By Steve Williams
Michael Beeler kicked off his flip flops and started buck dancing to the UT softball fans’ singing of “Rocky Top” after Megan Geer’s three-run homer finally gave Tennessee a lead in its own invitational tournament April 24.
Beeler is one of the “Locos” and this crazy group of fans was more than ready to do some celebrating. After a 9-0 loss to Oklahoma the day before and a 2-1 deficit against Lipscomb University going into the bottom of the fifth inning, it was time to have some fun.
And that’s what the Locos do best – they make UT home softball games fun.
After Tennessee took the 4-2 lead, Beeler, standing on the walkway in front of the crowd, lifted his arms skyward and slowly swayed them to the right and to the left as he led the fans in unison: “Lady” … “Vols” … “Lady” … “Vols!”
Later in the inning, when Gretchen Aucoin came to bat, the Locos chanted “G Money” – just one of the many nicknames and sayings they have for the Tennessee players. This time, Aucoin cashed in with a grand slam to put the Lady Vols comfortably ahead 8-2.
The Locos are clever at improvisation, too. A little before the Lady Vols ended the game with a 10-2 win, the alarm on a truck parked just outside the stadium went off as some fans were preparing to make an early departure.
With the alarm blasting, the Locos’ Terry Blevins jokingly shouted through his bull horn: “Steal that truck! Steal that truck!”
That brought some chuckles.
Hey, that’s what L-o-c-o-s could stand for – Lots of chuckles on softball!
As you think about that, let’s back up to the first inning with freshman Matty Moss on the mound.
“Hang that K,” shout the Locos after Matty strikes out a Bison. “Hang that K. Thank youuuuuuu. We love our K lady.”
“Fear the Geer” booms through the park when Geer steps in the batter’s box. On this day, the Bisons were forewarned.
In the second inning, Beeler leads a chorus of “Meg … Gregg,” serenading Meghan Gregg after she doubled.
We also receive a weather report just in time as the inning continues.
“The forecast today is Rainey,” announces Beeler with the sun beaming down. And up go the tiny umbrellas (one of their many props) in the section were the Locos are located as Rainey Gaffin comes to bat.
What followed the Rainey conditions was fitting.
“Ducks on the pond. Quack, quack, quack,” sound off the Locos, as they try to help produce a big inning. One of them even has a real yellow duck caller. But none of the three ducks came home.
As we move to the fifth inning, and Tennessee trailing 2-1, we hear “Aubrey Leach … Reach” from the Locos, and Leach answers the cue by reaching first base with a single.
“Hit it down the line Vine … Hit it down the line,” now request the Locos.
Well, Brooke Vines didn’t exactly hit it down the line, but she doubled to centerfield to put runners on second and third.
The Locos were happy anyway, as it set the stage for Geer’s go-ahead blast to straightaway center.
Off came the flip flops. It was buck dancing time.