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ORANGE COUNTY NEWSWATCH / A SPECIAL REPORT: SOFTBALL

October 17, 1994|Dan Arritt

CO-ED CRAZE: Slow pitch softball used to be a boys' night out, but there now is no shortage of both sexes on Orange County diamonds. Women's softball has been steadily gaining popularity; the ratio of men's to women's teams countywide has gone from nearly 3 to 1 in 1989 to less than 2 to 1 in 1993. . . . Lori Larkin, 24, plays third base for a Garden Grove team and has found new friends in the low-key environment. "Everyone plays as a team," she said, "and has a great, non-stressful time."

TEAM TRIBUTE: A Costa Mesa men's team knows what it's like to rebound. "The Skulls" are composed of recovering head-injury patients from Coastline College's special programs for the disabled. . . . Craig Stephens, Coastline staff member and team manager, says it was formed to give students self-confidence and develop motor skills. "A lot of these guys were very active in their lives," he says, "and a lot of them have had to face emotional problems because they can't do the things they used to do. . . . We rarely win, but when we do, it's cause for celebration."

BIG LEAGUES: A different game is being played on Seal Beach's Zoeter Field. "Big Ball" features a 16-inch softball that looks hittable but doesn't travel very far and is easy prey for the defense. The game, also played in Laguna Beach and Manhattan Beach, generally results in scores far lower than average. "You really have to hit it good to get it to travel," says league player Carl Champion, 28. "In the later innings the ball gets mushy."

RALLY KILLERS: A unique situation exists on the women's field at Corona del Mar's Community Youth Center: There's a 24-foot-high wall in shallow right field, and a new rule intended to keep secure some nearby condominiums. The condos are out of reach for most female batters, and they are awarded a home run for clearing the fence; but males, far more of whom could put a ball through a window, receive three outs for the same feat. . . . The deterrent was necessary, League Director Scott Williamson said, because "it used to only count as one out, but guys would show off and hit it over anyway."

WEATHER: Sunny with highs in the upper 70s. Lows will be in the mid-50s. (B6)

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