By Kyle LoJacono
No one seems to remember when the Land O’ Lakes Community Center started its adult softball league and it does not matter much to the players.
“It’s really just a great time with a bunch of great people,” said Chad Bille of team Rapscallions. “…The team started three seasons ago and I’ve been on it the last two years. I asked the team if they had space for me and they let me join. They are a bunch of good guys and we have fun out there.”
The Pasco County Parks and Recreation Department run the community center. Mandy Stephens, the center’s recreation leader 2, said she did not know when the adult softball leagues started, but she and several of the staff thought it was between 10 and 15-years-old.
Bille, who plays catcher, second base and right field, is the only member on the team who works at Rapscallions. The rest of the team is made up of frequent customers of the restaurant with Tom Guglielmello as the team manager. Most of the team is from Land O’ Lakes, but Bille is from Lutz.
Bille’s team is part of the Thursday night men’s league, which has six teams. There is also a Tuesday men’s league at the center, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd. The different leagues have players from Land O’ Lakes, Lutz, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills and Dade City.
There are two seasons each year for the adult league. The first begins in August and ends in December, while the other runs from February to May.
“We usually have a coed and church league too, but there wasn’t enough interest for it this season,” said Stephens, who is in charge of the adult league. “I’ve been here for six years and this is the first season we didn’t have a coed team.”
Each season is 15 weeks long and includes two preseason and 10 regular season games and is capped by a playoff tournament. Games begin at 7 p.m. and last about one hour.
The Thursday night league will crown its champion May 6, while the Tuesday version will do so May 11. Entering the playoffs, Rapscallions was in fourth place with a 4-6 record, but results from the team’s first round of the playoffs were not available by press time. A complete list of the playoff standings was also not available.
The August to December league had one coed and three men’s leagues. Team Matrix won the coed league, while teams Ukulele’s, Outlaws and Silverbacks were the three men’s winners.
The league is classified as level E, which is the lowest level of competition of the National Softball Association. Winners of the league are eligible to play in the association’s state tournament, provided they pay their way for the trip.
“I didn’t play baseball in high school and that’s probably true for a lot of the other guys,” Bille said. “I played soccer in high school and Little League, but that’s it. We still get competitive out there because we want to win no matter the level.”
The atmosphere has kept Bille coming back.
“Like I said the league is just a lot of fun,” Bille said. “It is well refereed and there are a lot of good guys out there having fun. People should give it a try.”
For information on future adult softball leagues or other sports at the Land O’ Lakes Community Center, call (813) 929-1229.