Not a bad Sunday for the Brooksville Raiders. Not only did they get to see the Tampa Bay Rays win in spectacular fashion, but they won in impressive fashion themselves, taking home the Field of Dreams Tournament championship by defeating the Largo Slackers, 15-2, at Tropicana Field.
"There was a lot of anticipation to play this and play in 10 tournaments since March to get here," pitcher Carl Whitehouse said. "We got the top seed and we knew we really needed to jump on them and get runs on the board. This is a game that can really come back on you, but today was our day to shine."
The Raiders are an adult softball team that plays in various leagues up and down the North Suncoast. They travel a lot, play in numerous tournaments and their players, who are mostly from Brooksville and Dade City, vary in age and size. Though not talent.
They had a six-run lead through two innings.
"We weren't expecting that," Whitehouse said, "but we'll take it."
The players were even more excited about suiting up in their orange and black jerseys and taking the same field played on by the likes of Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford. As they watched the game and saw recently acquired veteran catcher Gregg Zaun hit a go-ahead pinch hit grand slam in the eighth to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, they realized that afterward would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"It was a bit overwhelming just to see how big it is and it looks even bigger because it's all inside," said Whitehouse, who took the mound only hours after Rays pitcher Matt Garza was up there. "I mean, I was out there for the first pitch and I got this feeling that I just can't explain. Awesome, really. I've done a lot of cool things in my life, but this is easily up there."