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Men's 60

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Aug. 12, 2011
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: LET'S FIX THE TOP---Part Three

So, we are getting some discussion, and maybe some agreement, that merging the top 2 levels of senior ball into one Major Division (minus the "plus") might be a good idea. The following news should help some clubs undecided about their chances at the top.

Our 55 Major Plus team played a 55/Major team early last Sunday morning in Temecula. We played with a 5 HR limit, then allowed 1-up and made them walks until teams were even again. They played with an 11th defensive player, but no run spot...7 runs were allowed each inning.

Neither team hit more than 5 homers, though we did hit 5...they hit one. Final score: Them 20; Us 17. The extra player made a huge difference, turning at least 3 hits up the middle into 3 outs.

This is another option to consider on a temporary basis...allowing those Major teams still timid about playing at the top level a choice to play with an extra defender...along with an HR limit of, say 6 or 7...and a 5-run per inning limit.

With respect to Don's suggestion for 7-run innings, sorry, but I'm not in favor of it...for TIME LIMIT CONSIDERATIONS ONLY...we had just two 7-inning games in Temecula...(a SOCALSSA event)...the other three were done in 6 innings...I fear too many shortened games with a 7-run per inning limit. SSUSA has extended the time limits by 5 minutes each in both round robin and bracket games...that seems to be just enough to bring the games back to 7 innings...except in rare cases...but there is still a 5-run per inning quota.

I'm adamant that we will not play in tournaments where we cannot get seven innings for 90% or more of the games. Unless TDs agree to lengthen the time limit to 75 or 80 minutes, 7-run innings will not get my vote....and the economics of ump fees, field rental, lighting costs, etc., seem to preclude longer games.

SPA Softball, interestingly, allows for 9 runs per inning in their Major Plus Division AND guarantees seven innings for all bracket games...the only catch here is their "mercy" rule ends the game when it has become too one-sided. I would consider supporting a similar arrangement if sufficient interest exists to expand the runs allowed per inning to seven or even nine, though I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with five.

July 29, 2011
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: LET'S FIX THE TOP---Part Three

Good morning, Joe. Thanks for contributing. To your point, if you minus the "plus" and make one division, restrictions on player movement would, in theory, be lifted. Recruiting might get more competitive, but current rules regarding releases, etc. would help keep it in check.

As for SPA, I'm a big, BIG fan (as you know) but we were unable to go this year primarily due to financial constraints for many of our players.

And speaking of financial constraints, this allows me to explode one other myth regarding Major Plus...that of the "sponsored" know that guy with huge sums of money who loves to pay for all the hotels, rental cars, plane tickets, meals, uniforms, entry know..the guy ALL MAJOR TEAMS HAVE IN THEIR POCKET...just throwing money at all the players...

You do know that guy, right???

Well, could you introduce me to him. I'm bringing my $24 to Prescott this weekend to pay my share of the entry fee for GSF 60/Major UNSPONSORED TEAM that just happens to have TWO CONSECUTIVE SSWC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TO ITS NAME.

Sponsored??? Yeah, right.
July 29, 2011
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: LET'S FIX THE TOP---Part Three

What does the top level of senior softball look like? Or better yet, what SHOULD it look like?

The current perception of the top level (now known as Major Plus) for many, many players is that it is dominated by the home run. Historically, with the disingenuous "One-Up" rule that allowed for unlimited homeruns, there may have been more than a shred of accuracy to that perception.

But, since 2008 when homeruns became limited in all divisions, THE FACTS ABOUT MAJOR PLUS TELL A DIFFERENT STORY...that explodes the myth of Home Run Derby in Major Plus.

Since HRs are now counted and the overage ruled as dead ball outs, fewer than 10% of all Major Plus games see the limit reached by even one's less than 10% of all games for BOTH teams to hit 10 each.

Thank God for that...20 balls that leave the park in any one game is TOO MANY...and the game quickly becomes boring.

My experience in Major Plus (55 and 60) has taught me the best teams do everything well (and I'm looking at you, Turn Two in 60s, and Nighthawks in 55s)...they pitch well, they field well, they run the bases smartly, have good arms in the outfield that prevent extra bases, they hit to the opposite field when the situation calls for it, they hit very few solo homeruns, their managers manage the game and substitute accordingly, they courtesy run for injured players but don't burn out all their fast guys before Sunday, and a lot more.

