EXCELSIOR, Minn. (WCCO) – They started playing softball together in 1973, but little did they know that forty years later they’d still be teammates, playing on the same field they started on.

Now in their late 50s, Susie Hatch and Therese Douglass are still competing for all the right reasons. For 40 years, they’ve been playing at the same park – the Excelsior Commons.

“The whole outfield is Lake Minnetonka, so it’s gorgeous,” Douglass said.

Hatch and Douglass started playing in the early days of Title IX, when there were little to no options for girls in sports.

“Susie and I just hit it off, and we played on two teams for a while there. We used to actually run from Hopkins to Excelsior and back with games,” she said.

And so they started playing together, and never quit. And you can imagine all the memories they’ve share since they first hit the field in the early 70s.

“We were playing one time and [a] storm was brewing, and all our hair was sticking up like this – straight up in the air – and we’re all looking at each other and laughing, only to find out from one of the gals that went to the doctor the next day that we…could have been eliminated,” Douglass said.

As the years passed, the ladies have transitioned to different roles on the field.

“We change right field and catcher together because one, we can’t see anymore, and two, we can’t run that fast when we’re in the outfield,” Hatch said.

But age can never diminish the love of the game.

“We’re competitive too, I mean, we still are really competitive even today. But we don’t take the game too serious,” Douglass said.

Hatch and Douglass are bonded by friendship, by 40 years of softball and 40-years worth of wonderful summer nights.

“I just like to have fun. I just love running out on the field and keeping it going,” Hatch said. “Winning helps, winning’s fun, but you put it in perspective and just enjoy the game. I’m glad I can still run out on the field.”

Mike Max