Co-ed softball, a twilight worth of summer fun

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A little less than a month ago, the mosquito-filled air of Loudy-Simpson Park began to be torn with pop flys, line drives and home runs, accompanied by the background sounds of a chattering crowd and opening cans.

It's softball season in Moffat County, which provides many at least two chances to play on a men's or women's team and on a co-ed team.

Teams of every kind gather at the fields Monday through Wednesday, but it's the Monday night games that pit the sexes against each other.

"Softball is just a good way to go out and enjoy summer," said Andy Lohr, the Colorado Northwestern Community College's co-ed team's pitcher "We've struggled all season in the games we've played, but it's still fun to get out and play."

The rules of co-ed softball are virtually identical to any other game of softball, with a few exceptions.

The differences in co-ed rules are mainly there to insure the teams are equal. If a team is short one female, the other team will start every batting order with one out. If a team walks a man to pitch to a woman the walked batter gets to advance two bases instead of just one.

When a team is fielding, it must have a balanced number of men and women in the infield and outfield. Also, when fielding the outfielders are not allowed to play close to the infield when a girl is batting.

The one main appeal co-ed softball holds over its men's and women's counterparts is that players can hit as many home runs as they can. In the other forms of softball, one team can't hit two more home runs then the other.

But the rules are only a side issue in co-ed softball, enjoyment is the real factor.

Though there are many who take the sport as seriously as they would any competition, they are the exception, not the rule.

Instead, most look for a night of fun veiled in the soft twilight of the Yampa Valley.

"Last week, I allowed 22 runs in one game while I was pitching," Lohr said. "But, I didn't let it bother me too much. Isn't this game just played for fun?"

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