IM Softball Provides Chance for All to Step Up to the Plate

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IM Softball Provides Chance for All to Step Up to the Plate

Junior Sophie Harari eyes a pitch in an intramural softball game last Monday. Intramural softball allows students of all abilities to compete in a friendly, team-oriented atmosphere.

Junior Sophie Harari eyes a pitch in an intramural softball game last Monday. Intramural softball allows students of all abilities to compete in a friendly, team-oriented atmosphere.

Junior Sophie Harari eyes a pitch in an intramural softball game last Monday. Intramural softball allows students of all abilities to compete in a friendly, team-oriented atmosphere.

Junior Sophie Harari eyes a pitch in an intramural softball game last Monday. Intramural softball allows students of all abilities to compete in a friendly, team-oriented atmosphere.

Bronwen Schumacher

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Last Sunday afternoon, next to the women’s softball field by North Fields, a group of forty students sat beneath the evergreen trees, pitched balls to one another and practiced their swings. Some had a natural talent for the sport, swiftly catching fly balls and casually hitting doubles into the outfield, while others showed little to no knowledge about softball. After an hour on the field, it became clear that intramural softball is as much about the spirit and culture of friendly competition as it is about winning.

The Designated $hitters finished the afternoon with a walk-off win, but win or lose, everyone had fun.

That same sentiment has been true for as long as Director of Recreation and Club Sports Betsy Bruce can remember.

“Its been going on forever, really. Intramurals were the precursor to varsity sports, particularly for women,” Bruce said. “Intramural softball has long provided important opportunities for women, as three or more women are required to be on the field at all times.

Intramural softball is very accessible and appealing to Oberlin students who don’t get a chance to play club or varsity sports, Bruce noted.

“It’s a great way to get off your butt and do something,” she said. “It’s also a great outlet for students who aren’t committed to a varsity sport to get outside, to get some exercise. It’s outside, it’s a social event; I just think that intramurals are the right thing for a lot of students on this campus.”

Bruce has worked for Oberlin since 1999 and has seen nothing but positive attitudes from students toward the intramural sports here at Oberlin. She organizes year-round outdoor and indoor soccer and winter basketball, in addition to the spring softball league.

“Intramurals are supposed to be fun and social. Softball is mostly played by seniors who are thinking, ‘This is it! This is the end!’” she said.

This season started out later than expected, as the long winter delayed games until this past weekend. However, the delay didn’t stop junior Maisy Byerly, team captain of the Designated $hitters, from rallying her troops to win a game against the Skinflutes last Sunday. The Flutes were ahead 12–7 in the seventh inning, but an impassioned speech by Byerly boosted team morale and pushed the team to victory. Junior and Review Sports Editor Nate Levinson jacked a three-run homerun to tie the game, and a single by junior Jack Redell gave the $hitters a 13–12 victory.

Byerly shied away from acknowledging the influence of her captainship, but her humble anecdote about the win shed light on her leadership ability, as well as on the competitive yet light-hearted atmosphere of the games.

“My troops rally themselves,” she said. “They are the people who sacrifice their blood and time on the field. Sometimes I will give a speech or two on the importance of softball in the dog-eat-dog world in which we so carelessly reside, but mostly I try and shape their energy and excitement into movements and bursts of athletic genius.”

Her fight and fervor showed the true nature of competition that exists among the softball players here, encouraging those who do not normally consider themselves athletes to own their roles on the field.

Junior Woah Bee Sea (not to be confused with WOBC) members Evan Davies and Sophie Harari also were quick to share their excitement about intramural softball. Still riding high after a big 27–15 win on Monday against the Senior Shockers, they sang the praises of the league.

“It’s just such a culture,” Harari said. “People who never knew they were athletes become MVPs on the field.”

“And we’re all MVPs. I just have to say that there are good vibes on and off the field,” Davies added.

“Fun, friends, forever,” Harari concluded.

The league carefully and wonderfully strikes a balance between friendly competition and the drive to win. Spring softball is an opportunity for both varsity athletes and non-athletes to come together to grill burgers and play ball, relieving the stress off school, while indulging in the athletic camaraderie.

“Wonderful, happy people congregating in North Fields — that is the essence of intramural sports,” Byerly said. “Some people like softball and some people couldn’t care less, but it is just about being there on the field and trying something different with your friends there for support.”

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