By Gary Nager

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Although it had been close to 20 years since I played any softball at all, I decided to risk re-injuring my surgically repaired knees to participate in the first-ever “Softball Classic” between the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and the Central Pasco Chamber on December 2.

The more experienced (they at least had one practice prior to playing the game) Central Pasco team ended up prevailing in a hard-fought, exciting 11-10 nail-biter, despite the fact that Central Pasco, at one point, led 9-4.

I arrived a little late for the start of the game, so I spent a LOT of time warming up my arm and my legs before entering the game as a late-inning replacement. Although I popped up to the infield on my first at-bat, I ended up hitting a little deeper popup in the 7th inning that drove in two runs, to make the score 9-7.

Unfortunately, I quickly gave those two runs back on a lined single to left that went between me in left-centerfield and left fielder Chris Thurow of Thurow Financial Services (although, truth be told, the ball was only hit 5 or 10 feet from me). The Wesley Chapel rally in the 9th inning fell one run short in a game that saw some nifty double plays turned or at least started by Wesley Chapel Republican Club president Mike Moore.

But, the player who kept Wesley Chapel Honorary Mayor candidate/team manager Troy Stephenson of Wesley Chapel Nissan’s squad in the game was definitely pitcher Paula O’Neil, the Pasco County Clerk of the Circuit Court/ Comptroller, who threw a complete game, had a couple of good hits and also threw out several runners at first base to keep the game close.

Bottom line? The game was a blast and I didn’t hear of any major “weekend warrior” injuries after the game ended. We’ll get ‘em next time!

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