SPA News

What's Happening in Senior Softball

Southern Spring NIT Nail Biters

If Montgomery, Alabama's Men's Southern Spring SPA NIT tournament is any indication, close games will be the name of the game in the 2017 season.

The March 16-19 tournament saw one-run deciding games in the 50AAA, 60AAA,55 Major, 55 AAA and 50 Major/Major Plus divisions in the semi-finals and finals deciding the title.

'It was a well-balanced tournament in all divisions, tournament director Lonnie O'Haver said of the 32-team event. One-run games were more of the rule than the exception.
Typical was the 60AAA bracket where Atlanta Recycling beat  26-25 RPR Softball in the finals after downing Columbus LX 20-19 in the tournament opener.

Following Atlanta Recycling and RPR Softball in the standings were Columbus LX, RDG Chattanooga and Gas Softball.

Not to be out done, the 50 AAA bracket saw champion Southeast Water Swarm win the title with a 23-19 championship game over Blue Grass after earlier downing Team Akiktiv 19-18 and Blue Grass 19-14.

Blue Grass finished second followed by Team Adiktiv, Maj League Seniors and Atlanta 50's.

Montgomery Swarm had a couple of close calls edging Darryl Harris 21-20 and Alpha Life 28-27 before beating Alpha Life 28-19 in the 55 Major title game. Tn Connection was third with Darryl Harris fourth.

Southern States Seniors had a close call in winning the 55 AAA crown, Southern State Seniors beat DT Express 19-18 in the finals, JR Smith 8-6 in the semi's and DT Express 24-23 in the opener

DT Express was second followed by JR Smith and JR Logistics.

David Bowen took the 60 Major crown beating Smith Mason Dudley 27-12 and 23-7 in a two-game showdown.

The 65 AAA crown went to TAG 65 with Travelers grabbing the 65 Major crown, Also participating were Edge 60 and Deep South Softball 60.

Team Kitty downed Walker Brothers twice including 41-40 in the semi's to win the 50 Major/Major Plus crown,

Lighthouse was third followed by Monster Express, Atlanta Monarchs, Alabama Brick and Team Arkansas.

SPA On The Move!!

The 2017 softball season looks to be the best in the history for the Softball Players Association.

Fifty-six tournaments have been scheduled for this summer from Colorado in the west, Maryland in the east, Ohio in the north, Alabama and Texas in the south and states like Indiana , Illinois and Missouri in the mid-west.

"This is our best schedule ever," SPA president and CEO Ridge Hooks said. "I mean best in both terms of tournaments and teams."
Hooks also pointed out SPA has been asked to put on tournaments in Florida, Arizona. Michigan, Pennsylvania and the Carolina's but just does not have the manpower to handle it.

"We would love to set up men's or women's tournament in those areas but we need directors to run them," Hooks said. "If you know of a site with quality fields and a director who would like to run a tournament, have them give us a call. We definitely would love to work with them."

Actually that is the way the Ohio corridor of tournaments (Dayton, Barberton, Sylvania)  started.

Six years ago Columbus was the only SPA tournament in Ohio but in succession Barberton, Dayton and Sylvania called SPA to set up a SPA tournament in their area. Today the four Ohio tournaments average 50 teams an event and next year Cincinnati may also become part of the Ohio group.

"That is the way it starts, just a phone call and we will help in anyway to get a tournament started in the callers area but he or she has to work with us," Hooks said,

In addition to new tournaments old reliable ones at Glen Burnie, Shelbyville, Georgetown, Pensacola, College Station, Hendersonville, Waxahachie, Hot Springs and Powder Springs rerun in 2017.

Dalton, Georgia is the site for all men and women World Championships.

Exact dates for these and other SPA events may be found at: http://softballspa.com/

You may also call the SPA office for information at 405-376-7034.

"I am really excited about our 2017 schedule," Hooks said. "This promises to be our greatest year ever."

 

Eyes of Texas On Layla Bryan Memorial

GEORGETOWN TOURNAMENT AGAIN DRAWS THIRTY TEAMS

GEORGETOWN,TX - The recording stars ALABAMA said, ".....if you're going to play in Texas, you have to have a fiddle in the band."

