COLUMBIA — With runners on second and third and one out in a scoreless game, Lindsay Petefish kicked a slow roller down the first base line. She was out, but a run scored, and then Ian Goozh tried to score all the way from second. The throw was heading right for him, but his feet-first slide into home caused the ball to miss him.
For the St. Louis Big Ballers, kickball isn’t like it was in elementary school when the players simply tried to kick the ball as far as possible. Now, they can play small ball when they have to.
“We have a number of strategies that we apply depending on the situation and what the other team does,” said Ted McCluskey, commissioner of the Big Balls kickball league in St. Louis.
The Big Ballers won the championship in the Show-Me State Games kickball tournament on Saturday at Cosmopolitan Park. This is the second year in a row the Big Ballers have won the tournament, which consisted of six teams in a double elimination bracket.
The St. Louis Big Ballers is a team made up of select members of the Big Balls Kickball League in St. Louis. The Big Ballers travel to play in four or five tournaments each summer.
The Big Ballers won the tournament despite playing half of the championship game with nine players. Normally, the games are played with 10 players, four of which play the outfield. But in the top of the fourth, Petefish injured her ankle while trying to catch a fly ball in right field. The Big Ballers played with three outfielders the rest of the way, switching to four with three infielders if a big kicker came up.
Although the Big Ballers were forced to take an out when Petefish’s spot came up in the order, it didn’t stop them from scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth to put the game out of reach. They did their damage by stringing hits together and running the bases aggressively, something the team works on during their practices each week.
The Big Ballers went on to win the game 8-1, repeating as champs and raising questions about a possible run at a third straight title next year.
“Oh yeah, we’ll be back,” McCluskey said.