Thursday, July 29, 2004

Getting started in softball

The 52nd Cincinnati Metro Softball Championships

Dates: Today-Aug. 10.

Times: Games begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Championship games (Unofficial schedule, weather permitting):

• Majors - Aug. 8, afternoon and evening

• A and E (Rec) - Aug. 9, night

• B, C, D - Aug. 10, night

Metro ballparks: Rumpke, Eggleston, Riverstar, Northside K of C, Westside and Riverfront West. (All championship, Major, A and B games are at Rumpke.)

Teams to watch: 2003 Major champion Watanabe returns to defend its title, but not if six other Major teams can help it. Watch out for Robke Sales/Reds Boys/TPS, which drew the only first-round bye; Springfield Cleaners; Lucke Homes; Alpine Mortgage; EMR Worth; and Cooper Sports to challenge Watanabe. 2003 runner-up Perkins Roofing is not fielding a team.

All-star games: Catch the best teams in the area, including some of last year's Metro champions, tonight and Friday night at Rumpke.

The schedule:

• Today - 7 p.m., D; 8 p.m., C; 9 p.m., B.

• Friday - 7:30 p.m., A; 8:30 p.m., Major.

Power hitters: The Metro home run derby began Tuesday night, and eight hitters advanced to tonight's final, where they will be seeded and face off in pairs in an elimination championship round. Jason Roesch led the pack Tuesday with 15 home runs in two minutes; Shane Hatfield had 14. They will have three minutes to hit tonight. The Derby starts at the conclusion of the All-star games.

Hitting for charity: The Metro is trying to raise money for the Shriners Children's Hospital by donating all profits from the home run derby and by selling T-shirts. Donations are welcome.

How it works

Trying to figure out the Metro? Here's the breakdown:

Number of teams: 320 - seven in the Major division (or Open, the highest level of play), 12 in A (second-highest), 50 in B, 104 in C, 136 in D, and 11 in E (or Rec, a new division for teams wanting to test the Metro). C and D are divided into four brackets for organizational purposes.

Divisional placement: Teams are placed in one of the six divisions by a committee led by tournament director and Cincinnati ASA commissioner Danney Saylor. Placement is determined by factors such as record, strength of leagues and schedule, and past performances.

Format: Double elimination. If the first game a team loses is the championship game, a winner-take-all game is forced.

Cost: $260 per team.

At stake: Bragging rights and a possible bid to the ASA national tournament, given by the Cincinnati ASA.

Rules: The tournament mostly abides by ASA rules. Some rules include:

• Outs are assessed for inappropriate language and unsportsmanlike conduct.

• Some bats are banned to keep hitting under control.

• Stealing bases is allowed.

• The Home Run Rule - To help equalize games, the number of home runs in a game is limited. If a player hits a home run after a team has reached its limit, an out is assessed. In the E/Rec division, if a player hits a home run, the inning is over. The limits are: 10 for Major, six for A, four for B, two for C, and zero for D and E.

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