In short., they do all the little things correctly...and shouldn't that be the hallamrk of the top level of senior ball?

The Major Division---(minus the "plus")---should feature the best speed, the best arms, the best defense, the best pitchers, as well as the top hitters. The HR is a vital part of the game...but it is only a part...and too many of them quickly turns the sport into a comedy that good ballplayers do not really want to play...why should they? Too many dingers neutralize their skills because there is no defense for it.

The top level of senior softball---the Majors (minus the "plus")---should find an acceptable HR limit...say 6...merge the divisions...and have at it. With 5 runs per inning and a reasonable HR limit...all the ingredients are in place.


July 29, 2011
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: LET'S FIX THE TOP--Part Two

Just what is wrong with the top division of senior ball? Currently, the top level is Major Plus and Major Plus represents a mere 6% of registered teams. That's simply not enough teams to have a marketable business. Yet, Major Plus players are arguably the most passionate, committed, and frequent players in the sport. IN OTHER WORDS...HEAVY USERS. In my case, as a player/manager on two teams, I will play in 26 tournaments this year...many other Major and Major plus players can say the same or even more.

Business leaders always want to satisfy their heavy users...that's just common sense...yet in today's climate, SSUSA is giving these heavy users planty of reasons to look elsewhere for a more satisfying experience....

..."STIMULUS PACKAGE" (as Tate22 calls it) RUN SPOTS;
...GAMES OVER IN LESS THAN 7 INNINGS (getting better here);

... it's a virtual blizzard of rules and restrictive regs that make it rare indeed for Major Plus players to play Major Plus rules in any given tournament.

The same restrictive rules apply when major teams play down. It's time to consider merging the Major and Major Plus divisions into one level...the top level of senior softball. The numbers don't lie and with a third of all players now in Major or higher, teams will look for tournaments that allow them a satisfying, complete experience.

We can do this.

July 29, 2011
Topic: Tournaments

CORRECTION: Major and higher teams comprise 33%, not 36%.
July 29, 2011
Topic: Tournaments

Since becoming an active player in 2004, I have been convinced that SSUSA/SSWC management is determined to protect the lower division of the sport. The primary mechanism to do this is the Ratings procedure which is designed to elevate more competitive teams and prevent tournament bloodbaths being rendered to AA (and weaker AAA) teams.

Point taken. Most of us support the notion of protecting your 'bread and butter' customers...and historically AA and AAA teams have comprised upwards of 80% of all SSWC registered teams.

However, that is no longer the case. Through the aggressive elevation of good teams (another position most of us support) the current slate looks like this. These are ratings for 50, 55, and 60 teams offense to 65+, but I did not tabulate your results for this thread.


Even allowing for duplication and several defunct teams, this data suggests teams rated Major and higher now comprise over a third of all SSWC teams...36% to be exact. Major teams now outnumber AA teams by a significant margin.

We applaud the elevation of competitive teams to appropriate levels and hope it continues.

However, with a commitment to protect the tournament experience for the lower division, isn't it now time to offer the same assurances to the top level?

Future threads in this series will explore ways to do this...feel free to contribute. As always, Sacramento will respond, but only if they know what you want.
June 6, 2011
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: ball and helmets

I appreciate the dialog taking place here and wish to contribute. I manage and play with the Greco Hitmen, 55 Major Plus. I also play with GSF, 60 Major Plus. Though I played 50 AA and 50 AAA for a few years and thoroughly enjoyed it, I have been playing Major and/or Major Plus for the past 4 years. I'm 64 years old and desire to compete against the best players I can find to play.

When I first started playing senior tournament ball in 2004, I was aged 57 and brought with me a preconceived notion of what Major Plus ball was all about....HOMERUNS, right?

WRONG. Maybe in some areas...but not at 55 Major Plus and not at 60 Major Plus. True, there are a lot of homers hit...maybe 3-5 per side on average in my experience. And occasionally in favorable windy conditions, both teams might hit 10. But, in 4 years and over 500 tournament games it is a very rare event indeed that even one team hits 10 HRs in a game, and even rarer still that both teams do it. My stats show no more than 6 games in over 500 played that have had both teams hit 10 or more HRs in one game.

Winning in Major Plus ball is all about the little things in the game...and executing them well. There is great defense in Major Plus, great baserunning, and great pitching, along with great hitting. If not, you do not win. Major Plus is simply about playing the game at the highest level possible...hustling and making plays and competing AS IF IT MATTERS.


The ball is hard...and true, the bats can be lethal...I have cited published research data on this board that confirms composite bats produce batted ball speeds (BBS) in excess of 104 mph...too fast for many players to react to protect themselves. I would not mourn the loss of composite bats...nor would I lobby aggressively for maintaining the status quo with respect to the balls used. But I don't mind them either.

What I want to add to this discussion is to caution against using the kind of blanket statements in previous posts that give the impression that all defense is dead and gone from the current game.

That is simply not true. Not every ball is hit squarely on the button. Many, many, MANY balls are popped up and drop in...that is not a result of composite bats and lively balls. Many, many, MANY routine ground balls are booted or thrown away...not because of bats and lively balls. More 'can-a-corn' fly balls are dropped because of poor judgment than because they came off composite bats. This is true in all divisions including Major Plus.

Our recent 55 Major Plus "IF" championship game in Reno was decided by the defense played by our opponent. They certainly hit the ball well, as we did. But, all who saw it should agree...the difference in the outcome was in the defensive plays made by the superb Nighthawks outfield.

Finally, has anyone proposed a rule change that allows players to vote on the bats or balls they want to use? It seems to me if there is consensus on this subject, the players should be allowed to use the equipment they want.
April 24, 2011
Topic: Associations

When it comes to being responsive to its customers, SSWCI (nee SSUSA or SSWC) leads the way.

While not always hitting the mark on some of their rulings, the folks in Sacramento stand out when it comes to modifying their stance if it conflicts with member interests.

For example, two years ago we were subjected to a Pitcher Protection Rule designed to increase safety. Instead, the now-repealed PPR infuriated players, confused umpires, did nothing to protect pitchers, and was a monumental misstep. SSWCI's response to player criticism? The PPR was scuttled and a new method of protecting pitchers was initiated that has resulted in a more balanced approach to this important safety issue.

Another example deals with time limits. In the face of mounting concern about games being over in fewer than seven innings, SSWCI extended 2011 seeding games to 65 minutes and bracket games to 70 minutes. The early results are very positive, with our team's last 3 tournaments featuring all but one game (15-of-16) going the distance. Bravo!

To be sure, there are still areas in the rules that need to be addressed...such as the Major+/Major issue. The concern here is for teams that are pushed to M+...but enter tournaments and are forced to give runs AND play with fewer homeruns...a double-jeopardy equalizer that makes it a sham to be playing Major +. Why have the label if you rarely get to play by those rules?

Another concern is the fallout for players who are labeled Major +...(these are solid players, but not necessarily the 'best of the best')...whose presence on lower rated teams forces the team to, a) elevate to a higher division or, b) drop the players involved so that team can remain at the lower level.

In Arizona we're seeing this apply to several good players who are currently men without a team...they are in limbo because of a subjective ruling made by a distant authority with little or no personal knowledge of the players involved.

All of us can think of other examples of unfair rules and/or practices that affect our playing....but one thing can be counted on...the powers that be in Sacramento will listen carefully to your concerns and if you make a good case, they will very likely act upon it swiftly.

What more can you ask?

April 18, 2011
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: Laughlin

The 55 Platinum Division provided an interesting mix of teams competing for the Southwest Championship crown. Two 55/Major teams (SoCal 55s and R-n-R/Double Nickels) plus my team, Greco Hitmen, a 55/Major Plus my OTHER team, GSF 60 Major Plus....all were pitted against each other in a 4 team scramble.

SoCal 55s earned the #1 seed with an undefeated 3-game Round Robin slate; R-n-R grabbed the 2 seed...Hitmen took the 3 seed and GSF 4 with an 0-3 record.

Bracket play was a different story. GSF upended SoCal 55s while R-n-R beat Greco in the first round. R-n-R then beat GSF on Saturday at 5pm and earned a berth in the finals.

A 930am Sunday game saw Greco eliminate SoCal 55s...then Greco took out GSF with a 1-run victory to earn the championship round.

R-n-R then pasted Greco 27-6 in the final game...22-6 if you disallow the 5 runs they were spotted.

One weekend does not always indicate the true strength of a team...and many teams are better than what they seem to be on any given weekend. We understand all that.

Nevertheless, it would be hard to find a better all around squad than the Bullhead City version of R-n-R/Double Nickels. They made innumerable circus catches and most of the routine plays on defense; hit consistently throughout the lineup and with considerable power; their pitcher, Rob Grimm, moved the ball effectively around the plate; and their shortstop is arguably the best all around senior ballplayer in the country.

Congratulations to this fine team for putting on as good a show as we'll see all year.

Feb. 27, 2011
Topic: Rules of the game

With their December announcement that all 2011 seeding games would now go 65 minutes and bracket games 70 minutes, SSUSA/SSWC has responded to member concerns about time-limiting games. The results of the extensions remain to be seen and we hope that is enough to solve the problem.

In 2010, a totally unacceptable 52% of our games in SSUSA/SSWC tournaments were over in 6 innings or less. In the recent TOC in Florida, 4 of our 5 games ended after 6 innings, though some explained the TOC used 2010 time constraints and not the new extensions announced for 2011. I'm not so sure.

We want to encourage other managers to watch this closely and monitor their own game results. While SSUSA/SSWC represents the biggest provider of tournaments here in the western US, they are by no means the only alternative. SOCALSSA, NCSSA, SPA, and other groups offer tournaments for seniors. To my knowledge, only SPA guarantees ALL BRACKET GAMES TO GO 7 INNINGS...NO TIME LIMITS FOR BRACKET GAMES.

We will be watching this VERY closely and our team (Greco/AZ Hitmen) will not return to tournaments where organizers consistently end games before the completion of 7 innings. While we respect the intentions of time limits, we also believe they should be invoked less than 10% of the time.

While I commend SSUSA/SSWC for their response to our concerns, we reserve the right to evaluate the results after a representative sample of tournaments.

We also urge all tournament organizers to take the lead SPA has given you and figure out a way to guarantee 7 innings for your paying customers. If SPA can do can you.
Dec. 20, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Then There Were 14!

Andy...I meant to add a Merry Christmas to that last post, too!
Dec. 20, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Then There Were 14!

Andy, you spend far too much time worrying about the level you team is rated. I saw it when I played with you in 2009 on Double Nickels...we were very competitive in 55/Major, although you whined about us being overrated all year; and you whimpered quite publicly about Double Edge until you won the 60/Major World Championship. Now, you're quitting so you can play down again.

You are a very good hitter, quite an accomplished pitcher...and a Major Plus WHINER.

Dec. 3, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous

See me in Hemet, CA this weekend for a chance to win $5000 for your senior softball team.

Or respond here with contact information and I'll share what we're doing to raise money and how it can work for your team.

I'll get back to you next week when I return from Southern California.
Nov. 1, 2010
Topic: Tournaments
Discussion: rules of the game

This thread raised two major points...the first (and far more significant one) is TIME LIMITS ARE CAUSING TOO MANY SHORTENED GAMES.

As for height limits and/or incorrectly called pitches, one need only see a recent Major League playoff game to understand the INHERENT problems in umpires calling balls and strikes. Even the best professional umpires are missing almost half the close measured by the TRAC-ZONE TV screen feature. We learn to live with this part of the game...always have been good and bad umps...always will be. Deal with's part of the game.

But time limits are ruining the experience by shortening too many games and having DIRECT IMPACT on game results. Time limits are NOT part of the game. They are an artificial construct based in economics and used to deprive paying customers of value. Time limits need to go away, except in rare cases.

Shoretening a game hurts those teams who have the steel to come back from late-inning deficits and are skewing results by eliminating the final frame.

We tracked game results in five SSWC tournaments this year and found 52% of our games were called after 6 innings or less. FIFTY-TWO PERCENT.

This is an epidemic problem and will send us to other organizations in 2011 (like SPA) who find a way to make time-shortened games a rare exception, instead of the rule.

Teams want seven innings, DON'T WE?

Aug. 20, 2010
Topic: Rules of the game

E4/E6: The trouble with making statements such as you have made is that there is no way to prove them...or refute them. Your contention that scores have doubled is only your perception of the matter…there is no data to support your claim other than the scores we see at tournaments that are posted by the organizers upon completion.

Scores in 14 games at Woodland for the 60/Platinum Division averaged 19-12...are you claiming all games in 1970 were 9-6 affairs or lower? I don’t remember it that way it all…I remember a lot of scoring…ALWAYS…in slo-pitch…and an occasional low scoring game…just like today.

Scores have doubled since 1970? For whom? For 50 AA? For 60 Major Plus? There was no senior softball in 1970, so are you comparing what your teams/leagues did back then with what seniors do now? What is the basis of your claim? If you do the research, you’ll find scores in SSUSA events today are a lot lower than you think.

Furthermore, your assertion ignores the #1 reason umps and TDs give us for delayed games…namely that teams take too long to get on and off the field. Lemons’ idea about changing sides half as often has some merit. With pitchers needing to put shin gurads on before taking the mound, they should never be left on base with two for them so they can get their gear on before the inning starts…that’s a huge waste of time MANDATED BY ORGANIZATIONS, NOT PLAYERS.

Finally, as recent experience proved conclusively at a rain-shortened tournament in Prescott, AZ, reducing the number of pitches permitted per at bat DRAMATICALLY speeded up the game. When officials adopted the unusual one-pitch format, games were played to seven innings without even a hint of being shortened. How one can claim a lower pitch count won’t speed things up is beyond my comprehension.

All of these methods will help…but the burden of faster play should not be TOTALLY on the players and teams…organizers need to consider a modest time extension as well to make shortened games A RARE EXCEPTION instead of happening 40% or more of the time.

Good business is good business…and in this climate companies who thrive are looking for ways to keep their customers happy instead of giving them reasons to look elsewhere.

Aug. 18, 2010
Topic: Rules of the game

Unlike other sports, baseball (and its offspring, softball) is meant to played without a time clock.

But, economics and other factors have made it prudent to enforce time limits in order to complete the entire slate of games at tournaments and even in rec league schedules. We have accepted this reality...until now.

Our recent experience in the Cal Cup at Woodland/Davis, however, suggests time limits have reached the point of diminishing returns. Our first four games all ended after 5 1/2 or 6 complete innings. The only two played to completion were the "championship" games in which no time limit was invoked.

If you do the math, that's 67% of our games shortened by time constraints.

In five previous seasons with 50, 55, and 60 aged teams I play on, no less than 40% of ALL games played are ended before the completion of 7 innings. THAT'S TOO MANY.

If you check your team's stats, you will probably find a similar situation.

If you agree with me that too many games are shortened by time limits...then help me send a message to Sacramento and other tournament organizers to stretch that time limit and make the time shortened game a RARE exception...instead of the common occurrence it presently is.
July 22, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous

Our team, Greco Hitmen, recently competed in the SPA Nationals in Georgia, finishing 3rd behind High St. Bucs (MD) and Texas Legends.

Congratulations to all the 55/Major teams who attended, especially to those who finished ahead of us...with a special tip of the cap to the defense BOTH teams showed during the tournament.

There is a strong tendency to say "we didn't hit" as an explanation for losing...and I suppose if you could guarantee 25-30 runs every ballgame you probably would win more than your share.

The problem is teams rarely, if ever, hit consistently all weekend long. And, unless you make the plays you are given the opportunity to make, you will not win those games when the offense is underperforming.

Such was the case for us last weekend. Our failure to make even one of the 3 routine doubleplay chances we had on Sunday morning spelled the difference in a close, 23-22 loss...and elimination from contention.

Our opponents, on the other hand, made the plays they were given the opportunity to make...and that is why they played the for the championship instead of us.

It's always tempting to put the blame for defeat squarely on offense because there is so much of it in slowpitch...but the old adage, "Offense wins games, BUT DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS" was never more apparent than last Sunday in muggy Dalton, GA.

