SPA News

What's Happening in Senior Softball

SPA and BUCKEYE CLASSIC Give Scholarship

SPA and THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC each donated $500 to the KAREN LEE BURNETTE SCHOLARSHIP FUND June 19 at Thee Buckeye Classic tournament.

Burnette taught at Barberton High School for 29 years in addition to serving as a counselor. She passed away February 2, 2018.

A scholarship fund has been set up by her husband MARCO BURNETTE with the BARBERTON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION to award two $1,000 scholarships each year to a Barberton graduates.

The requirements are they must live in the city and carry a 2.00 GPA.

As a teacher BURNETTE concentrated on underprivileged, under-served and what many considered average students

"Those are the types of students KAREN would have wanted her scholarship to serve," MARCO BURNETTE said. "Kids who are on the border line of being college eligible but are hard working and trying to improve and have a true desire for a college education."

"Karen was a very caring, loving and giving person who always thought of others before herself," he added. " She touched the lives of many people over the years, both students and adults.I know she would really appreciate the kind scholarship contributions by SPA and THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC'

This was the first scholarship donation by THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC but the 65th for SPA and its second to a BARBERTON student.

In 2014 SPA awarded a $500 scholarship to TYLER OWEN who attended AKRON U.

"We (SPA) has been awarding $500 scholarships for the past 18 years," HOOKS said. "It may not seem like much but to families which do not have much money, it is a lot."

"When my dad died, I was 16 and the local church donated $500 to my college education," HOOKS said. "To me it was a lot of money and I try to repay what the church did for me to others who have the same situation."

FIRESTONE STADIUM A HIT WITH THE 80’S/85’S

The 80’s and 85’s went MAJOR LEAGUE at THEE 2018 SPA BUCKEYE CLASSIC June 18,19, 20.

Due to too many 80/85’s (13) and 70’s (12) THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC had to find an additional complex to carry the overflow.

AKRON FIRESTONE STADIUM despite it’s dimensions fit the bill.

Built in 1925 the STADIUM has been home to minor league baseball, NCAA Regional softball, Ohio High School state championships, Ohio fast pitch men's, industrial, church and open state championships as well as woman’s fast pitch championships.

Lately it has been home to the 16U and 18U girls state and regional championships. The AKRON RACERS of the womens professional softball league played irs home games at FIRESTONE as well as games against the US Olympic teams.

Five SPA 80’s and one 85 team played their six-game bracket in THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC bracket of the round-robin tournament at FIRESTONE

The six teams were PROHEALTH (WIS), FITTEAM (OH), SYRACUSE (NY), LOUISVILLE THUNDER (KY), CHICAGO GEEZERS (IL) and the 85-team CENTER FOR SIGHT (FL).

The current layout was perfect for the elder statesmen with the dimensions being 210 down the lines and 220 in center.

“It gives us a chance to hit home runs over the fence also,” said five ft-eight MIKE GUY of FITTEAM who hit a pair out in one game. “It was really a thrill and made the game so much more enjoyable to me and other players my age and size who can no way reach the 300-ft fences.”

Forty plus home runs were hit by the 80 group in their 27 game schedule. However, the long ball wasn’t all they liked about FIRESTONE.

“The complex was outstanding,” BILL DOEL of the GEEZERS said. “Step down below field level major league style dugouts, manicured outfield, true hops in the infield, 4,500 seating stadium, it was major league all the way.”

"I think FIRESTONE was a great idea for the 80’s,” SPA President and CEO RIDGE HOOKS said. “We (SPA) are going to look into it a little more as a possibility for a women's tournament with the 6’s, 65’s and 70’s playing there and the others in Barberton.”

“If we can work something out, it would be great,” he said.

 

PATRICIA ROE THE NEW BABE RUTH

Move over Hank and Babe there is a new long ball basher in the neighborhood. Her name is PATRICIA ROE, a third baseman for the 35-year young MICHIGAN MIDWEST MAYHEM BALLERS.

Roe made her mark April 15 at the SPA WOMEN S SPRING NATIONALS at FLORIDA EXCHANGE PARK in PENSACOLA.

Batting in the last inning with the bases loaded, ROE sent one over the 300-ft fence and not just over the fence. Easily clearing the 12-ft fence the ball hit high up on the 60-ft net behind the fence.

"I would estimate the shot about 350-ft," Tournament Director MIKE DESORBA said. "It was the longest ball I have ever seen hit out in a women's tournament."

It was also ROE's first since it was her first game in senior softball and also her first trip to Florida.

