It's easy to get hooked on softball, especially if you're a baseball fan to begin with. There are differences in the play of the game other than the obvious differences in ball and diamond size, and the idea that females play the game, there is one standout difference that hooked me on softball is the players' exuberance.

As a youth, I played the game, and have watched baseball my entire life so I'm semi-qualified to illustrate a different approach to the game the ladies bring over the boys. Attitude.

It isn't uncommon for a male to strike out or get called out on a base and have a small to low range raging fit of anger on the spot. For a while, it was cool in MLB for a struck out batter to break his wooden bat over his knee. Close calls on the bases as well were impromptu stages for performance art in the anger arena, with the team's manager rushing out of the dugout to confront the unperturbed offending umpire.

Once a minor league manager in the Braves system protested a call at third base by stealing it. Literally picking it up out of the dirt and throwing it into centerfield. He also buried home plate in the dirt. Emotions can run high.

Back when MLB managers like Leo Durocher, Billy Martin or Sparky Anderson stalked the dugouts, many fans turned out just to see their antics when a call went the other way. In a sense, it's part of the man's game.

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Not in Softball.

In baseball, there's activity in the dugouts, but it's bawdy stories and comments on the game, the insight shared between players on the pitcher's release, overall quiet until something happens on the field.

In the softball dugout the girls are up and cheering on the action on the field, chanting, singing songs, clapping and they generally look happy all the time.

When a lady strikes out in softball whether a swing and a miss or a called third strike, they don't show anger or glare at the umpire with daggers in their eyes, they skip back to the dugout in almost a good mood.

This in no way is to imply the level of competition and the will to win isn't present in the female game. It's just all done in a cheerful ladylike way not usually seen by the male sunflower seed chewers.

It's always fun to watch softball - win or lose the odds are you're never going to see a bench-clearing brawl at the pitcher's mound.

Softball State Championships Return to Sulphur for the 18th Straight Year

Starting today Thursday, April 26th and through Saturday's Championship Game, the states top high school softball teams will play it out at Frasch Park, 1000 Picard Rd, Sulphur, Louisiana.

Google Maps - Frasch Park, 1000 Picard Rd, Sulphur, La

Seven classes from five divisions from all over Louisiana will compete over three days drawing an estimated attendance of some 30,000 also exuberant fans. They fill up hotel rooms in the area and eat in our local restaurants, this tournament is a big deal and a great deal economically for our area.

On Thursday and Friday admission is $10 a person, with Saturday's championship rounds rising to $15 per head. Here's the link to the brackets so you can keep up.

I'll also remind softball travelers coming in from points east there are traffic delays in Lake Charles on I10 West that will add between 20-40 minutes to your journey dependant upon the time of day. Travelers can also contact the Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau at 337-436-9588

The spirit of competition is strong with these young ladies, there are close plays at the plate, Grand Slams, hits into the gap, amazing throws and home runs that get robbed deep in the leather pocket of an outfielders glove.

It's easy to understand why they love the game so much and why they always seem to be so happy, after all, diamonds are a girl's best friend.