Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2006

They’re back … for one weekend only

July 13, 2006

— When the Lansing Outlaws walked off the softball field at the American Fastpitch Association National Tournament last summer, the squad realized its seven-year run of raising hell and hoisting trophies was over.

The Outlaws had a good run, but even the greatest of sports teams come to the end of the road at some point. For the Outlaws, this was the end.

Or so they thought.

You see, it's hard to stay away when you love what you're doing. Just ask Michael Jordan. He retired from professional basketball three times.

Or ask Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens who recently returned to Major League Baseball after a brief retirement.

Simply put, it's hard to call it quits. The Outlaws are no different. That's why a reunion tournament wasn't just a good idea to Carolyn McKune. It was necessary.

McKune, a 2005 LHS graduate who recently finished her freshman year at the University of Kansas, picked up the telephone a few weeks ago and made some calls. Just like that, the reunion was on.

"For a lot of us, it was the last summer we'd be eligible to play," McKune said. "We thought, 'If we can get nine girls together, what the heck? Let's just play in one tournament while we still can.'"

Among the former Outlaws who signed on to play at the AFA State Tournament where 2005 LHS graduates Maggie Aus and Emma Hoagland, 2006 LHS graduates Jessica Stark and Dana Sanders, and 2006 Immaculata graduate Kelly Fratzel.

With the squad put together, McKune called Russ Stark and Brian Sanders and asked if they'd like to come out of coaching retirement for a weekend.

"They'd been talking about it, but I didn't know it was the state tournament when they called," Russ Stark said, a bit surprised that the girls chose such a tough tournament to play in.

There were numerous familiar faces at the tournament, and Russ Stark said that was special for the Outlaws.

"What was kind of neat was that a lot of the teams were still playing that they've been playing against for years," he said. "Some of them asked what was going on, and we said we were just playing this one weekend. I think some of (the other teams) were surprised with how competitive they were."

They weren't just competitive. They even won a game. They claimed a 5-3 victory over Kiko's Chicas Friday night in the first game of pool play.

"We came out in the first game on Friday just hitting," Dana Sanders said. "We won and did really well. I think we definitely surprised ourselves."

Luck didn't follow in the final three games, though, and the Outlaws were eliminated from the tournament.

As far as the Outlaws were concerned, the scoreboard didn't matter. Neither did statistics. What was important was playing softball together one final time.

"A lot of them haven't played in a year, and they just wanted to do it," Dana Sanders said. "We just said we wanted to have fun and not get run-spread."

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