It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for your 2016 Stewart’s Creek Scouts this past weekend at the Carnton Plantation, where ballists from across our Fine State had gathered to compete for the Association’s ultimate prize, the Sulphur Dell Cup. Having entered this competition as a fourth seed by virtue of their solid regular season play, the Scouts collectively understood that their road would be a difficult, if not impassible one if they were to taste the sweet nectar of victory. Hardened and made resolute by their season-long travels and travails, however, the Scouts marched through the early rounds by besting two formidable sides by impressive margins.
On Saturday, the Sam Davis bunch squared off against the noble Phoenix nine of East Nashville, an imposing opponent riding high in the wake of its season-ending success against the Association’s top clubs. Knowing that their gaining an early advantage would be crucial to the ultimate outcome, the Scouts tallied a single ace in the first frame and added five more in the second, thus beginning a veritable hit parade that would continue across the remainder of the match. While the gentlemanly Phoenix played with their accustomed grace, it was soon clear to all present that the Scouts would gain the upper hand on this day with their timely work at the dish and their solid efforts afield. And with the last out recorded, the Scouts were able to adjourn to the Association’s Grand Ball having advanced through the Cup’s quarterfinal round by virtue of their 19-5 victory.
The pleasant glow of victory, once illuminated, stayed for the moment with the Scouts as they awoke the following day to a harsher glare. Here they found themselves facing the Association’s regular season pennant winners, the redoubtable Mountain City Club of Chattanooga. Having seen their own Saturday quarterfinal match delayed by untimely rains, the noble Chattanoogans were perhaps put off their game by having to complete this contest against the scrappy Distiller Club of the Highland Rim in the bright lights of this early Sabbath morning. With that outcome recorded, the Scouts still knew that they would have to be in top form to offer challenge to the Association champions. And so it was! With Dutch showing grand prowess at the dish, and with Tick-Tock and the Elder, now a pentagenarian, providing their customary solid play in the pastures, the Scouts were able to dispatch the league champions by a surprising margin of 18-3.
And so the Sam Davis nine found themselves moving onward, to the Cup final! Having placed themselves within these uncharted terrains by virtue of their two earlier victories, the Scouts stood ready to tempt the Base Ball fates once more. For in this match their opponent would be none other than their long-standing rivals, the battle-tested Maroons of Nashville. Having narrowly triumphed over this side just three weeks prior, the Scouts knew that they would need to continue their resolute work at the dish while elevating their level of play around the sacks and in the pastures.
Alas, to hold the Cup in triumph, this proved an elusive vision. Indeed, though ‘twas a far, far greater season’s ending than the Scouts dared to hope for, it also was a far, far lesser outcome than what they might dare to have dream’t of. Even as the Sam Davis nine gained advantage with some early aces and solid play about the sacks, they seemed to lose their starch in the middle frames on the heels of some spectacular defense by the Nashvillians. Then, surrendering that early advantage after some close plays in the seventh frame, the Scouts were unable to replicate their prowess with the willows in those late innings and so were bested by their old rivals by a final tally of 11-8. Realizing that their luck had run thin, the Scouts were quick to offer congratulation to the victors and then stepped aside for the ensuing festivities. Alas, and to the victors went the spoils.
Even so, the Sons of Sam Davis have much to be proud of as they face the shorter days and colder nights of fall and winter; and to a man, the side has much to look forward to with the arrival of next season. But for now, they offer thanks to one another for a fine season and more importantly, to their cranks—to those who rooted for the Scouts through their season’s triumphs as well as their missteps—as, through the collective efforts of ballist and crank alike, the side elevated their expectations of themselves. And so we will all look forward to the tawny rays and verdant hues of early spring, when the quest begins anew. For now, the Scouts offer their thanks for your support and we hope to see you back at the Sam Davis home come spring!