followed her up with a 2-run homer. We allowed them to score a meaningless run before we closed them out. Final Score: Hounds 12, I.H.T. 2.
Our record stands at a very healthy 7 and 1. With only six games left, we have to feel good about our playoff chances. Next week we face a stiff challenge from a team that also has only one loss. I have no doubt we will rise to the challenge.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Zog: Hounds Keep the Streak & Clinch Playoff Spot

Roosevelt Island was the next stop for the Hounds as we looked to add to our 3-game winning streak. Game time was very early for a weekday evening, and half the battle was getting enough of our people there on time. Fortunately, the Hounds stepped up and we were able to have a full compliment of players. In the opposing dugout were the Masterbatters, a cellar-dwelling club with few prospects for the rest of the season. Perhaps we came in to the game a bit overconfident, as Masterbatters gave us much more of a fight than we expected.
Margaret got the ball for the Hounds and pitched yet another gem. No walks and only four runs allowed. We had a big two out rally led by the bottom of the order in the second inning, with Denise, Karim, and Mega all getting big hits. However, the Masterbatters pitcher did well to settle down and held our bats to a mere five runs over six innings. We kept playing our solid team defense and never relinquished the lead. 
Then, in the top of the seventh, the Hounds exploded for 7 runs, once again led by the bottom of the order and going all the way through. Margaret had a huge 2-run single. 5 home runs were hit in the game: George and Braden with solo shots, Dave and Jason each with 2-run jacks, and Mega with a 3-run bomb in that 2nd inning. In the bottom of the 7th, we closed them out with cruel efficiency. Final Score: Hounds 12, Masterbatters 4.
With that victory, we are 8 and 2 and have clinched a playoff spot. Our winning percentage is an outstanding .800, and there is no reason to not believe that we can win the whole thing this year.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Zog: Pictures From Game vs Kenny Show

Mad Props to Diana bringing the camera and taking these great shots.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Zog: Hounds Cancel The Kenny Show

Looking to secure their playoff destiny, the Hounds headed over to Riverbank Park where we have generally had much success. The quick turf field is conducive to our style of hitting and defense. Ahead of us lay Kenny Show, a team that is also battling to get in the playoffs. As the game was about to start, we realized they only had 8 players so we were eager to start the game and pound the ball.
As the away team, we were hitting first, and we were able to score 5 runs in the top of the first. Margaret took the mound and continued her recent run of dominance. She walked no one and forced their hitters to put the ball in play. Offensively, the standout was Mega in the cleanup spot, going 3 for 4 with 5 RBIs. Dave, George, and Braden also went 3 for 4. Jason hit our team's lone home run in the game, a solo shot.
On defense, we continued our excellent recent form and Kenny Show struggled to score. We shut them out for the first 3 innings and the result of the game was never really in doubt. They tacked on some runs in the later innings but it would not be enough, Final Score: Hounds 15, Kenny Show 7.
At 7 and 2 with only 3 games left, we have to like our playoff chances. Our focus should now be on getting one of the top two seeds and securing a first-round bye in the playoffs. Onward to glory, Hounds...

MAJA: Team Stats Through 6 Games

Just like that, our MAJA season is almost at the halfway point. Now would be a good time to check out the stats...
(Click to Enlarge)

MAJA: Hounds Split But Lose More Than a Game

Having won 4 in a row to start the season, The Hounds were looking to keep the magic going against an outfit called Grass Stains. They were also 4 and 0 coming in, so we knew they would probably be a tough opponent.
For Game 1, Margaret took the mound and showed why she is the anchor of our starting rotation. She pitched brilliantly, not walking a single hitter. Behind her, the Hounds played tremendous defense. On offense, Jason C. set the tone with a leadoff home run. We scored 5 runs in the top of the first and that would be all we would need. However, we continued to pound out hits. George, Alan, Amelia, and Dave each went 3 for 3. Jason C., Iain, and Karim also had a multiple-hit game. Ultimately, our lead got too big and the game was called after the 5th inning due to mercy rule. Final Score: Hounds 16, Grass Stains 2.
Game 2 was a different story altogether. George got the nod at starting pitcher. He had a few good moments, but his control was inconsistent, and he walked too many batters. Grass Stains took advantage of their opportunities and built up a 6-2 lead. Fortunately their pitcher was wild too and we stormed back to take the lead. The 2(Amelia), 3(Iain), 4(Dave) hitters led the attack, combining to go 5 for 6 with 3 walks, a homer, and 8 RBIs. The game was very exciting, we went into the top of the last inning leading by 1. We then let the game get out of hand by allowing them to score 7 runs. We were able to get 2 runs on the board before they closed us out to win it. Final Score: Grass Stains 16, Hounds 12.
The end of the game was marred by an injury that struck one of our fellow Hounds. Amy H. hurt her ankle pretty badly as she slid safely into 3rd during a critical juncture of the game. Needless to say our wishes for a complete and speedy recovery are with her, but we have most likely lost her for the season. It's a tough blow for our team, as it will be impossible to replace Amy's tenacity, team spirit, and heads-up play. Get well soon Amy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Zog: Hounds Handle Who's On First, 9-3

