WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR

MEDFORD (EP)     The Ed Sox were eliminated from the Fall Frostbite League playoffs Sunday, dropping a hard-fought decision to Team Davidson, 10 to 3.

The defeat marked the end of a magical season that saw the Ed Sox jump from last place in 2002 to sixth place in the standings, but for the second straight year lead the league in fun. Several of the Ed Sox faithful fans attended, and their was a sighting of the team mascot, the Ed Sock.

In the end, the Ed Sox played near stellar defense, but the offense, which started the season with such promise, sputtered, collecting just seven hits.

The Ed Sox got off to a fast start, with pitcher Mike Keefe doubling. Center fielder Tim Farrell doubled to left. Keefe tried to score on the play, but was called out at home.

The call by the home plate umpire was the first of several controversial ones during the course of the game. Instant replay clearly showed that the catcher did not tag Keefe, though she had to because it was not a force play.

The following inning, Team Davidson scored four runs, with one coming on another close play at the plate. Catcher Mary Ellen Mullaney (two hits) tooka throw home and tagged the runner in advance of the plate, but the umpire called the runner safe.

The Ed Sox defense, though, didn't falter. Left fielder Brad Zollner, playing sick, still played doggedly in the outfield, making several put outs. Third baseman Ted Young got the second out of the second inning, tackling and tagging a runner caught in a rundown. Teresa Wu and Hannah Sarnow made fine stops at second base. Right fielder Paul Luevano played solidly, with an inning-ending catch.

Shortstop Bryan Castle ranged into the outfield, caught a blooper and nearly caught a Team Davidson runner off first for a double play. Peter Ryan had a solid game filling in for Mason at first, and Molly Frey was flawless at second and short field.

In the sixth, with the Ed Sox trailing 7 to 0, Castle doubled to left field, and was advanced on a sacrifice by catcher/second baseman Teresa Wu. Castle scored on a Ted Young single.

Keefe was involved in a subplot in the developing drama =8B given three opportunities to redeam himself for plays gone wrong. He failed to cover first early in the game, but had the opportunity to cover later in the game. He threw wide to first early in the game, only to make it right. Finally, although he was thrown out in the first inning, he was safe on another close play at home in the final inning.

The Ed Sox made a bid tie the game in the seventh. Keefe, the Ed Sox offensive standout this season, worked a leadoff walk. Tim Farrell had his second double of the game, scoring Keefe. Mullaney advanced Farrell to third. Left fielder Brad Zollner, battling the flu all game, hit a clutch sacrifice fly to score Farrell. The rally ended when Mason, who raised the ire of the umpire after questioning a called strike on a ball that landed in front of the plate, was called out on an outside pitch.

"That's what I get for mouthing off to the ump," Mason said. "She had it in for me."

The Ed Sox played shorthanded, missing pitcher Donna Barry, outfielder/pitcher "Dancing" Arnold Salvati and infielder Linda Mason. Although the team moved up in the standings, Ed Sox skipper Ed Mason may not have the option on his contract picked up, sources familiar with the situation said. Team management is concerned with Mason's judgment, particularly his handling of the team's prolonged batting slump, the source said. Ed Sox officials declined to comment on the situation, citing the Fall Frostbite League's rule against major announcements during the league playoffs.

An announcement from the team could come within the next two weeks.