Softball has a heartbeat in Ashtabula County

Historic men’s league now the only game in town, as Softball City keeps coed going

By MICHAEL KELLY

HARBOR – I am at a little loss for words. When I began moving away nearly 20 years ago, softball was a thriving sport in every community across Ashtabula County. I was the young guy and now I return a little older, wiser? Time will tell the tally when it is all said and done.

What astonishes me, is what I came home to. Only the Sunday Coed at Softball City and Ashtabula Men’s Wednesday Night Softball League remain of what used to include weekly leagues in Conneaut, Geneva, Jefferson, Orwell and nearby Madison – with even more leagues on Sundays. Those were the leagues we all grew up watching our parents play in. That’s where we learned the game and later played ourselves.

It’s no surprise that the glue holding these operations together are longtime stalwarts Mike Castrilla and Dan Juhola. Not only have they organized the leagues for decades, they’ve handled the day-to-day operations.

Dan is still umpiring behind the plate in ‘Bula and Mike still in the concession booth running point at Softball City. Both with their supporting casts of regulars maintain and operate facilities with more stories than I can tell you here. But how long can we expect them to hang on and keep it together?

This game will take a resurgence. This game will take you to survive and grow again; to come full circle.

If you want to experience some history, swing by Softball City on a Sunday afternoon – or into Massucci Field in ‘Bula on a Wednesday night. Some old ghosts from generations past may be there to cheer you on and tell you some fantastic tales of big games gone by.

My story is short. I’ve had one home run in my life that actually went over the fence and it was on a short porch, against my own team. Yep… I was substituting for an opponent that night. And there are tons more stories that are filed away somewhere in my brain.

While I hope that you create a better story on the diamond, I can only hope it is as memorable!