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THE HORNBLOWER ALL STARS
by Sandyclaws




Karl: Welcome to ISPN's coverage of the annual Hornblower All-Stars Charity Softball Game! I'm Karl Ravish and I'm joined by my colleagues Joe "Captain" Morgan, and Peter Cannons. All proceeds from this year's game are earmarked for the Save Finch Foundation.... <whispering off camera...> "Whaddya mean he's already dead?"... <more whispering...>. Make that all proceeds go to the Educate Oldroyd Fund! <sotto voce> And boy does he need all the help he can get.

The HH team is coached by Sandyclaws, a fine ball player in her own right, with a lifetime batting average of .743. And today they go up against a team we've not seen before. Captain Morgan, what do you make of "The Good Frogs"?

Morgan: Frankly, Karl, they worry me. Its a known fact that their coach, the Marquis de Moncoutant, is a bloodthirsty sort who will stop at nothing to win. I fear that Sandy and the boys have their work cut out for them! Peter?

Cannons: I agree, Cap'n. A potential upset in the offing, I would say. Still, Coach Claws has seen worse.

Karl: Well, we'll soon see how things shake out. We're in some luck today, as both coaches have agreed to wear microphones for us, to provide real "in the dugout" glimpses as the game goes on. Lets take a listen right now as Coach Claws gives her team a pre-game pep talk.

SC: OK gang, gather round. Now, I know this bunch may not look like much...

Kennedy: The word shambles might be more appropriate.

SC: <glares> Thank you, Kennedy, I was getting to that! But let's not overestimate them because of that. They'll fight, scrape, kick, and gouge to get this win! They may be a bunch of scrappers, but so are you! Now, any questions?

<A hand raises in the back of the group>

SC: <sighs> Yes, Captain. What is it?

Pellew: But sir! What if they're not?

SC: <ignoring him> Any other questions? No? Good! On three....BREAK!

Karl: Outstanding! Truly inspirational! Coach Claws has a way with words - I get a lump in my throat just listening to her!

Morgan: Definitely, Karl! What an inspiration!

Karl: Well, the coaches are making their way to home plate now for the coin toss. Our homeplate umpire is none other than Major Lord Edrington. I say it could be worse.

Cannons: I agree. Edrington can be harsh, but he's always fair.

Morgan: What worries me about the officiating is our field umpire, General Charette. He is truly an unknown quantity in this game. And I can't help but wonder; how does he manage to see the plays with all that stringy hair hanging in his eyes?

Karl: Let's go back to our coaches' mikes and have a listen.

Major E: Now, gentleman <looks askance at Moncoutant> and lady <smiles at Sandyclaws> who shall make the call? Coach Claws?

Moncoutant: Sir, I protest! As lord of this ballfield the honour of calling the coin toss should fall to me!

SC: Oh, stow it! This is the United States of America, baby! The only thing you're lord of around here is your own worthless self!

Moncoutant: You can not talk to me that way! I am the Marquis!

Hornblower: Gentlemen, surely we are all allies....

SC: What? Did I give you permission to come out here? Go back to your cell, Horatio.... I mean, go back to the dugout! I'll handle this! <Hornblower sheepishly returns to the dugout>

Major E: Well, in THAT case... Coach Claws, call it in the air.

SC: Heads!

Major E: <catches coin, slaps it on opposite wrist> Heads it is! Coach, will you be the home or away team?

SC: Home

Major E: Coach Marquis?

Moncoutant: Oh, verrrrry well!

Karl: And there you have it. Interesting choice on the part of Coach Claws, to take the field first.

Cannons: Yes, but they'll bat last, and in a close game that is always an advantage.

Karl: And the Hornblower All-Stars have taken the field! We're ready to get underway!


*************************


Karl: We're back to our coverage of the annual Hornblower All-Stars Charity Softball Game. Before we get underway, let's set the field for those viewers just joining us.

Cannons: Well, on the mound we have Captain Sir Edward Pellew. This is the ideal position for him; he's a wonderful leader on the field. Not to mention his wicked top-spin curve ball!

Morgan: And his battery mate is none other than Coach Claws! Believe me, that is one tough lady, and a great defensive catcher as well!

