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Page Brake watches its hopes get stranded

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On any normal Friday evening at the Cottonwood Softball Complex, any ordinary Jack can come in off the street and be treated to a little softball action and probably have himself a good laugh watching all the misplayed fly balls and booted grounders. County Rec. ball at its best.

Friday night, however, that same average Jack would have been in for a giant surprise. He would have seen softball all right but a completely different game.He'd have see (gasp) real, live athletes manning the bases or outfield positions. You see, on Friday and the rest of this weekend, the top men's fastpitch teams in the country are in Salt Lake for the annual Pioneer Days Tournament.

And don't be mistaken; these guys can play.

You won't see middle-aged men with size-48 waistlines, stained white tees and shorts a little too short for comfort trying to relive their youths by batting around a ball way to big to be pitched so slow.

You won't see men who've been dealt a cruel hand by Father Time rounding first base looking like they're running in oatmeal.

This is the real game, with real players. The players at the Cottonwood Softball Complex this weekend are just as serious as professional athletes, which makes for some seriously intense softball.

That's why when local Page Brake lost to the Sioux City Chiefs 4-1 Friday night, the players looked upset and the coach actually sat the team down and gave them a good talking to.

This stuff is serious.

"It's disappointing. Being one of the home town teams, we wanted to start off well," said Page Brake coach John Hansman. "We should have won this game."

Page Brake entered the tournament ranked 11th in the world, while the Chiefs weren't even on the list of 25. But Page Brake's inability to capitalize with men on base (Page Brake left eight men stranded) more than opened the door for the upset minded Chiefs.

Sioux City jumped ahead 2-0 in the third when Mike Schwieger punished Kyle Kouka's pitch right up the middle into center field for a pair of RBI. The lead stretched to 3-0 on Jim Augustine's RBI double, scoring Troy Boreman.

Kouka helped redeem himself with a run in the sixth, cutting the lead to 3-1. But with two men on and two outs, Derrick Sorensen struck out. Sioux City then added another run in the seventh-and-final inning before Page Brake had one more chance for a comeback.

Doug Sorensen and Chad Rose each singled and stole a base, putting runners on second and third with one out. But, as the game's trend showed, with runners on, the Brakes went out.

Stephen Glasher struck out and Kouta bounced to short to end the game.

"We left a lot of runners in scoring position," said Hansman. "If we put some of those balls in play it's a completely different game."

Page Brake won't get a (pardon the pun) break this morning either. It'll be facing the Tampa Bay Smokers, who happen to be the defending World Champions and No. 2 ranked team in the world, at 9.

"It doesn't get any easier," said Hansman. "We better come out and be ready to go."

Two other local teams, Miller Toyota and Miller Chevrolet, also are in the tournament. Toyota plays games at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and again tonight at 7. The Chevs at 11 a.m. and at 5 p.m.

Tournament play continues through Sunday night.