On the Diamond: The hapless nine | AspenTimes.com

On the Diamond: The hapless nine

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen Times softball team is experiencing a power outage. Our offense is either in the witness protection program, or it’s deceased. We’ve churned out fewer hits than Billy Ray Cyrus. To quote a colorful valley coach, we couldn’t score in a brothel.We thought we were on to something when our first two batters reached base in the top of the first. Then the team that has gone scoreless since July 2 emerged. A deluge of weak groundballs and lazy infield flies killed our scoring chances – we didn’t have a runner reach third all game.Despite being incapable of making solid contact (we’d be awful at whack-a-mole), our defense gave us reason for optimism. We matched zeros for two innings. We were in this one. There was nothing standing in our way.Except lightning. It started as a light drizzle, then came the loud crack of thunder and a beam of white light that sent us racing toward the dugout – our metal-lined, metal-roofed dugout – in the bottom of the third. The respite, the first of two delays lasting about 10 minutes, killed our momentum. I use that term loosely.Instead of talking strategy or hitting technique, Marta showed us the lightning position. Kayden told us about the one time she was almost struck. And others talked about the moral victory of walking away with a tie. Baby steps.The umpire called us back onto the soggy field, and our chances sank. A couple of line drives found holes, and our infield started throwing the ball around with reckless abandon – the ball hit the backstop more often than it did leather.Third baseman Rick Carroll did his best Cal Ripken Jr. impersonation when he charged a slow grounder down the line, scooped it up and threw to first in one motion; the ball sailed wide of Janet Urquhart at first and hit some temporary fencing down the right field line, leading to two runs. It’s a good thing public access television wasn’t there to see that one. I can’t fault the effort, but I can make fun of the fact he was playing in a yellow polo shirt. The task before us in the top of the fifth was daunting, and what did we do? We went in order. I did my part with a weak groundball to shortstop, completing a pitiful 0-for-2 display. I’m thinking of petitioning the league to give us an extra out, let us use a tee or a beach ball. Anything.Without warning, the umpire called the game. We were blindsided and initially cried foul. Cooler heads prevailed, however. Honestly, our chances of coming back to tie – or score a run for that matter – were about as good as getting hit by lightning.