SPA News

What's Happening in Senior Softball

Hilton 40 Plus Fast Learners Win 35+ World

Hilton 40 Plus received on-the-job-training in their first year of senior softball and it paid off in winning the 2017 SPA 35+ Division Women’ s Worlds September 23-24 at Heritage Point Park in Dalton, Georgia.

Hilton even did it the hard way losing their first bracket game and having to play nine games (3 pool, 6 bracket) to wrap up their first SPA Worlds Title.

“It was a long second day,” Hilton 40 Plus and SPA 2017 35 Manager-of-the-year Ann Humble said. "This was our first Worlds and when we went 3-0 in pool, we thought we may have an easy time. Then Wham! We lose our first bracket game and have to fight our way out of the loser’s bracket."

After losing 11-17 to Outer Limits in the opener, Hilton beat Arkansas Synergy 15-9, Save Second Base 21-6, Outer Limits 28-11, Pitches Be Crazy 18-10 to force the “IF” game.

In the title game they led a 13-11 lead going into the seventh. PBC had two runners on and two out and their top hitter to hit a shot to LCF when LF Gretchen Gruber raced over to make the game saving last out catch.

The way the season ended for Hilton 40 Plus was not the way it started.

“We knew absolutely nothing about the rules or even the bats and we learned on the fly,” Humble said.

Hilton went into the Pensacola Tournament with regular bats, it was the first they ever saw a Miken, but the next tournament they bought a pair.

They didn’t know your age division is based on the youngest player on the roster. Loaded with 50’s and 60’s players they were expecting to play at least 55’s...until they were told one of their players was 38 years young and they would have to play 35.

Other surprises were the double home plate, courtesy runners and 5-run rule.

“We learned pretty quick and won our next two tournaments (Rocky Top and Twitty),’ Humble said. “It was a shock at Pensacola but we learned quickly.”

At Dalton the ladies had their “big girl pants” on having team batting average of .546 but more importantly an On Base percentage of .680.

Gruber was the tournaments MVP while Karen Laymon, Kendra McDaniel, Mindy Rankin, Jackie Speacer and Bear Brooks were selected to the All-American All-Tournament team. Speacer was Hilton’s pitcher for all nine games.

On the roster were: Cristina Flogerzi, Humble, Bonnie Curry, Laymon, McDaniel, Rankin, Jena Rhea, Teresa Robertson, Triska Scott, Speacer, Brooks, Daphne Beagles, Karrie Warren, Gruber, Ryann Ellingsworth and Kelly Allen.

Humble also received some other good news. Apparently SPA will be holding a November 2018 tournament in Panama City, Hilton’s home area.

“This was such a great year, I am really happy we joined the SPA organization.” the manager said. “The tournaments were very well runs, the other teams were really friendly and the umpires and directors were just great. We had a great experience and are looking forward to 2018.”

Final Standings in the 35 Division was Hilton 40 Plus, 2. Pitches Be Crazy, 3. Outer Limits, 4. Save 2nd Base and 5. Arkansas Synergy.

Kryptonite Mimics Name, Wins SPA 40/45+ World

Kryptonite used its “powers” to win the SPA 40/45+ World Championship September 23-23 Heritage Point Park in Dalton, Georgia.

Kryptonite beat Bat Girls Return two-out-of-three for the title as others in the age group did not wish to match talents with the top two teams in that age bracket.

“We are used to playing only one other team in our age brackets at tournaments” manager Veronica Shaw said. “There are only five 35’s, one forty and one forty-five teams in our age bracket.”

At Dalton It was an even battle until Bat Girls Return couldn’t get their wings going in the rubber game losing 20-2. The teams split the first two games with Kryptonite winning 20-16 and losing 8-16.

“We didn’t hit in pool play or in our second game with the Bat Girls,” Shaw said. “In the title game we only played eleven players to allow their top hitters more at bats.”

The champs have won six out of seven tournaments they have played this year.

“Most of us have been playing together for twenty + years,” Shaw said. “We also have been fortunate to have Ed Bouchard SPA 40/45 Manager-of-the-year coaching us. He is the biggest asset to our team".

It isn't only softball on the team's mind as they promotes Autism awareness on their uniforms, especially the jerseys.