Karl: At first base we have Matthews, steady and solid as a rock. Hornblower is at second, and has the important job of relaying signals from Coach Claws behind the plate to the players in the outfield.

Cannons: At shortstop we have the eponymous Helm Boy, a terrific player, if not a very talkative one.

Morgan: At third base is Kennedy. Perfect positioning for him, he's extremely solid on defense.

Karl: And his great on-the-field communication with Coach Claws is invaluable! Between the two of them home plate is exceptionally well served.

Cannons: In the outfield we have Styles in left, M'man Jamie in left-center, Oldroyd at right-center, and Gingerr in right.

Morgan: Perfect placement all around! That is as solid an outfield as I think I've ever seen. Those four are a great team!

Karl: And the extra hitter is Nashville Chick, a solid 5'10" tower of....... womanly........ My God! Would you look at those legs?!!

Cannons: <scolding> Keep you mind on your job, Karl!

Karl: Yes. *ahem* Thank you, Peter. Edrington has given the Play Ball, and we are ready to go.

Morgan: First up for The Good Frogs, Chicken Snatcher. According to his stats he's never played softball before, but went 3 for 4 in his last chicken chasing competition.

Karl: Odd choice for a lead-off hitter.

Cannons: Swung on and missed! Strike one!

Karl: That was Pellew's top-spin curve ball that you mentioned earlier, wasn't it, Peter?

Cannons: Absolutely Karl. A stunner; I've seen better men than Chicken Snatcher cringe from that pitch! Oooooh, beautiful fast ball! Strike two.

Morgan: Chicken Snatcher seems to be getting agitated; we can't quite make out what he's saying, but he is definitely not happy! He seems to be arguing with Edrington about something. Karl?

Karl: Looks that way Joe. We knew that emotions would run high in this game, but frankly I didn't expect it with the first batter. Uh oh! Looks like Coach Claws is getting a little upset now! She's up from her position and pulling her mask off...

Morgan: That's ok; she's too good a player and coach to lose her temper over a trivial situation. Just to be sure, Edrington has a hand on her shoulder ready to hold her back, if need be.

Karl: Well, whatever the problem was, it seems that Edrington has settled him down. He's back in the box and ready for the next pitch.

Cannons: And that was just a perfect textbook sinker! Strike three, and Chicken Snatcher takes a seat.

Karl: Beautiful, just beautiful! Three pitches, three strikes. Pellew is in fine form today, and his teammates are fired up with him.

Morgan: Next up, the only woman on this team, Mariette.

Karl: Frankly, I wonder why she's playing at all. She's known to have strong republicanist sentiments, so her playing for the Royalist team is rather odd.

Morgan: As I understand it, Karl, she and a number of the other villagers have been forced into this by the Marquis. It seems the feudal spirit is not completely dead in Muziallc.

Cannons: First pitch.... ball one. That was way outside. I think Pellew may be distracted by...... *ahem* You know.

Karl: <incredulous> How does she play ball in that outfit?

Cannons: Ooooh, this one is way inside, and.....

Morgan: OUCH! That has to hurt! She took that pitch dead center in her back! Take your base, young lady!

Karl: What a trooper! She's shaking off the pain and trotting down to first.
Cannons: Next up, Giles Fouret, the linen merchant.

Morgan: Fouret is another unknown in this game, with no previous experience with softball, but I have it on good authority he makes some mighty fine underwear!

Cannons: And he hits an easy pop fly down the third base line. Its drifting foul....... Kennedy's underneath it and......... He makes the catch! Two down.

Karl: Now the Marquis steps to the plate. He's a very streaky hitter, isn't he Joe?
Morgan: Definitely Karl. And he's been mired in a pretty bad slump recently.

Cannons: First pitch, low and outside. Coach Claws is giving Edrington a look; I don't think she agrees with that call. Second pitch...... Well, he popped that one straight up..... Sandyclaws is under it, and ooooooo...... She ran right into Edrington! The two of them are on the ground, arms and legs tangled together like some sort of Hindu deity! But she made the catch! I'm stunned!

Karl: Let's watch the replay on that! I think it just happened too fast - Edrington's reflexes might not be as fast as Sandy's, and he couldn't get out of the way in time. But look at the concentration on her face! Even as she topples and falls onto Edrington, her eyes are on the ball, and it lands right in the sweet spot of her glove. Beautiful! Let's give a listen:

<Sandyclaws and Edrington disentangle themselves - he helps her to her feet>

Major E: I am sorry, Coach!

