Manchester University
Oak Leaves

September 30, 2016

Faculty_Student_Softball_Game (1)

The faculty/staff softball victors pose with the four-foot trophy.

Faculty/Staff Win Softball Game in 9th-Inning Thriller

Karen Kanyike & Oak Leaves Staff

At the conclusion of a nail-biter ninth inning, the faculty/staff softball team made up a three-run deficit to defeat the student team and take home the four-foot trophy for the third year in a row.

The evening of September 25 was bright and breezy as students, faculty, staff and family members trickled into the stands of the Gratz baseball diamond to watch the faculty/staff and students battle it out in a non-academic arena. Cries of “Hit the ball, Daddy!” wafted through the dugout, while some infants chose to sleep through the contest.

Students and faculty/staff traded wins on innings throughout, with neither team taking a substantial lead until the students claimed and held onto a three-run lead, heading into the bottom of the 9th.  But the faculty/staff answered the students with hits from rookie player Dave McGrady (business), and returning players Jeff Beer (exercise science), Travis Steele (ITS), and Tish Kalita (Career Services), to send home three runners. With a 9 –all tie and two outs, Jonathan Watson (English) hit a fly ball over the head of the student right center fielder to bring Kalita home and win the game.
The faculty/staff had kind words to say about their student opponents. “Their rovers did a great job of sealing up the middle,” said Heidi Wieland (education), co-coach and left field. “We had several line shots that should have been base hits, but were caught.  They definitely made a difference in the game!”

Steele, who played left-center field, commended the students’ offensive play, and Beer, left field and infield, appreciated the students’ focus and “overall intensity to beat us.”

Wieland also enjoyed the win. “It was a great three-peat, especially to come from behind in the bottom of the 9th,” she said. “My first year playing was the start of the streak, and last year I missed the game since I was in DC at a conference.  I am pleased that the team has come together three years in a row to bring the trophy to the faculty/staff. 

“I love this event,” she continued, “as it brings together faculty/staff that may otherwise not have the chance to work together, as well as the opportunity to interact with students outside of our respective fields.  A big shout out to Rick Espeset and the rest of the baseball staff/players for allowing us to use your beautiful field.

Beer agreed. “I just feel this is a great event and the students are always competitive and very respectful throughout the game,” he said. “We all go out with our game faces on and no matter the ending come out as friends and colleagues.”

Steele concurred. “I look forward to the game each year,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get to know some of the students and your colleagues. Winning is just a bonus.”

Rookie Erynn Brooks (sociology) enjoyed her first year on the team. “It was a nice chance to get to know a few more faculty and students,” she said. “I was grateful for an opportunity to get out and play softball on a beautiful evening. I played in college and am always excited to get on the field when I have the chance.
“The game was even better than I expected because it was so competitive,” she continued. “It seemed like neither team could keep a lead for very long.”

Nick Thomas, a senior finance major from Convoy, OH, was one of the student players. “It was a lot of fun!” he said. “It was a very great game. Even though we lost, I enjoyed playing. The most interesting part was the fact that we had a lead going into the last inning and then the faculty hit a walk-off against us.”
Kody Smith, a junior communication studies major from Huntington, Ind., was a pitcher and outfielder. “The student-faculty softball game is awesome because it is a great contest each year,” he said. “Both sides are into the action, and it is a great way to end a stressful week of classes.”

Student audience members were also quite excited about the game. “I loved the music,” said Susuyu Lassa, a sophomore political science major and psychology minor from Borno, Nigeria. “I loved how they played those 80’s songs that made a comeback, so the professors as well as we millennials were familiar with them. The game was delightful; there was a friendly camaraderie between the professors and the students, which made for an altogether delightful atmosphere.”