"I have been playing co-ed ball and women's fast pitch in Flint,' the Michigan resident said. "This was my first game ever in senior softball."

Roe, who coaches a high school girls FAST PITCH team at CARMAN AINSWORTH in FLINT thinks coaching others helps her own game.

"Softball is a game of fundamentals and you need proper fundamentals to succeed," she said. "By teaching them everyday it has helped me keep focused, especially at the plate."

Roe, who hit .750 in her first senior softball tournament says there is a difference in senior softball.

"The game is not as fast because everyone is older but talent wise it is really good," she said. "I didn't know what to expect in my first tournament but I was really impressed with the abilities of the ladies who played at Pensacola."

She and her team, the MIDWEST MAYHEM BALLERS are looking forward to the TWITTY SR WOMENS' TOURNAMENT later this month.

Their roster is made up half of MICHIGAN ladies and the rest from MARYLAND, OHIO, FLORIDA, MISSOURI and TENNESSEE.

"We had one practice together before our first game in Florida," ROE said. "Now that we know each other we should do much better at the Tennessee tournament, I am really looking forward to it."

It will be interesting to see how she does at the plate because she only needs 59 more homers to catch BABE RUTH.

TINELLI AWARDED SPA SCHOLARSHIP

TOBY TINELLI was the 650th recipient of a SPA $500 college scholarship prior to the start of the LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT April 19th in GEORGETOWN, TEXAS.

TINELLI, a business major at UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON DOWNTOWN made it a family celebration in accepting his award.

His grandfather JIM plays for the TEXAS LEGENDS 75's and he and the rest of the LEGENDS surrounded the younger TINELLI as he accepted his award.

"That is always special when a senior softball player is there to watch a grandchild accept an award like this," SPA president RIDGE HOOKS said. "It makes me very proud when SPA can award these scholarships to worthy students. It shows everyone there is more to the SPA organization than just softball games."

HUGH BROTHERTON – BATTERIES INCLUDED

Eighty-seven Hugh Brotherton is senior softball’s answer to the Eveready Bunny, he just keeps going, going and going. 

It is pretty surprising for someone who never took up the game until he was 62 years old.

“I played baseball when I was a kid but not after high school.” he explained. “I didn’t have time for sports because Carol and I got married and all our free time was raising our five sons and five daughters.”

The Brothertons have been married 64 years and in addition to their ten children, they have 23 grandchildren and 17 great-grand children, with the oldest ten years old.

“I didn’t decide to play senior softball until I was 62,” the Senior Hall-of-Famer said. “I am glad I did, it has been a wonderful experience both on and off the field. I hope I can play another 25 years.”

The Michigan native hasn’t been just a player, he has been an All-Star player.

Logging most of his time with Florida’s Center For Sight team he has received so may awards and honors he doesn’t know what to do with them all.

“I gave each grandchild one of my rings and still have a drawer full left,” he said. “I also have won so many MVP, All-American and All-Star Awards I can’t remember them all. What he does remember are team awards and the players he played with or against.

“That is the biggest thing about playing senior softball, it is the friends you make,” he explained. “Awards are nice but friendships last a lifetime.”

“Carol and I have met so many wonderful people and visited so many different cities and states, it would not have been possible without playing senior softball,’ he added. “We look forward to tournaments where we can renew old acquaintances and make new ones. It is just like a big family reunion.”

Brotherton also proves you are never too old to try new things.

A couple of years ago at the Huntsman Games he had some time before the softball tournament started so he entered some senior running events.

Running in the 85-and up division he set Senior Games records in winning the 500, 1,500 and 3,00 meters.

“Never tried it before but I walk three miles a day and play about 100 softball games each year, so I figured I was in pretty good shape to try it,”he said.

Brotherton figures he has played well over 10,000 softball games since he started playing twenty-five years ago.

“I thank the Lord every day for giving me the ability to participated in athletics at my age,’he said. “Praise be to God for giving me the opportunities.”

The Hall-of-fame athlete also appreciates his sponsor.

“Center For Sight has been with us over twenty years,” he said. “They have not only been an outstanding sponsor but a wonderful and appreciated friend.”

What changes has he seen in his twenty-five years in senior ball.?

“Mainly the growth. When I started, a 67-year old was the oldest players, now 67’s are kids,” Brotherton said. “The players keep getting older and is great to still be playing competitive ball at 85.”

“Organizations like SPA and SSUSA and big tournaments like the SPA Buckeye Classic offer us those opportunities and we appreciate it.”

