For two Laguna Woods residents, softball isn’t just a sport – it’s a way of life.
Representing the state in national tournaments and competitions on the California Spirits, a statewide women’s softball team, Diane Toomie, 71, and Marilyn Ayala, 74, win nearly every competition.
“The nice thing about softball is you’re never too old for it,” said Toomie, who calls herself a “softball addict” and plays on six teams year round.
On a recent afternoon, Toomie and Ayala wear their California Spirits jerseys in Laguna Woods, proudly holding a second-place medal the team won in early June from the National Senior Games, held in Alabama.
“It feels good, I’m refreshed almost by it,” Toomie said, of the medal.
Second place is uncommon for the California Spirits which, with most of its players over 70, usually wins first place in most competitions, Ayala said. Within the past two years the team took first place at the Senior Games in Nevada and at the Senior Games in Palm Springs.
What keeps her playing? “Part to stay physically in shape and part because you have good friends that you’ve played with for 15 years and that’s just something you do together,“ said Ayala, who plays on three softball teams.
“You get a little slower, but the women in California seem to be more interested in being energetic and active.”
Toomie and Ayala also play with a mostly men’s softball group in Laguna Woods, which plays once a week for practice, but does not compete. Ayala said that although some of the men can hit harder than the women, Toomie still shows up most of them.
Toomie, who plays third, second and first bases and sometimes pitches, recalled a time when she was still in school and couldn’t play softball on a team at all.
“I do (softball) just because I like the game,” she said. “We came up in school before they had any kind of sports for girls, so I’m not getting tired of it at all.”
Ayala said she hasn’t gotten tired of softball…