The Inter-Congregational Men’s Club Summer Softball League’s 23rd season is under way, although it’s a slow start because after Opening Day on a sunny May 6, there were no games the next two Sundays because of Mother’s Day and Shavuot.
Play in the weekly league will resume Sunday, May 27, over the Memorial Day weekend.
This is the second season the league has been divided into divisions.
Teams were placed into three divisions in 2017 based on their 2016 regular-season records.
For 2018, four teams were moved up or down a division based on their regular-season record in 2017. Teams with the best record in their division moved up. Teams that finished last in their division moved down.
Separate playoffs are held in each division after the regular season.
“I love it,” said Steve Achtman, a league organizer along with Michael Betman and Chuck Freedman, when asked how he likes the divisional setup.
“The competition is good in the playoffs, and with the chance to move up a division, that gives teams something else to play for during the regular season,” Achtman said.
Eighteen teams are in the league this season, with everyone back from last year. The teams are playing in the Greenberg, Koufax and Rosen divisions, with six teams in each division.
The Greenberg Division includes defending division playoff champion Temple Israel No. 5 along with Temple Israel No. 1, Temple Israel No. 2, Temple Israel No. 6, Temple Shir Shalom No. 1 and Congregation B’nai Moshe.
The Koufax Division includes defending division playoff champion Temple Beth El, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Temple Beth Ahm, Temple Beth El, Temple Israel No. 3, Congregation Shir Tikvah and Adat Shalom Synagogue No. 2.
The Rosen Division includes defending division playoff champion Shir Shalom No. 2, Temple Israel No. 4, Adat Shalom No. 1, Young Israel of Southfield, Bais Chabad Torah Center, and a combined Temple Kol Ami/B’nai Israel Synagogue team.
So which teams moved up a division this season? Shaarey Zedek went from the Rosen Division to the Koufax Division. B’nai Moshe went from the Koufax Division to the Greenberg Division.
Which teams moved down a division this season? Young Israel went from the Koufax Division to the Rosen Division and Adat Shalom No. 2 went from the Greenberg Division to the Koufax Division.
Each team plays its division opponents twice, and teams from the other divisions during the regular season.
There’s a new league rule this year that is common among softball leagues with a wide range of skill levels.
After a batter hits two home runs over the outfield fence in a game, any succeeding home run over the fence is an out.
The Inter-Congregational League plays on five diamonds — three at Community Sports Park and two at Drake Sports Park, both in West Bloomfield — each Sunday and each diamond has outfield fences.
“We have a few guys who are capable of hitting a home run over the fence every time they come up,” Achtman said. “We feel this rule gives them a chance to do that, then they need to keep the ball in the park.”
The Inter-Congregational League’s two major awards — the Jeff Fox Sportsmanship Award and Michael Yendick “Pure Heart” Award — will be handed out again this season.
The Fox Award is named for a Shir Shalom player who died in 2011.
Yendick was a longtime B’nai B’rith softball league player who died in 2000. The award named for him became part of the Inter-Congregational League’s season a few years ago after the B’nai B’rith league folded and B’nai B’rith players joined Inter-Congregational League teams.
For more information on the Inter-Congregational League, go to mensclubsoftball.org.
Jordan Anstandig has turned into a hitting machine for the Alma College baseball team.
The junior outfielder from West Bloomfield had three hits and three RBIs in Alma’s 8-2 win over Calvin on May 4 in the first game of a doubleheader, and he followed that with a six-RBI game in the nightcap, an 18-10 Alma victory.
Anstandig hit a grand-slam homer in the second game. It was the first grand slam of his baseball career.
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