Mike Breyman had a plan for the Battle of the Sexes exhibition softball game that followed the Frontier League Home Run Derby Tuesday night.
Not a very good one, mind you, but a plan it most certainly was.
“I was so nervous because everyone was talking about me swinging and missing three times,” said Breyman, who manages the Joliet Slammers but took part in the special event. “My plan was to go up there and swing three times no matter where the pitches were. I got lucky; she put it right where I swung, and I got a double out of it.”
Breyman may have saved some face with his double against Ivy Renfroe, but the Frontier League All-Stars couldn’t handle the Akron Racers – specifically the underhand pitching – and dropped a 5-2 decision at Consol Energy Park.
“It was definitely something different,” added Breyman, who celebrated his third-inning double by pumping both fists in the air. “Everybody kept coming back to the dugout and saying how it looked sidearm, so all I did was look at her kneecap.
“I basically pre-swung, and luckily I hit it. It was a lot different.”
Washington’s Stuart Ijames was friends with many softball players throughout high school and college. He caught several of them, though he never hit a softball thrown at full speed underhand until Monday night.
Ijames popped out to first base in the fourth inning, then doubled in the top of the sixth, driving in the Frontier League team’s second run.
“Their balls are coming up at you. We’re used to the balls coming down,” Ijames said. “It’s yellow. That’s a big difference. It’s a lot bigger, but it’s just so close – 43 feet. That’s the big catch. It’s on top of you; it comes out of her hand, and it’s in the mitt. Getting the timing is hard.”
Carlos Mendez wouldn’t argue.
Mendez led off the game and watched as strike one was called. He was late on the second pitch, slicing it into the seats off to the right. He popped the third pitch to third for an easy out.
Marcus Riley, the second baseman for the East Division All-Stars, missed badly on a drop following a strikeout to shortstop Gerard Hall, and designated hitter Sean Mahley ended the inning with a strikeout, one of four through the first two innings by Renfroe.
“I really didn’t know what to expect, but everybody was telling me I should be able to strike these guys out,” Renfroe said. “I was thinking, ‘Now, they’re professional athletes, they’re going to put the ball in play.’ To be honest, I was scared.”
Renfroe didn’t have much of a reason to be.
Sure, these were professional athletes, the best the Frontier League has to offer. But with 43 feet separating pitcher and batter and Renfroe humming in the upper 60s, these guys, not used to hitting screwballs or drops, were defenseless.
“You see examples of it every single year,” Ijames said.”Jennie Finch threw it in the All-Star Game against some of the guys, and they were nowhere close.
“Being a guy, you’re always going to have that macho mentality that we should hit them, but it’s hard. They’re tough girls. Tough pitching. Their ball is moving all over the place, moving more than a fastball.”
Akron scored four runs in the fourth to break it open, including a home run by Brigitte Del Ponte that several in the crowd thought may have bounced over the makeshift fence in left. … Jessica Garcia and Tess Sito also drove in runs during the inning. … The Frontier League’s hardest-hit ball was a triple off the fence in right from Byron Wiley, though he never scored.