Sunday, July 18, 2010

Everyone played a big role in Know Mercy's Schnitz Ada Grill Championship Season

It was a season of extremes for Know Mercy.

The team started with high hopes, building on the foundation of 2009’s consolation round championships – both KM1 and KM2 earned the title – and adding new friends to the roster.

But three losses to open the season and a rare tie against rival St. Matthew’s Monsters did not inspire optimism. In fact, Know Mercy limped to the end of the season with just one victory notched in its belt.

But deep down, the coaching hierarchy knew this team was too good to fail. The roster was full of wily veterans, teen-aged phenoms and skilled newcomers. Plus, they had the league’s best uniforms.

Two big things worked in Know Mercy’s favor. First, the reconfigured playoffs allowed the team to cut loose the baggage of the regular season. And, Chad Zollman was recovered from his basketball injury just in time to anchor what was already an improving defense.

Back by solid leather, mound magician Mike Gillis went to work on the hill, working through CTL-ALT-DEL, keeping the Monsters in check in the second round and twirled what might be the first shutout in Know Mercy history in the semi-finals.

That led to the team’s first-ever appearance in the finals, with a confident St. Matthew’s in the opposing dugout.

The top of the order went right to work, Nick Rodammer, Casey Munger-Dunham and Chad all reached and scored.

The Monsters responded with a run in the bottom of the inning, aided by a rather questionable call. But the surging Know Mercy defense put the brakes on any more scoring.

KM padded the lead with three more in the sixth, with Chad, Jamie Norris and Amy Bonjour coming around, and one more in the sixth when Steve Kutz drove home Jason Stevenson.

The team then shut down the beleaguered Monsters in order to claim the first Know Mercy championship, hoisting high the prize plaque and dousing the coach with ice water.

What was neat about the season was that everyone contributed; it was a tough schedule with an unusual number of early starts and games against ringer-laden tournament teams in the upper division.

But everyone remained in good spirits and worked hard, and that all paid off in the end.

Everyone played a role in the big season:

John Basher: Rookie who showed great enthusiasm and gave all in the field – leading to an injured finger that kept him out for the rest of the season. John went two-for-two in the opener, then broke his pinkie with tendon damage in Game 2. Ouch!

Amy Bonjour: Making her Know Mercy debut, the dedicated Amy appeared in every game and practice and was a solid backstop who could hit the ball hard.

Steve Cairns: Might have had his best year at the plate and in the field. He saved the close second-round playoff game against St. Matthews by racing in from deep right-center to grab a flair – belt high -- that would have driven home the go-ahead run. Game Ball Award: Playoff Game 2

Melissa Carrick: Kidnapped by Hoosiers for part of the season, Mel shined at third base, especially in the big playoff double-header, using her rifle arm to nail a runner at the plate and going two-for-two with the bat.

Aaron Dunham: Aaron’s mashing and bashing propelled the team through the first three playoff games. But one play probably saved the run. In a tight second round games against the rival St. Matthew’s Monsters, a rival batter led off the sixth inning by smacking one into the gap and was not content with a double or even a triple. Seeing Mike Gillis backing up third base, the big gun made a break for the plate -- only to find Aaron Dunham waiting for Mel Carick’s relay throw that was right in target.

Melissa Ferens: Melissa’s played with Know Mercy on the sly for at least two years, but made things official in 2010. Making the crazed commute from Holland, she was solid at the plate and in the field, splitting time at second and in the outfield. Drove in two big runs in game that drove team to the finals.

Grant Ferguson: Was an outstanding bat boy and cheerleader, likely led team in cookies consumed.

Niki Ferguson: Female MVP, showed off Pilates-powered muscles and showed command at the plate and in the field. Responsible for one of the best plays of the season, Niki smothered a tough grounder at second, the, while on her belly, backhanded a throw to Jamie Norris at first base to nail a runner. Game Ball Award, Game 8

Mike Gillis: Always a great pitcher, Mike ramped up his game even higher in the final two playoff games. First he toss what might be Know Mercy’s only shutout in Playoff Game 2 against a solid GE team that had beat KM twice before. Then, with the championship hanging in the balance, Gilly allowed one run in the first – after a very disputable call at second base – then absolutely silenced a potent St. Matthews team, clearing a path for a Know Mercy victory. Game Ball Award, Playoffs Game 3

Steve Korb: Steve is dependably stellar in left field, and practically owned the playoffs, especially the double-header. When GE threatened early, Steve squashed their hopes with a Mays-esque, back to the plate grab to end any scoring chance they might have dreamed about. He went four-four at the plate that day, driving home what proved to be the winning run in the nightcap against the Monsters. Game Ball Award: Game 4

Rebecca Kutz:
Made her Know Mercy debut, and sits atop the rankings by going two-for-two in the win against Forest Hills Foods, posting a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage.

