SPA News

What's Happening in Senior Softball

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.”

CHICAGO HITMEN LIVE UP TO THEIR NAME

         POWER ATTACK LEADS TO 65 AA SPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

 DALTON, GEORGIA – If ever a team lived up to their name it was the CHICAGO HITMEN, who captured the SPA 2014 WORLD 65 AA CHAMPIONSHIP at DALTON, GEORGIA'S HERITAGE POINT PARK, SEPTEMBER 11-14.

Over seven games (3 pool, 4 bracket) the HITMEN batted .769 outscored their opponents 152 (21.7) to 90 (12.8) and won all seven games in the nine-team 65 AA field.

We did hit well but it wasn't as easy as it sounds,” SPA 65 AA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR MIKE SABATINO said, “In three of the games including the final two we trailed by at least five runs heading into the 5th inning.”

The games SABATINO was referring to were the tournament pool play opener against the DAYTON LEGENDS and the two final bracket games against THE FIRM.

Against DAYTON, the WINDY CITY guys trailed 21-12 heading into the seventh and erupted for 10 runs to win 22-21.

Against THE FIRM in the winner's bracket, the HITMEN rallied from a 17-12 deficit in the fifth inning to erupt for 22 runs in the final innings for a 34-17 win.

The championship game against THE FIRM was almost a duplication as the HITMEN trailed 18-12 fifth inning. They responded by scoring five runs in the sixth inning and 14 in the seventh for 31-20 championship clinching win.

SABATINO claims the way his team continually responded was due to patience, attitude and never giving up, even when they were behind. They gave it best they had.

We just had less talk and more action,” SABATINO said, “We never lost our confidence, kept our composure and always we believed we had the talent to rally back and win every game we played.”

The manager also stated they never take any team for granted and are usually prepared when they face that team in the tournament.

I scout each team during pool play and early bracket games so as to know what to expect,” he stated, “You can never take any team for granted and in tournament play you need every edge you can have and I believe scouting and knowing your opponent is a huge edge.”

Another edge the HITMEN have is they have nine players who who have been together since 2008. Over that span the team has won 70-percent of their tournament games but this is their first SPA WORLD TITLE.

We have come close a few times but this is the first time we have all been healthy coming to the tournament and that really made a difference,' SABATINO said.

The nine who have been with the team for the ten years are: STEVE DECORI (RC, .741), JOHN DOYLE (DNP), FELIX GARCIA (3B,.680), CO-MANAGER JIM KUPIEC (P. .800), RICK MASINO (P,.610), SABATINO (RF,.680), PHIL WHITMAN (C, .650), STEVE GAJDA (SS, .680) and DAN TODD (LF, .667).

Others on the team are: DAVID ABNEY (DVD), MIKE MCLENNAND (1B, .778), RICHARD DAHM (DNP), MIKE CHASTAIN (2B, .679), BUBBA RUSSELL (C/1B, .739) and TOURNAMENT MVP WARREN YORK (LC,.852).

The speedy left center fielder in addition to making outstanding defensive plays with both his arm and glove batted .852 to lead the team in hitting.

Joining YORK on the ALL-AMERICAN team were DECORI, KUPIEC, WHITMEN, CHASTAIN and GAJDA.

The team's sponsor is SUPREME LOBSTER OF VILLA PARK, ILLINOIS, owned by DOMINIC STRAMAGLIA..

DOMINIC has been sponsoring area softball and little league teams for at least 15 years and has been our sponsor since 2004,” SABATINO said, “He is really a great guy and his SEAFOOD is top of the line. He also ships from west coast to east coast and anywhere in-between"

Although the HITMEN have won other tournaments over the years, SABATINO says the team peaked at DALTON.

As a team. That is the best we have ever played in our history,” he stated,”We were patient at the plate and made the big plays on defense, If we needed a big hit or big defensive play we made it happen. We really played great.”

The manager also stated the secret to his team's success over the years is ,”.....we are like brothers, there are no ego trips. We all get along.”

As for the SPA, SABATINO gave both RIDGE HOOKS, the staff and the tournament high marks.

RIDGE (HOOKS) is a tremendous guy and runs a great tournament, it is first class,” he said, “ We loved the opening ceremony and the umpires were the best we have seen all year.. Every team in the tournament was tough and a great bunch of guys. It was a great tournament.”

I just wish SPA had tournaments closer to CHICAGO, so we could attend more SPA events. Maybe they can do that in 2015.”