SC: <gazing adoringly up at him> No problem! No problem at all!

Karl: And on that note, we'll head out for a commercial.


*************************


Karl: Welcome back! The Hornblower gang is all set for their first round in the batter's box. This should be good!

Morgan: Too true, Karl. There are some excellent hitters on this team. Not only that, but they all use their heads in the box, and have good eyes for the right pitch.

Cannons: I agree. And it starts at the very top of the order, with Helm Boy.

Karl: Let's hear what Coach Claws has to say to him before he comes out.

SC: OK, this should be a piece of cake. You know that Moncoutant is a weak pitcher, so just wait on it, and take the walk. OK?

Helm Boy: " ."

SC: Well, that's enough talk. Let's get on with it!

<Helm Boy makes his way to the box..... Four pitches, all balls. Helm Boy takes the walk>

Karl: Wow! You mentioned having a great eye? He didn't even move once! Never the slightest hesitation. I am impressed!

Morgan: Coach Claws sure has these boys disciplined. There isn't a player on that team that would take a swing at a bad pitch.

Cannons: Next at the plate is Gingerr. A switch-hitting genius, she can really confound the opposition. Looks like she'll be batting right-handed, this time.

<smack of bat on ball>

Cannons: A beautiful shot, right over the shortstops head! It dribbles into left field. I think Fouret out in left was caught napping. Helm boy stops at third as Gingerr makes it to second.

<Roaring cheers come from the Hornblower Fan's section>

Karl: Oldroyd is up next. If there's a weakness in this lineup, I'd have to say its right here.

Morgan: True, but he has made startling improvements since we last saw this team. For a start, he's now using a bat instead of the ridiculous piece of string he used to favor.

Cannons: Strike one! I don't think he ever saw that pitch coming.

Morgan: No, he seems more intent on three woman in the stands holding a sign that says "Good Luck, Tommy! We Love You! signed, SeaSpot, Ladylove, and Jayne G."

Cannons: Ball one. That pitch fell way short of the plate. I think perhaps the Marquis is also distracted by something going on in the stands.

Karl: What the.....?! I can't be seeing this! Are they actually setting up a guillotine behind the stands?

Morgan: Looks that way, Karl. I have to say I don't understand it either.

Karl: Well, Coach Claws has called a time-out and is on her way to talk to Edrington.

SC: What the blue blazes is this all about, m'lord?

Major E: <shaking his head in disgust> I swear he cares more about that machine than anything else!

Moncoutant: <walks in from the pitching rubber> Ah, just the men I wanted to see!

SC: <in shock> You've got to be kidding me! M'lord, I have to say that this is most unusual!

<Charette has made his way from his position behind second base>

Charette: You are concerned for the safety of Monsieur Oldroyd?

SC: I'm concerned for the safety of all my men, General!

Major E: I believe that it is only there as a symbol, Coach Claws. I'm sure they have no intention of using it <glaring at Moncoutant>. I'll let it stay there for now. Shall we get back to the game?

Morgan: Well, it seems Edrington has made his decision with regard to this unusual occurrence. However, I don't doubt that Sandy will be ready with a protest at the first sliced melon.

<Oldroyd proceeds to strike out swinging on two wild pitches>

Cannons: One down, and next up is Coach Claws' big gun - Able Seaman Styles.

Morgan: No doubt, Peter, this man has a big swing. An 18th century Mark McGwire, as it were. No wonder he's batting clean-up. And with two runners in scoring position this is an excellent opportunity for the Hornblower team.

Cannons: Oooooh, strike one! That was a beautiful pitch, I can't think why he didn't swing! Oh, flyball into shallow right field...... And Chicken Snatcher makes the catch! Two down.

Karl: Next up is <takes a moment to wipe sweat from his brow> NashvilleChick. She too carries a pretty big bat, and has great power to either field.

Cannons: Now that is a gorgeous pitch! A perfect meatball if ever I've seen one! She swings......

<CRACK>

Cannons: Its a homerun! Right over the left field fence! Fouret never had a chance for that one! Simply gorgeous!

