After a wildly successful offseason for the Kegs Softball Club, the preseason ended on Saturday with the annual start of the season blitz and 20th anniversary of the Brian Walshe Cup, organized by Softball Ireland. 16 teams and roughly 200 softballers from across the island made their way to Santry early Saturday morning with much excitement in their hearts for the dawn of a new season of coed softball in Ireland.
After adding some 20 new members in the offseason, the club committee decided to register two teams for this year’s start of the season blitz; something that had never been done in the club’s 35+ year history. Roughly half the club were present at the blitz, including 10 who were playing for the first time in Ireland.
A reinforced Kegs team put out a strong and very excited roster while the Chewers (Chuggers & Brewers) roster was laced with many smiling new faces that were eager to make their debuts. Both teams were buoyed by the support of Big Cooler on some fresh new wheels to help keep them going throughout the day. Everyone was rocking a fresh new set of jerseys from our sponsors at Slattery’s as well as some brand-new snapback caps from one of the clubs newest sponsors, eDesk. The caps would pay early dividends in the season as Ireland decided to bless the start of the season blitz with some fantastic weather.
The Kegs kicked off the morning with a coffee from the Aventura truck, which fueled them to a win against a Wicklow club that was recently promoted to Division 1, while the Chewers had a tough draw to start the day against the defending 2022 SINCC champions, Dodder Dynamoes. The Kegs won their first match in Group B thanks to the hot bat from early ROY front runner, Liz. The Chewers put up a good fight versus the Dynamoes, but ultimately it was Dodder who would earn the first W in Group A.
After the first break of the day, play resumed for the 11am slot with the Chewers facing a flourishing Ashbourne club and the Kegs taking the field against a mixed bunch of newer players from the Hippetys softball club, dubbed the Trippetys. The Chewers game resulted in a heart-breaking tie that reverted to the score from the previous inning, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying the sunny spring day with some of Niall’s finest blue concoction. Meanwhile the Kegs kept it rolling with a 2nd victory featuring an all-female left side of the infield, newcomer Jesús making his first start in left field, and Chuggers ace, Stephen, pitching a gem.
As both teams setup for their lunch break, 2nd year softballer, Tommy, emerged from the shadows smelling of broken promises and misplaced dignity from the previous evening’s Trinity Ball celebrations in town – apparently having suffered a chronological malfunction early that morning. But that didn’t stop him from suiting up and getting in on the softball action in the afternoon.
In the 1 o’ clock slot, the Kegs faced their toughest opponent yet in their fellow premier league team, The Hippetys. The Kegs wily veteran right hander, Peter, pitched another gem and rookie infielder, Andy, made his starting debut at second base. The Kegs rolled on to their third win of the day and securing a spot in the semi-finals. The Chewers finished their third matchup (and the rest of the drinks in the cooler) against the club’s running mates from the 2022 Coed Cup, the recently promoted Average Joes.
After a bit of playful shit-talking between captains Jesse & Aidan before the game, the Kegs took the field in the semi-final match versus the winners of Group A, the Average Joes. The Joes entered the game with great momentum after a statement win versus the Dynamoes (some might call them the “Joe’s foes” #dadjoke) and jumped out to an early lead, but the Kegs didn’t back down. After pulling ahead in the middle innings, the game was out of reach after Captain Cook legged out a three-run homer to dead center field. The Kegs were on to the cup final and had an hour to go watch the Chewers take down the Trippetys, thanks to a pair of moon shots from captain Katie and new Chugger Dana, earning the Chewers a spot in the Spoon final. The Chuggers would reign victorious as they would go on to win versus a new team from Co. Meath, the Navan Dragons.
After two months of lead up to the start of the season blitz, the club was buzzing and hungry for one more W to cap the day. The other half of the tournament groups featured many of the best teams from outside Leinster, but it was our fellow SL Prem team compatriots, Batpak, who emerged as the opposing finalists with a stout and balanced lineup that led them to both a Brian Walshe Cup championship and SL Premier League championship in 2021.
Both teams were dealing body blows early in the match, but it was Kegs first ballot hall-of-famer, Steve, who blew it open with a towering 3-run home run over the right center field fence. From there, it was a defensive display from the outfield: 2nd year player, Michelle, made an incredible leaping grab on the run to prevent what was sure to be an extra base hit in the gap. Jesse came up throwing on a single to left to make an amazing outfield assist at home. And to finish the game, it was rookie outfielder, Jesús, with the diving catch for the third and final out of the tournament, which will surely make the ESPN Top 10 plays of the week.
What a fantastic way to start a new season for the Kegs Softball Club and we can’t wait to kickoff the regular season next week!