HLS Softball Stakes Claim to Boston Supremacy

BY SAMMY KARDON

3L Co-captains Bill Gray (left) and Alex D’Amico couldn’t quite hoist the championship trophy over their heads it was so heavy.
Team portrait after early-round play, from left to right

Over the past two weekends, the Harvard Law School softball team successfully defended its title at the 5th Annual All-Boston Law School Softball Tournament. The victory made a statement on the national law school softball scene that HLS will be a force to be reckoned with at the National Championships at UVA this April. The team won all five games it played in dominant fashion, only failing to force the mercy rule (which stops a game early because the score is too lopsided) once.

“I think this should finally push us up to No. 1 the next time U.S. News and World Report ranks the ‘Best Softball Law Schools in Boston,'” centerfielder and amateur law school softball pundit Elise Sumnicht (’07) suggested.

National title implications aside, the real story in Brighton throughout the tournament was simple: excellent execution by an exceptional team. Starting with a 45-8 victory over Boston University, continuing with a 15-5 dismissal of Boston College, the squelching of two teams from the New England School of Law (the first in a 30-25 squeaker, the second more comfortably at 25-4) and finishing off the sweep against the same BU team in an 18-6 contest, HLS was unquestionably the class of the field.

“We were in it to win it, and win it we did. I’m really just ever so proud of my kids,” co-captain and leftfielder Alex D’Amico (’07) gushed.

While official statistics were not available at press time, suffice it to say that there was a reason enough for D’Amico to be proud.

In approximately 25 innings of softball, the juggernaut that was the HLS offense scored over 130 runs. The defense wasn’t so bad either, letting up less than 50. The team as a whole displayed a consistent, confident professionalism that reminded more than one observer of the 1998 World Champion New York Yankees, a team that stormed through the postseason to finish the year with an astonishing 125-50 record.

Hitting out of the No. 2 slot for most of the games, JD/MBA candidate and third baseman Greg Willsey was like Derek Jeter, only with more legal reasoning ability and business acumen. In addition to going 22 for 27 with eight home runs in total, Willsey capped the championship with a laser-like three-run blast that functionally served as a walk-off homerun by pushing the HLS lead in the final game against Boston University to 12 and triggering the mercy rule.

Willsey, the lone holdover from the 2004 championship team (2005 was a wash as the tournament coincided with fly-out week), was circumspect about being the stoic face of HLS softball.

“Some of the other veterans, particularly [catcher] Sammy [Kardon (’07)], run their mouths off about the ‘HLS softball way’ and other revisionist garbage, but I prefer to let my bat, spikes, and glove do the talking,” Willsey said.

Nevertheless, passing the winning tradition on to a new generation was a key to the team’s success and there was more agreement than dissent in the HLS dugout.

“It was a little intimidating being thrust onto such a big stage on my first day in the HLS uniform,” Jeri Buzzetta, the team’s 1L first baseman admitted.

“But the 3Ls who made up the rest of the team set such a great example, serving as paradigms of hustle, patience, grit, and determination for me to aspire to that the pressure melted away pretty quickly, like a pat of butter on a scalding hot skillet.”

Buzzetta had the added of benefit of having played competitive softball in college, as did the other rookie, Matt Colman, the team’s pitcher and a former member of the Hamilton College baseball team.

“I was worried they would start sitting on my knuckleball,” Colman admitted, “but I kept throwing it anyway because you can’t hit what you can’t catch.”

Colman struck out five and walked only two over the five games but also contributed on offense with five dingers and an assortment of other run-scoring hits.

One of the other challenges facing the team was harnessing the power of rangy slugger Mike Pykosz (’07), the team’s right fielder.

“There’s no ‘I’ in Pykosz, but it kind of sounds like there is,” co-captain and shortstop Bill Gray explained. “He’s hard to handle. To keep him from becoming distracted and lollygagging excessively, you need to find a way to align his incentives with those of the team. It’s a delicate balance, but once we told him to try to hit a home run every time, we reached an optimal level of equilibrium.”

Truly, Pykosz was another one of the team’s veritable constellation of offensive stars (there was no easy out in the line-up), slugging six home-runs and missing several others by mere inches.

Another problem the team faced was eating well during the occasionally long lay-offs spent in the unfamiliar neighborhood in between games, but that too was overcome thanks to the fortuitous presence of a local Applebee’s.

“When I stepped into that Applebee’s, tired and hungry, I just felt like I belonged,” second basemen Nathalie Cohen (’07) exclaimed.

Negotiations are currently under way to find a place for the All-Boston championship trophy on the fourth floor of Langdell. Hopefully, come April, there will be space for a National Championship trophy as well.

Comments