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.