Rec Sports Spotlight: 'Entire roster' helped Salted Nuts to title

Salted Nuts co-ed softball team. Top row (L-R): James Smith, Felicia Knill, Candice Reagan, Mike Gladfelter, Ryan Thompkins, Dominic Grimes, Trevor Zettle, Alli Hammond. Bottom row (L-R): Brad Brewer, Michelle Hennessy, Bailey Moses, Liz Kendrick, Jenna Hunt, Derek Jarret.
Salted Nuts co-ed softball team. Top row (L-R): James Smith, Felicia Knill, Candice Reagan, Mike Gladfelter, Ryan Thompkins, Dominic Grimes, Trevor Zettle, Alli Hammond. Bottom row (L-R): Brad Brewer, Michelle Hennessy, Bailey Moses, Liz Kendrick, Jenna Hunt, Derek Jarret. (Courtesy photo)

Candice Reagan and her teammates chose to name their co-ed softball squad Salted Nuts after her husband Mike's fantasy football team.

He and his team had won his fantasy football league's pot for two straight years. Her players figured the name would bring them luck.


It probably did.

Back in August, Salted Nuts won four consecutive games to take the Carroll County Co-ed Softball League's middle division championship.

After many postponements, including an eight-week stretch in which Salted Nuts couldn't play at all, the regular season was finally completed.

However, rain outs and reschedulings weren't the only things that made the story of this team's journey to the championship read like a convoluted Russian novel. Off-the-field happenings make this account about far more than simply winning a softball championship.

Candice and Mike originally formed the team years ago, she said, “to get his friends and my friends to play together and see how it worked.”

Last fall, it won a championship for the first time in its five-year stint in the co-ed loop. However, this was not a nice, steady team whose players could be counted on to always show up.

A lot of them are first responders whose schedules meander all over the 24-hour day. Having enough players to field a team with everybody in a position they could actually play, proved to be drama more than once.

This spring, Candice replaced five players who had moved on. In fact, she rostered 20 this season so that enough people would be there when she needed them.

About half were from Pennsylvania, the rest from the Eldersburg and Westminster area.

“We recruited friends of players on the team and friends of the families of players on the team," she said with a laugh. “Luckily they were all pretty good.”

One of the recruits was an umpire who had actually officiated many of their games.

Another player was somebody Candice hadn't counted on returning at all. He was back by virtue of a miracle. This was her own husband, Mike — he suffered a stroke in November which temporarily blinded him.

However, he recovered almost all of his sight by the time the spring softball season started. It turned out that he would not miss a game.

Candice suffered from severe stomach trouble which required surgery and kept her off the field. She stayed on the bench as manager the entire season.


To this couple, their team was a welcome diversion from life's problems.

Filling certain positions also was an adventure.

The team's starting pitcher moved to Tennessee, so Reagan had to find another one. She recruited 45 year-old State trooper James Smith who had also pitched for her in the past and then retired — or so he thought.

"He says he retires every season,” Reagan said, “but I keep pulling him back.”

Other supposed retirees faced the same persistent caller on the other end of the phone line.

"We got back a number of players from earlier seasons. I talked them into returning to help us out," she said.

Sometimes she got extra help on the mound when her former pitcher was back in town from Tennessee. When she was around, Reagan talked her into pitching.

After all that, the team nearly forfeited its opening doubleheader anyway. Reagan got on the phone and cajoled two players who had originally begged off to please show up.

They did, and the team was spared the forfeit. It also won.

Reagan noted her team had a lot of good outfielders, including Mike, who played left field. The problem there was that he hadn't recovered all of the peripheral vision in his left eye when the season began.

"He had a blind spot, and he nearly ran over other outfielders when they both went for fly balls between them.So he moved to right center field," Candice explained.

Winters Mill softball coach Felicia Knill replaced him in left field.

Salted Nuts went 11-3 and won eight consecutive regular-season games at one point. When the regular season was over in their very competitive division, they were fourth despite their 11-3 record.

Reagan said her team was not exactly flashy. Just getting a team on the field could be a challenge. But when all was said and done, it usually did what it had to do to win.

Game 1 of the tournament began about 11 a.m. on Aug. 26, a day where the temperature would reach into the 90's.

Their first opponent forfeited, and Salted Nuts opened against Cinco de Mayo. It won 18-0 after scoring 14 runs in the first inning.

It started fast in Game 2, also. The squad scored seven runs in the first inning, five in the second and went on to beat Rifles and Racks, 19-7.

The next game was against Hot 'n Bothered, the team which had beaten Reagan's team twice during the regular season. The manager said she knew this would be the opponent she would have to beat to win the championship.

Things weren't looking good as HB scored 11 runs in the third inning to lead 14-0. But Salted Nuts scored seven in both the third and fourth to tie it. The game was knotted at 20-20 after seven innings.

Hot 'n Bothered scored three in the top of the eighth, but Salted Nuts matched it in the home half. The visitors scored twice in the ninth to lead 25-23. But Reagan's team scored three in the bottom half to win 26-25.

And if that one wasn't wild enough, the two combatants squared off in another extra-inning struggle in the championship game late Sunday evening.

Salted Nuts had a 17-12 lead after five innings. But the visitors had pulled ahead 21-20 in the home seventh.

The home team then scored a run to tie it 21-21.

The eighth was a replay of the deciding inning of the previous game. Hot 'n Bothered scored two runs in the top of the inning, but Salted Nuts retaliated with three in the home half to win 24-23.

Trevor Little singled in the run that gave his Salted Nuts game and match. Brad Brewer, a player-coach, cleared the fence with a home run in the game.

Reagan said she values this championship more than last fall's. She said with all the drama involved in keeping her squad running, it was truly a team effort that allowed it to prevail.

"This year, it really took the entire roster to get us through the season,” she said. “All of our 20 people played at one time or the other.”

Reagan says she and her team have no plans to quit.

“We're going to keep doing until it isn't fun anymore," she said.