Senior softball players say, "If you're going to play in TEXAS, you have to play SPA'S LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL tournament."

Not to sound like a broken record but the MCMASTERS ATHLETIC COMPLEX in GEORGETOWN, TEXAS again drew THIRTY PLUS teams to the ANNUAL LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL SPA tournament.

" I think the drawing power of the event is a great tribute to LAYLA," SPA PRESIDENT/CEO RIDGE HOOKS said, "This tournament was LAYLA'S baby, she put her heart and soul into it every year and today it continues to flourish in her memory."

Seven divisional bracket champions were crowned this year starting with HILL CONTRACTING in the four-team 75/80 bracket.

The TEXAS team went 3-0 in bracket play beating TEXAS CLASSICS 24-9, HARRIS AUCTION 18-11 and edging HARRIS AUCTION 12-11 in the title game. ALAMO CITY TRAVELERS rounded out the field.

Five teams squared off in the five-team 70 PLUS group. OKC RELICS ran the table on the way to the title. OKC disposed of STILL (25-10), TEXAS LEGENDS 70's (24-18) and beat the TEXAS LEGENDS again, this time 15-13 for the championship. Others in the bracket were AUSTIN WIZARDS and TEXAS CLASSICS 70's.

In a three-team 65 PLUS SILVER bracket the DALLAS SPURS took the top prize after beating TEXAS RATTLERS (41-19) and TEXAS EAGLES (22-17).

CENTEX 65'S won the 65 PLUS GOLD wrapping it up on a forfeit win over SAN ANTONIO LEGENDS. Earlier CENTEX beat BOYD METALS 29-14 and SAN ANTONIO 23-19. The TEXAS LEGENDS were the fourth team in the bracket.

HOUSTON FIRE beat AUSTIN WIZARDS 18-16, OOPS SOFTBALL 23-8 and TEXAS THUNDER 23-18 in the title game of the five-team 60 PLUS group.

TACOMA MB FLYING also was in the 60 PLUS bracket,

The 55/60 MAJOR CROWN was won by SAN ANTONIO 55 SOFTBALL CLUB. LEGENDS OF TEXAS were SECOND followed by GONZALES INSULATION 60's.

A neighboring state team, TEAM ARKANSAS won the 50 PLUS PLATINUM crown beating TEXAS PLAYERS twice including 37-19 in the title game. The TEXAS PLAYERS reached the finals by knocking off TEXAS MAVERICKS 37-24.

TEXAS ELITE swept the competition in winning the 50 PLUS GOLD bracket championship. TEXAS ELITE beat MIXED BREED 26-15 in the finale. MIXED BREED came out of the loser's bracket by beating AUSTIN ROCK 29-24.

It was a tough tournament for AUSTIN ROCK who lost their two bracket games by a total of only six runs, five runs to MIXED BREED and one run (15-14) to TEXAS ELITE.

SPA will return to the LONE STAR state AUGUST 26-30 when COLLEGE STATION will host the SPA SALUTE TO VETERANS NIT.

Please contact SPA OFFICE at (405) 376-7034 or E-MAIL spaoffice@softballspa.net for further information.

SPA 2015 Montgomery Tournament Tops Forty Teams

LAGOON PARK SOFTBALL COMPLEX IS A GREAT HOST

 MONTGOMERY, ALABABMA - Combine a great location with the reputation of a well-run tournament and the result is predictable.

For the third straight year the SOUTHERN SPA NIT IN MONTGOMERY ALABAMA an increased attendance, this year attracting FORTY TEAMS.

 Over the past three years the MONTGOMERY TOURNAMENT has increased from thirty teams to thirty-five teams and this year to forty teams,” SPA PRESIDENT RIDGE HOOKS said, “ That is an increase of over ten-percent each year and this year's total of FORTY TEAMS is higher than THIRTY-SEVEN other senior tournaments conducted east of VEGAS by all other senior organizations in 2014.”

 Tournament Director for the 2015 MONTGOMERY TOURNAMENT DON CHERRY also was excited about the continued increase in teams.