Valorie Mullins was the tournament MVP, she was 16-for-17 at the plate. Selected to theAll-American All-Tournament team were: Colleen Smith, DJ White, Sara Payne, Karen Hunger and Shaw.

Members of the Kryptonite team are: Smith, April Blke, Rhonda Cline, Carolyn Deeb, Theresa Walburger, White, Verbia Behe, Payne, Mullins, Hunger, Sonja Brooks-White, Lynelle Westra, Shaw, Coleen Dague and Bouchard.

 

Tennessee Stars Shine, Win SPA 50 Women World

The Tennessee Senior Stars 50’s team taught the younger 50 teams at Dalton a lesson in winning the SPA 50’s Women’s World Championship September 22-24 in Dalton, Georgia.

The Nashville area team is made up mostly of 55 and older ladies.

“We are a little older than most of the teams in the 50 division and in senior ball those five years make a big difference,” Senior Stars and SPA 50 20117 Manager-of-the-Year Will Grandstaff said. “We are thinking next year of having a 50’s and 60’s team and then in two years going 55 and 60 if we can get enough players to fill the rosters”.

At Dalton, the Tennessee Senior Stars looked anything but “senior” as they won all three bracket games plus their three pool games for a 6-0 record.

“This was probably our best total (offense/defense) of the year,” Grandstaff said. “We won our first tournament of the year in Pensacola and now our last. We had a great start and outstanding finish. We will forget about the middle.’

At Dalton they disposed of Fire & Ice 15-13, 22-2 and JWP AR Mix 8-2 in bracket play. Pool play saw them beat ShoMe 50’s 18-7, Sunny Beaches 18-12 and JWP 13-7.

Unlike a lot of the teams the Stars are mostly “home-grown” with all but four players from Tennessee.

“You will senior teams from players from all over the country because it is not easy to find senior ladies who still play softball,” the manager said.

Jackie Wright is from Kentucky, Terry Rhian Florida, Deeneen Benson Florida and Patrice Maxwell South are the out-of-state players.

Tournament MVP was Myra Goodson while Eula Daniels, Debra Gill, Wright, Rhian and Connie Morland were selected to the All-American All-Tournament team.

“If they would have had an MVP Defensive player we would have had another Award winner,” Grandstaff said. “Deenen (Benson) was the best shortstop in the tournament, she was a huge factor in us winning the title.”

Members of the championship team are: Andera Hinton, Daniels, Sheila Classock, Mary Wesson, Natalie Baugh, Martha Ann Cowan, Barbara McKissack, Gill, Teresa Pendergrast, Goodson, Wright, Rhian, Patrice Maxwell, Pamela Dedmon, Morland, Regina Kirk, Benson and assistant coach Sherry Chamin.

So the million dollar question, “How did Grandstaff become coach on a women’s team?”

“I managed a class A team in Tennessee for 40 years and when I retired my wife (Juanita) asked me to coach her women’s team.” Grandstaff, who also managed the team to a title in 2012 said. “Now my wife has moved up to 60-ball and I am still enjoying this team but maybe next year if we have a 60’s team I can do both.”

The 50’s order of finish 1, Tennessee Senior Stars, 2. Fire & Ice, 3. ShoMe 50’s, 4. Sunny Beaches, 5. JWP AR Mix and 6. Diamond Girls.

Jolico “Rookies” Take SPA Women’s 60 World

The Jolico 60’s graduated from last year’s SPA women’s 55 bracket and took the 60 AAA Worlds in their first try Sept ember 22-24 at Heritage Point Park in Dalton, Georgia.

“This was our first tournament ever in the 60’s bracket,” Jolico manager Lynda Hart said. “We played 55 last year and most of us could have moved up but we were waiting for the (2016) 60’s team to move up to 65’s, so our team could move up as a team.”

The “rookie” Jolico squad made their opponents wish they had waited another year as they not only went 6-0 but outscored them 89-36 in the pool and bracket games.

The only game they were really tested was in the winner’s bracket game against the Maryland Road Runners (who were 3-0 at the time) winning 12-11.

“We railed in that game but came back in the last innings to go ahead and hold the lead for the win.”, Hart said.

In the other bracket games, Jolico beat Sunny Beaches 10-4 and Nor’ Easters 12-1. In Pool play they beat the Nor’ Easters 17-5, Sunny Beaches 15-5 and Southern Stars 23-10.

