The magic of coed softball

Kitty Campagna 3

Kitty Campagna



It is that time of year again. That time when I wake up (after at least two snoozes), gently lower my feet to the floor and hobble to the bathroom with a distinct tightness in the backs of my heels.

This is a result of wearing cleats at least once a week all summer and doubling that in August with the twice-weekly coed games. It is that time of the year my feet may ache but my soul soars.

For the past 30-plus years I have played coed softball in some form and for the most part it has encompassed some of the most enjoyable days of the year. This despite having managed and coached most of those teams.

My teams included Kitsap Sheriff’s Posse, Lowery’s Coffee, Kitsap Classics (way back when I only thought we were old), Cookie’s Bar and Grill, Cheryl’s Picture Framing and the most recent rendition of Smyth Lumber Mill.

It is this latest team that has truly brought me joy. After a very difficult women’s season in which my team went a dismal 1-14, it was with great pleasure I prepared for the coed season. I assembled all of the usual suspects along with a couple of new ones and had a full 20-person roster with little effort.

I am pretty sure I am not alone in my enjoyment of this team.

We are quite the collection of characters with a variety of skills and ages. My oldest gentleman, a talented pitcher, Jerry Ladd, checks in at a spry 71 despite a knee awaiting arthroscopic surgery.

Several decades are then accounted for in the men with one in his early sixties, three in their fifties, one in his thirties and three in their later twenties. Doing the math, the average age is 45.6 years.

My finest managerial moment this year may have been when I arranged the batting order such that my 63-year-old would be the designated courtesy runner for the hobbled Ladd.

The youngest woman has been legal a little over a year. Seven of my 10 women are over 50 (one topping 60 and five at double nickels plus) with the remaining two in their thirties. Even with the lowest age, the average exceeds the men by a year.

Surprisingly, speed is barely sprinkled through this lineup.

When we step on a field, other than our matching shirts, there is little to suggest we are an athletic force. Last year, essentially this same group finished with an 8-1-1 record and the USSSA Fall Mixed Division III league title, and came away with the coveted team shirts.

Mainly due to the numbers and the mix of new teams, and the fact we are not getting any younger, we returned to Division III and have begun with a 4-0 record. This has been nirvana for the eight women who suffered during the spring/summer season with me.

There is something about coed that seems to make us relax and hit and play like we know we can. Of course it does not hurt to be inspired by the two men we have been blessed with from Men’s Division I.


The first, Mark Fojtik, who started with us when he was only 21 and commuted from St. Martin’s University in Olympia twice a week, continues to improve and amaze. At first he was a skinny kid who used his ability to place it to right field to scoot around the bases (if no female was in his way) and his slick glove to turn grounders into outs.

Now he is a skinny older kid (at my age a lot of people qualify as kids) who can power it over the fence or vary the placement if we have reached our allotment of home runs.

His glove continues to attract balls with his Detective Gadget-like catches of line drives and phenomenal range on pop-ups. When we hear him call. “Ball, ball, ball.” we know an out will follow.

A couple of years ago, Mark asked if his friend could join us. It was a year with a little roster space so I told him to add him. More youth should be a positive.

His buddy, Ted Storms, turned out to be a home run master. Ted is very unassuming and fairly quiet, so when he gets up to bat, I do not think opposing pitchers know what to expect. Basically if he looks at the ball, it goes over the fence.

I have since found out that those in the know in softball circles were quite aware of Storms’ skills. That may explain why he grew a full beard and for a while looked a bit like the Unabomber (also named Ted) hitting the long bombs.

Until recently, when deciding my batting order, I had to have the same number of women as men as the lineup alternated sexes. I put way too much thought into speed and trying to keep my women from being run over.

About four years ago, the league introduced a scoring system that allowed uneven number of men and women in the lineup and my job became easier while my scorekeeper’s task increased in difficulty.

I bat my full complement, which also means I can play any combination of five men and five women in the field each inning. With my inflated number of players, seldom does a person get to play a full game.

The beauty of this team is this arrangement is okay. Also, when it comes to playoffs or just regular season games, I know all of my players are legal. That is important to me.

One reason for our success is there really are no egos. Men do not poach into women’s territory (except for maybe Mark as any territory is fair game for him) and mistakes are accepted as part of the norm.  Achievements are praised and laughter is a part of every game.

I have just come back from a game where somehow I got on base in front another of our big hitters, Kelvin Kelly, and had to actually run from first to home without oxygen.

My feet are talking to me and it is some of the happiest talk I have heard in a long time!