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Gay Softball World Series: Chilly Day 1

Editor's note: Mark Ertel will be writing daily updates from the Gay Softball World Series this week.

Milwaukee is playing host to the largest gay softball event in the country this week: the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance World Series. Softball teams from all across America and Canada have invaded the Midwest city to compete in what is an annual event in different host cities every summer. My league is the Southern New England Softball League, and we have sent a team to participate in the Series for close to three decades.

The ping of aluminum bats slamming into softballs echoed throughout the city of Milwaukee Monday as round robin play began. My Hartford team is playing in the C-division, and from the caliber of play at the games I've had a chance to watch it is going to take a team at the top of their game to win the tournament. My team is a bit long in the tooth, the average age of Hartford is roughly 45 years-old; Spring chickens we are not, but I suppose something is to be said for having experience. Our Achilles heel is defense, our offense will keep us in ball games and if we can manage to keep our defensive miscues to a minimum we could enjoy some continued success over the course of the next few days.

Hartford had a great Monday morning as we won our first two games of the tournament. Despite some sloppy play at first base from yours truly, we managed to hang on and win a squeaker against a tough Chicago team, 11-10. Both teams displayed a fair amount of jitters as the game settled down to a back and forth battle with Hartford managing to win the game on a line drive up the middle snared by the crafty veteran Ed Visconte.

Our second game would be decided early as Hartford took advantage of the Long Beach Havoc's pitcher, who had a hard time finding the strike zone. Havoc couldn't recover any kind of momentum as Hartford bolted out to a substantial lead winning the game in a rout.

We traveled out here by way of planes, trains and automobiles. My best friend Teddy is so afraid of flying we drove from Massachusetts to Milwaukee arriving bleary-eyed and belligerent: Nothing like a 15-hour drive to test a friendship. We managed to remain friends even though we got lost when he was behind the wheel and despite my having to endure his insufferable CD collection of Barry Manilow, Michael Bolton and some crazy religious soundtrack. My team managed to arrive safely and the round robin pool-play begins this morning. We have several key players banged up due to injuries suffered during our heat-plagued playoffs as the only days the thermometer reached over 90 this summer in Southern New England just so happened to coincide with our playoffs. Hopefully we heal up quick enough to give it a go this week so I can write about some victories.

I would be remiss if I did not mention our hard working D-division team from New Haven that has made the trek here and is representing our SNEFL league at the largest NAGAAA event ever held in any city. Team New Haven lost a heartbreaker in their only round robin game by a score of 10-9 playing hard till the end. David Jarnes pitched well for team manager Julie Elkins but they fell just shy against the Orlando Miracles.

Unfortunately since we play in different divisions we seldom have a chance to make it our fellow Southern New Enland Friendship League teams games. All divisions A, B, C and D play at different fields throughout the week, team New Haven will have cheerleaders tomorrow as our schedule will allow us to make it to their game before we have to play against the Oklahoma Chaos in our final Round Robin game. Round Robin games are played for seeding purposes before double elimination play begins, the better your Round Robin record the higher your seeding. I will be making my pitching debut in tomorrow's Round Robin finale.

About our blogger: Mark Ertel will be writing daily updates of his Hartford team games and various events being held throughout the city of Milwaukee this week. The Southern New England League is comprised of teams from four New England cities: Hartford, Springfield, New Haven and New London. It is his first visit ever to the Midwest; He thought the frozen tundra was Lambeau Field in Green Bay, but he says it felt like snow there in Milwaukee on Monday (high of 66 there on Monday).