 The increase has a lot to do with LAGOON PARK ,” CHERRY said, “ LAGOON PARK is one of the best complexes on the senior softball circuit and the people in charge of the facility do a tremendous job in keeping it that way. we had a great tournament with lots of new teams and new winners”

 The forty-team tournament at MONTGOMERY, MARCH 12-15 saw EIGHT CHAMPIONS crowned in the 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 age groups.

 ADIKTIVE MERCHANTS ran the table in the 50 MAJOR BRACKET downing TEAM ARKANSAS (31-14), DOC C'S (34-33), MONSTER SOFTBALL (32-25) and MONSTER SOFTBALL again, this time in the title game 35-24 to take the top prize.

 Others in the six team bracket were ALABAMA BRICK and ATLANTA MONRACH MIKENS.

In the 50 AAA team, another GEORGIA TEAM, MAJOR LEAGUE MIKEN, went home with the “brass ring”.

 MAJOR LEAGUE MIKEN downed AFINITY ELEVATOR 10-5 and BLUEGRASS SOFTBALL twice (20-15, 28-15) for the 50 AAA crown.

 Filling out the five-team bracket were MONTGOMERY SWARM and NORTH GEORGIA OUTLAWS,

 Three teams battled in the 50/55 MAJOR PLUS BRACKET with TSC MIKEN coming out on top, TSC had to beat PLE 41-34 in the “IF” game to escape with the title after PLE forced the deciding match with 31-25 win over the “champs”.

 NEXT LEVEL was the third team in the field

 TENNESSEE'S EDGE SOFTBALL bested FLORIDA'S DAVID BOWEN SPORTING GOODS 34-15 and 23-22 in a best two-out-of-three showdown for the 5/60 MAJOR CROWN.

 The 55AAA title went to DT EXPRESS, who had to survive a late rush by GAS.

 In the four-team bracket, DT EXPRESS sent GAS into the loser's bracket with a 19-18 win in the opener. The EXPRESS gang took care of the BAMA OLD GUYS 31-20 in the next game and then sat back and waited for their next opponent.

 In the meantime, GAS eliminated JR TRUCKING 24-9 and the BAMA OLD GUYS 17-7 to earn another shot at DT EXPRESS. This time GAS won 24-15 to force an “IF” game. The title game was close all the way but DT EXPRESS held on for the 16-12 win and claim the 55 AAA crown.

 SIX TEAMS squared off in the 60 BRACKET with RANDY SMITH going undefeated to win the championship. It wasn't easy though as the champs had to survive a pair of one-run wins on their way to the title.

 RANDY SMITH knocked off COLUMBUS LX 24-19 and BOYS OF SUMMER 23-22 before beating COLUMBUS LX 16-15 in the title match.

 COLUMBUS LX after losing the opener to RANDY SMITH beat ATLANTA RECYCLING, STRYKERS and BOYS OF SUMMER to make it to the championship game.

DIXIE SOFTBALL and RANEW rounded out the six-team bracket.

 MUSTANGS won the four-team 65 BRACKET with three straight wins over EXTREME HEAT and HUFFMAN ELECTRIC twice.

 SLO SOX was the fourth team in the bracket.

 SOUTHEAST LEFTOVERS made up for their 2014 runner-up spot by winning this year's 70/75 title. The 75 MAJOR LEFTOVERS claimed the crown beating 70 AAA BROOKS AND CRIM 12-11 and 75 MAJOR ED'S ALUMINUM 20-4.

 The 75 AAA GEORGIA CLASSICS filled out the four team bracket.

"It was a great tournament and we expect to increase attendance again next year," concluded CHERRY.

Women's March 2015 Editorial

MEMORIES

Michigan Mavericks, the Oldest Women’s Senior Softball Team.  Kay Oswait, 90-years-old was the coach and Jerry Gawara, at the time was 92-years-old.  Kay just passed away three weeks ago after suffering from cancer for 12 years.  The Michigan Mavericks are from Garden City, Michigan. 