“We were really at the top of our game and relaxed,” the manager said. "The last couple of years we have been playing teams three-to-six years younger than us. At Dalton we were the younger team."

The Jolico 60’s like all Jolico teams are wizards with the glove and have a balanced batting order from top-to-bottom but in every tournament a number of people received special recognition.

Assistant coach Bob Crick received the SPA 60’s Women’s Manager of-the-Year Award.

“I have had health problems this year and Dalton was the first tournament I had been able to perform my duties,” Hart said. “Since Bob has been handling my responsibilities all year, I just felt he deserved the Manager-of-the-Year award more than me.”

Papati Wing received the tournament MVP Award. Selected to the All-American All-Star team were Kim Kendrick, Linda Faulkner, Debra Langevin, Karen Barclay and Jeri Kern.

Members of the World Championship 60’s are: Sharon Yoder, Kendrick, Faulkner, Susan Warner, Amy Argo, Mary Foerg, Tamra Marinello, Hart, Patt Tomaselli, Sonequa Daniels, Wing, Debra Ruthruff, Julie Dooney, Langevin, Lisa Policastri, Susan Johnson, Barclay, Kern Shirley Cummins and Crick.

Sunny Beaches took runner-up honors in the tournament followed by Maryland Roadrunners, Nor’ Easters, Southern Stars and Show Me. The Southern Stars won the consolation championship game 15-4 over Show Me.

Ohio Cardinal 65 Ladies Fly High at Dalton

The 65 women's Ohio Cardinals went 6-0 at the SPA Dalton Georgia World Championship September 20-22 to win the 65 Division crown.

It was the second World title for the Cards and they made sure they would win this one.

After going 3-0 (Cards 18 Golden Gals 12, Cards 16 Jolico 65's 10, Cards 12 Smokey Mountain 11) they left o doubts who was the champion going flying through bracket play.

"It wasn't as easy as it looks," Ohio Cardinal and SPA Women's 65's Manager-of-the Year Colleen Needham said. "We had to beat the Fun Bunch twice in the finals and no lead is safe against them. I think they have won it the last two years."

The Cardinals beat the Golden Gals 14-11 before beating the Fun Bunch twice by 21-4 and 17-2. It was the team's third title in four tournaments this season. They also won the Birmingham Senior Games and a large tournament in Arizona. They also took runner-up honors in a St.Louis event.

"We do a lot of traveling and we play our own way," Needham said. "Everyone gets along well together and we all look forward to the tournaments and sharing the fun with each other"

The coach also said a big factor in her team's success is that the majority of the ladies all live in the same Ohio area and before each tournament they have three or four long practices to work on their game, especially defense.

"Defense is key, every team can hit," the coach said. "You do not want to give teams extra hits by making errors, so we really work on our defense."

The Cardinals can also hit. They bat 12 and are balanced and loaded from 1-thru-12.

Taking MVP honors at Dalton was Linda Davis. Selected to the All-American All-Star team were: Jeanette Worley, Maureen Fitzgerald, Avis Taylor, Sue Minnich and Teresa Merickel.

"I really hate to see us have to pick six players who should be All-Stars because we could have put all the names in a hat and pulled out six names and they would have been All-Stars," Needham said. 'What makes us so good is our roster from top to bottom are All-Star players."

Members of the 2017 65 Champion Ohio Cardinals are: Needham, Davis, Worley, Fitzgerald, Taylor, Minnich, Merickel, Barbara Krack, Judith Peele, Teresa Ann Smith, Marilyn Lovette, Janet Deters, Peggy Meacham, Kathryn Sowers, Mary Bullen, Cathy Fletcher, Ophelia Miley, assistant coach Gary Igo and team statistician

Karen Jones.

Finishing second at Dalton was Fun Bunch followed by Jolico Sr 65's, Golden Gals and Smokey Mtn Seniors.

Spirit Repeats, Wins SPA 70 World

The California Spirit made it two SPA 70’s Women’s Worlds in a row winning the 2017 Crown September 20-22 at Heritage Point Park in Dalton, Georgia,

“It wasn’t easy,” tri-manager Diane Hein said. “The round robin was tough and we just beat the Golden Gals by a run in the final game.”

The California team went 6-1 in pool (2-1) and bracket play (4-0). Their only loss was 8-9 to the Golden Girls in pool play but paid them back with 13-12 win in the second round of bracket play.

