The Philadelphia Zoo softball team plays in the Center City Softball League (CCSL) : an eight-team, co-ed, slow-pitch league where every team must have at least two female players. Teams can field up to 10 players (4 in the OF) total while 11 can bat - a team does not need to forfeit at game time if it has at least 8 players (the opposing team would field a catcher as the 9th player whom cannot make plays on the ball) with one of them being female (when the second woman would be up, there is then an automatic out). Our games have seven innings, no walks, no stolen bases (or leading off) and no umpires. The batting team fields 1st and 3rd base coaches who call foul lines and outs. We have pitching mats that facilitate called strikes (if the ball lands on the mat placed behind the plate); you can also strike out swinging. We play a fourteen-game season in which every team plays each other twice, with one game each being home and away. The top four teams advance to a single game playoff round where the winners meet in a best-of-three 'World Series'. We play in lovely Fairmount Park in northwest Philadelphia.
This year's teams :
The Franklin Institute - an uneven team who used to be great a few years ago but fell down a notch or two a couple of years ago. We played them close 2 seasons ago (splitting 2 games) and destroyed them last year in both games, but they're tough if not a little inconsistent.
The Academy of Natural Sciences - they joined the league the same year as us, never a great team but they did make the playoffs the first 2 years. We were suprisingly beaten soundly by them in our only game last year, but we usually play with them pretty closely. They've lost some big hitters this year.
Philadelphia Daily News - they won the tourney in our first year and reached the finals the next, but became mediocre after that (we split games with them 2 years ago) - until last year when they brought some of their big guns back and made the playoffs again (and beat the crap out of us twice). This year we're pretty even.
X-Commerce Department - they've been called "X-Commerce" now for whatever reason for a couple years... apparently they mostly used to work for the city but don't anymore? It's not really clear. They're always good. In the playoffs every year, and league champs the last three years. They don't always kill us, but we've never beaten them. They're sometimes kinda jerky and hyper-competitive, but seemed to have calmed down - and we can play with them now.
Philadelphia Business Journal - PBJ is consistently good. They ran away with the league in our first year but lost in the series, always make the playoffs but haven't won the championship since we've been around. We've never beaten them, and it was never even close until last year when we only lost by 2 and 9 runs in 2 games. Some of the nicest folks in the league.
National Constitution Center - new to the league in 2005 - made a coaching change 1 week into the season... and getting killed every game, much like us in our first year. I hope they stick around and try to get better.
Philadelphia Art Museum - another new team, losing big in their league debut game but steadily improving, with twice as many players as most teams and honestly - quite obnoxious.
We proved we can be competitive in the league the last few years and this year we really, *really* think we can make a run for the playoffs. We keep improving year to year, plus our offense and infield defense is really solid this year with a couple of new additions (and re-acquisitions). Prior to joining the CCSL, the zoo had regularly played the Academy and Institute, as well as the Daily News in our annual "Vet Stadium game" (which the zoo's President would arrange). To be honest, most teams in this league play with the bare minimum of female players and some make a point to only do just that; the zoo, on the other hand, has usually had a ratio of about 1:1 with males and females. However, more guys came out for the team the last couple of years and that trend continues this year. But we're an equal opportunity recreational softball team. We don't really care; if you want to play, you will. It's always more fun when you win but in the end it doesn't mean squat if you're uptight about it.