Kay Oswait was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.  She played fast pitch, modified fast-pitch, and then slow-pitch softball.    She was a pitcher, catcher and outfielder.  She began playing senior softball in 1989.  She was manager and player despite some major health issues.  She had a fall in 2007 resulting in a fractured hip and thereafter became the manager of the Mavericks 75+.  Kay is one of those pioneers that paved the way for all the younger female players.

Kay wrote about Jerry Gawara – She is now 91-years-old and would still be playing if we had enough players over 80 to play  In 1988, Jerry played shortstop in the Women’s Senior Olympics in St. Louis.  One of Jerry Opponent wrote, “I had the privilege of playing against her (Jerry) as well as with her.  She played various positions but noted for her stamina with her pitching.  She was a good hitter.  Jerry’s personality is one of graciousness and humbling demeanor.  She is competitive, but in a civil way.  She cares about others on the team and opponents.  Because of Jerry, Judy Lee had  the pitching rule changed to allow her to pitch 2 innings, rest, and then come back into the game; plus allowing 12 players on the field for this age group.

Judy Lee Schreiber wrote, “They (Jerry and Kay) are an inspiration to all of us younger ladies and they keep us on our toes because they are not sitting at home twiddling their thumbs.”  Kay is the one that always said to me, “NEVER give up on helping the Senior Women to play ball. “  She was my encouragement all of these years.  I loved this lady.  She is one in a million.”

Below is the Women’s Softball Tournament Schedule for 2015.  If you happen to live or happen to be in one of these cities during tournament play, please stop by and cheer them on and welcome them to your city.

 

Oh No, My Roster’s Been Frozen! …. What Now?

 The question is asked again and again at softball events everywhere, and the answers may not be the same depending upon the sanctioning organization rules for any particular tournament.  So let’s talk about SPA’s rules, what they mean, and why they might be the way that they are.

 Why do we have such rules?

 When softball players or athletes in general come to the park to compete, it’s just human nature that everybody wants a chance to be competitive or at least a glimmer of hope that they might win.  For that reason, most softball organizations, SPA included, try to “classify” the teams, such that similar skill levels wind up competing together.  Let’s face it nobody (win or lose) enjoys the “run-away” games that wind up forty to nothing embarrassments.  So teams are grouped and classified to try to give everybody a sporting chance.

 Classifying teams is a difficult task at best, when one considers that these teams are traveling and playing all around the country, sometimes with one organization and sometimes with another.  The task of evaluating and classifying teams becomes almost impossible, when the teams show up with different players at every tournament.  Let’s face it there are too many teams out there that will “load-up” with new and better players at every opportunity.  While we all understand that it is a necessity for teams to occasionally replace players, constant wholesale change just to “sandbag” and build a team that is stronger than its classification is wrong, and destroys any chance of proper classification for that team as the season progresses.

 To make classification meaningful in both its men’s and women’s programs, SPA has chosen to “freeze” each team’s roster, when that team plays its first tournament of the year.  In other words, when a team “qualifies” for the World Tournament by playing in any SPA tournament, that team’s roster is going to be held to rules designed to maintain the team’s classification.

 What does “frozen” mean? Are we stuck?

 Does this mean that I can’t play anywhere else?

 There is a great deal of misunderstanding as to what a “frozen roster” really is in SPA, so let’s see if we can answer some of the concerns.  First of all, a player is NOT stuck on a roster once it has been “frozen”.  SPA has no restrictions on players being dropped from a qualified roster, except to say that once dropped a player may not return to that same qualified team.  No releases or approvals are required. So if a player wants to leave their team to join another team, he/she may certainly do so, as long as he/she is eligible to be added to their new team’s roster.  Likewise, it is legal in SPA for a player to be on more than one roster and play with more than one team, as long as those rosters are for different age groups. There are special rules concerning “double-rostering” that allow for playing on two teams in the same tournament with restrictions, but as long as a player is playing with another age group on separate weekends, then there is no problem or restriction.

  What if a player is sick or injured? Are we just out of luck?

