BRADFORD—Lil Broughman of Bradford was inducted into the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame in 2015 in Dalton, Ga.
And seven years later, she is still playing the game… at age 83!
This year already, she played a month ago in Pensacola, Fla., and has plans to play yet in Roanoke, Va., in June; Hendersonville, Tenn., in July; Chattanooga in August; Dalton, Ga., in September; and Myrtle Beach in October.
“The one at Utah interferes with Myrtle Beach so we won’t be going to Utah,” she said.
“I started playing softball on a women’s fast-pitch team at the age of 16,” said the former Lil Yount, who indicated that her brother, the late Dale Yount, got her interested in it.
Then, they played in nearby Gettysburg and traveled from town to town to compete.
“I played shortstop but had a couple of innings in the outfield,” she said.
Later on, she pitched in the circuit.
“I played for eight years and quit to start my family.”
After being away from the game for several years, she said she formed a ladies slow-pitch softball team and asked her brother, Dale, to coach.
“We played in three different leagues and traveled to tournaments on the weekend,” she recalled. “We played more than 100 games a year. We competed in an ASA state championship tournament in 1981 which our team won and I was selected most valuable pitcher.”
Lil, the daughter of the late Ted and Mary Yount and a 1957 graduate of Franklin Monroe High school, said it was her friend and teammate Evelyn Nealeigh, formerly of Darke County, who introduced her to senior softball. Evelyn plays as well on her team and will turn 88 on May 25.
“Evelyn knows the ballfield but she doesn’t run as fast as she used to,” Lil said. “However, she got a double in Pensacola,”
“My first senior game was in August 1992 in Penn Hills,” Lil went on. “I pitched four games and we beat the Golden Girls for the championship. I was a member of the Ohio Cardinals softball team.”
Her first Olympics was in San Antonio, Texas, in 1995.
“We won the gold, and I led the team in batting average at .593,” she said. “My second Olympics was in Tucson, Ariz., in 1997, and we also won the gold.”
Lil indicated that in 1997 she was named the World Senior Qualifying Sally Whalin Most Valuable Player.
“In 2001 and 2002, while still playing for the Ohio Cardinals, I was selected All-World in Gallatin, Tenn., batting .793 as we won jackets both years.
She said when playing for the Sportaculars of Canada in 2011, they won All-American in every tournament but one.
“I won my third Olympic Gold in Houston, Texas, that year, and I was selected All-American in two tournaments,” she said.
Lil has been playing for the Ohio Tri-Stars since 2012.
“In 2013 in the Huntsman World Senior games, I won the gold and I batted .750, and in the Dalton, Ga., tournament in 2014, I led the teams in batting at 778 and was selected All-American,” she added.
She went on to say that she has been selected All-American in a number of tournaments, including Jacksonville, Fla., in 2014.
“I want to give all the credit for my accomplishments to God for allowing me to still play, at my age, a game I dearly love,” Lil said. “He has blessed me beyond measure.”
Lil said she worked at Fram for a couple of years, NCR for seven years and worked at Bradford School as a cook for 29 years, retiring in 2013. She also coached the Bradford High School fast-pitch softball team for nine years, after being approached by Superintendent Scherer at the time.
“I didn’t think she could do it,” she said. “I enjoyed that nine years but I had to get out.”
Her daughters, now Cathy Scamper of Fairfield, and Jamie Kerns of Union City. were on her high school team. She said she even followed Union City several years ago when they went to state because her granddaughter played for them.
“I still follow the Bradford High School team,” said Lil, who was widowed in 2001 when husband Jim died.
Her first year as coach at Bradford was in 1984. They won the district in 1986, were third in 1990 and fourth in 1991.
In her master bedroom, there is a curio cabinet full of her medals and trophies, and Lil has a bed spread that captures her life in photos that her daughter had someone make for her mother.
She indicated she has worn various uniforms over the years, and said the number on her current uniform is “1” and that’s been her number for quite a few years.
“I’m not as assertive as I was back in the day,” said Lil, who has also played on co-ed teams at Gettysburg, Eldorado and Union City Wesleyan Church.
Because of her knees, she wears braces when she plays today. She not only runs for herself but for other women as well.
“I used to run two or three times an inning but not so much now,” she said. “There are people who are younger in there now.”
When asked if she has seen the movie,”A League of Their Own,” Lil said she did.
“A League of Their Own” was a 1992 American sports comedy/drama film, giving a fictionalized account of real life of an All-American
Girls Professional Softball team, starring Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell among others.
“I met and played on a team for a number of years with an extra in that movie,” Lil said. “She is Katie Horseman of New Knoxville, Ohio, who played third baseman in the movie. She threw out the first ball at a tournament in Minster,”
Lil, who turned 83 on May 9, has written down information on every team and game she played. Those statistics include dates, numbers and other information. She plays in the 80-plus age group.
She said she did start out fast-pitching and is now slow-pitching.
“I liked fast because you could steal bases,” said Lil, who in addition to two daughters, has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Was her husband supportive of her work with softball?
“He was…mostly, but I used to play in three leagues a week and traveled on weekends which he didn’t always care for,” replied Lil, who was married to him for almost 40 years.
Lil performed in senior ball from 1992 to 2007, then moved on up. She joined the Tri-Stars in 2012.
She said she is in good health and goes to the YMCA in Greenville once a week.
“I take yoga class and walk the track,” said Lil, who also noted that she played volleyball at the Senior Olympics, now called Senior Games. “If I lived closer, I would go more than once a week.”
She walks and exercises every day, trying to get in 10,000 steps daily.
“I love going to Bradford Library,” she said. “I read four inspirational books a week and play bingo there.”
Another interest of hers is watching sports, She especially likes the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals, Dayton Flyers basketball and Ohio state.
“I want to continue playing as long as I can,” Lil said.
She said the oldest woman on one of the teams is 90 years old but is not from Ohio. She played for the Golden Girls from Virginia, but Lil doesn’t know if she is playing this year or not.
The Tri-Stars team played in Hawaii four years ago, where she got to go parasailing, and another time she and some of her teammates went on a cruise to Alaska.
The five teams in their tournaments are Golden Girls of Virginia, Golden Gals of Florida, Freedom Spirits of Florida, Tennessee Stars and the Tri-Stars.
“We win most of our tournaments except when we play the Golden Gals,” she said. “We beat them but not very often. We have won a lot more tournaments than we’ve lost. We are one of the better teams.” Because of the pandemic, there was no softball playing in 2020.
“You’re all friends and look forward to getting together again,” she concluded. “But, then we’re enemies on the ballfield.”