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LANCASTER COUNTY - To borrow from that classic film on work-related apathy, "Office Space", umm

"Did you SEE the (video) on this?"

Just when it seemed my boss at GameTimePA.com Lancaster, Mr. John Buffone, had hung up his cross-trainers from the court, mat, pitch, or any other athletic field of dreams, if only to settle somewhat gracefully into a life of sports-related blogging, he went all "Steve Carell" and embarrassed himself in one of his no-need-to-patent, self-produced videos. Again.

In what is officially Episode 3 of GameTimePA's "BALLERS vs BLOGGERS", Buffone had the lack of foresight to challenge one of the Lancaster-Lebanon League's premier softball pitchers in Hempfield High School rising senior Lauren Lichtenwalner.

And so it was that on July 16 in Landisville, Buffone toed the very back of the batters-box versus Lichtenwalner, the Lady Knights ace and three-year starter who just so happens to be coming off her first all-L-L League selection this season.

"When she talks to you she looks you in the eyes," said Lady Knights' head coach Brian Lohr, regarding what makes Lichtenwalner an ideal candidate for Buffone's latest segment. "She's courteous to everybody, yet as far as she's concerned, John's the competition, and she does not like to lose. She'll do it within the rules, but don't be surprised if her first pitch is a little high (and tight)."

Thus miraculous to some, Buffone came-out swinging in Landisville. Donned in his retro (read: one-size-too-small) uniform, the-man-who-thinks-he-can fouled away the first of Lichtenwalner's fifteen pitches in a derby-style, ten-swing at-bat.

"The first one that he fouled I was kind of like 'aw crap, he's gonna hit,' admitted Lichtenwalner, "but then after that I kind of felt a little better because he swung through the next one. I was like 'okay, never mind.' "

That next pitch, a riseball, was key to Lichtenwalner's inevitable dominance, designated by both Lohr and catcher Hanna Garber as the pitch most likely to drive Buffone bonkers.

"Her rise just goes, it's crazy," said Garber, who serves as catcher for Lichtenwalner's travel team, Nook 18U-Gold, and earned an all-L-L selection this spring as an outfielder for Lampeter-Strasburg. "She said (to throw) mainly fastballs but I didn't really stick to that much. (Buffone) was really far back in the box, so I knew he wasn't going to hit an inside pitch."

Even if he did find his way onto first base, Garber proved it wouldn't much matter as she later threw-out Buffone attempting to steal second in his desperate attempt to save face.

With Lichtenwalner and Garber teasing Buffone with a fastball on the black and pair of drop change-ups, Lohr called timeout to give the flummoxed Buffone a vital pep-talk.

"(Lohr) said to take a swing and try to bunt one because you're way far behind," Buffone explained. "Even in that I failed."

Perhaps feeling sorry for her adversary, Lichtenwalner eased up on the velocity at the end of the at-bat, permitting Buffone to dribble a routine grounder to short. That, however, would be the best Buffone could muster in his ten swings, as Lichtenwalner took-home the increasingly popular GameTimePA.com "foam-finger" trophy, bedecked with a softball signed by none other than the losing party.

In disregard for the theory that a 6-foot-2, 220-pound adult male has some sort of competitive advantage versus a seventeen-year-old female athlete, Lichtenwalner did what any talented, savvy, experienced pitcher in the circle should do on a hot, summer's day - enjoy the inevitable breeze of a whiffing aluminum bat.

"Everybody always says 'oh, softball is easier, softball is easier' and this kind of proves it's not," said Lichtenwalner, who has verbally committed to play for Bucknell University. "It's as hard as or maybe harder than baseball. It's kind of a 'see, I told you so' for anyone who ever said softball is easier."

"I already knew that it is extremely hard to hit a softball, whether you're male or female," Buffone concurred, "but my lesson is to have much more respect for what (softball players) do because they do this all-year round, they're constantly working on their craft, and for someone who is sitting in the stands thinking 'oh, I can hit that,' this just proves you really can't. It's really, really hard to do."

That said, some credit is owed to Buffone, for A) making a modicum of contact and B) swallowing his pride. Then again, he did utter post at-bat that his daily workout regimen "is more for vanity and not athletics."

Perhaps, then, it's mere vanity that links Buffone with his affinity for sports videography. But then again, without it, so many deserving athletes like Lichtenwalner would lose-out on the opportunity to put us media folk back into our proper niche-that is to say, safely and securely on the sidelines.

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BALLERS vs BLOGGERS, Episode 3

Winning pitcher-Lauren Lichtenwalner: 15 pitches (12 strikes, 3 balls)

Losing batter-John Buffone: 10 swings (1 ball in play, 2 hard fouls, 2 soft fouls, 1 foul tip, 1 failed bunt attempt, 3 swings-and-misses)

WATCH OTHER EPISODES

Episode 1: Matt Walsh vs John Buffone (Basketball).

Episode 2: Bo Spiller vs John Buffone (Wrestling).

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