The Southside Baptist Church softball team celebrates on Friday at Peanut Park after winning its second consecutive tournament championship in Suffolk's spring co-ed church softball league. Front row, from left: Amanda Pulliam, Joe Compton, Brandon Snook, Seth Fisher, Tori Brinkley and Cortney Parker; middle row, from left: Kristy Patton, Dwain Harrison, Matt Lilly, Tom Wilson and Jesse Mathews; back row, from left: Ben Copeland, Tyler Mizelle, Paul Arrington, Erie Chenault, Ben Joslin, coach James Lunsford and coach Steve Patton.
The Southside Baptist Church softball team celebrates on Friday at Peanut Park after winning its second consecutive tournament championship in Suffolk's spring co-ed church softball league. Front row, from left: Amanda Pulliam, Joe Compton, Brandon Snook, Seth Fisher, Tori Brinkley and Cortney Parker; middle row, from left: Kristy Patton, Dwain Harrison, Matt Lilly, Tom Wilson and Jesse Mathews; back row, from left: Ben Copeland, Tyler Mizelle, Paul Arrington, Erie Chenault, Ben Joslin, coach James Lunsford and coach Steve Patton.

Southside softball repeats in church league

Published 7:53pm Saturday, June 28, 2014

Though the score was lopsided, the spirit encompassing the softball tournament championship game between Southside Baptist Church and Holland Baptist Church was one befitting a church league.

Southside won Suffolk’s spring co-ed church softball league tournament for the second consecutive year, this time with a 19-8 victory over Holland in a game that spanned two different locations.

The first two innings of the game were played at the John F. Kennedy Athletic Complex, but when Suffolk Parks and Recreation officials were not able to get the lights to turn on, the remainder of the game unfolded at Peanut Park. A faithful crowd of spectators followed.

Showing his respect for regular season champion Holland, Southside coach and pitcher James Lunsford said, “They’re a tough team no matter what field we’re playing on.”

Joseph Artis of the Holland Baptist Church softball team watches his hit fly in the latter stages of his team's 19-8 loss to Southside Baptist Church during Suffolk's spring co-ed church softball league tournament championship on Friday at Peanut Park.
Joseph Artis of the Holland Baptist Church softball team watches his hit fly in the latter stages of his team’s 19-8 loss to Southside Baptist Church during Suffolk’s spring co-ed church softball league tournament championship on Friday at Peanut Park.

Holland team captain Curtis Whitfield Jr. showed sportsmanship after the game, noting how close the members of different churches are to each other.

“I’m just as proud as if I won,” he said of Southside. “We’re all family out here.”

SBC coach Steve Patton said many of the players on the teams grew up together.

“I played high school football with like three of the guys on that team,” he said, referring HBC’s squad.

And Patton emphasized that when the church’s softball teams play each other, the game is preceded by huge anticipation.

Both teams finished the 2014 regular season with records of 14-2 in the eight-team league, but Holland got the regular season crown because it defeated Southside during that time.

SBC returned the favor in the post-season double-elimination tournament, forcing Holland to dig its way out of the loser’s bracket.

In Friday’s title game, Lunsford said he did not start out pitching well, but the transition to Peanut Park actually helped him.

“I was able to get my wits about me on the way over here,” he said.

He praised his team’s offense in accounting for the win.

“Top of the order, they did a great job of getting the ball deep,” he said. “Bottom of the order, they got the ball in play and gave us base runners.”

Among Southside’s offensive leaders were Dwain Harrison and Ben Joslin, who each went 4-for-4, while Matt Lilly and Brandon Snook each went 3-for-4.

“We’ve been blessed with depth,” Patton said.

Whitfield was not down on his team following Friday’s loss.

“We did all right,” he said. “We finished first for the (regular) season.”

Beyond winning and claiming titles, Lunsford summed up what he enjoys most about participating in the church league.

“It’s an opportunity to show God’s glory in the game of softball,” Lunsford said.

Efforts are currently underway by Suffolk Parks and Recreation to start a fall co-ed church softball league. Provided there are enough participants, games will take place on Friday nights starting on Aug. 22. For more information, contact Rob Ramos at 514-7270 or rramos@suffolkva.us.

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