After grabbing the final out in a 15-3 dismantling of the Democratic National Committee in this week’s notable softball game, Republican National Committee pitcher and captain Deepak Ramnath joined his teammates to celebrate their fifth straight win in the series.
“Victory is sweet,” RNC Chairman Michael Steele said as he walked through the dugout to join the team for the celebration. Asked whether the score was a precursor to this fall’s elections, Steele replied, “I like those margins.”
Steele also issued the most significant challenge of the night. Not a softball player, Steele proposed a fencing duel with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine. “I’m ready when he’s ready,” he said.
Though the game lacked real competition on the field, the spirited partisan cheering sections kept the atmosphere buzzing. Throughout the game, chants would erupt from one sideline, followed by a stinging retort on the other side.
In the fourth inning, a chant of “We passed health care” boomed from the Democratic side. After a few turns, the Republican sideline responded with “Repeal health care.” This was only the beginning.
The next series of chants began with the DNC squad shouting, “Party of no, party of slow.” The Republicans countered with “Fire Nancy.”
While the partisan bluster seemed to take center stage, the softball game continued at Guy Mason Field in Glover Park. The defensive highlight of the game was turned in by the RNC’s Annie McEniry. A high pop-up was hit, and McEniry backed up to catch the ball just along the border of infield dirt and outfield grass. As the ball continued to move farther out, McEniry dove to make the catch, and a cloud of dust floated in the air as she hung on for the out.
The RNC also provided the most impressive offensive play in the game. While his team already had a commanding lead in the top of the seventh inning, Aaron Harison crushed a pitch over the fence for a two-run homer. The shot was just about the nail in the coffin for the Democrats’ comeback hopes.
The DNC turned in some nice plays as well, though. Mike Conlow flashed the leather a few times manning shortstop, including a play in the fifth inning where he fell to the ground to make the catch at his ankles.
Ramnath admitted after the game, “They always play us tough.”
Challenged to a pre-game bet, RNC Communications Director Doug Heye enjoyed the victory. Prior to the game, DNC Press Secretary Hari Sevugan tweeted that if the DNC won the game, Heye would have to wear a “Health Care Is a BFD” T-shirt. In return, Heye proposed that if the RNC won, Sevugan would wear a T-shirt celebrating a Republican accomplishment.
“We thought it was a low-risk proposition,” Sevugan said. “If they can name an accomplishment, I’ll wear the T-shirt.”
After the game, Heye looked forward to concocting a T-shirt for Sevugan. “I think we have some accomplishments we will be happy to tout,” Heye said.
Most of the banter was in good spirits, and teams and fans seemed to enjoy themselves.
“Our team works very hard both on the field and off the field.” Steele said. “It’s fun to watch these guys chew on the heels of the Dems.”
After the game, Congressional Softball League Commissioner Gary Caruso presented the RNC with the Big Stick Award. The Big Stick is a trophy handed out to the winner of the annual RNC-DNC game. Caruso presented the DNC with the runner-up trophy, the Speaking Loudly but Carrying the Second Big Stick Award.
“The teams brought their A-squads. It’s a high level of competition,” Caruso said after the game. “It’s nice both committees can come out and show the sportsman’s manner.”
After the game and numerous photo ops, both teams headed to local restaurants for post-game refreshments. Walking off the field, Ramnath said he was optimistic: “Like every other thing, this is just our year.”
Check back in Around the Hill each Wednesday for more softball coverage.