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  WINDY CITY TIMES

SOFTBALL South Side team excels in CMSA
Extended for the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Ross Forman
2010-09-22

This article shared 3705 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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Art Murnan jokes that the only color that matters to the Club Escape Phoenix softball team is their uniform color.

"We do have some divas on the team," Murnan, one of the team's coaches, said, laughing.

The team sported blue uniforms this season, and on the last Sunday in August, it sported the color of a champion, as Club Escape Phoenix won the C2 Division of the annual Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ) softball season.

Club Escape Phoenix defeated Jack's 29-24 in the deciding game, overcoming a 15-3 deficit in the fifth inning. The Phoenix scored 26 runs in the final three innings.

Club Escape is one of the only South Side sponsors for a CMSA softball team, and the team is league's only predominantly African-American team—14 African Americans, three whites and one Hispanic.

"We never think about the color of the players on this team; we all bond and get along; we're just happy that others who are not residing on the South Side of Chicago know about our team," said Murnan, who is white. "We've been predominantly African-American since [ the team ] was formed.

"I can honestly say our only issues this year were, who was going to play. And that's not a bad issue to have considering our [ main ] issue [ previously was, ] will we have enough players to field a team."

"We are very excited, honored to win the C2 championship," Murnan said. "We've put a lot of work in to get here. We started practicing indoors in February and continued with practices once or twice a week throughout the season. With all we did to get here, there was no greater feeling than accomplishing our goal. I have coached sports for 43 years and had a lot of successes, but a coach always has a few special moments … and this was one of them.

"This has been the goal of the team since we started playing in 1993. There is no greater feeling than accomplishing this goal."

Phillip Moore—who now lives in Washington, D.C.—formed the team in 1993. When Moore moved away, the responsibilities of running and managing the team feel on one of the current players, LaToris Jordan, who still coaches, along with Murnan.

The team was disbanded for about five years, and then re-formed in 2008.

The 2010 roster had 18 players.

"The core players of the last two years have been the major reason for success of this team," Murnan said. "We ask for a tremendous commitment and effort and these men have come through on that. Each player has a 'Can win, will win' attitude and gives their all to that belief. We believe in ourselves and believe the only way we lose is when we beat ourselves. We are OK with losing a game or two, as long as we have played our best and given our all. When we don't do that, we re-commit."

The team's top players this season were Kenny Williams ( shortstop ) , Rick Cunningham ( outfielder ) , LaToris Jordan ( second baseman ) and Darrick Johnson ( pitcher ) .

And certainly Neal Dotson, too.

Dotson hit the game-winning home run against Jack's in a 17-15 come-from-behind playoff game. And Jack's feared Dotson so much that they intentionally walked him every time he batted—10 times in two games on the final Sunday of the season.

Johnson missed games in August to participate in the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany.

"Darrick works as a bartender on Saturday nights until [ Sunday at ] 6 a.m., and most times goes right to the fields to play two games. His stamina and dedication are fantastic and a source of motivation to all," Murnan said.

"Club Escape and its patrons have been nothing but supportive of our team and our efforts. Club Escape has allowed us to hold fundraisers, raffles and, of course, they have sponsored our team for many years. The patrons of Club Escape have also supported the team by coming [ to games ] and cheering us on, even for some early morning games. Our sponsor and fans have been great to us over the years. There are no better fans or sponsor, and we thank them."

Murnan said the key to the 2010 championship season was dedication from all players and their drive to improve.

"Our veteran players spend time with [ newcomers ] , giving tips to be better hitters and fielders," Murnan said. "Plus, LaToris will not settle for anything but the best performance on the field from everyone. He plays for the love of the game, and in the two years that I've coached this team, I don't recall him missing a game."

Murnan said it is "an honor" to represent the South Side.

"It feels good to show the city that there are a lot of great things coming from the South Side," he said. "Club Escape Phoenix is composed of people from every walk of life and every side of town. I guess we represent all aspects of the rainbow and the city."

Murnan said the team already is planning for 2011 with one clear goal: "Win the [ Gay Softball ] World Series," which will be held in Chicago.

Anyone interested in joining the Club Escape Phoenix team should contact Art at artmurnan@comcast.net or LaToris at ldj5565@yahoo.com .

To find out how teams finished in the regular season and playoffs, please visit www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .

REGULAR SEASON

First Place 2010 — B Division

Spin Rock Star

Second Place 2010 — B Division

Sidetrack Blues

Third Place 2010 — B Division

Roadhouse 66/Jackhammer Dragons

=========================

First Place 2010 — C1 Division

Green Team/Gotcha Covered Blinds G-Force

Second Place 2010 — C1 Division

Hardline Heat

Third Place 2010 — C1 Division

Hamburger Mary's Chargers

=========================

First Place 2010 — C2 Division

Jack's on Halsted

Second Place 2010 — C2 Division

Sir Spa

Third Place 2010 — C2 Division

Club Escape Phoenix

=========================

First Place 2010 — C3 Division

Sidetrack Bears

Second Place 2010 — C3 Division

Steamworks

Third Place 2010 — C3 Division

Roadhouse 66 Lucky Charmers

=========================

First Place 2010 — D1 Division

Big Chick's Wicked

Second Place 2010 — D1 Division

Mi Tierra Crush

Third Place 2010 — D1 Division

Halsted's Magic

==================

First Place 2010 — D2 Division

North End Woof Attack

Second Place 2010 —D2 Division

Ping Pong

Third Place 2010 — D2 Division

Uptown Swingers

PLAYOFF CHAMPIONS

======================

2010 Playoffs — B Division Champion

Spin Rock Star

2010 Playoffs — B Division Second Place

Sidetrack Blues

2010 Playoffs — B Division Third Place

Halsted's

======================

2010 Playoffs — C1 Division Champion

Green Team/Gotcha Covered Blinds G-Force

2010 Playoffs — C1 Division Second Place

Spin Wildcats

2010 Playoffs — C1 Division Third Place

Hamburger Mary's Chargers

=======================

2010 Playoffs — C2 Division Champion

Club Escape Phoenix

2010 Playoffs — C2 Division Second Place

Jack's on Halsted

2010 Playoffs — C2 Division Third Place

Crew Litening

=========================

2010 Playoffs — C3 Division Champion

Sidetrack Bears

2010 Playoffs — C3 Division Second Place

Charlie's Angels

2010 Playoffs — C3 Division Third Place

Steamworks

===========================

2010 Playoffs — D1 Division Champion

Big Chick's Wicked

2010 Playoffs — D1 Division Second Place

Mi Tierra Crush

2010 Playoffs — D1 Division Third Place

Green Team Properties

=======================

2010 Playoffs — D2 Division Champion

North End Woof Attack

2010 Playoffs — D2 Division Second Place

Ping Pong

2010 Playoffs — D2 Division Third Place

Spin Bobcats

2010 James R. Brodie Award, presented for outstanding sportsmanship:

Greg Place, who played for Hamburger Mary's Chargers ( C1 ) and coaches North End Woof Attack ( D2 )


This article shared 3705 times since Wed Sep 22, 2010
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