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Familiar Teams Take Titles

Tournaments Wrap Up Hill Softball Season

Correction Appended

The 2007 Congressional softball league seasons came to a close over the weekend, and the final playoff rounds of each league included some familiar names. The RBIs of Texas took home their second straight Senate crown, while Suspension of the Rules and the No Talent AZ Clowns won the House league titles.

The RBIs cruised to their Senate Softball League title on Sept. 8, beating six playoff opponents by a combined score of 85-29. Made up of former staffers for two Texas Republicans, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and ex-Sen. Phil Gramm, the RBIs had their only real test in the semifinals, when they let a 10-run lead dwindle to 14-12 before clinching the win against the Kimbell Chiefs. They went on to win the championship 18-8 over the Capitalist Tools.

“We worked hard to get where we are,” RBIs co-captain Bill Christian said. “It’s been a matter of recruiting. We’ve been very fortunate to have started out with a core group of Gramm and Hutchison staffers in the ’90s, and we have a sort of friends and family network that we’ve expanded as we’ve gone along. We’ve been able to recruit people because of our team spirit.”

The RBIs went 13-1 overall on the season.

The House Softball League, in only its second season, had more competitive playoffs. Playing on Saturday at Braddock Park in Clifton, Va., Suspension of the Rules (1999-2001 Congressional Softball League champs) claimed the title with a 21-18 win over Potomac Fever, the 2006 HSL champs. SOTR, made up of members of the Congressional Legislative Staff Association, trailed 16-11 in the final before jumping ahead with a seven-run sixth inning.

SOTR made the finals thanks to a miracle in the semis. Trailing 12-8 in the bottom of the seventh and down to its last out, five straight hits provided a walkoff victory over the Insliders.

SOTR coach Ron Anderson, an Appropriations staffer for Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), mentioned Jason Balzakis as one person who contributed to the victory. Balzakis, a State Department employee, hit four homers in the playoffs, including a three-run shot in the championship.

“He’s the best player on the team, so he deserves recognition,” Anderson said. “But we had the best females in the tournament, and they’re the reason we won. The defense would be playing them too far in and they’d hit it over their heads.”

The HSL used a Ratings Percentage Index formula to determine rankings for the playoffs, and, amazingly, the teams who finished the regular season with the best four RPIs all made the semifinals of the tournament; seven of the top eight RPIs made the final eight.

“It’s a credit that the RPI does accurately reflect how good teams are,” HSL commissioner Anthony Reed said.

In the other House league, the 29-year-old Congressional Softball League, the No Talent AZ Clowns routed the Showboats 22-12 on Saturday to claim their first title. Composed of staff from the offices of four Arizona Republicans — Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, Rep. Jeff Flake and former Rep. Jim Kolbe — the Clowns advanced undefeated to the finals of the double-elimination tournament before losing 13-11 to the Showboats. They exacted revenge with the 10-run victory in the rubber match.

The Clowns hit six home runs in the title game.

Correction: Sept. 21, 2007

The article incorrectly reported the score of the No Talent AZ Clowns’ loss to the Showboats in the first game of the Congressional Softball League finals. The Clowns lost 13-11 in extra innings.

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