by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
'It's hard to believe, but the 2013 Emerald City Softball Association (ECSA) season is more than halfway over,' Tony Stasiek, marketing director of the Emerald City Softball Association, told Seattle Gay News. 'As we look toward the final weeks of 34th year of the ECSA, with play resuming on June 2, several exciting storylines have emerged.'
According to Stasiek, the Seattle Dirty Dawgs have clinched a Gay Softball World Series berth. With a 12-0 record following May 19's games, the Dirty Dawgs wrapped up their fourth-consecutive B Division title with four games left in the season. This qualifies the Dirty Dawgs to represent Seattle in the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA) Gay Softball World Series in August in Washington, D.C.
Also, the Dawgs played in the May 25-26 NAGAAA Cup tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma - an invitation-only event and certainly the toughest tournament on the NAGAAA circuit.
Ten teams are still in the hunt for C Division crown. 'With three weeks left in the season, just two games separate the top six teams in the C Division - and all but one of its 11 teams could take the title,' said officials.
Tied for first with 10-4 records are the Thunder (2009 World Series representative) and SIN (2010-11 World Series rep). Both are among the league's longest-running teams, and both seek their first outright C Division championship.
INFERNO GOING STRONG
Stasiek happily reports the 2012 World Series champion Inferno is still on fire.
'After proving themselves as the best D Division team in the U.S. with a GSWS championship in Minneapolis last summer, the Inferno moved up to the higher-skill C Division,' he said. 'With a win against the division-leading Thunder on May 19, the Inferno sits just two games out of first place.'
The 2008 World Series champion Atomic is on the comeback trail, report ECSA officials. 'Dormant for two seasons, the Atomic - which won the 2008 Gay Softball World Series, held in Seattle - have re-formed and lead the D Division by two games, averaging more than 16 runs per contest,' said Stasiek.
The ECSA is a powerhouse sports league in Seattle. For 34 years, the league has enjoyed great success and has grown in membership and popularity since its inception.
'It is a well-organized league that is managed by members of the league who truly embrace the values of community, sportsmanship, and acceptance. It's a great way to meet and make new friends in a very friendly environment,' said Frank Pichinini, ECSA commissioner.
Pichinini says that the more new members the Gay softball association gets, the more exposure the league gets due to social media such as Facebook.
'The numerous photographers we have taking pictures of games each Sunday really capture the experience for friends and family members of players, and for the whole community to see,' he added.
COACHES AND MENTORS
'As novice players have joined the league in large numbers, the more skilled players started taking even more pride in the organization and have started to mentor, coach, and lead C and D Division teams. This created even a bigger sense of worth by players in the organization as a whole. The joy that these mentors are getting from sharing their experience and the happiness that newer players are getting from learning and competing in a sport that is new to them have built a sense of belonging and community. With that kind of energy, players took to recruiting new members of our organization - and because of the mentoring and coaching, they have moved up to challenge themselves in upper divisions,' Dug Wehage, ECSA membership director and Hall of Fame director, told SGN.
Adam Law, a first-year member of the C Division SIN, recently moved to Seattle from Ohio. Law told SGN, 'I'm new to the ECSA this year and, in addition to forging new friendships, I've learned how to improve my game thanks to passionate coaching.'
'Everyone gives it their all out on the field, and the sense of community and camaraderie between teams after the games is gratifying,' he continued. 'The ECSA definitely creates a new definition for Sunday Funday!'
A BIG PART OF PRIDE
Stasiek says ECSA is 'thrilled to take part in this year's Pride Picnic on June 15 at Volunteer Park.'
'Pride weekend itself is also an exciting time for us,' he told SGN. 'We're incredibly lucky to have 500-some ambassadors for the ECSA as they represent the greater community in so many ways, from the Gay City Health Project to the Gates Foundation; the Greater Seattle Business Association to Starbucks.'
SGN has learned ECSA will soon be adding to its 25-member ECSA Hall of Fame. Five of those members also have been inducted into the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance for their contributions nationally.
'As a note of inspiration and endurance: One of our Hall of Fame members, Bruce Caszatt, has played in our league for 33 years. He has been a part of two national championship teams and has coached a number of teams to league championships,' said Wehage.
EMERALD CITY CLASSIC
On the horizon: In early July, the ECSA welcomes more than 60 teams to its annual Emerald City Classic softball tournament. With 31 teams from across the country and Canada joining Seattle's finest ball clubs at multiple Seattle area venues including Redmond's Marymoor Park on July 6-7, this year's ECC could be the largest in its long history. It all kicks off at Q Capitol Hill, with a registration party at 7 p.m. on July 5.
The ECSA's remaining regular-season play dates for 2013 are June 2, June 9, and June 15. First-place teams in each division at the conclusion of the regular season advance automatically to the World Series. A berth tournament to determine non-automatic World Series team bids is set for June 22-23.
For more information about the ECSA - the Pacific Northwest's largest Gay softball league - or to speak with ECSA players, contact marketing/communications director Tony Stasiek at email@example.com.
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