With his softball team looking to cut into a 19-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh, Oakton resident Pete Hoffman clasped his hands on the Braddock Park dugout's chain-link fence and smiled as he made peace with his team's looming defeat.
"We're losing 19-0, but it's still a good day," he said. "I'm with people I like, I'm outside and I'm having fun. It's a very good day."
At age 75, scores such as 19-0 don't mean much to Hoffman.
He admits he likes to win, but when hitting a double or catching a pop-fly can transform him from senior citizen to softball hero in an age-defying second, the final score is an afterthought.
"When I'm out here, I feel like I'm 17 again," he said. "When you make a running catch or a big hit, it takes you right back to high school. At the end of the game, you might have some aches and pains, but it was worth it."
More than 450 other senior citizens join Hoffman weekly in the Northern Virginia Senior Softball league, a nonprofit slow pitch league for men and women older than 50 and 40, respectively.
Founded in 1980, the league features 25 teams across three skill levels ranging from competitive to casual, a 60-game season played on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all-star games, picnics and a double-elimination tournament.
Teams are built according to skill levels and are divided up to ensure fair and even play throughout the season.
The league trains their own players to act as umpires and enforces rules akin to that of a children's T-ball league: every member of the team must play at least three innings and every batter gets to bat before the lead-off hitter can hit again.
Call it Little League for Grandpa their very own social network.
"It's our water cooler," NVSS Publicity Chair Dave Sheele, 77, said. "We're retired, so it's where we meet to talk about our lives."
The average age in the NVSS is 66, but the league also features players in their late 70s and early 50s, Sheele said.
But teams aren't always set in stone the league moves players up or down a skill level if necessary.
"We assess your skills to see where you fit best," Sheele said. "It's so you can enjoy the game and have fun."
Organizers also take drastic measures to ensure the league serves as a community builder, not a championship factory for a select group of players.
"A player will be on a different team every year," Sheele said. "We do it so you can't build dynasties."
Safety also is a major concern. The league uses an oversized first base and two home plates, one to bat from and one to score on eight feet away, to help reduce the chance of collisions.
"We don't want anybody running into [a player] at home or at first," Sheele said. "It takes us a little bit longer to heal."
In addition to the adjusted rules, the league also conducts preseason conditioning sessions during the winter to help players stay in or get into shape.
But not every player can make it well into their late 70s or 80s. Sheele said it's not uncommon for players to degrade over time because of age or leave the league after an injury. A 25-year NVSS veteran, Sheele understands a career eventually has to end.
"I've got an injured back now," he said. "But when I stopped playing, I was batting .643. Now, I help the league by doing administrative work."
The benefits of physical activity, community and fun are just some of the reasons that Fairfax resident Julian Levine, 77, an 11-year NVSS veteran, signs up to play each year.
"The league offers a chance to play, have a good time and makes a bunch of new friends every year," he said. "At an advanced age you want to stay busy, and that's all we're trying to do have good, clean fun that isn't cut-throat."
Cut-throat is far from the atmosphere on the NVSS softball diamond, but don't think for a second the seniors aren't there to compete.
"We still have little kids in these older guys' bodies," Sheele said. "You want to win, but most importantly you just feel like a kid again and it's great."