Sixteen men ranging from age 65 to 69 make up the Chattanooga Retreads softball team, but they hold their own against players half their ages as they practice and prepare for the state Senior Olympics.
The team plays games and practices against 20- to 40-year-olds in the DuPont Church League in Hixson.
The Retreads won a recent church league game 17-14 against Signal Mountain Church of Christ.
"We won the district Senior Olympics softball tournament in our age bracket, 65 to 69, at the Summit May 5th," said coach and player Tom Yarman, of East Ridge. "We will go to state Senior Olympics July 22nd in Franklin. We were third in state last year."
He said the Retreads will play in a double- elimination church league softball tournament in mid-June.
"We compete well if everyone is here; we are competitive," said Yarman. "I can hit it 300 feet over the fence. Our best hitter is Sam Pearson. He is the 100-meter champion in Nashville for the Senior Olympics. He is our best player."
Pearson, who plays shortstop, said he works out daily, eats healthy meals and does what his doctor tells him to do.
"I play hard," he said. "I've played ball since 1966."
Retreads player right center fielder Conrad Lewis, of Flat Top Mountain, said he works out three times per week, hits a punching bag with a ball bat, hikes and rides his bicycle.
Catcher Curt Grant said he runs and jogs a lot to stay in shape.
"I've played ball for 48 years," said Grant. "I have a lot of fun and enjoy getting out and exercising. I love the sport."
Yarman said the Retreads play by softball rules and can run through first, second and third bases. He said that at the Senior Olympics two home plates await scoring runners, keeping them from colliding. The Retreads play seven innings.