Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Unicorn Apocalypse loses its season opener

Softball seasons are full of highs, lows and laughs, and last Thursday’s season opener was the perfect microcosm of that, as the Unicorn Apocalypse fell 17-15 to the Muffin Ticklers.

The Unicorns were hit and miss all day, following up a spectacular play with a flub. The hits came early and often with the team racking up a 12-4 lead but, by the fourth inning, the offense dried up. A defensive collapse was followed by three-up, three-down inning that seemed to derail the team’s momentum.

“We learned a valuable lesson—not to get complacent,” said infielder and assistant captain Matt Larkin. “We jumped out early and it looked like we’d win in a walk, but we lost our focus and slowly let them back in the game.”

One of the game’s lighter moments came during a base running gaffe by Noah Grunier. The first baseball drilled a ball into the outfield but missed first base on his way around. He returned to first before heading to second again, though the ball was being relayed in. He was held to a single.

“Tough loss to swallow but I’d rather learn that lesson in Game One than in the Championship game.”

Grunier, Mike Szarka, Dan Dedic and Ian Van Den Hurk homered for the Unicorns, and Szarka was chosen Player of the Game. Chelsea Larkin reached base several times on the women’s side, while the day’s defensive highlight went to Caitlin Brandon, who reeled in a towering shot in right field.

Despite the loss, the Matt Larkin isn’t willing to let it damper the mood this early in the year.

“Tough loss to swallow but I’d rather learn that lesson in Game One than in the Championship game.”

The Unicorn Apocalypse will be shorthanded this week, as Szarka, Ian Denomme and the Larkins will be unavailable. However, new free agent signee Alex Sabine is expected to play.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Position review: the outfield

Center fielder Mike Szarka celebrates after winning the 2008 Ken Griffey Junior Brain and Nerve Tonic All-Stars Most Valuable Player Award.

Caitlin Brandon

Brandon will catch opponents off-guard by making the sensational catch; she's very reliable in the outfield. Her bat improved throughout 2008 and, while Brandon does not possesses as much power as teammate Kathleen Hume, she's improving in her ability to move the ball around and get on base. She'll be steady at worst and remains yet another breakout candidate.

Ian Denomme
"Doc" Denomme is a sound fielder with a good arm. He's capable of making the highlight-reel grab so keep your eyes on him at all times. His bat was arguably the team's best during the 2008 Summer season, though it cooled with the weather in the Fall. He's expected to bounce back with some serious gap power and the occasional round-tripper.

Mike Szarka
Last season's MVP. A five-tool player, Szarka can do it all. Very aggressive on the basepaths and on defense, though it will get him into trouble--his arm lacks accuracy and he has a tendency to force the long ball, resulting in wild throws and extra bags for opponents. With his range, if he sticks to the cutoff man, he's Gold Glove material. Szarka is the team's power hitter and will anchor the lineup. He'll be in the MVP mix again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Injury update: Alison MacKenzie to the DL

Alison MacKenzie accepts an award at the 2008 Ken Griffey Junior Brain & Nerve Tonic All-Stars Awards Banquet. She will miss the 2009 Spring season with a torn meniscus.

Alison MacKenzie was put on the 60-day disabled list by the Unicorn Apocalypse today. McKenzie, a rising star in the organization, tried to gut out a knee injury in spring training before doctors advised her to shut it down for the spring season.

"She's in big time pain today," said teammate Ian "Doc" Denomme. "[MacKenzie] has been advised to be put on the shelf."

The utility fielder is suffering from a torn meniscus. She's reportedly done for the spring season but could potentially return for the summer or fall season.

"It's a big blow," said team captain Ian Van Den Hurk. "Alison's a valuable piece of this team and all the signs were there for a big breakout. She'll be missed."

Team management declined to comment on any further roster moves but, with Van Den Hurk and utility man Greg Sharp nursing injuries of their own, it may not be long before Anne Morello is recalled from Triple-A.

Position review: the infield

Jeff Garritsen
Garritsen brings a steady presence to the Unicorn Apocalypse, both at the dish and on defense. He won't overwhelm you with crushing power or backflip basket catches, but he will deliver a good, solid performance week in, week out. Garristsen's commitment is unquestionable, having played through a broken foot for a good chunk of last season. He'll split time at first base with Noah Grunier.