 Once a team’s roster has been “frozen”, everybody understands that there will be times when illness, injury, or unforeseen circumstances will require an additional player.  To try to accommodate these needs, SPA allows any team to add 2 players to its “qualified” (frozen) roster, but to try to keep the classification issues in line they require that these players come from a higher age division.  This way a team can still keep their qualification to World, continue to compete, and yet still remain within their current classification rating.

 Is there any way that a roster can be “Unfrozen” so that we can start over?

 Sure, we all know that a situation may arise that forces a team to have to totally regroup and just start over.  Whatever the circumstance that might cause this to happen, because now we are dealing with groups of new players from the same age group, it necessitates the need for a brand new evaluation of that team’s classification rating.  For that reason, SPA requires a team that needs to be “unfrozen” to officially register that need, so that the roster can be opened and the classification review process can begin anew for that team.  In line with this review, the team is required to “re-qualify” for the World tournament by playing in an additional SPA event.  This re-qualification gives the classification committee an opportunity to evaluate the newly formed team in a game situation.

 We all wish that this was an ideal world, where every team is competitive and the old “you get yours and we’ll get ours” mentality could work, but that’s just not the world that we live in.  The rules that SPA has put in place represent a very honest attempt to make the game more enjoyable for all.

  

Women's Program December 2014 Editorial

Once again it is the season to be thankful. We have had a year of wonderful tournaments with the comradery of all of our old and new found friends in softball that only tournaments can provide.

In 1997 is when I first went to USSSA as the Women’s Director with our Tennessee State USSSA Director Randy Smith is where I met Ridge Hooks, Executive with USSSA at that time.  Between Randy, Ridge and Billy Lee Yarbrough they helped me get our first USSSA Senior Women's World Tournament in Nashville, TN in 1998. We had 6 teams and built it from there every year. For twelve years we only had one tournament a year until I went with Ridge Hooks at SPA as the SPA Women's National Director. Ladies and Gentleman we now have 6 tournaments a year, thanks to Mr. Hooks believing in the women's program.  

&nbspDecember 9-12th, SPA will have an Executive meeting in Yukon, OK where we will have viable discussions and hopefully solutions to change some things that the coaches talked about at our meeting in Dalton, GA. The Dalton meeting was very successful and all of our Executive Committee was there to hear the Coaches’ giving their great ideas for 2015.  So Ladies 2015 will be a great year for all of us. The SPA Staff Members would like to thank each and every team for playing in our Association in years gone by and the many years to come.

We also wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year. God Bless Everyone.

SPA 2014 World Tournament Sets Record

TOURNAMENT CONTINUES TO GROW IN BOTH MEN AND WOMEN

 DALTON , GEORGIA – It was another banner year for the SPA ORGANIZATION in 2014 as the SPA WORLDS ATTENDANCE hit a new high with 166 teams attending.

The increase in the WORLDS attendance kept pace with SPA'S overall growth for 2014. In the mid-west and east alone, SPA averaged over 40 teams per tournament drawing over 800 teams for the twenty tournaments in that region.

"This has been a very good year for SPA,” SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS said about the 2014 tournament attendance,”The totals and the increase show that SPA is continuing to put on quality well attended tournaments which are drawing teams to our events.”

 Overall SPA crowned in the 80, 75 GOLD, 75 SILVER, 75 MAJOR, 70 AAA, 70 AA, 70 MAJOR, 65 AAA, 65 AA, 65 MAJOR, 65 MAJOR PLUS, 60 AAA, 60 AA, 60 MAJOR, 60 MAJOR PLUS, 55 AAA, 55 MAJOR, 50 AAA, 50 MAJOR and 50 MAJOR PLUS.