<Helm Boy trots home, followed by Gingerr and a beaming NashvilleChick. High fives are exchanged all around. In the dugout SC bestows a hearty hug on the Chick>

Karl: Now up to the plate is Hornblower. He has a rather awkward swing at times, but he gets the job done.

Morgan: Yes, but he seems to be distracted by something. He keeps trying to see around Moncoutant to second base...... Oh, I see. Mariette is blowing kisses to him. Well, I guess that'll distract a young guy like that!

Cannons: And he pops up the first pitch, straight to second base. Well, that's it for this inning.

<Mariette neatly catches the ball, and with a last blown kiss and a twitch of her skirt, she sashays back to the dugout>

Karl: With one inning completed our score is Hornblower All-Stars 3 - The Good Frogs 0. We'll be right back after these words from our sponsors.


*************************


Karl: We're back in the top of the third inning, the score all tied up at 3 apiece. We've got one out and Fouret on first. And now batting is the Village Baker.

Morgan: Another very streaky hitter. When he's on, he's really on, but when he's not, his play is as stale as week old bread.

Cannons: Well Joe, it looks like he's on today! Beautiful shot to left field! It may fall short..... Styles is running in to try for the catch....

Karl: And Styles is down! Looks like an ankle injury to me. He is definitely in some pain!

Morgan: But Jamie is right there to back him up. She got hold of the ball and made a terrific throw to Kennedy at third! Fouret thought better of it, and went back to second. So we have Fouret on second, and Baker-man on first, still with one out.

Karl: Coach Claws has called time out and is on her way to the outfield. Team surgeon Dr. Hepplewhite is right behind her. This could be bad, Joe.

Morgan: I don't think so, Karl. This Hornblower team is pretty deep with talent. Sandy has her choice of quality players to replace Styles, and they are all eligible to play in this game.

Cannons: Kennedy and Jamie are with Styles right now - he seems to be ok; he's sitting up and talking. Actually, he seems to be shouting. Oldroyd is there now..... Styles just threw his mitt at Oldroyd! I wonder what that's all about.

Karl: As I understand it, Peter, there is a bit of a long-standing feud between those two. They may be the best of friends, but they still fight like cats and dogs.

Morgan: Coach Claws is there now, so lets listen in.

Styles: This is all you, Oldroyd! You bloody idiot!

Oldroyd: Me? Whot did I do?

<Styles picks up Jamie's mitt and moves to throw it at Oldroyd's head>

SC: Belay that Styles! Put that down!

<Oldroyd slinks off, back to his position>

SC: What do you think, Doctor?

Dr. H: He'll take his turn like all the rest!

Jamie: Um, Doc? There is nobody else. Just Styles.

SC: That's it! I've had just about all I can take of you, Dr. Bozo! Kennedy, get this biological hazard out of here! I'll take care of this myself.

Kennedy: Of course, sir. <saluting>

SC: <mumbling under her breath> I've told that boy I don't know how many times to stop saluting me...... He'll never learn. <examines Styles' leg> Well, it looks like a sprained ankle to me, Styles. We'll get you some ice for it, but you're definitely out for the game.

Styles: But, sir...

SC: I said it and I mean it! Jamie, I think you and I can help him to the dugout.

Karl: Well, Styles is up on his feet, but obviously favoring that injured ankle.

Morgan: They've got him in the dugout now, and Mermaid, a member of the training staff, is there to take care of his injury.

Cannons: Coach Claws is scanning the crowd for an eligible player to come in and replace Styles. And there's the signal - looks like she's bringing in Ladylove.

Morgan: Excellent choice! That is one feisty lady; she'll get the job done for this team.

Karl: Edrington, Moncoutant and Sandy are meeting now. She's giving Edrington official notification of the substitution.

Morgan: Interesting! She's moved M'man Jamie over to left field and put Ladylove in left center. I'm sure there'll be some adjustments to the batting order as well.

Cannons: I think that this is the perfect placement to get the best out of both players. Jamie is just a master at backing up her teammates, and has such a great arm she can easily throw to the plate from left. Ladylove doesn't have quite the same caliber of throwing arm, so having the extra cut-off man at second will be helpful to her.

Karl: Next at the plate is...... I can't quite read this. I think it says Drunken Enlisted Man Who Propositioned Mariette, but I can't be sure.