The Spirit defeated the Blue Chicks 18-12, Golden Girls 13-12, Golden Gals 17-10 and 12-11 for the title.

“We had to come from behind in three of the four bracket games to win,” tri-manager Barbara Howell said. “We were down 4-10 in the final and came back for the win.”

Both Howell and Hein agreed the “never give up” attitude of the team along with their close companionship has been the key factors in the back-to-back titles.

“All our wins have been total team efforts,” Howell said. “We play for each other not for ourselves, we are really like a band of sisters.”

The third member of the coaching staff and the 2017 SPA 70 Women’s Manager-of-the-year is Gilda Ozuna.

“Gilda does all the managing on the field, she is the won who puts people in the right places and winning two straight titles, you know she does a great job,” both Howell and Hein said.

Howell said,” Picking and MVP and All-Americans is a little unfair because we had twenty MVP’s and All-Stars, we win as a team not as individuals.”

Unfortunately for Howell is SPA does not have twenty awards available and tough decisions have to be made.

Connie Wolver and Juanna Cervantez were selected as co-MVP” s with All-American All-Star recognition went to Arlene Gomez, Joni Shirley, Susan Thompson, Marylou Beban, Juanita Lange and Dianne Toomey.

Other members who unofficially according to Howell were All-American in her eyes were Edna Allen, Hein, Judy Pyle, Patricia Craig, Beverly Van Gundy, Patti McCoy, Judith Leipold, Pat Dwight, Ozuna, Lani Neer and Joyce Patterson.

Golden Gals Perfect Win SPA 75 World

The Villages Golden Gals 75+ team was a perfect "6" in winning the 2017 SPA Women's 75 division World Tournament 9/20-22 at heritage Point Park in Dalton, Georgia..

The Village team went 3-0 in bracket play and 3-0 in pool play for a perfect 6-0 record, beating every team in the six team division.

According to SPA 75 Manager-of-the-Year Chris Evans, the Golden Gals worked hard for the title.

"We just don't get together on a weekend and practice, we have a routine we follow each week," Evans said. "Each day we get together and field a 100 batted balls and also work on our hitting."

The defensive training paid off big time as they allowed only 41 runs in the six games while they scored 74 runs.

"When Midge Ferrero started the Villages program a couple of years ago most of the girls had never played softball before," the manager said. "Midge worked hard getting this team where we are today. We owe her a lot."

The Golden Gals, who are all from The Villages, has taken the training and extra work to heart. This was their second successive SPA World title to go along with Senior Nationals in Birmingham and the SPA Pensacola tournament.

In Dalton they beat Canada's Sportaculars 13-9, 16-5 Ohio Tri-Stars 13-4 in bracket play. In pool play they defeated Tenn. Sr. Stars 11-10, Florida's Freedom Spirit 9-7 and the Virginia Golden Girls 12-6.

The Sportaculars took runner-up honors followed by Ohio Tri-Stars, Tn Sr Stars, Freedom Spirit  and Golden Girls.

The Champs also raked in a number of individual awards. In addition to Evans being manager-of-the-year, Fred Greenlee was named assistant manager-of-the-year. Selected to the All-American All-Tournament team were Barbara Bailey, Dolores Fahrney, Marcia Halvorson, Virginia Rowand and Bonnie Kyle Blamphin. LindaSoos and Cookie Cook were awarded championship game balls.

Team members are Bailey, Fahrney, Lois-Jean Harrington, A.Darlene Hedrick, Carol Walther, Barbara Harju, Patricia Hurd, Leadema Radford, Borie, Dorothy Burrell, Marie Panza, Noreen Murphy, Marian Milham, Judy Lewis, Soos, Rowand, Halverson, Judy Lewis, Joyce Turner, Florence Cook, Kyle-Blamphin, Evans and Greenlee.

RDG Takes SPA 60 AA World

Chattanooga’s (Phil) Rowland Development Group, better known as RDG came out of the loser’s bracket to win the 2017 SPA 60 AA World championship September 14-17 held in Dalton, Georgia.

RDG lost their opening bracket game 8-12 to Glory Daze but beat Indy Fog 13-2 and Glory Daze twice 18-15, 14-8 for the comeback championship.

