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A wacky quack attack

"Run to third, Mom. Run to third."

That was the encouragement shouted to Nancy Rayman as she came to the plate in a really wacky softball game, and it wasn't intended to send her running in the wrong direction.

Instead, it was among many antics when the Citrus County Parks and Recreation Division spring women's league wrapped up its season Saturday with a Duck Soup tournament at Crystal River's Bicentennial Park.

Rayman was batting in the fifth inning, which meant running the bases in reverse order: home to third, to second, to first, to home.

Other rules changes made for the crazy tournament, which is named for the off-the-wall Marx brothers' movie: Each team is allowed one offensive and one defensive do-over per game; the last batter in the lineup scores three runs by crossing the plate; the last person out in each inning must play catcher; batters are allowed only one swing in the second inning and hit opposite-handed in the third; players pick fielding positions from a hat for the fourth; and the visiting team is spotted half a run.

Recreation supervisor Ray Sargent got the idea from a pamphlet on gimmick tournaments.

"Once they started to familiarize themselves with the rules," said Sargent, who was one of the tourney's umpires, "it almost got to be like a chess match."

Players debated when to utilize their team's do-over opportunities. Hitters did all they could to avoid making the last out and getting stuck behind the plate. And baserunners trained to run to first after a hit had to remember to go the wrong way in the fifth.

"We called one safe at third," Sargent said, "but the third baseman from the other team, or first baseman, or whatever you call her, complained that she cut across the infield to get there. We let it go."

In first-round games, River Safaris' BMWs beat Crystal River Bank 3-2{ and 2250/Crystal Chevrolet beat Citrus-95 11-6{. The BMWs won the championship, beating 2250/Crystal Chevrolet 10-9{.

The prize for winning: A rubber ducky, which Sargent bought at a dollar store.

"The last innings," Sargent said, "they were all yelling, "Quack, quack, quack,' because they all wanted that little duck."

Proof that some people will do anything for a duck worth a buck.