Steve Kutz: Steve keeps getting better and better, and can pound the ball with authority!.Drove in big run in championship game.

Mike Light: The professor’s commitment to the Youth of America limited his action. But when available, Mike gave everyone a lesson on how to play leftfield. Game Ball Award, Game 3

Jamie Linari: Know Mercy rookie showed speed on the bases and bravado in the field, playing at least three positions – including third base against a tough opponent in the opener. Game Ball Award, Game 1

Jason Stevenson: Hockey player and marathon runner, Jason added softball to his athletic resume. Jason could smash them harder than anyone, and cemented the regular-season’s lone victory with a double. Game Ball Award: Game 5

Rob Mirque: Rob saw limited action in 2010, but went one-for-two, driving in a big run in the game 4 tie against the Monsters.

Charmayne Mulligan: One inning in the field, one at-bat – and one big injury! Ouch. Charmayne will be back!

Michael Mulligan: Made his return to competitive softball after several years on the shelf. It was clear that Michael knew what he was doing – even if the body wasn’t quite following suit. He broke out against Norman Family Dentistry, but the championship game was his best – going horizontal to make a key play at first base and smashing a line drive hit. Bonus points for making the marathon commute from Battle Creek to get to games in time. Hoo-RAH! Game Ball Award, Game 9

Andrew Murray: Rookie made his softball debut, set record (with Halle) of being the youngest player and led the team in walks, scored a big run in the second playoff game – with a pretty cool slide into third.

Dave “Chipper Skipper” Murray: The coach baked a lot of cookies, ticked off the St. Matthews pitched by gaining key walk to drive in two runs in tie game. Proud to be a part of Know Mercy’s first father-son combination. Game Ball Award, Playoff Finals.

Casey Munger-Dunham: Casey’s on-field skills are legendary. But her off-field contributions are even more impressive. Casey designed and arranged for the fantastic uniforms that are by far the best in the league and she rounded up sponsorship from the Schnitz that kept our share low. Plus she was a sounding board and shoulder to cry on for an occasionally panicking coach.

Jamie Norris: Tadas’ Dad has become a slick-fielding first-sacker to go with his prowess at the stick. If it seemed like Jamie was always on base, it’s because he darn near was, reaching in 15 of 21 at-bats. Amazing. Game Ball Award, Playoff 1

Venta Norris: Dependable Venta used her wheels to beat out multiple throws at first, worked out several walks in key situations and made a big play behind the plate to nail a runner in the first playoff game.

Nick Rodammer: The team’s leadoff hitter – and leading hitter, reaching base an incredible 15 out of 19 times. Nick also shined in the field, asked to share the toughest positions while yearning to play first base – finally getting there in the championship game.

Hannah Ulreich: Rookie made her debut and was solid, making big plays at third base and second base, scored big run in the team’s only regular-season win.

Halle Ulreich: Rookie shares two records, as youngest Know Mecy player – tied with Andrew – and most games played with a non-twin sibling. Fresh off her season at Forest Hills, Halle stepped right in and produced in the field and at the plate. Made big splash in debut, getting team’s first hit and scoring the only run against Victory Club goons. Game Ball Award, Game Seven.

Chad Zollman: A basketball injury kept Chad on the shelf for nearly the entire regular season, but that kept him tanned, rested and ready for the playoff march. Dominating at shortstop, Chad worked with Niki, Casey, Melissa and Hannah to turn double-plays and with Jamie and Michael to pound out runners at first base.

Rachel Zollman: Rachel has a rifle for an arm and a dependable glove in the outfield, but her highlight play of the year involved a first-to-third dash against GE, where she slid so hard into third base that she actually ripped it from its anchor, delaying the game as the umpires tried to figure out how to get the field back together.

No comments: