Softball alive and kicking in Cairo
CAIRO: The Apache woman’s softball team caressed, crushed and cheered the ball to all points of the field on Friday, scoring eight runs in the fifth inning, to post an impressive 15-5 victory over Cairo’s Conrad Hotel.
The power hitting of the Apache women was evident from their first at bat. Hitting in three runs, consecutive batters moved players around the diamond with singles and doubles driven hard into the ground, avoiding the fly balls that usually fall short of the homerun fence and result in an out.
A decisive element in the Apache’s victory was Adrienne Vergos’s pitching. With good speed off the mound, combined with a deceptive arch, Vergos kept Conrad’s hapless batters scoreless for the first four innings.
Apache batting and pitching was backed-up by some impressive fielding. A double-play in the top of the sixth inning was a typical example of the Apache’s commitment to an all round game: Justine Cotter gloved a drive at short stop, threw to Marty Abou El Ella on second base for the out, who then pirouetted and unleashed a rocket of a throw to first base to retire the side, with the result never in doubt.
In fact before play, I sat in the dugout and I could begin to sniff the victory myself. The Apache women crowded in after their warm-up, all pumped up, weaving amongst each other sorting out bats and gloves, checking their positions on the team list and readying themselves for the first pitch, when the former Australian Youth Squad player Cotter shouted out to psych up her team, ‘If you get an injury, it must be a head injury not to play.
The competitive edge! A good investment on the part of the Apache Oil & Gas Company who have sponsored this team and a men’s team for the past six years, providing equipment, post-match beverages and cooler, shirts and the $1,500 to cover the season’s fees.
Green space and sporting facilities are very limited in Cairo, and Victory College, leases the fields, which were partly built by the US Air Force, to the Softball Association for LE 245,000 per year.
Despite the cost, this amateur league is thriving. Five teams compete in the Women’s League and the dozen men’s teams are divided into A and B leagues.
League games will be suspended this coming weekend to make way for the NASTI. No, not another commercial North American holiday with fancy dress parties, but the North African Softball Tournament International.
Teams from Saudi Arabia, Germany, the MFO in Sinai and six Cairo-based teams will compete over four days, Nov. 15-18, playing 44 games in all, starting at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, with the final scheduled for approximately midday on Saturday.
The Cairo Softball Association boasts excellent facilities for this tournament. There are two fine diamonds at Victory College, equipped with bathroom facilities, bleachers, food concessions (Cairo’s best hot dogs) and playgrounds for the children, all under a lush natural canopy.
With the Apache Women hitting in a final run in the seventh inning, the one hour and 45 minute game comes to a close. A great camaraderie embraces the field as both teams and coaches file past, giving high fives and the Apache Women then gather in a circle for a team cheer.
We quickly vacate the visitors’ dugout and a team of Japanese men, The Rising Sun, move in and scatter their water bottles, jackets and bats around the cage.
I am now a fan and I join the team around the cooler and accept a refreshing ale. We swap stories of how we all arrived in Cairo, Marcy Romine’s being the best, having visited once for Christmas when living in Athens, she is still here eight years later. Cotter also came on a holiday, loved it so much she came back as a tour guide, and for Allison Whorley this is her 23rd consecutive softball season.
This fall season will be drawing to a close following the NASTI, then the Apache Women will enter a play off tournament, probably meeting their arch rivals, The Jewels in the finals on Dec. 9th.
I am assured that there is no love lost between the Apache women and The Jewels, so I will be looking to find myself again, on a stool, in the Apache dugout, possibly helping to bandage a head wound or two if the pre-match hype is to be believed.
The Australian Embassy is hosting a film festival Nov. 18-21 – Cairo Opera House, free admission, limited seating.Strictly Ballroom – Nov. 18 and 20Rabbit Proof Fence – Nov. 19Ned Kelly – Nov. 19 and 21The Man from Snowy River – Nov. 20The Dish – Nov. 21For more information: 575 0444 ext 103