Friday, March 4, 2011

Top 10 Moments in Hounds History

WIth the season fast approaching, it's time to look back on some of the great moments in Hounds history. There are certainly many to choose from, and I'm sure we each have our own personal favorites. Here are mine:

10. Hounds Fall Short but Fight to the Death (9/26/2009): The first great moment is ironically a loss. After several weeks of weather-related delays, the 2009 MAJA League Championship Series involved the top-seeded Hounds and a scrappy ballclub named Soft Balls. Our top two run producers were out of the lineup due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts related to the delay, and we struggled to score runs over the series. We actually lost the deciding game in a classic pitcher's duel, 1-0. But it's a great moment because even though we were a bit short-handed, we showed incredible heart despite ultimately falling short. That experience would be a building block for our future success, almost as if we had to go through it to appreciate it that much more when we did win it.

9. Hounds Win Gotham (8/28/2010): This next moment doesn't rank higher because this Championship Series against Grass Stains proved to be a bit anti-climatic. After an epic struggle to reach the final, we anticipated a tough series against a difficult opponent that had already proven they could beat us. However, the series proved to be a laugher as we won by mercy rule in one game and fell one run short of winning by mercy in the next. We were happy and satisfied to be champs but felt a bit cheated we didn't have to fight a little more for it.

8. Hounds Obliterate the Obnoxious (11/9/2009): On the way to our first ever championship in the Zog fall '09 season, we had to face a UMass alumni team that had beaten us earlier in the season. It was a single elimination semi-final and we came out focused and determined. We played phenomenal softball from the first pitch, so much so that our opponents felt the need to stop the game every few plays to protest one thing or the other. Apparently they could not believe that they could take a beating of this magnitude and even accused us of lineup chicanery. Protest after protest was rejected by the umpire, and the fact that they were so off on their challenges made the delays that much more annoying. Ultimately, we took great pleasure in thrashing them and the final score ended 23-2. It was a great playoff win.

7. Push's Big Hit (8/1/2009): In an otherwise dominant MAJA regular season, we had a tough ballgame that pushed us to the brink and was a huge character-building experience. We faced a team called SCN, a cellar-dwelling team for whom this encounter was their World Series. We came into the series with a bit of a patchwork lineup. After a win by mercy rule in the first game, the 2nd game proved to be much more difficult. Both teams went back and forth scoring runs, the lead changing hands several times. Ultimately, we were down by a run entering our final turn at bat with the bases loaded and two outs. Push was up to bat and down to her last strike when she stroked a clean single to score the tying run. It was a huge clutch hit which was followed by another and before we knew it we had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

6. J. Hizzle's Walk-Off DInger (4/14/2009): Early in the Zog '09 season, we had a game played in a torrential rain storm at Murry Begtraum High School's Verizon Field. Our opponents were the Rams, who took the lead early and held it. The rain got worse and worse and the umpire decided to call the game early. He told us he would allow one more turn at bat. We were down by a run and were faced with the prospect of our first loss of the young season. But it wasn't meant to be. A single by rookie Push brought up another rookie Justin who proceed to smoke a ball to right for a game-winning walk-off home run. The Hounds dugout exploded in soaking-wet jubilation.

5. The One That Started It All (9/8/2008): On a beautiful late summer evening in 2008 the Hounds played their first-ever ballgame. The location was Riverbank State Park, and we were up against Who's On First, a team that had clearly played together for a while and were confident of victory. We were a ragtag bunch of ballplayers assembled from all different backgrounds. Some of the names in the lineup that night included Mega, Danny, Nate, George, Reuben, Wink, Amy, Clara, a flashy young shortstop named Juiena and a dominant starting pitcher named Margaret. We led the game from start to finish, and I have to admit I was surprised by how well we played that night considering most of us met each other for the first time right before the first pitch. It was a winning start for what would prove to be a winning team.

4. Iain Eats Pie (8/15/2009): Entering the '09 MAJA playoffs, we were confident we would go far. Instead, we almost went out at the first hurdle. Perhaps we were over-confident but we found ourselves in a devil of a ballgame in the single-elimination quarterfinal. We took a 2-0 lead only for our opponents to tie and the last couple of innings were played on a razor's edge. Neither team wanted to cough up any runs and it seemed obvious the next team to score a run would win the game. Iain came up with one out in the bottom of the last inning and proceeded to hit one of his patented clutch home runs. As he rounded the bases, we realized this meant we were moving on and we mobbed him at home plate. The finishing touch was provided by Alan who conveniently had a can of shaving cream in his gear. Iain ate some pie and the Hounds had a taste of playoff glory.

3. Hounds Crush WOF to go B2B (9/18/2010): We followed up our first championship in Fall '09 with another dominant season in '10. Our team was stacked with talented and hungry ballplayers who were out to prove that the previous season was no fluke. We entered the final on a long winning streak and were facing our rivals Who's On First. We expected a tough game as they had been giving us some trouble, but WOF proved to be no match for a complete and playoff-focused Hounds team. We scored early and often while shutting down WOF's big hitters. To say we were locked in would be an understatement. In the end, it was more of a coronation than a ballgame, and we basked in the glory of knowing that on that night, no team could have beaten us.

2. Hounds Survive the Crucible (8/21/2010): As we entered the 2010 Gotham City playoffs, we were eager to avenge our loss in the previous season's final. The first round of the playoffs was played in a double-elimination format, which proved to be quite a challenge on a hot August day. After winning our first game, we lost the second in tough fashion. We were now faced with a do-or-die game to make it to the final after having dominated the regular season. Our opponents, AMW, also had a long day. Both teams played well but we found ourselves down by 4 runs and running out of opportunities to come back. Just as despair was beginning to creep in, our fans and fellow Hounds in the dugout willed us to carry on and fight back. We would rally to take the lead and closed out a valiant AMW to move on to the championship series. Both teams were exhausted and were in admiration of one another's efforts after it was all over. Now I know why soldiers from opposing sides in WWII show so much respect for each other.

1. Camille's Triple Over the Drunk Guy Seals the Deal (11/9/2009): In the Fall of '09 we made it to the final of the Zog league for the first time. We were up against Balls of Steel, a solid-hitting team that proved to be a fitting championship opponent. We took an early lead, and were able to hold on to it despite our opponents being able to score plenty of runs. We were scoring too but damage was done to our cause on a home run from a guy who was clearly a bit inebriated. He taunted our dugout as he rounded the bases and our lead was cut to only one run.We had some issues holding leads in other playoff games, so the threat of a long and regretful off-season was a real possibility. However, we steeled our will and held the lead the rest of the way. The crowning moment was Camille hitting an RBI triple over the head of the drunk guy who had taunted us only a few innings earlier. It was the hit that sealed the victory, and before we knew it, the game was over and the championship was finally ours.

This is my pick for the greatest moment because of the poetic justice in it and also because of the fact that this was the first Hounds championship. And there's nothing like your first time!

What about you? What's your favorite Hounds moment? Do you have one that's not on this list?

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