Cannons: Well, he sure looks drunk to me. He's having difficulty standing up straight, and I know I wouldn't want to be in the area when he's swinging that bat.

Morgan: I think Edrington agrees with you, Peter. He's ejecting this player from the game.

Karl: And Moncoutant is furious! He's out of the dugout, shouting and waving his arms. Let's listen in.

Moncoutant: <censored>

Major E: <shouting to be heard over Moncoutant's tirade> The rules clearly state that any player that comes on this field who is under the influence will be ejected from the game. Additionally, if he attempts to bat while intoxicated, that is an automatic out. I have the authority...

Moncoutant: What authority! I am the Marquis! <watches as Sandyclaws stands up, gestures to her catcher's mask> Take off that ridiculous thing!

Major E: The rules are clear, Marquis. This man is ejected and you now have two outs. If you wish to argue about it, I would suggest that a little more diplomacy wouldn't go amiss!

Moncoutant: I will not argue with a common soldier in the British Army!

<Edrington bristles at being described as common; Sandyclaws grins from ear to ear as Moncoutant kicks clay on Edrington's boots>

Major E: If you continue to argue, sir, I will have you ejected from the game and removed from this field, by force if necessary! Are we clear?

<Moncoutant walks back to the dugout, still grumbling to himself>

Karl: Well, that was certainly...... um, interesting.

Cannons: Edrington was completely within his rights. The rules are crystal clear on this subject, with no room for argument.

Morgan: Our next batter is known only as Swimming Soldier 1. Not a whole lot of information on this player. He seems to be a fairly blank slate.

Cannons: Still, I doubt that Pellew will underrate him as a hitter. I imagine we'll see some fantastic pitching right now.

Karl: Indeed Peter!

Cannons: Strike one! That wonderful curve ball again. Wow, he sure got under that one! Its a lazy pop fly down towards first, and an easy catch for Matthews.

Karl: Well, the Good Frogs have stranded two men on base, and with half of the third inning gone our score remains tied at three.


*************************


Karl: Leading off for the Hornblower All-Stars in the bottom of the third is Gingerr.

Cannons: She sure sparked this team in the first inning. Lets see what she can do this time.

Karl: She's batting left-handed this time, Peter. I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: she is a switch-hitting genius.

Morgan: That is so true, Karl. And its already working. Moncoutant seems confused on the mound. His first two pitches were short and inside.

Karl: Ball four! Gingerr takes a walk. She has to be a little disappointed with that.

Cannons: I don't think so. She's smart enough to know that the most important task for a lead-off hitter is to get on base. She used her brains and didn't swing at a single bad pitch.

Karl: Oldroyd steps into the box now. He wasn't pleased with striking out in the first inning; I wonder how Coach Claws has gotten him focused again.

Cannons: Whatever she did it worked wonders! That is a gorgeous hit - a line drive right in the gap between short and second!

Morgan: Gingerr is tearing towards third...... And Captain Pellew is waving her home!

Karl: She's rounded third...... Fouret throws...... this is gonna be close...... Gingerr slides......

Cannons: Oh no! Edrington's been knocked down yet again! Gingerr caught one of his shins in her slide and down he went. Its quite a jumble at the plate, but I think she got in under the tag. Joe?

Morgan: I believe so, Peter. We're just waiting for Charette to make the call.

Karl: There's the signal - she's safe!

<ROAR!>

Cannons: Moncoutant is none to happy with that call, but Charette is simply ignoring him. Edrington is being looked at by the medical staff, and both Gingerr and Coach Claws are there to make sure he's unhurt.

Karl: Thumbs up from the medical staff; he's OK. Gingerr and Sandy appear to be arguing over something...... OUCH! That was a wicked elbow to the ribs! I would guess that Sandy won that argument, since she's helping Edrington back to his feet, and Gingerr is on the ground trying to catch her breath.

Cannons: Next up is NashvilleChick. Can she possibly top that magnificent three-run homer in the first?

Morgan: If anybody can I'd put my money on the Chick.

Karl: Well, no such occasion this time! Its a lazy pop fly to shallow left, and Fouret makes an easy catch. One out.