“We did not have an easy time,” RDG’s and SPA 60 AA Manager-of-the-Year Mike Ricketts said. “We had to come from behind in the 6th or 7th inning in both games with Clory Daze to win.”

The biggest comeback was in the game they needed to force a championship game with Glory Daze. A Glory Daze win would have ended the tournament with them as champs and RDG second.

“We won the open inning and that was the difference,” Ricketts said of the teams 18-15 win.

The final game was a 14-5 victory for RDG.

RDG was bumped to the losers bracket by Glory Daze in the second round 12-8 and RDG needed a 13-2 win over Indy Fog to set up the two important games with Glory Daze.

The SPA World title was the first one for the champs after coming in 3rd in 2015 and 2nd in 2016.

Tim Terrant was the Tournament MVP. Selected to the All-American team were Ed Girard, Steve Southern, Michel Hoy, Gerald “Jethrow” Paulton and Jim King.

Others on the championship 60AA RDG team are: Howard Wilcox, Martin Simmons, Steve Stokes, Jeff Sentten, Tommy Schleit, Brent Nicholas, Dennis Terrant and Steve Wegenbauer.

Glory Daze was second and Indy Fog third in the three team field.

Carolina Brings “A” Games Wins SPA 55 AAA World

The Carolina A’s went seven-for-seven in winning the SPA 2017 ten team 55 AAA Worlds September 7-10 at Dalton, Georgia’s Heritage Point Park.

“We couldn’t afford to lose a game and fall into the loser’s bracket, “Carolina SPA 55 AAA Manager-of-the-Year Jack Rule said. “We only brought ten players and any extra games would have worn us out completely.”

The “Iron Ten” beat DT Express 27-21 and 22-13, 1 Undercraft 14-11 and JJ Financial 16-10 in bracket play and Tenn. Connection 26-25, DT Express 18-13 and Daryl Harris and Associates 19-17 in pool play.

“Nothing was easy, we had to battle each game,” Rule said. “A lot of our games were decided in the sixth or seventh inning. All the teams we played were very good and with a bounce here or there could have easily been the champs instead of us.”

Although Carolina has seven World championships, this was their first SPA 55 AAA World title.

Ryan Roberts was the tournament MVP. Selected to the All-American All-Star team were James Pearson, Ted Harris, Mark Rippy, Keith Ayers, Buck Josey and Ricky Tucker

Other team members are: James Pearson, Rickie Brown, Perry Clark, Scott Limerick, Carroll Gallagher, Dola Holt, Keith Ayers, Tim Furr, who is also the team sponsor, and team statistician and base coach Dane Pitts.

DT Express was runner-up followed by Detroit Connection, 1 under Craft, TN Connection, Nebraska Silver, Dayton Legends, J.R.Smith, Darryl Harris and JJ Financial.

Jersey "Masterful" at SPA 70 AAA World

The New Jersey Masters took no prisoners at the Dalton 70 AAA Worlds going undefeated in pool and bracket play to not only win the World 70 AAA title but also the Triple Crown.

"It was our first World title in ten years," Jersey Master and SPA 70 AAA Manager of the Year Artie Thomas said. "We just got on a roll the first game and never stopped."

The Masters started out in pool play beating Louisiana Legends 14-5, Time Bandits 20-2 (triple crown championship) and Bank of Risson 12-5.

Bracket play saw US Pallet (26-12), For Freedom (18-2) and Columbus ((IND) Silver Sticks 14-12,19-2) for a seven-game sweep.

"Our balanced hitting was the key," Thomas said. "We had hitters from top to bottom. We had seven players who hit over .600".

Leading the way for Jersey was the Most Valuable Player award winner Tom Campitello. Selected for the All-American All Star team were Stan Robinson, Tom Lombardi, Tom Wieczerak, Joe Maikes and Dana Kimmel.

Other members of the team are:Dick Lillich, Karl Eymold, Bob Gallagher, Joe Depierro, Gary Krause, Ray Poyer, Rick Polonitza,Bill McCabe, Joe Starr, Bob Richard, Wayne Westerman, Mike Muldoon and Earl Tapper.

The Columbus Silver Sticks were second in the tournament followed by U.S. Pallet, Chicago Strikers, Midwest Express, Dayton Legends, Chicago Gray Sox, For Freedom, Lifeguard Financial, Time Bandits, Louisiana Legends, Austin Merchants and Bank of Rissin.