For the 8th game of our Zog season, we headed to Harlem River Park on 128th Street. We had never been to this field before, and when we got there, we were excited to see that it was all-turf. Just the kind of field that the Hounds excel on...
Our opponents were Who's On First, an established team that we had played(and beaten) the previous season. They are in the top half of our division, so we knew a tough game was ahead of us.
Wink was the catalyst in the top of the first, hitting a leadoff home run, part of a 3 for 3 night for the Winkster. Dave then followed up with a 2-run home run. We tacked on a couple of more runs in the inning, and those 5 runs would be all we would need.
Mega was starting pitcher and did a great job out there. He didn't walk anybody and forced WOF to put the ball in play. Behind him, the Hounds defense was outstanding. Wink, Jason, Dave, and Murph each had a couple of web gems. The offense continued to pound out hits. Murph went 4 for 4. Amelia continued to rake, going 3 for 4. Dave hit another 2-run bomb. Mega helped his own cause with two big RBIs. We would have scored more runs had it not been for some terrible calls made by the umpire, the Patrick Swayze look alike. However, we didn't let his blown calls frustrate us, and we continued to stymie the WOF bats. Mega shut them down after a slight scare in the last inning. Final Score: Hounds 9, Who's On First 3.
I am very proud of the job we did last night. We look better and better as the season goes along. Let's remember though that we have to play Who's On First again in a few weeks, and they will be eager to avenge this loss. 
Our record is now 6 and 2. I would feel really good about our playoff chances, but one look at the standings tells me that the top teams are packed tightly together. The next couple of games will be critical in determining whether we get in our not. Let's keep our focus over the long break. Enjoy the 4th, Hounds!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Put The Smack-Down on The Jerks

For Games 3 and 4 of our MAJA season, it was over to the Great Lawn to take on the self-described "Crosstown Jerks." We can usually size up an opponent pretty well before the game, and by looking over at their group, we knew we had a shot of sweeping them.

For Game 1, George took the mound and was effective if somewhat erratic. His trademark spinner pitch was not finding the strike zone, so he chose to rely on his simple arc ball and let the defense behind him handle the job. The Hounds rose to the challenge, playing solid 'D' and not giving the Jerks any extra outs to play with. On offense, the production was spread around, and Dave hit another big home run. We built up a big 11-2 lead heading into the bottom of the last inning. George then proceeded to walk the bases loaded, so Margaret came in to close out the game before the damage got any worse. She did a great job of putting out the fire, showing she can be effective as both a starter and as a reliever. The Jerks scored two inconsequential runs before it ended, Final Score: Hounds 11, Jerks 4.

For Game 2, George took the mound again, looking to shake off his control issues from the first game. This time, the Jerks jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. However, their top-heavy lineup was no match for The Hounds balanced attack over the course of the game, and we quickly turned that 5-run deficit into a lead of our own. The defensive highlight was Diana's nifty double play at 2nd base. Margaret relieved George again, this time in the top of the 4th, and she pitched 3 great innings to get the save. Final Score: Hounds 11, Jerks 7.

The MAJA Hounds are now 4 and 0 and in prime position heading into the July 4th break. If there is one thing we have to watch, it's our attitude towards the ump. I know the ump for these two games was awful, but we have to be careful about antagonizing him. We will definitely see him again this season, and constantly arguing with him will only ensure that the close calls will not go our way. We should let the manager handle any complaints we have going forward.

All in all, a solid effort by the Hounds. Let's stay focused over this long break, because this game can humble you at the drop of a dime. Have a good one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zog: Hounds Put Maroons to the Sword, 16-7

