Words by Clay Massey
Photography by Dawn Skinner
Under bright lights in the chilly Texas air, the crack of a bat sends players to the infield scurrying.
But in typical softball this would be considered a foul ball – this one is live. This is Arenaball and it’s played in the Granbury Adult Softball recreational leagues. Each batter only faces one pitch, so the action moves fast. Any ball within the confines of the fence is a fair ball, which drives the scoring up.
One team, however, will never be able to take full control of the game, keeping the action close. Any ball that is a home run causes the batter to be an out.
One night on field five, the feature under the lights is team Down for Whatever against the Masterbatters. But not only is it game night, it’s date night for Gwendolyn Sanders and her husband.
Most of her team is made up of couples.
“You go spend money to go out to eat or go to the movies,” Sanders said. “Out here you come out and you’re hanging out with your friends and you’re not spending money. You’re just hanging out and exercising.”
For Sanders who has lived in Granbury for 38 years, it is also special to get to play with her kids sometimes.
“I grew up playing ball on these fields,” Sanders said. “It’s very special.”
Arenaball and regular softball is one of the many sport leagues offered by the Granbury Parks and Recreation department for adults to play in. The department also offers basketball and the very popular flag football.
Kickball is offered on the stipulation of enough teams registering. Maggie Wylie of the parks and recreation department helps in getting teams registered for the leagues. She understands the challenges of making the leagues happen, especially when not enough teams register.
Those who do sign up are a wide range of people from all walks of life. Sanders is a student at Texas Christian University, HEB has its own team to use as team building, there are doctors and lawyers who come out to play.
With the growing population of Granbury, the parks and recreation department has taken to social media to get more involved. Wylie feels as if this has helped get more participants involved.
“We try to post it on all the surrounding buy, sell, trade sites and softball sites,” Wylie said. “We use Facebook. We hope that friends will tell friends.”
The fee to register for softball is 300 dollars for each team by the second week of the season. The arenaball season had five co-ed teams.
The Pop Outs who are 2-6 in regular season play have played together for a while now according to Jay Johnson. Johnson is on the team to spend time with his daughter and get some exercise.
Johnson has been playing for a couple of seasons now after living in Granbury for eight years. Being originally from New York, he’s developed a bit of a reputation around the fields. It’s all in good fun however.
“I’m the mouth,” Johnson said. “Sometimes my New Yorker comes out.”
At 55-years old, Johnson said he could always use the exercise he gets. At night when he’s off from working in shipping for Sony, Microsoft and Intel, he enjoys the time he gets to spend on the field with his daughter and the others.
“I love the comradery,” Johnson said. “I love coming out here and working as a team and getting that good, friendly competitive spirit between us and the other team. I’ve enjoyed every minute out here.”
For a growing community like Granbury, people from all walks of life will come in to play in the leagues, even more-so in the future, especially in the bigger sports such as flag football.
Winter flag football had nine teams registered. It is one signal of the growing adult rec leagues in Granbury.
“It doesn’t really go in the paper so it’s nice to see it growing,” Wylie said. “There’s anybody and everybody out here. You would be surprised to see who plays…”