Once again, congratulations to SPA National Champs, High St. Bucs, who played better than we did on Sunday, overcoming a 9-run deficit, and winning with a dramatic 2 out, 3-run walk-off in the bottom of the 7th. And to the Texas Legends, who beat us twice and held our potent offense to 16 runs TOTAL in those two games....WITH OUTSTANDING DEFENSE. You guys were terrific. Hope to see you again soon.

Dennis Dalton
Mgr/Greco Hitmen
Jan. 28, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Want to play! # 2

Something to ponder in the area of OBP vs. the traditional batting average. The last two teams I've played for kept offensive stats based solely on OBP (On Base Percentage.) This meant plenty toward elevating one of the most important stats we keep...raising levels to almost Ruthian proportions.

Example: Player A singles his first time up; he walks his second time up; he hits a routine doubleplay grounder in the 5th inning but the ball is booted by the shortstop and all hands are safe; and his last time up he hits a crisp 2-hopper that clanks off the thirdbaseman's glove for an error.

This hitter is credited with a perfect day...4-for-4...and is batting 1.000 when only OBP is considered. Yet, he was actually 1-for-3 and is really hitting .333, pretty unacceptable for slowpitch softball.

By what standard do you measure this hitter? As a manager, this effort would not warrant a high spot in the order, but his stats are perfect.

What say you?
Jan. 5, 2010
Topic: General and miscellaneous
Discussion: Something to ponder!!

Let me weigh in here with some demographic information that might be helpful. Census data confirms the US population at just over 300 million people. Men aged 40-64 comprise a little over 14% of that number, meaning there are approximately 42 million men aged 40-64 out there.

The Baby Boom Generation generally refers to people born between 1946 and 1964. So, the oldest Boomers are turning 64 this year while the youngest Boomers are turning 46 in 2010. Prime senior softball playing age!

If we allow for an extremely generous headcount of 50,000 seniors registered and actively playing in all the senior organizations combined throughout the country, it still seems evident that there is much that can be done to recruit vast numbers of players among the 42 million prospects we have in the country.

As players ourselves, we are the best salesmen for the sport. If we all recruited just one player in 2010 we would have close to 100,000 registered, active players by the end of the year...that would help provide more teams in more tournaments at all age levels.

To be sure, SSUSA, SPA, and other senior softball groups could help with advertising...sports radio would be a great place to your favorite talk show and let the audience know about senior softball and the various websites men (and women) can go to hook up with the sport. It's free and might generate great response.

Senior softball organizations that have non-profit status might be able to get free Public Service Announcements from local radio stations---FREE---that encourage seniors to get active by playing senior softball.

All of us love playing and want to share the experience with others who don't know about the wonderfully organized and competitive tournament structure we enjoy.

As a primary goal this year...why not commit to getting new people into the sport? There is no down side to the idea and you'll be glad you did.
Dec. 22, 2009
Topic: General and miscellaneous

Paco 13---the best advice is to take as many flyballs in practice as you can. We all tend to focus on BP as the primary way we work out...but you can practice your flyball technique during BP very easily. Also, have a coach fungo flyballs to you when the team gets together...or even right before a game there is usually time for few flyballs.

Some hints: if you are on the left side of the outfield with a righthanded hitter up, the towering flyball he hits will (usually-not always) hook toward the line...while a lefty's ball will tend to slice toward the line. In addition to the distance you estimate the ball will travel, you must also allow for some drift as you track those balls.

On the right side of the outfield, the effects are generally opposite... the lefthanded hitter's high flyball will hook toward the line while the right handed hitter's ball will slice toward the line.

Remembering these tendencies can help with the all-important first step as you turn your body to give chase. Also, be sure to measure the wind direction by tossing a few blades of grass every couple of hitters or know which direction the ball might be blown.

The hot bats we use can put an amazing amount of movement on some flyballs and line drives...but in general terms, the movement described above is consistent in most game conditions.

When you get near the fence, be sure your outfield teammate is talking to you about how much room you have before hitting the fence...and try to find the fence first with your bare hand while keeping your eye on the ball...then move forward if possible to catch the ball. Warning tracks can be a big help in this, but we don't always have outfield communication can mean the difference between a catch, a hit, or worst of all, an injury by running into the fence.

Defense wins.
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