For game 7 of our Zog season, it was over to DeWitt Clinton Park in Hell's Kitchen. It wouldn't be a Hounds game without some pre-game rain drama, and Mother Nature did not disappoint. The turf field held up really well though and it was game on. The first place Maroons were in the opposing dugout anxiously watching our b.p. as they waited for their players to arrive. We were able to warm up nicely and went into the game knowing we needed to win and with lots of confidence that we could do it.
Margaret was starting pitcher and as usual she set a great tone. She got ahead in counts and never let the Maroons get comfortable. The defense behind her was stellar, and for the first 3 innings we were able to shut them out. Meanwhile, Home Runs from Dave and Mega got us on the board. 
From there both teams exchanged blows, they cut the score to 3-2 before we stormed out in front again. They again made it close at 8-7. We never let them take the lead though and we then blew the game open in the 6th inning. In the top of the 7th we shut them down 1-2-3. Final Score: Hounds 16, Maroons 7. Our two game losing streak is over and our record now stands at a very respectable 5 and 2.
Props have to go all around. I think this was our most complete team victory yet. Everybody scored a run in this game, that kind of balanced attack can lead us all the way to the promised land. Well done, Hounds.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Zog All Star Break: Team Stats & All-Star Nominees

Team Stats for the first half of the season now ready. I nominate the following for the Zog All-Star Team:

1. Cindy - Been getting on base like crazy. Has a ridiculous On-Base Percentage of .875. Has flashed the glove too.

2. Amelia - Has found her hitting groove and has become a big-time run producer for this team. Her solid fielding has also gotten us out of some tight spots.

3. Justin - Hasn't been around a lot, but has made his swings count. Hit the dramatic game-winning HR in Game 2.

4. Mega - Has produced as both a hitter and pitcher. Batting .687 with 12 RBIs while also leading the team with a sparkling 5.25 ERA.

5. Margaret - Her brilliant control on the mound and heads-up play have made her an indispensable part of our team.

6. Karim - An honorary mention has to go to Karim, who has come out to every single game and supported the team, even when he was injured and could not play. Whether it was keeping score, being a base coach, or just rallying the team, he has been a great teammate to all of us.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

MAJA: Hounds Sweep Opening Day Doubleheader

The MAJA Central Park season finally kicked off and the Hounds were ready to take the field. It was a rainy day in New York, but it never got heavy enough for the games to get called. We were faced against The Swingers, a solid team that finished in 3rd place the previous season. We knew there was a challenge before us, but we were eager to show what we can do.
For Game 1 starting pitcher was George and he got off to a good start. Our offense was quiet for the first couple of innings, only managing one run. We fell behind 4 to 1 but never felt like the game was out of our reach. Then the bats came alive, Jason T. and Dave leading the charge, each with a solo HR. We chipped away inning by inning before overtaking them in the big 6th. Meanwhile, the pitching and defense continued to stymie the Swingers and we closed the game out. Final Score Hounds 7, Swingers 4.
For Game 2 Margaret took the mound and was her usual consistent self. She stayed ahead in counts, and never let the Swingers string together more than a couple of hits. The defense was outstanding behind her, led by Iain and the two Jasons. On offense, we did just enough to win. Dave hit another solo HR but for the most part we scored our runs playing small ball. We closed it out with a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th. Final score Hounds 4, Swingers 1.
I think we should be very proud of our work out there today. We only gave up 5 runs total in two games, that is very impressive for softball. It's doubly impressive when you consider a lot of us never played together before. If we keep playing like that we will be unstoppable. Nice work, Hounds.

Friday, June 12, 2009

This is very funny...

...even though he is pretty much talking about me. I'm a cross between Angry Young Guy and Stat Dork.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zog: Hounds Crash to 4 and 2

For Game 6, it was over to the infamous Colonel Charles Young Field in Harlem. This field has never been a Hounds favorite, but we showed up with our game faces on, ready to bounce back from our loss in the previous game. 
Our opponents were NY AILA(whatever that is), who were winless coming in. That was a bit misleading though, as they were actually a good ballclub. They had decent pitching, reliable fielding, and their hitters made their swings count.
George was starting pitcher and generally pitched well despite his usual control issues. Unfortunately our fielding was a bit suspect, aided in no small part by the field conditions. We let NY AILA take a huge lead on us, and it was bound to be an uphill struggle from there. We mounted a good comeback led by Amelia, Dave and Justin, who all hit big HRs to get us closer. Amelia was actually a double shy of the cycle. Diana made a critical catch at home to retire one of their sluggers. But both teams had been taking a lot of pitches, and eventually we ran out of time. The game was called after 4 innings due to time limit, final score: NY AILA 20, Hounds 16.
If we can take heart from one thing after tonight's loss, it's the great spirit we showed to fight back from that big deficit. Definitely a promising sign for the future. We are now halfway through the season with a record of 4 and 2. I would say it's been a good first half. We definitely need to regroup and come out strong for our next two games, which are in rapid succession on June 21 and June 24.
Last but not least, a fond farewell to Nina, who has to relocate and therefore won't be able to play with us anymore. We wish her nothing but the best and would welcome her back with open arms anytime. Good luck, Nina!