(ARTICLE ON THE 75'S, 80'S , 50'S MAJOR, 50'S MAJOR PLUS, 60 MAJOR, 60 MAJOR PLUS and 75 MAJORS have been covered previously):

2014 CHAMPS

50 AAA - 1. TEAM ELITE CC MIKEN (MD), RATED ATHLETES (CAL); 2.DAYTON LEGENDS HITMEN (OH) (13 TEAMS)

50 MAJOR – 1. RATED ATHLETES (CAL), 2. GOOD TIMES (FLA) (15 TEAMS)

50 MAJOR PLUS – 1. DLB SOFTBALL (WIS), 2.MID-ATLANTIC (VA) (8 TEAMS)

55 AAA – 1.DAVID BOWEN SPORTS (FLA), 2. DT EXPRESS (TN) (7 TEAMS)

55 MAJOR – 1. DOCS (OH), 2. SWEET CONSTRUCTION (NJ) (10 TEAMS)

60 AA – 1. CAVCO SPORTS (ONT,CAN); 2. TENNESSEE 60'S (TN) (5 TEAMS)

60 AAA - 1.ELITE 60'S (GA), 2. REALITY CHECK (NC) (23 TEAMS)

60 MAJOR – 1. GONZALES INSULATION (TX), 2. CRYSTAL COBRAS (NC), 2. KC KIDS (KS) (5 TEAMS)

60 MAJOR PLUS – 1. SUPERIOR SR SOFTBALL (VA), 2. MN MASTERS WHITE (MINN) (3 TEAMS)

65 AA – 1. CHICAGO HITMEN (IL). 2. THE FIRM (TENN) (9 TEAMS)

65 AAA - 1. CARRIAGE HOMES (AR), 2. US DOT JOBS (IND) (9 TEAMS)

65 MAJOR – 1. BEACH BOYZ (FL), 2. SW FLORIDA THUNDER (FL) (9 TEAMS)

65 MAJOR PLUS – 1. HAMEL BUILDERS/SUPERIOR (VA), 2. BEEF O'BRADY'S (FL) (3 TEAMS)

70 AA – 1. CHICAGO GRAT SOX (IL), 2. DAYTON LEGENDS 70'S (OH) (4 TEAMS)

70 AAA – 1. SCRAP IRON LEGACY (CO), 2. SENIOR REDBIRDS (IL) (15 TEAMS)

70 MAJOR – 1. FRANKIE BRIN FINANCIAL (FL), 2. SOUTHEAST LEFTOVERS (GA). (2 TEAMS)

75 SILVER – 1. PEACHTREE RESTAURANT (PA), 2. LOUISVILLE THUNDER (KY) (7 TEAMS)

75 GOLD – 1. CHICAGO GEEZERS (IL), 2. NEW JERSEY JAGS (NJ) (6 TEAMS)

75 MAJOR – 1. THE LEFTOVERS (GA), 2. HAMELS 75'S (MD) (4 TEAMS)

80 AAA – 1. PROHEALTH CARE (WIS), 2. TEXAS CLASSICS (TX) (5 TEAMS)

 POOL AND BRACKET PLAY SCORES MAY BE FOUND ON THE SPA RESULTS PAGE AND ALSO FRONT PAGE.

 

TEAM ELITE /CC / MIKEN WINS SPA 2014 50 AAA WORLDS

MARYLAND TEAM RUNS MARATHON AT TO TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP

 DALTON, GEORGIA – TEAM ELITE CC MIKEN got their money's worth at the SPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS at DALTON, GEORGIA'S HERITAGE POINT PARK, using three pool games and six bracket games to win the SPA 2014 50 AAA TITLE.

 The MARYLAND team went 2-1 in pool play and 5-1 in bracket play, winning their last three loser-goes-home games to win the championship.

 Our backs were definitely to the wall,” SPA 50 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR and TEAM ELITE MANAGER RAY 'RINGO” JONES said, “ But we went into the tournament with the attitude the tougher it was going to be, the tougher we would play.”

 Not a real unique strategy but the first-year team was definitely unique in another way. You sure needed a program to know who was playing where. It was almost like the ABBOTT and COSTELLO routine “WHO'S ON FIRST.”

 Where other teams have names like BOB, BILL, JOHN, etc, TEAM ELITE'S roster was sprinkled with names such as HILLBILLY, POPS, J HOLLYWOOD, BUZZ, 50/50, RAZ and RINGO. And they all were versatile and played different positions from one game to the next.