''OH, CANADA” TOPS THE CHARTS AT DALTON

     CANADIAN DUET BIG HIT IN THE OPENING CEREMONIES

 DALTON, GEORGIA – Some times an unexpected mishap can turn into the biggest positive occurrence which could be experienced.

Such was the case at the opening ceremonies of the SPA 60 AA DIVISION WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS at DALTON, GEORGIA SEPTEMBER 11-14.

We were getting ready for the parade of flags when we realized we couldn't find the MAPLE LEAF CANADIAN flag,” SPA CEO RIDGE HOOKS said, “Fortunately CAVCO SPORTS from WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA brought one they were going to put on the back of their dugout.”

Ah, but HOOKS and his opening ceremonies were still not out of the woods.

The CD we had for 'OH, CANADA' (the CANADIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM) was scratchy and not good at all. We were in a predicament with no other CD available.”

All was not lost as two members of the CAVCO SPORTS 60'S contingent volunteered to sing the anthem a cappella.

Stepping up to do the honors were TOM MCNORTON and AGNES DANDREA. Not only did they sing the anthem in perfect pitch but also added the French version.

It was the highlight of the Opening Ceremonies.

It was tremendous, “HOOKS said, “I wish we could have taped it and be able to use at all future Opening Ceremonies. I can not say enough about MCNORTON and DANDREA, they were fantastic.”

HOOKS also praised the CAVCO ladies for their baskets for the raffle at the LADIES BREAKFAST.

Probably one of the best raffle baskets we have ever had at the tournament,” HOOKS said, “The CANADIAN LADIES certainly brought their “A:” game and we are so pleased they attended the tournament.”

While the CAVCO LADIES did their part off the field, the men did theirs' on the field winning the SPA 2014 60 AA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

In addition, MCNORTON, who was half of the anthem singing duet was just as good on the field, earning ALL-AMERICAN selection.

Not bad for a CANADIAN.

And guess what. In the flag ceremony, the American contingent even raised the MAPLE LEAF right side up. It was a great day to be CANADIAN.

I hope their (CAVCO) experience was as great for them being here as it was for us (SPA) having them attend,” HOOKS said, “They made the 2014 SPA AA WORLDS a very special event and all of us hope they will be back in 2015. They are very special people.”

CAVCO SPORTS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY

       CANADIANS WIN SPA 60 AA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

 DALTON, GEORGIA – Southern Hospitality went a long way at the 2014 SPA 60 AA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS held at DALTON, GEORGIA'S HERITAGE POINT PARK, SEPTEMBER 11-14.

 Taking advantage of the PEACH STATES warm welcome, CAVCO SPORTS from WINDSOR, ONTARAIO, CANADA won all five of their games (pool and bracket) to capture the SPA 60 AA WORLD CROWN.

 It was really a great feeling to come down to the States for a SPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT and end up winning our division,” CAVCO SPORTS MANAGER JOHN GOZ said.

 Although it was their first appearance at the SPA WORLDS and of course their first SPA WORLD title, they are not strangers to other USA SPA regional tournaments.

 We play about five SPA tournaments a year,” GOZ explained, “We play DAYTON, BARBERTON, SHELBYVILLE, SYLVANIA and DALTON. We also play one CANADIAN TOURNAMENT.”

 The reasons GOZ gave for CAVCO playing more tournaments in the States than CANADA is simply more fun playing in the states. They also get to see different teams, use senior bats and have better softballs and above all, they like the way SPA conducts their tournaments.

 We attended our first SPA tournament in the States in 2011, it was THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC,” GOZ said, “We really enjoyed ourselves and everyone was so friendly. At that point we decided to try some of the other SPA Mid-West tournaments and we are glad we did”

 Over the past years we have played some really good teams and built some great friendships with teams like THE BOMB SQUAD, SYLVANIA and INDY FOG to name a few,” GOZ added.

 Although CAVCO has held its own at SPA tournaments over the years, 2014 did not start off like it would be a banner year.

 We went 2-3 in DAYTON, 0-6 at BARBERTON, won SHELBYVILLE but finished third at SYLVANIA. It sure wasn't looking too good for us,” GOZ explained.

 Even at DALTON things didn't look like it would be a good tournament for the ONTARIO team.

 We played terrible the first pool game and barely beat the STRYKERS (ALABAMA) 16-15.” GOZ remembered, “Maybe it was tournament jitters but it sure wasn't pretty and not a game to give us a lot of confidence for what we would be seeing down the road.”

