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24 hours in Lawrence

Softball players just happy to play

May 22, 2007

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A few clouds block the sunset. The fields are soggy from the week's rain.

The foul lines are barely discernible, making it even easier than usual to argue with the one or two umpires that staff each game.

But most of Lawrence's Thursday night softball players aren't complaining. They are just happy to play.

"We were rained out last week," says Cory Ingram, a member of the Humdingers, who finish their game about 8 p.m. and are unwinding around the tailgate of a pickup truck for an hour. "It's nice to be outside."

The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department has canceled 10 nights of adult softball this season because of the weather, forcing it to reschedule games deep into July.

"We need a moveable roof that covers the fields," Ingram jokes. "Then it can move over the parking lot for tailgating."

The Humdingers, a group of Lawrence High School graduates from the mid-to late 1990s, aren't sure about the score of their game or their team's record.

But they are positive they won this night despite what they deem are some questionable rulings by the umpires. Otherwise, Ingram says, they wouldn't be celebrating with a cooler of frosty beverages.

The scene in the parking lot is a smaller version of tailgating at major league and college sporting events, but it's still a reason to be outside on a dazzling spring evening, have some fun and throw back some cold ones with old friends.

Inside the four-field Clinton Lake Softball Complex, bats clink, fans cheer and umpires prepare to phone in scores from the fourth and final set of games, which wind down shortly after 10 p.m.

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