Believe it or not this will be the JRF Panthers 13th season playing slow-pitch softball. During those 13 years, their have been quite the memories. With March Madness starting this week we decided to create our own bracket of the 16 most memorable games and decided to have our current players, alumni and fans vote to decided which game is most memorable. Each round voting will last about 5 days. You can vote for the first round by clicking this link here. But before you vote why don’t you get a brief refresher and recap how each game panned out.
#1 Seed – Seminfinal Win vs Keith Kemp to Advance to Championship in 2019– JRF had never beaten Kemp in a playoff game, not to mention Keith Kemp had won several league championships and The Panthers had never advanced to a championship game. Despite being an underdog, behind timely hitting by Kevin Noll, Jordan Gottshall and Eric Nester the Panthers survived 8-6 to advance to their first ever league championship.
#16 Seed- First Ever Tournament Win vs Prizers in 2014– Up to 2013, the Panthers had been the doormat of the league. Luckily with an improved roster and a new team in the league in Prizers, the Panthers were able to get their first ever early bird tourney win finally in 2014.
#2 Seed – 2019 Fall league Championship Game– The 2019 Fall Season was a roller coaster ride. It got so low that the team had to forfeit one game due to not enough players showing up. Come playoff time it was a different story. Despite losing the first game of a double elimination tournament, JRF won 4 straight for their first ever league title.
#15 Seed – Josh Waltrich Walk Off Home Run vs BNJ in 2018 – It was Josh Waltrich’s first game in a JRF Uniform and he made a huge difference. Getting a hit in every single at bat including a walk off home run to seal the victory for the Panthers.
#3 Seed – The Teams First ever win in a playoff game (Big John Game Saving Catch and Tag 2014) – Up until 2014, JRF had not won a playoff game. That was about to change but it would not come easy. Despite facing and inferior opponent, JRF was hanging on by a thread in the final inning. On a base hit, the other team tried scoring to tie up the game. Luckily, Matt Bryan threw a laser to out of all people Big John at home plate who made the catch and tag to give JRF their first postseason victory.
#14 Seed- Cody Crayton Puke and Rally Game in 2011 – Back in 2011, nothing got JRF ready for a game the next morning quite like a night out of intense partying. The next game after a night of partying, Cody Crayton lead off the game and asked for a time out before stepping into the batters box. He puked but that didn’t stop him as he stepped back into the batters box and it was game on.
#4 Seed- 5-4 Extra Inning Loss vs Kemp in 2014 Playoff – Keith Kemp was the defending champions and JRF had just barely beaten one of the worst teams in the league for its first ever playoff win. This game was supposed to be a no contest. The way it started it sure looked like the would be the case. Keith Kemp was up 3-0 in the first inning with bases loaded and nobody out. That’s when Derek Evans made the controversial decision to pull TJ and sub in Cody Manmiller to Pitch. On the very next pitch, Kemp hit into a triple play. JRF went on to score 4 unanswered runs to miraculously take the lead. Kemp eventually tied the game and would win in extra innings but the fact this game was even this close was a story itself.
#13 Seed-Ocean City Maryland Tourney Debacle– This was not just one game, it was three and you had to be there to understand the craziness. From shut outs, illegal bats, showing up late for games, hangovers it was truly something to see.
#5 Seed- Upset Over #1 Seed Crushers 2017 – Crushers was the number one seed for a reason. They were the best team all regular season. One this day however, JRF came to play and the bats were hot. JRF ended up 12 running Crushers to advance to the semifinal vs eventual champion Johhny and Hons,
#12 Seed- Upset of Undefeated Crushers in 2020 Regular Season– This matchup both consist of the the opponent Crushers. This situation was different. Undefeated going into the game, JRF was looking to pull a surprise upset which they did and giving eventual champion Crushers their only loss of the season.
#6 Seed-Walk Off Quarterfinal Win VS Johnny and Hons (2019)– JRF went extra innings and an Eric Nester sac fly scored the winning run over Johnny and Hons which helped propel JRF’s run to the championship game.
#11 Seed-2014 Newville Playoff Game 2014 – Coming into the tournament , JRF was expecting to play EE. To their surprise, when they arrived they were told they were playing E. The first three games JRF looked like an EE team losing all three games by an average of almost 20 runs. While the team waited for the playoff game, which they thought they had absolutely no shot of winning. Remember not only did they lose by almost an average of 20 a game, but they were playing the #1 seed. During the wait the whole team drank and got drunk in the tournament parking lot. Incredibly, once the playoff game started JRF got out to a 17-2 lead. Remember this was the same team that had just beaten them by over 20 runs. The beer muscles were strong. Unfortunately, the other team came back and won 23-18 but the fact JRF competed was again quite the story.
#7 Seed-Teams First Ever Win in 2010 – JRF did not win a game in 2009 going 0-32. This changed in 2010, as the team would eventually win a game which ended with TJ Walters celebrating putting his fingers in the air while walking off the mound.
#10 Seed- Unfinished Game Due to Concussion and Missing Teeth – This game had to be remade but not due to weather but due to a bizarre freak accident. The batter at the plate swung and the bat slipped out of his hands, hitting catcher Derek Evans in the head causing a concussion and knocking out the umpires teeth.
#8 Seed- Kevin Noll walk Off Grand Slam vs Prizers 2016 -The game wasn’t supposed to be this close but it was. Either way Noll made up for by winning the playoff game on a walk off Grand Slam, Which ended with Coach Derek Evans and Noll embracing for a hug at home plate.
#9 Seed – JRF Panthers Beatdown of BNJ in 2017 Playoff Game– Before 2017, JRF had not won a playoff game against one of the long lasting Exeter League teams. This changed as JRF shocked BNJ in a convincing win.