Morgan: Matthews steps into the box next. This man is just about as solid an all-around ballplayer as you're likely to find. He singled his first time up - nothing spectacular, but he gets the job done.

Cannons: And its a hard hit grounder right up the middle. Moncoutant can't handle it, but Mariette gets a hold of it and makes the throw to first, but not in time - Matthews is on base.

Morgan: And Oldroyd wisely stayed on second. I'd say that boy is getting smarter even as we speak!

Karl: Next up is Ladylove. She came in for the injured Styles, and this is her first at bat.

Morgan: We don't have a lot of stats on Ladylove, but we do know that her teammates are all quite fond of her. There's a tremendous amount of respect from all these sailors for a former Navy gal like Ladylove.

Karl: Coach Claws is saying a few words before sending Ladylove to the plate.

SC: Ok hon, they're playing at double-play depth, so you have to get the ball out of the infield. Their shortstop's a little closer to second than ideal, so I'd shoot for that gap, OK?

<Ladylove eyes the gap, grins, and gives Coach a nod>

SC: Good! Now go get yourself some green, girlfriend!

Morgan: She's in the box, and that wolfish grin of hers seems to have completely unnerved Moncoutant. He's calling for a time out.

Karl: The catcher is out at the mound to talk to him, and Mariette has come in from second. There's an awful lot of shouting going on, all in French, and some pretty wild hand gestures.

Cannons: Well, whatever the fight was about, its resolved now! Mariette has taken the ball from Moncoutant and is now set to pitch!

Morgan: If they thought all of this would put Ladylove off, they have really mistaken her. She's back in the box, grin intact.

<voice from the crowd is heard shouting "Go Ladylove!">

Karl: I think that was Styles cheering his teammate on!

Cannons: Whoever it was, it seems to have ignited this entire Hornblower team. They're all on their feet in the dugout, cheering and shaking the fence.

Morgan: Strike one! That was a perfect pitch, I can't think why she didn't swing. But she's still smiling - if anything, I think that grin is broader. Strike two! I wonder; could she be hoping to unsettle Mariette like this?

Cannons: Ball one! Whether she meant to unsettle Mariette or not, it seems to be working.

<CRACK>

Morgan: Not this time! That is a solid line drive, dead center in the gap between short and third! Oldroyd is rounding third and on his way home... Matthews stops at third, and Ladylove comes into the game with a bang!

Karl: We've got one out with runners on second and third, and Hornblower at the plate.

Cannons: Let's hope he has better concentration this time around.

Morgan: Strike one! Doesn't look like it, Peter. Strike two! Oh, and he fouled this one off over the backstop! I hope nobody's parked back there.

<sounds of glass shattering>

Morgan: Well, so much for that!

Karl: Edrington doesn't look too happy; I think maybe that was his car.

Cannons: And another pitch.... strike three! Take a seat Horatio!

Karl: Jamie is up next. Let's see what she can do.

<Jamie takes a walk>

Morgan: Well, this is getting interesting! With two outs, the bases are loaded as Captain Pellew steps to the plate.

Cannons: He struck out on his first at bat, so he may be looking to redeem himself this time.

Morgan: Well, he won't do it like that! Easy grounder to first.

Karl: Three outs, and that brings the third inning to an end. Our score is Hornblower All-Stars 5, The Good Frogs 3.


*************************


Karl: We're back in the top of the sixth, and final, inning. The situation of this game has substantially changed in the last two innings.

Cannons: Without a doubt, Karl! The Good Frogs simply came to life in the fourth, putting six runs on the board in that inning, and another five in the fifth.

Karl: So our score is now 14 to 5 in favor of The Good Frogs. Peter, what happened to this Hornblower team?

Cannons: I wish I knew, Karl. They just fell apart - they're still hitting fairly well, but they keep stranding men on base when it counts.

Morgan: And Coach Claws is not happy. Not at all! She's not saying much, but you can tell by her face. That is one determined lady - even Edrington is backing off from her a little!

Karl: Let's see if that determination rubs off on her team. They have to hold the Frogs scoreless here if they're to have any chance of winning this game.

Cannons: And the Frogs are at the top of their order, with Chicken Snatcher at the plate.

