The past two trips in 2010 and 2011 to the national tournament in Ocean City, Md. and Salisbury have not been rewarding for a group of Slow-Pitch softball players based in the Catonsville and Arbutus area.
Sponsored by Color By Design, Dimitri's and Artic Fireproofing, the squad was on a mission this year to go far as one of the higher seeds at the O.C. Secrets Men's Atlantic Coast Championships for E Division teams Aug. 25 and 26.
Color By Design opened with a 24-6 shellacking over Arsenal/Red-Eye Sports.
But, moments before their next game on Saturday, Aug. 25, the heavens opened up at the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex, in Salisbury, and the storms never stopped.
The game was rescheduled for the next morning at Northside Park in Ocean City, but heavy rain continued well into the night and forced the cancellation of the entire tournament.
Pitcher Ken Krabitz, a Catonsville resident and Mount St. Joseph graduate, felt they had a legitimate shot to do very well in the tournament.
It was also a primer for the USSSA North World E Tournament in Sterling, Michigan, Sept. 14-16.
The past two seasons they have gone to the South Worlds in Disney World and finished 33rd both times out of 192 teams.
"Two years ago, we kind of started playing as a team, but before that, World's were so far away," said Krabitz, whose squad was 5-2 in Disney World after going 0-2 at the Ocean City national tournament that year.
"Last year we consistently played well," Krabitz said.
At this year's Spring State Tournament at Bachman Park, they placed second and earned the berth, including entry fee and travel money, to the North Worlds.
In one game during that state tournament run, they turned two triples plays and a pair of double plays.
Second baseman Kenny King started the first when he outran a shallow fly to right with runners moving off first and second base.
Third baseman Chris Krabitz, Kenny's younger brother, started an around-the-horn triple play for the other one.
"Our defense is huge," Krabitz said. "It's one of the best defenses I've played on. In a couple of tournaments, we've averaged giving up four runs a game. In Slow-Pitch softball, that is ridiculous."
Santo Alimo (SS) and Jason Fisher (1B) join King and Chris Krabitz in the infield.
Kevin Krabitz (LF), Kenny's other brother is in the outfield with Jeremy Fisher (LC), John Baker (RC), Greg Byers (RF) and utility players Billy Nelson and C.J. Espey.
Espey, a former Arbutus baseball standout and Western Tech graduate, was the backup pitcher, but tore a bicep muscle on a swing and just returned for the Ocean City tournament.
Steve Cox was added as a pitching reserve, with veterans Keith Delaney and Ray Prevatt sharing catching duty.
Cox, Nelson, Byers, Delaney and Prevatt are the only players on the team over age 40, but they fit nicely with the younger kids.
"We are all friends," he said. "We all go out and we talk all the time. We have a really good team chemistry."
It helps to have Kenny's dad, Mark, make out the lineup.
"I asked him to help coach because it was very difficult for me to play, make substitutions and worry about guys feelings, pulling them in an out, because they are all my friends," Krabitz said.
Dad has been putting together some potent lineups.
They won three tournaments — 3rd Annual Sports 55 Super NIT, Shuckers Mens D World Qualifier and St. Mary's Summer Slam.
They were third in the Sports 55 Memorial Day Spectacular (D tournament) and second in an ISA tournament.
They also won the Howard County League by winning 19 straight games before losing the season finale.
They are currently 27-7 in E Division games and 6-4 against D competition.
In E tournaments, home runs over the fence are an automatic end of the inning and ejection of the player involved.
"We've learned to deal with the home run issue," Krabitz said. "A lot of guys started going to the opposite field and hitting hard line drives to keep the inning alive."
Line drives were sprayed all over the field in the only game last weekend as they scored five runs in the first, seven in the second and 11 in the third to build a 23-1 lead.
It's the kind of game that had Byers, a 47-year old veteran of many leagues in Catonsville and Arbutus, psyched for the future.
"It's going to be exciting going to Worlds," said Byers, who along with the rest of the guys got a thrill out of playing at the ESPN Complex and getting their names announced at the previous World tournaments.