 GOZ should not have worried because in their next pool game they beat the DALLAS SPURS 23-8. The surge continued in bracket play as they beat the INDY FOG 24-11 in the opener and then the TENNESSEE 60's twice by 19-12 and 18-16 to win the tournament.

 We were lucky, the games against TENNESSEE could have gone either way but we made great plays at the right time and had sustained hitting throughout the order and in every inning,” the manager said.

 CAVCO SPORTS is made up mostly of players from house league and senior leagues in the WINDSOR, ONTARIO area with all the players living in the general vicinity.

 MVP at the DALTON TOURNAMENT was pitcher WES SCOTT, who hit over .700 in addition to solidifying the defense with his pitching and fielding.

 TOM MCNORTON (3B), TERRY JOHNSTON (SS), JOHN CARPENTER (OF/P), GERRY LALIBERTY (C/INF) and CECIL PARR (C/1B) were selected to the tournament ALL-AMERICAN team. RICK ANDERSON (RF) was awarded the SPA 60 AA MANAGE-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD.

 "We really could have had anyone from the team be selected as an ALL-AMERICAN," GOZ explained, "We are so balanced and everyone contributes to our success.

 Others on the team were DON SOULLIERE (RCF), KEVIN SIVELL (OF), TONY D'ANDREA (P/C), KEVIN WOOD (OF), GARY BEACH (LF), DAVE BARIBEAU (LC/1B), BILL DUNNE (3B), BRIAN DOAN (1B/C), BOB TAYLOR (LC/2B), GOZ (1B), JOHN SHEREMETA (2B/SS), JOHN CECILE (3B) and BAT BOY CHARLEY JOHNSTON.

 Although the team is mainly self-sponsored, RICK CAVANAUGH, a former player and now business owner from the MISSISSAUGA area contributes around $1.500 each year to help the team with their expenses.

 Also a huge factor in the success of the team are the wives who accompany them to the tournaments.

 It is like a family reunion,” GOZ said, 'We all enjoy each others' company and it is just great to share an experience like we had here in DALTON together.”

 Making the trip to DALTON were MARY-LOU TAYLOR, KATHY BEACH, MARY-ANN BARIBEAU, AGNES D'ANDREA, LOUISE LALIBERTY, SUE ANDERSON, SAM MCNORTON, WENDY SIVELL and BARB JOHNSTON.

 GOZ credits the team's success to the camaraderie the players share.

 There no ego's on our team,” the manager said, “You either check your ego before you join the team or you don't play. No one player on our team is better than another," he said," We play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team. It is as simple as that.”

 As for the DALTON tournament and SPA tournament in general, GOZ had this to say.

 This (DALTON) is by far the best tournament we have played in,” GOZ said, “From the wives' breakfast, the opening ceremonies, the fields, the teams, the umpires and the tournament staff, especially RIDGE HOOKS, it was just a tremendous experience.”

 Lord willing, we will be back again in 2015,” he added.

PEACHTREE RESTAURANT HAS “PEACH” OF A TOURNAMENT

        PENNSYLVANIA TEAM WIN SPA 75'S SILVER WORLD TITLE

 COLUMBUS, OHIO – PENNSYLVANIA'S PEACHTREE RESTAURANT finally won their first-ever senior WORLD TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP earning the 75 AAA TITLE August 11-14 at the SPA 75/80 WORLDS in COLUMBUS, OHIO.

The team, which still has NINE of the original players who formed the team twenty years ago did it by besting the six other teams in the 75 AAA SILVER DIVISION.

 Don't make it sound like it has been a twenty year wait for us to win a major tournament,” SPA 75 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE YEAR and PEACHTREE headman BILL REGAN said, “The reason we haven't won any WORLD titles is because we normally don't enter the WORLD tournaments.”

 It is too expensive,” he continued, “Figure a $600 entry fee, four nights of hotel rooms, meals, transportation and when guys take their wives it is really expensive. It just isn't worth it to us.”

 The SPA WORLD TOURNAMENT was different, it was only a few hours away and we knew they were going to have a lot of teams which made it a great tournament.”, he added.

 Despite not normally attending the major tournaments for any of the senior organizations, that is not to say they don't play a lot of travel ball.

 We play about six qualifier or regional tournaments a year,” REGAN said, “They are of course mostly SPA because that is where the 75's Division teams play. We played GLEN BURNIE, THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC, the independent tournament in ROCHESTER and a couple of other tournaments in the SOUTH.”

