Senior softball preview April 7.jpg

The 2020 champion red team included, from left, kneeling, Yogi Guess, Mike Panko, Rena Campbell, Pat Cross; and standing, Mike Hoy, Freddie Childs, Kirk Wickizer, Randy Bastin, Dave Hahnemann, player/coach Phil Haas and Kevin Barnhill. Not present is Steve Robertson.

The defending champion red team has more competition than anticipated.

With an influx of new players, the 55-and-over Rockets league in Huntsville Senior Softball has grown from five teams to six. The spring season will open April 12.

“Everybody’s going to want to knock us off our perch,” Phil Haas, the red team’s player/coach, said. “The new players are going to add youth. They look pretty good.

“We look to have lots of competition this year.”

Last year’s season started late because of the pandemic. This year there will be a spring season and a summer season.

“This year we’re splitting into two seasons. I think our chances are fair the first season and good in the second. We’ll have players returning in the summer,” Haas said. He works at Redstone as acting branch chief for the utility group in the structures and materials division under the system readiness directorate, Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center.

Red’s projected lineup has leadoff, Yogi Guess, left field; Randy Bastin, left center; Freddie Childs, shortstop; cleanup, Kirk Wickizer, third base; Mike Panko, first base; Phil Shriner, right center; Dave Hahnemann, second base; Steve Robertson, pitcher; Pat Cross, right field; Haas, extra player; and Rena Campbell, catcher.

They beat navy blue 16-14 on Oct. 27 for last year’s championship and finished 19-5.

Chris Maggio, the Rockets league director, said he is happy to see the probably 13 new players expand the league.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement and especially with getting an extra team. We’re having six teams instead of five,” Maggio said. “And everybody’s looking forward to playing a full season this year.

“The new team, they’re guys who played ball before. They’re all guys who played ball. Some of them are tournament ballplayers. I’d say a majority of the new guys didn’t even know this league existed until they saw it in the paper (the Redstone Rocket). They’re good. It adds a little bit of a push to the rest of the players.”

Mike Hoy, who played last year for the red team, is player/coach for the gray.

Games will be played Mondays and Thursdays in Brahan Spring Park. With the additional team, no teams will have a night off this year. All six teams will play each Monday and Thursday evening. Games are 6 and 7:30 p.m. on field 2, and 7:30 p.m. on field 1.

More umpires are needed. “We’re doing paid umpires this year,” Maggio said. “So we’re looking for a second umpire that’s not playing and that knows the senior softball rules and they get paid for it. So tell them to get in touch with me.”

Call Maggio at 352-874-3124 or email cmaggio51@aol.com.

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