Noah "Big Cat" Grunier
The Big Cat is Garritsen's antithesis--wild, dangerous and exciting. You'll never know if he's going to turn an unassisted double play or fall flat on his face. Grunier showed up at Spring Training looking like he had something to prove, though, and he might bring more mobility to the team than in previous seaons.

Matt Larkin
A smarty, heady player, but that hurts him sometimes. Great baseball instincts but will overthink things and get into his own head. When he's on, though, he's on. Although won't be hitting baseballs over the Grand Canyon, Larkin brings some solid pop to the lineup and will chip in a few homers this season. Could be in the running as the team's second-leading power supplier. Defense at second improved significantly after adding a new glove. Expect a continued rise in '09.

Ian Van Den Hurk
Despite a lot of work in the gym the past few seasons, Van Den Hurk's efforts have yet to translate into power. He'll hit for a high average though by carefully placing the ball, earning extra bases. Speed was always a big weapon for him, but an offseason knee injury could slow him down. Defense is normally very dependable, though his mind wanders in blowouts/as he gets more hungover and he'll make some bad throws.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Position review: utility positions

One weapon the Unicorn Apocalypse will employ this season is flexibility. A significant portion of the team has experience in both the infield and outfield and they will be counted on to use their abilities all over the field. Here is a brief rundown of the Unicorn Apocalypse utility players, with the outfield to follow tomorrow:

Kathleen Hume
Hume saw lots of action at Rover last season, though she's also adept at catching and playing the corner outfield. She's most well-known for her exploits at the plate, however. The Hit Kat wowed opponents and fans with her devastating swing in 2008; Hume regularly ripped line drives through and over the opposing team last season, and she looks to continue the magic this year.

Alison MacKenzie
As steady as they get. MacKenzie is solid both fielding and hitting and can be counted on to play anywhere in the field. She showed some impressive pop at times last season and, if the chips fall into the right places, she could be poised for a monster 2009 campaign.

Dan Dedic
An enigma wrapped in a riddle, Dedic is spectacular yet unpredictable on the diamond. A sensational throw will be followed by a routine fly ball whizzing by his head, or a double in the gap by a strike out. After spending most of his time in the outfield in '08, Dedic is expected to spend some more time at third and short this season.

Chelsea Larkin
Larkin's speed is both well-known and feared among TCSSC opponents, though her agrressive base running can get her into trouble sometimes. The catcher/rover enjoyed a very strong Fall season, regularly legging out hits and stretching singles into doubles (or triples, or almost home runs). Her aggressisveness pays off more often than not.

Greg Sharp
The rookie is an unknown commodity. Sharp certainly has the tools to be a valuable contributor, but there are rumours abound that his hard-partying ways will affect his play, especially on weekends. Could challenge Dedic's team record for hungover miscues. Expect the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

Simon Dauphnee
A natural talent, Dauphnee switched which way he hit partway through the season and the rest, as they say, is history. He has the swing and speed to produce the occasional extra base hit. Dauphnee got noticed very little for his work at third base, and that's not a bad thing: don't expect many errors coming from this guy.

Anne Morello
A likely injury call up, Morello usually puts in her time at catcher. Her "floating" running style is ledgendary in TCSSC circles. Morello loves playing head games with the opposition, often chatting up or flirting with the opposing catcher or first basemen, giving the Unicorn Apocalypse a unique psychological edge.

Uncorn Apocalypse reveals opening-day roster

TORONTO - In a highly anticipated announcement, the Unicorn Apocalypse revealed its 2009 roster on Monday. The former KGB All-Stars remain largely unchanged from a season ago, and expectations are high after the team made it all the way to the Championship Final in the Fall season.

3 Jeff Garritsen
4 Caitlin Brandon
5 Ian Van Den Hurk
7 Kathleen "Hit Kat" Hume
8 Alison McKenzie
11 Ian "Doc" Denomme
12 Dan Dedic
17 Noah "Big Cat" Grunier
19 Matt Larkin
66 Chelsea Larkin
75 Greg Sharp*
83 Simon Dauphnee
84 Mike Szarka
96 Anne Morello#

*Denotes rookie
#Will begin the season in AAA