With Labor Day now in the past the finals are set to begin this Tuesday at M Street Park. In the Larry Lucas division (A), the Southside Tavern squares off against Shenannigans, who will be vying for their record sixth straight championship. Over in the Buckey Feeney division, league history will be made when we crown our first "B" champion as The Playwright takes on STATS Bar & Grille.
This will be the 44th year of championship play in the M Street Softball League. These are both a best of five series that will begin play on Tuesday (Sep 2) with games starting at 6:30 and 8:15 pm. The finals will continue on Wednesday, and Thursday and then, if necessary, will pick back up on Monday (Sep 8) and conclude by Tuesday (Sep 9). If one of the series ends before the other then the starting game time will move to 7 pm for all remaining games.
Lucas Final preview - Shenannigans vs. Southside Tavern
After the first couple of weeks of the season were completed, most league observers would have predicted that that the Southside Tavern would be in the finals. What they didn't know was who their opponent would be. Lincoln Tavern was rolling, the Warehouse looked very good, and the defending champions were struggling out of the gate. However, the dynamic pitching duo of Mike Hoadley and Nick French carried the squad when needed and now Shenannigans is back looking to repeat, again.
Hoadley and French will need to be at their best in this series as Southside features a very solid hitting lineup. Charlie Conners is at the top of the order and is one of M Street's all-time great hitters. He gets on base and scores runs…plenty of them. Right behind Conners is Steven Couturier who is the perfect type of hitter to bat behind Conners. Couturier is a contact hitter with speed on the bases and plenty of gap power. Slugger Pat Dolbeare follows in the order and right there you have three of the league's best hitters. Rob Rogers is the senior citizen of the group but still is a feared slugger. The lineup also carries some of the league's most talented up and coming stars in Garrett Hauck, Marc Montesano, Josh Neely, and Pat Wilson. Joel Kershner, Brad Cole, and Pat Pickup have years of playoff experience and will play a key role in the outcome of the series. Brian Pacheco is the coach and a very good role player as well. He will be pressed to make all the right moves while getting the most out of his pitchers; Jimmy McNiff and Jim Innocent.
On the other side, Shenannigans will not have to be perfect in all facets of their game as Hoadley and French are more than capable of making up the difference. Instead, they will need to do what they do best - pitch well and play superb defense. With Dan Brown, Dennis Hajjar, Steve Stalcup and Luis Colon patrolling the infield Southside will find it very difficult to get a ball past them. The outfielders are all serviceable championship caliber players in Greg Trudell, Dave Conti, and John Hoadley. Al Martin is one of the best signal callers and will take on most of the catching duty while Bryan Erwin and Nate Meyl fill the roles of first base and DH.
In the season series, Shenannigans took two of three games including a 6-5 win in their last meeting on July 17th. Southside scored twenty more runs than Shenannigans and had a higher team batting average but I think this series, like most, will be decided on the mound and Shenannigans has a distinct advantage.
Feeney Final preview - STATS vs. The Playwright
Unlike the Lucas division, the landscape in the Feeney division changed many times during the course of the season. Several teams took ownership of first place and it was pretty much a four team race all along. However, once the month of June rolled around it was The Playwright who slowly emerged as the top contender. It seemed like it didn't matter who they inserted in their lineup or what position they played. They just kept winning games. In fact, they have not lost since June 4th, that's eleven straight victories. While they coasted along, STATS had to work hard at finding the best lineup and most efficient pitcher who was going to give them their best chance to win. In the end they figured it out and will now turn it loose in the finals.
After getting relegated to mop up duties, pitcher Jack Atton appeared in relief for the STATS on July 21st and hasn't given up the ball since. He has elevated his overall game and his teammates have rallied around him. Player/manager Bill Davis calls the shots and will look to Atton to continue leading by example. STATS has a very deep hitting lineup that features one of the league's best all around hitters in Mark Preziosi. Pat Donovan, Matt Clifford, Eric MacDonald, Mike Preziosi, Mike Blanchard will challenge The Playwright pitchers to stay away from the middle of the plate. While Mark Campbell, Mike Connell, Dave Nutter, and John Pels will look to give their team the added boost when called upon.
Across the mound from Atton but dressed in the gray uniform of The Playwright will be another M Street veteran, Jack Rogers. Rogers was a late edition to the roster but has fit in perfectly. It would be fair to say that The Playwright would not have enjoyed the success if it were not for Rogers (7-1 with a 5.50 ERA).
The veteran Playwright squad will not get too high over a win or too low over a loss. This is a team that will not be rattled easily in this series as they are truly enjoying getting together and playing softball. Rogers can count on their very talented outfield of Billy McDougall, Mark Hindman, and Joey Broderick to chase down any fly balls. Scott Tarentino, Sean Morgan, and Shane Knowles have each enjoyed a great season swinging the bat while rookies Jordan Depenbrock and Robbie Modano have each contributed in the field and at the plate.
In the season series, The Playwright won all three games including a 12-5 win in their last meeting on June 18th. However, STATS have matured since June and are an overall better team today. I see STATS taking the crown in what will be a memorable series that will go the full distance.
As always, supporting fans can get more league news through our website (www.sbsports.com), on Facebook (M Street Softball), right here in the South Boston Today, or experience the league up front and personal by taking in a game or two. Have a great week everyone!