Morgan: Strike one! I'd say some of that determination has gotten into Pellew - that was a perfect pitch! That one isn't so perfect, but Chicken Snatcher pops it up behind the plate.... Sandy's under it.... Edrington takes a couple of steps back and the ball drops neatly into her glove. One down!

Karl: Now Mariette steps up. She seems very nervous in the box this time; I can't imagine why.

Cannons: I think Coach Claws is talking to her - she's completely distracted. She just swung and missed on two less-than-stellar pitches. Well, whatever Sandy said that time seems to have done the trick! Its a high fly ball straight to Pellew, and an easy catch made. Two down!

Karl: Fouret is up next. Lets see if he can get this started.

Morgan: Beautiful shot, straight up the middle and over everybody's heads! Its on the ground now.... both Ladylove and Oldroyd are going for it....

Karl: And they've collided! They're both down! Helm Boy gets back from short and grabs the ball.... He throws to home.... Sandy makes the catch and holds Fouret at third.

Cannons: Good thing Fouret isn't known for his speed, or that might have been an inside the park homerun.

Karl: Both Ladylove and Oldroyd are up now; they appear to be all right.... They're arguing.... Oldroyd seems apologetic; he just laid a hand on Ladylove's arm... OUCH! She just kicked him in the shin! I guess she's not accepting his apology!

Morgan: Oldroyd limps back to his position, none the worse for wear. This sort of thing seems to happen to him a lot.

Karl: Well, we have two outs with a man on third. Moncoutant comes to the plate, a condescending smirk on his face. I guess he's pretty confident that his team is poised to win this game, and pull off one heck of an upset.

Morgan: If I were him I wouldn't get too fired up just yet. Its not over by a long shot! And that hit isn't going to do much. Its an easy dribbler in front of the plate.... Sandy picks it up and fires the ball to Matthews at first. That takes care of that!

Karl: Well, they did half of what they needed to do - they held the Frogs scoreless. Now they need something to spark the team so they can get runs on the board.

Cannons: Pellew is first at bat, and still looking to get on base. He's had a pretty rough day of it at the plate.

Morgan: Well, that hit ought to smooth out those edges! Line drive to right field, and Pellew is on first base. There's your spark, Karl!

Karl: A spark indeed, Joe! This crowd is on its feet, giving their favorite Pellew cheer.

Crowd: If its fighting you want, then BY GOD YOU SHALL HAVE YOUR FILL!!

Cannons: Coach Claws steps into the batters box next. She may be a little upset at the way this game has gone so far, but you'd never know it by her face. She's ready for what ever Mariette might throw at her.

<CRACK>

Morgan: Hard line drive right up the middle! All Mariette could do was duck out of the way; no way that skinny thing was gonna stop that ball! Its past Moncoutant at second and into center.... Pellew touches second and makes the turn for third.... Sandy is on her way to second.... throw is made.... she's sliding.... And she's safe!

<ROAR!>

Karl: Mariette is up now, and brushing the clay from her skirt. She looks mad as hell, and is glaring daggers at Coach Claws on second.

Morgan: <laughing> Coach Claws just blew Mariette a kiss! A little payback on Hornblower's behalf, I guess!

Karl: Well, she's really angry now, but I don't think she'll get much support from Edrington; he's smiling pretty broadly himself! Sandy blows a kiss to him, and he returns the favor. I guess we know where his sentiments are in this!

Cannons: Kennedy comes up to bat now. Coach Claws gives him a thumbs up as he walks to the box, and he touches the bill of his cap to her. Whatever that signal was, I say "Message received and understood."

Morgan: Boy was it ever understood! First pitch, and Kennedy tattooed it! Its still going...... Homerun to straightway center! That was amazing!

Karl: Pellew reaches home to be congratulated by the team. Sandy comes trotting in, grinning from ear to ear. She's waiting for Kennedy at the plate..... He comes home, stomps emphatically on the plate, and reaches out to hug his coach. The pair is quickly enveloped by the rest of the team for a quick celebration. And just like that our score is now 14 to 8, with nobody out.

Cannons: Helm Boy is up next; let's see if he can keep it going.

<Helm Boy walks on five pitches>

Morgan: The Hornblower gang has another base runner in place as Gingerr comes to the plate. This crowd is really fired up now!

Crowd: Go Gingerr! Go Gingerr! Go Gingerr!