 Those nicknames are the ones you can print, they also have others you can't print,” JONES laughed. “When we put this team together this year our main objective was the players would have versatility and be able to play at least a couple of different positions.”

 They needed the versatility because only twelve players made the 11-hour trip to DALTON. All 12 played in the pool games but only 11 were used in each of the bracket games with one player being kept in reserve in case of injury.

 The versatility we had played a huge part in us winning the championship,” JONES said, “I had to constantly manipulate the line-up in regards to both batting order and defensive positions due to injuries.”

 Falling into the loser's bracket and playing all those extra games didn't help us either,” he added, “Guys were really wearing down and it was hard to find fresh legs.”

 After falling in the pool opener to the DAYTON HITMEN 17-12, they ran off four wins in a row beating STILL SWINGING (20-15) and NORTH GEORGIA OUTLAWS (23-15) in pool play and then SOUTHERN HURRICANES (29-23) and FINANCIAL EAGLES (15-11) in bracket playing before losing again.

 We lost to DAYTON again, this time 23-18,” assistant coach JIM “50/50” GALLAGHER said, “They just beat us, it looked like we weren't ready to play. We were really inconsistent at bat and in the field.”

 From there on things changed for the better. What changed them?

 Let's just say we had some good dialogue between everyone,” GALLAGHER said, “It wasn't a gripe session, we just discussed what we had to do better so we could really focus in on what we were here to do.”

 The session worked as TEAM ELITE opened SUNDAY beating FINANCIAL EAGLE 20-15 then forcing an “IF” game with a 26-17 victory over DAYTON and followed that with a 21-14 decision against DAYTON in the title game.

 That was a great feeling,” JONES said, “To win a tournament against the competition in this tournament was fantastic. There really were a lot of great teams here and everyone was capable of winning it all, we just got hot on SUNDAY and that carried us through.”

 Earning MVP TOURNAMENT honors was SAM MANNS. The first baseman hit .861, including nine HR'S and 38 RBI'S. In addition he was involved in several key defensive double plays.

 Joining MANNS on the ALL-AMERICAN TEAM were JIM “50/50” GALLAGHER (2B,.722), DARYL (HILLBILLY) BILLINGS (LCF, .727), ROBBIE WINNER (OF, .784), JIM “RAZ” RASNAKE (P,.600) and ROBERT “BUZZ” SMITH (OF, .778)

Other members of TEAM ELITE CC MIKEN are: MIKE BEDELL (DNP), MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR RAY “RINGO” JONES (OF, .676), RANDY LOTT (DNP), BRIAN (CAVEMAN) WEIMAN ( LF, .677), CLIFF (BIG DOG) CURTAIN (DH,.583), CHRIS “POPS” FLEISCH (SS, .586), HOWARD COHEN (DNP), DANNY PIPER (DNP), BARRY LYNN (3B,.594), JIM “HOLLYWOOD” SMITH (DNP) and KEITH DELANEY (C,EH, .697)

 It hasn't been an easy first year for TEAM ELITE despite winning the 50 AAA SPA WORLDS. Injuries have been common, just notice the “DNP'S” on the above roster.

We started with eighteen players on the roster,” GALLAGHER explained, “But we were never able to have more than 12-or-13 at any tournament because of injuries and other commitments. We were lucky to make it here with 12 players.”

 Besides all the sponsor names listed as TEAM ELITE CC MIKEN, the team is self sponsored except for some help from teammate CLIFF CURTAIN, who has a trucking company in CATONSVILLE, MARYLAND and HARDESTY HEATING AND AIR CONDITIOING plus a few other anonymous sponsors.

 As you can tell by all our nicknames, this team is really loose and has fun together,” GALLAGHER said, “We all enjoy traveling and playing ball together. The chemistry is so good and everybody is willing to go that extra mile to help the team win. Playing with these guys makes playing senior softball just a much more enjoyable experience.”

 GALLAGHER and JONES both had high praise for RIDGE HOOKS and the SPA WORLDS.

 Other organizations can take a lesson from the way RIDGE runs the SPA tournament.” they said, 'Having three umpires for the championship game is something we have never seen before and all the umpires who worked the tournament were the very best we have ever had.”

