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Softball Season Nears an End

Congressional League’s Final Four Face Off Saturday

The Congressional Softball League’s final four tournament is shaping up to be a family affair.

The Wild Hawks, whose roster includes Rep. Jim Ryun, his sons Drew and Ned, and the Kansas Republicans’ office staff, made it to the semifinals for the first time with a 12-7 victory over the Hambillies,

Rep. Jim Moran’s (D-Va.) team last weekend. The Wild Hawks will hit the field Saturday for a chance at the title.

Ryun’s on-the-field success might not be a surprise to many. As a track and field star, he participated in three summer Olympiads and took home a silver medal in the 1500-meter race in 1968.

So how is the softball tournament different from the Olympic games?

“The crowd’s a lot smaller,” Ryun joked.

While the games tend to feature Congressional staffers and others from across the Washington, D.C., area, Ryun certainly is not the first big name to compete in the league. [IMGCAP(1)]

“The tournament’s history is one of Members competing who have gone on to run for Senate, governor and president or have been appointed ambassadors or cabinet secretaries,” league Commissioner Gary Caruso wrote in an e-mail. “Great athletes like Congressman Ryun add to our rich tradition of premier sporting competition on Capitol Hill.”

Unlike track and field, which in most cases requires solely individual talent, softball is a team sport, and his team has worked together in tough tournament situations to make it to the top, Ryun said.

“The team has certainly played well when it’s time,” Ryun said. “It’s more of a tournament team. … We are happy to be where we are. It’s the furthest the team has ever gone.”

It seems to be a season for the new guys. The Lawn Wranglers, representing the offices of Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas), also made it to the final four for the first time.

But that doesn’t mean a powerhouse couldn’t wind up on top.

Earlier in the competition, last year’s champ, Potomac Fever (featuring players from the Washington Center for Internships), advanced over a familiar foe. The Fever defeated 2005 runner-up Denny’s Grand Slams — made up of members from Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) office — in a nail-biting 6-5 third-round victory.

But that success would be short-lived. Potomac Fever was eliminated Saturday when the Resolutionaries, the 2003 champions sponsored by the nonprofit Search for Common Ground, scored a 11-4 victory.

Meanwhile, another past tournament winner, Suspension of the Rules (representing the Congressional Legislative Staff Association), lost its game against last year’s fourth-place team, Insliders, sponsored by Van Scoyoc Companies.

The double-elimination championship tournament will kick off at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Resolutionaries set to take on the Insliders and the Wild Hawks facing the Lawn Wranglers.

On the other side of Congress, the U.S. Senate Softball League finished up its summer on Sept. 10.

Hawkn’ Dove, the team sponsored by the Capitol Hill bar Hawk and Dove, wound up clinching the title.

Although his Georgia Satellites didn’t win it all (they made it to the third round of the tournament), Joe Lillis, legislative director for Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), was happy to spend his Monday nights playing softball.

“We are out there to just have some fun, basically,” Lillis said.

And even though the summer is winding down, there still could be one last game, Lillis said.

“We, the Senate league, would like to challenge the House league champion,” he said.

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