Just for the fun of it


Coed softball players become members of close-knit family.

Coed softball players become members of close-knit family.

Within the relatively close community of Garden City is another close-knit community of recreational softball teams.

"We're a pretty tight knit group. We play together every tournament, every league," Doug Richter said, as he cheered his team from the dugout Wednesday night at Charles Peebles Complex. "It's a family."

Richter is on a coed team sponsored by McMillan Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning and Teeter Irrigation that plays in the competitive league of the Garden City Recreation Commission's spring coed softball league.

"We do have that competitive edge, but that's part of the fun," Chris Hindman, another team member said.

Both Richter and Hindman are on injured reserve this season, but that didn't stop them from cheering their team on Wednesday night.

"We're getting too old. We used to be that young team that could play with everybody. But we've been in this league three, four years in a row, and we're lucky to win three games in a year," Richter said, laughing. "Everybody's getting younger, and we're getting older."

Richter described softball as its own little community, and Marcy VenJohn, who also plays on the team, said that most of them met one another through softball.

"We all met through friends of friends of friends, who all played softball," she said.

Marcos Morales said he's been playing on the team for about five years.

"We get pretty into it. We always go to tournaments and stuff," Morales said.

Richter said that playing that long together has helped them to really solidify as a team, but that didn't stop him from giving a teammate a hard time — just another aspect of the game.

"We know our shortstop is going to make a lot of errors during the game," he said, shaking his head, after a botched play.

Across the sidewalk at another Charles Peebles Complex field, where all of the coed teams play, another team, sponsored by DV Douglass Roofing, was finishing up its final game of the spring season Wednesday night. Unlike their competitive counterparts across the way, with a record of zero wins and eight losses, they simply weren't concerned with winning.

"We started the season off playing really hard, but we took a lot of losses," said Cecilia Runnion, one of the organizers of the team. "I think we just gave up after the first few games, and we started showing up more for the mockery than the competition."

She said that, and the variety of people who play is what makes it fun.

"You've got the men who are very competitive, and you've got the women who really aren't, but the guys who kind of push them to be. And then you have the women who are very competitive," she said, pointing at a female teammate and laughing. "It's like a friendly competition."

Runnion's cousin, Kristin Hands, also plays on the team.

"I have two kids, so this is kind of something I can do on my own time," Hands said. "And it's good exercise before the summer, that kind of thing."

Megan McFee, who plays on a lower intermediate team sponsored by Smith Automotive, said her team shares the attitude about the sport that Runnion's team does.

"We're all from the Finney County Young Professionals, so we just put together a softball team and we've won one game so far," McFee said, laughing.

Her teammate, Caitlyn Hanneman, echoed McFee's sentiments.

"It wouldn't be as much fun if we won, I don't think," Hanneman said, laughing. "It's just a good time."

Their team may qualify as best dressed, however. They wear matching tie-dyed T-shirts with humorous nicknames on the back, such as Gentleman Jack, Ice Box and McFly. Matt Amos' jersey simply says 'Famous,' in reference to Famous Amos cookies. At their final game Thursday night, the entire team joked around and made light of yet another loss handed to them.

"For almost every softball team, it's the first year they've played together — unless you're really good, then you don't belong in this league," McFee's and Hanneman's teammate, Jeffrey Weeast, said, evoking laughter from his teammates.

There are a total of five spring co-ed divisions offered by the GCRC, totaling 35 teams. During the summer, there are men's and women's teams, and then co-ed softball is offered once again in the fall.

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