 We loved the complex and the opening ceremony was just fantastic,” they added, “It was really worth the long drive and it was a great experience, we will always remember.”

 

CHICAGO GRAY SOX 70'S WIN FIRST SPA WORLD TITLE

            REBOUND FROM LOSER'S BRACKET TO WIN 70 AA CROWN

DALTON, GEORGIA - The CHICAGO GRAY SOX made their first appearance as a 70's team in the SPA WORLDS a memorable one by winning the 70 AA TITLE at DALTON, GEORGIA'S HERITAGE POINT PARK SEPTEMBER 4-7.

This wasn't just our first time winning the SPA WORLDS as a 70's team,” MANAGER MIKE FOSTER said. ”This was also our first ever SPA WORLD title at any age level.”

 The GRAY SOX, who still have eleven players (CHARLIE BYRUM, RICHIE DOUGLAS, JACK FELVER, FOSTER, GARY HEIFNER, ROY IVERSON, KENNY KIRK, ROGER LENART, WAYNE MARKETT, JERRY SANTERELLI and GARY STONE) from the original 2003 team, had to really work to win the championship.

They started out fine winning both pool games against LEIDEN'S LEGENDS (24-10), DAYTON LEGENDS (20-16), and their first bracket game 11-4 against LEIDEN’S again. But an 18-12 loss to DAYTON in the second round ushered the GRAY SOX into the dreaded losers' bracket.

We were surprised how strong the 70 AA competition was,” FOSTER said. “Nobody was able to run away with the title and every team was capable of winning it all.”

After catching their second wind, The GRAY SOX knocked off the INDIANAPOLIS CLASSICS (13-10) and then forced an “IF” game with DAYTON by escaping with a 10-9 win.

  That was a close one,” FOSTER said. “Our defense was the difference.

 ” The GRAY SOX had everything working in the title game beating the OHIO team 20-11 for the championship.

 We were really tired after that championship game,” FOSTER said. “It was our fourth game of the day (11:00,12:30, 2:00, 3:30) and third against DAYTON. We were really worried about them coming into the tournament because they handled us pretty well at SYLVANIA, OHIO.”

 FOSTER said the biggest key to them winning the tournament was the entire roster.

  We play everyone on the roster and rotate them not only every game but even every few innings,” he explained. “It keeps everyone fresh and makes a huge difference, especially at age 70. We don't lose anything with the changes because most of us are about even in playing ability.”

 One player, who did not rotate much was tournament MVP JIM DUCHARME, who led the team in hitting.

  Joining DUCHARME on the ALL-AMERICAN team were DOUGLAS, IVERSON, STONE, JACK ZUZAK and JIM MANNING.

 Others on the team are: EDDIE ACCOMANDO, ROGER LENART, JACK WATKINS, EDDIE DUNN and JIM HANDLEY.

 KIRK Received the SPA 70 AA MANAGE-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD. KIRK, who has been the third base coach and assistant manager all year, ran the team in DALTON.

 In addition to the large travel team roster, the GRAY SOX also have a faithful fan base which accompanies them. Serving as cheerleaders, social planners and “nurses” to the team are BARB DOUGLES, CONNIE DUCHARME, RONI WIDRI, KATHLEEN DUNN, BONNIE BYRUM, DIANNE FOSTER, and LINDA HEIFNER

 . The wives have been a great support group to us at all of our tournaments and we really appreciate them,” FOSTER said.

 Even though the team is self sponsored, they do attend a lot of tournaments.

 DALTON was our EIGHTH this year and the only we one we won,” FOSTER said. “We usually try to attend 10 or 11 each year, with most being around our area.”

 Comparing the SPA WORLDS to others the GRAY SOX have played, FOSTER had this to say,

  The SPA WORLDS are great. It is a tremendous facility, the umpires are outstanding and the competition is excellent.", the manager said, " The OPENING CEREMONIES and the WIVES BREAKFAST are just fantastic. No other organization has anything like that. RIDGE (HOOKS) and SPA really do a great job with their WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. We certainly look forward to attending it again.”