By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
After losing Friday’s game five 14-7 to Power Outage, Allen “Woodrow” Smith and the Pirates clinched the BVI Softball Association Juliette Penn League title with Sunday night’s 10-2 triumph.
The victory gave Smith something he has never done in more than 30 years of playing, although he has played on some of the best teams and with some of the best players—repeat as a champion.
“This is actually my first time winning back to back championships,” he pointed out. “That was the special part of it mostly for me.”
Smith said on Sunday, they played errorless to seal the title.
“I’ve said it before, if we continued playing error-some ball, we will always have problems beating Power Outage,” Smith said in reference to Friday’s loss when they expected to wrap up the series. “You can’t come playing like a slouch against Power Outage. We had some other issues, didn’t bat as well as we should and the errors came at a pivotal time. They gave us a really hard time on Friday night.”
The Pirates opened the season at 4-0, had some issues as people traveled to different tournaments and ended the season in second place behind Power Outage, but Smith said they were still focused.
“This is one of the seasons the league is suffering with teams,” Smith noted as only four teams entered the league which allowed them to ‘pace themselves’ as all four teams were assured a playoff spot. “Once we reached the playoffs, the whole strategy changed. We gave the Reds three straight and almost gave Power Outage four straight, but, that’s the way it is.”
Smith said the league is suffering and the interest in the sport isn’t what it used to be even five years ago. He said that the BVI Softball Association has to do some things to bring back the interest including offering incentives.
“There are no incentives—the girls can get scholarships to play abroad if necessary—but what does the guys get?” he asked. “You can’t get anything out of softball and there’s no local incentive, so the interest has faded and been diverted to other sports that take you someplace in life.”
During the opening of the E. Walwyn Brewley Softball Park on Friday, Brewley called for the sport to be in schools starting at the primary level. Smith said while that would be a plus, he said there’s a need for a Jr. or B League, nothing that the sport reached its peak when they had such a league.
“When we had 13-19 players, we used to get a lot of teams out of that and that and is fair competition, that is something we should think about,” he said. “But, even if you have it in schools, you can’t expect to take them from schools and put them into the men’s league with all the experience there. So, you will always need an intermediate link to transition from one to the other. I think we’re missing that part of the element as well.”
Smith is the last remnant of the line of quality pitchers over the history of the league. He said there’s a need for more training. “Guys want to learn to pitch and want be like a Woodrow, Sheep (Neville Smith) like a Mahassa (Raymond Mercer), but the the thing is, learning to pitch, then what? What do I get out of pitching?” he queried. “The league lacks incentives, it lacks direction and there’s nothing after that. You just come out, play for fun and go home. A lot of things need to be adjusted and you can get back the sport to where it used to be.”
Smith noted that attendance is down and he has spoken to several fans,, as many people like softball and if he’s still pitching. He noted that games start too late and this is among turnoffs.
“When you have to come and sit down for 2-3 hours waiting (for a game to start) they don’t like it,” he pointed out. “Some of the rules need to be amended. We play by time, start early and we’ll get back people’s interest. In this day and age, nobody wants to be sitting around waiting on anything. The world is moving at a fast pace. They’re not going to come to softball and sit around for 2-3 hours.”
In women’s play, the Hawks overpowered That’s Your Problem, 20-16, to win the Women’s Division, 4-1.