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September 21, 2014

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Nothing slow about her softball passion

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Sam Morris

Kay Andersen, 71, says she works hard to keep herself in shape to play at the level of slow-pitch softball that she loves.

Kay Andersen loves the chatter at game time.

Hey battuh battuh battuh battuh battuh battuh!

There’s another sound she loves even more.

Ping!

She hears it a lot, as one of the standout players for the Las Vegas Neons.

They’re probably the best sports team in Las Vegas.

Over the past month they’ve won not one but two national slow-pitch softball championships for their age group: 60 and over.

Andersen is 71. But don’t give her an inch.

Last weekend, at a championship game in St. George, Utah, Andersen took the plate in the bottom of the last inning, her team down by one run and with a runner at second. Andersen would keep the rally alive, leading to a Neons victory. Her play-by-play:

“The left fielder came in on me. She didn’t expect me to hit it over her head. I burned her.”

That’s how Andersen talks. She’s serious about softball. She’s serious about life.

Growing up in Iowa, Andersen played golf and tennis, then spent years teaching physical education in high school. Ten years ago she got hooked on slow-pitch. Not that she takes life slowly.

“I’m very self-disciplined. I don’t have anybody to watch over me, so I have to take care of myself, keep up with my exercises and play sports.”

Her regimen includes riding her bicycle 40 minutes every morning around her neighborhood and, in the afternoon, going through the drills on her home gym equipment. Sit-ups, push-ups, weights.

“To play at this level of softball, you’ve got to be able to throw the ball hard, and run hard, and bat,” Anderson says. “And that means you’ve got to stay fit.”

It pays off. In a national championship game a couple of weeks ago in Tennessee, the Neons were demolishing the other team in the finals so badly that the game was called for mercy in the fifth inning. The score was something like a thousand to nothin’.

Well, 23 to 7. Whatever.

For the record, Andersen is not the oldest on the team. One member is 74.

“She’s not bad for her age,” Andersen said.

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