Cannons: Strike one. That was a close one - that call could've gone either way. And she takes the next pitch.... Fly ball to right.... It drops short! Chicken Snatcher couldn't get to it in time, and Gingerr is safely on first as Helm Boy advances to second.

<ROAR!>

Karl: Next up, Oldroyd. He's settled down a lot since the start of this game. Now we'll be able to see what he can do.

Morgan: Its a hard grounder to short...... It went right through the shortstop's legs! And we have bases loaded, nobody out, and NashvilleChick coming up to bat!

Karl: This oughta be good!

Cannons: Strike one! I think the Chick is just going to wait on this; she wants a perfect pitch, and she won't settle for anything less. Ball one - that was way low and outside.

<CRACK!>

Cannons: OH MY GOD! Its another homerun for the Chick! A grand slam over the right field fence! The Hornblower team is pouring out of the dugout, absolutely jubilant in celebration!

Morgan: Its a mob scene at the plate as NashvilleChick comes home! The crowd is chanting CHICK! CHICK! CHICK! She tips her cap to the crowd, acknowledging the cheers, and....

Karl: WOW! Styles limped out of the dugout to join his teammates, and the Chick just pasted a huge kiss on his poofy lips! He seems a little dazed by it. Can you blame him? That is one heck of a chick! And our score is now 14 to 12, still with nobody out.

Cannons: Matthews steps to the plate. He seems a little winded from all that shouting and celebrating..... And he flies out to third base. That's the first out for the HH All-Stars, and the first out Matthews has made all day.

Karl: Ladylove is on next; she's 2 for 2 in this game with one double. She's hot right now.

Morgan: Make that 3 for 3, Karl! Solid single to left. I'd say she's scorching right now!

Karl: Indeed! That is one fired-up gal!

Cannons: Hornblower comes up to bat now. His day has been the exact opposite of Ladylove's; he's gone 0 for 3 today.

Morgan: Ball one! I think Mariette might be a little peeved at Hornblower for some reason - that pitch went straight for his head!

Karl: Ball two! You may be right Joe - that pitch was aimed for his... *ahem* groin area.

Cannons: And he takes the third pitch on his shoulder! That's got to hurt, but he's not phased by it. He's giving Mariette a reproachful look as he makes his way to first.

Karl: And with that the tying run is on first base, with only one out, as Jamie steps to the plate.

Cannons: Coach Claws whispers a few words in her ear before sending her out. I wonder what Sandy has up her sleeve this time?

Morgan: Ball one - that pitch was way short. Oh, a beauty! Strike one! I can't think why she didn't swing. Here comes the next pitch....

<CRACK>

Karl: And its a homerun! A gorgeous shot over the left field fence! And this game is all over! The Hornblower All-Stars win 15 to 14 with a stunning final inning comeback!

Cannons: And it is sheer pandemonium on the field! The crowd is through the gates and over the fence to join in the celebration! What a scene this is!

Morgan: The Good Frogs are still out in the field, I think they're stunned by what has happened. Moncoutant is pushing his way through the crowd to where Edrington and Coach Claws are talking.

Moncoutant: I protest! This is unacceptable conduct! How can the game be over? They have only one man out, non?

SC: Didn't you read the rule book before you came? Six innings is all you get, buddy! We beat you, fair and square! So why don't you take your beauty mark, you guillotine, and your phony French accent and clear out of here?

<Edrington grins broadly - Moncoutant holds his hand out to Chicken Snatcher, who has come up behind him.>

Moncoutant: Give me your pistol!

Snatcher: But Colonel...

Moncoutant: <turns toward Snatcher> GIVE ME YOUR PISTOL!

<While his back is turned Sandyclaws pulls off her batting gloves and hands them to Edrington.>

SC: Shut your eyes, Edrington! <And she decks Moncoutant with a stunning right hook just as he turns back around, pistol in hand.>

<Edrington opens his eyes in time to see Moncoutant crumple unconscious to the ground.>

Major E: Well.

SC: <rubbing her sore knuckles> Well.

Major E: <smiling> I'm certainly glad *you* did that. It would have been dashed awkward if I had!

SC: <throws her mitt over her shoulder, grabs Edrington by the front of his shirt and pulls him close to her> Shut up, Major, and kiss me!!!


THE END




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