By Angelee Santillo
Going into the 2017 Sullivan County Women’s Softball League season, two teams from the Hurleyville surrounding area, The Center for Discovery Diamonds and Bum & Kel’s, were early favorites to finish atop the A and B divisions, respectively. As the final games came to a close in late August, after one of the longest seasons the league has seen in years, Bum & Kel’s clinched the B-division championship prize for the second year in a row, and the Discovery Diamonds finished the A-division in second place.
Bum & Kel’s made it out of the B-division as one of the top four teams, but the regular season saw another Fallsburg-area group, New Hope, finish first in the division. Going into the playoffs, Bum & Kel’s played team Courtyard of Roscoe, a contest that became a grueling three-game series. After barely defeating them the first night 19-17, Courtyard came the next day and served Bum & Kel’s a 26-11 defeat that many believed would stun the Loch Sheldrake team into another defeat in game three and knock them out of the series. But Bummies came back the next night and rallied to win the playoff round and advance into the championship. Team New Hope, the B-division regular season champions, were kicked out in the playoff round by Matson Bar & Grill.
With a trophy on the line and the pressure to win a repeat title as the reigning B-division champions, things didn’t get any easier for Bum & Kel’s in the final games. Matson Bar & Grill, an unlikely contender that proved themselves as the underdogs that could, took Bum & Kel’s to another three-game series with a valiant effort that tested the division favorites until the very end. However, the seasoned team was able to escape the series with a final win over the newly assembled Matson team to be crowned, for the second year in a row, the B-division champions of the Sullivan County Women’s Softball League.
Unfortunately, the Discovery Diamonds did not have as successful a run. Although an early favorite to take the division this year, the shadow of reigning champions L&B Tack remained over their heads the entire season. Going into the season, the coaches and players knew that L&B, a team that had remained A-division champions for four consecutive years, would not let them swipe the title easily.
By the end of the regular season, although finishing in second place to L&B Tack in the division, the Discovery Diamonds were actually the only team to beat L&B – twice. They also ended the season without having been defeated more than once by a single team in either division. With stats that impressive, the Diamonds headed into the playoff round against new rivals, team Welsh Cabin of Jeffersonville and, although the games were very close (17-13 the first night and 12-11 the second), were able to defeat Welsh’s in just two games, avoiding a third. L&B defeated league veterans Charlie’s Angels in two games that were also fairly close, and the A-division championship round saw a rematch of last year’s series.
The first night was played at the White Sulphur Springs Firemen’s Park, an unusual place for A-division championship games traditionally played at Collins Park, but the change in location did not keep fans from coming out to see final game between the two teams widely regarded as some of the best the league has ever seen. In front of such a large crowd, L&B Tack came out to defend that four-year title with a fury, winning 12-2 in seven innings with the only Diamonds runs scored on a single home run hit.
Hoping to force a game three and save face from the previous night, the Discovery Diamonds dug deep as the home team of the night to give L&B Tack a hard run into the final inning. With the score at 11-10 L&B, after holding the reigning champions at bay the entire game, the Discovery Diamonds failed to capitalize on their last-ups and convert any additional runs. L&B Tack came out victorious in one of the hardest games and teams they have faced in years to remain the A-division champion of the Sullivan County Women’s Softball League for the fifth year in a row, an impressive showing that has been applauded across the league.
Bum & Kel’s, New Hope, and The Discovery Diamonds all finished the 2017 softball season at the top of the divisions and played incredible softball, a feat each team should be immensely proud of.