 REGAN pointed out PEACHTREE is definitely not a powerhouse team but one which has always been competitive ever since when they started playing together as 55's.

 ART BARNES, BOB DEVLIN, JERRY DRAPER, JOHN GROLLER, KARL HORST, JOEL MEDVIDOVICH, TOM STRICKLER, FRED GUTSHALL and myself started playing together in 1993 and we have always been competitive,” REGAN said, “We are not like the “revolving door teams” (picks up players from everywhere for a couple of tournaments and then releases them), most of our players are from the same area and play in the same senior league.”

 The League the guys play in is the twenty-two year old SUSQUEHANA SENIOR SOFTBALL LEAGUE which has ten teams of which REGAN is the League President.

 “But here is another reason why we avoid WORLD TOURNAMENTS," REGAN said, " How can you expect a team made up primarily of players from a small area (HARRISBURG,PA) compete in a WORLD tournament with teams who draw from large cities and other states?.”

 SPA does it right in setting the brackets,” REGAN said, “Both THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC and the SPA WORLDS really checked out each of the team's records and 2014 performance leading up to the tournaments and divided us accordingly.”

 In pool play PEACHTREE lost to both PROHEALTH CARE (17-16) and the INDY CROWNS (20-11) going 2-2 in that portion of the tournament.

 But in bracket play it was “lights out” for the Pennsylvania team as they ran the table going 3-0 to win the 75 AAA SILVER bracket.

 We were pretty fortunate, “REGAN said, “ The SILVER FOXES upset the number #2 seed MICHIGAN LAKERS. So we played the FOXES and beat them (32-9). We were then supposed to play the INDY CROWNS but they left the tournament and forfeited to us which automatically put us in the finals.”

 Next we got to play the LOUISVILLE THUNDER, who was playing it's fifth game and we beat them 14-8 and we were champs.” he explained, “Things worked out right for us and we will take the championship with no regrets, after twenty years, we earned it.”

 Earning the MVP AWARD in the tournament was PEACHTREE pitcher JOEL MEDVIDOVICH. Joining MEDVIDOVICH on the TOURNAMENT ALL-AMERICAN TEAM were SHORT STOP DON GERMER, KARL HORST (LCF), DAN MCDONALD(1B) and RON WEIDMAN (3b).

 Others on the team are: ART BARNES, BOBDEVLIN, JERRY DRAPER, JOHN GROLLER, JIM HARRIS, JIM MCKAY, PETE PETITO, TOM STRICKLER, BILL DEPUTY, TOM SIEWIOREK, MARV KRAVITZ, MORT TIRNAUER, CHARLIE HYDE and FRED GUTSHALL.

 SUE MCDONALD was the team's scorekeeper and statistician.

 We were really happy to win the tournament, not just for ourselves but also our sponsor, GIANNANAKOPOULOS FAMILY RESTAURANT,” REGAN said, “They have sponsored us for over fifteen years and have been a great sponsor, they take care of all our entry fee's and some extra's. This award will be a nice addition to their trophy shelf.”

 As for the TOURNAMENT and SPA in general, REGAN had this to offer.

 Having this many teams was fantastic, SPA really did a great job in getting the teams there,” REGAN said, “I have nothing but high admiration for TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR DON CHERRY. He did a fabulous job.”

 SPA tournaments always seem to have the top umpires and the COLUMBUS WORLDS were no exception,” REGAN added, “They were not only knowledgeable but very personable, it was just a well run tournament from top-to-bottom.”

 REGAN also had some advice for the SPA ORGANIZATION.

 'Currently everyone knows that SPA is the senior softball organization which is the most friendly to 70, 75 and 80 teams,” he said, “I have heard next year SPA is planning on changing some age requirements and even adding a birthday rule.”

 I can only say, 'If it isn't broke don't fix it',” REGAN added, “We have had these age rules and current birth date rule in effect for at least three-or-four years and the program keeps growing. Don't you think if teams had a problem with those issues they would be playing elsewhere? They aren't so if you are number one now, why do you want to be number two.?”

 As for the entire program, the 75's AAA MANAGER OF THE YEAR said, “RIDGE HOOKS had done a great job for the older teams, he really has shown the older teams are important to the SPA program and not just a dollar sign, SPA is by far the top senior program for 70's, 75's and 80's teams.”