Living under a rock for the past week? Don’t worry; we’ll catch you up.
You don’t know what else to do.
You got your eyes checked at the optometrist. You re-taught yourself how to read … twice. You even called multiple friends and had them verify the starting date of Athletes Unlimited Softball’s third season. It won’t start until late July, they said. You need to calm down. You’re pretty sure that they’ve called the authorities on you at this point, but you don’t care. The only thing on your mind is:
Why do I keep getting news alerts saying that this year’s AU Softball season is almost over?
But fear not, lost one––I’m here to help. For starters, I’ll answer your first question: no, AU Softball has not yet started up, but AUX Softball has. The inaugural season of the latter competition kicked off on the 13th of June, and is quickly barreling towards its finale. But what is AUX Softball, you may ask? Let me tell you.
What IS AUX Softball? Have I gone mad?
Your mind is fine. And for fans of AU Softball, AUX should be remarkably straightforward. The league has an identical scoring system to Athletes Unlimited’s flagship league and will feature many of the same athletes. However, there’s one key difference: this competition is a whole lot shorter. AUX crams three series’ and three drafts’ worth of action into just two weeks.
So it’s basically the same as AU Softball? Then why does it exist?
Because more softball means more fun. It’s that simple, really.
But in all seriousness, AUX Softball’s quick pace seems to be a major reason why the league’s stakeholders were willing to take a punt on it. Per NBC, the league can provide both much-needed entertainment for softball fans and extra compensation for the athletes at its center.
That’s not the only aspect of this new venture that sets it apart from other AU-related offerings. Eagle-eyed fans might have noticed that AUX’s proceedings overlap with the 50th anniversary of Title IX. That scheduling is probably more than just a coincidence––and helps the league function as a celebration of women’s sports. “To think that all of this was possible when I was a little girl is crazy,” said outfielder Victoria Hayward to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “To be able to play softball like a professional, getting money to play on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, sounds so poetic. We’re so grateful for that.” The fans are happy, and the athletes are happier. Those sound like good reasons to me.
Oh, that makes sense.
Hey, I’ll be the one making sense of things here.
Sorry. Anyways, has the competition really started yet?
It has! Series Two of the competition––which saw Teams Fischer, Gibson, and Mulipola face off against each other––concluded on Monday. All that’s left to do is watch the third and final series in action … and theorize on who’ll be crowned the winner, of course.
So who’s winning?
Sam Fischer holds a narrow lead at the moment. Her stats reflect the utility in being well-rounded rather than specialized in a league like Athletes Unlimited; while she doesn’t lead the pack in any output-focused categories yet, she’s managed eight singles, three doubles, and a home run. With numbers like those, Fischer would risk being overshadowed by pitching geniuses and home-run aficionados in a regular tournament or league. But in AUX? She’s on top, and might just stay there after this final stretch of games.
Plus, she’s been on the winning side in all but one of the games she’s played. That’s a major testament to her skill in drafting––and a major help on the leaderboard.
Who should I watch in the league besides Fischer?
Dejah Mulipola, who’s currently sitting in fourth place. She has the most MVP 1 honors in the league thus far, which has historically been a huge indicator that an athlete can take the entire tournament. Though she’s a catcher by trade, her daring runs and bombs always make her a treat to watch when she’s at-bat.
While she’s not quite as high on the leaderboard, Mariah Mazon is a great pick for fans who seek out underrated stars. In her second-ever (!) AUX game, the Oregon State legend gave up a mere three hits over three innings to help shut out Team Gibson. Hopefully, she’ll keep up the fantastic work; one can never have too many hipster faves.
Noted. But what if I’m hungry for a capital-N Narrative? Who else should I watch?
Ah, I see that you’re a person of culture as well. Alright, then:
AU Softball Draftee Danielle Gibson snagged a captain’s position after Series One, which is a massive accomplishment considering that AUX is her pro softball debut. Things didn’t go quite as smoothly during Gibson’s turn at the wheel; her team lost all of their second series matches and suffered two shutouts back-to-back. But while Gibson’s struggles (and the twenty-three place drop that came with them) are unfortunate, they might make her even more motivated to succeed in AUX’s final battle. Fans––and the rest of the league––should be on the lookout for a re-energized and redemption-seeking Gibson come Series Three.
Also of note: The three top performers in AUX at the moment (Fischer, Danielle O’Toole, and Morgan Zerkle) were members of Fischer’s undefeated Series Two team. In Series Three, they’ll all be captaining squads against each other––meaning that whoever’s the most successful in doing so might just get her hands on the trophy. This is gonna be fun.
What should I expect coming into the final series?
when you go undefeated so now you have to play against two of your teammates pic.twitter.com/SLjwQvoePm— Athletes Unlimited (@AUProSports) June 21, 2022
Expect the unexpected … at least when it comes to the leaderboard. Due to the helter-skelter pace of the league, quite literally anything can happen in the standings. An athlete can jump up by fourteen places … or go down by twenty-one. The impending Team Fischer Civil War™ could ensure that whoever wins gets the season’s title. The ground could split open and swallow up every single player in the SDSU stadium except for Danielle Gibson, thereby ensuring that she gets the season’s title. Very little is off the table––which is why it feels like Christmas came early and brought us this league as a gift.
Wait, how’d Christmas get into this discussion?
No more questions. Just roll with the chaos.
The schedule for AUX Softball’s final series can be found here.