“Still haven’t figured out why the younger players need those high powered bats and ball to play, must be an ego thing,” Brotherton added. “We started with wooden and single wall bats and were still able to score runs and play the game and it was safer for the pitcher and corner infielders.”.

Brotherton considers the players like himself himself who started playing in the 1990’s as Senior Softball Trailblazers.

“When I started I never dreamed I would  be playing softball at 87 years nor would there be others my age playing in a league or tournament with me,” Brotherton. “I consider myself truly blessed and hope I played a part in growing senior softball so you are never too old to play”

SPA SENIOR TOURNAMENTS READY FOR 2018

Teams from all over are anxiously awaiting the start of the SPA 2018 tournament schedule and they will not have to wait long.

Alabama's LAGOON PARK starts the SPA Tournament schedule 3/15-3/18 with the SOUTHERN SPRING NATIONALS in Montgomery. Last year 37 teams attended the event as SPA tournament attendance was up across the board.

"We set records last year for tournament attendance with most drawing 30 teams, six in the 40's and THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC with 76." SPA President and CEO Ridge Hooks said. "This year we expect to continue to grow with over 30 men's tournaments and six women's. We are now in 17 states with a possibility of two new states yet to join."

Ohio has the most tournaments with six with Texas, Alabama and North Carolina each having three. Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Missouri have two events while Louisiana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana one.

The women have two in Tennessee and Florida with one in Georgia and Indiana.

 

GO TIDE ALABAMA
3/15-3/18 MONTGOMERY SOUTHERN SPRING NIT
4/19-4/22 VALLEY MID SOUTH NIT
7/26 -7/29 CULLMAN RED/WHITE/BLUE 

GATOR TIME IN FLORIDA
10/18-10/21 PENSACOLA SOUTHERN NIT

TY COBB'S HOME GEORGIA
6/21-6/24 PEACH STATE CLASSIC, MARIETTA
8/2-8/5 MID-SOUTH INVITATIONAL, CARTERSVILLE

DA BEARS! ILLINOIS
5/22-5/26 TROY JIM WELCH MEMORIAL SPA CLASSIC

HOOSIER COUNTRY INDIANA
7/20-7/22 INDIANA HOOSIER CLASSIC,SHELBYVILLE

POST MARDI GRAS IN LOUISIANA
4/12-4/15 MONROE SPRING QUALIFIER NIT

LOVE THE CRAB CAKES MARYLAND
5/2-5/6 GLEN BURNIE CLASSIC 

WHERE THE OKEY DOKEYS ARE MADE MINNESOTA
6/7-6/10 STEVE SIMMONS MOSQUITOLAND  CLASSIC LITTLE CANADA 

SHOW ME STATE MISSOURI
6/21-6/24  ISENHOWER MID-AMERICA NIT, RAYMORE
8/3 - 8/5 MID AMERICA QUALIFIER, LIBERTY 

HOW ABOUT THEM HEELS? NORTH CAROLINA
4/6-4/8 CONCORD SPA WARM-UP
5/18-5/20 CONCORD AWARDS EXPRESS
7/27 - 7/29 CONCORD PLAYER/AWARDS EXPRESS SHOOTOUT 

OH -H EYE-O OHIO
4/11  DAYTON 10TH ANNUAL ASA/SPA DICK ERNST
5/9-5/13 COLUMBUS HEART OF OHIO BERLINER
6/12-6/24 THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC BARBERTON
7/5-7/8 DAYTON FIRST FLIGHT
8/2-8/7 SYLVANIA GREAT LAKES SPA NIT

BOOMER SOONER OKLAHOMA
4/26-4/29  MUSTANG MILITARY SERVICE APPRECIATION MUSTANG 

LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TENNESSEE
7/13-7/15  JOHNSON CITY 26TH ANNUAL TOM WILLIAMS TRI-CITIES CLASSIC 

THE EYES OF TEXAS
4/5-4/8 COLLEGE STATION SALUTE TO VETERANS
4/19-4/26 GEORGETOWN LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL
6/7 - 6/10 WAXAHATCHIE LONE STAR STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

CARRY ME BACK TO 'OLE VIRGINIA
6/1-6/3 SPA DEMARINO SPRING FLING , HENRICO (RICHMOND)
8/25-8/26 MENS VIRGINIA CLASSIC, HENRICO

MENS WORLDS

50,55,60 MAJOR & MAJOR PLUS WORLDS
7/19-7/22 DALTON, GEORGIA

75-80 WORLDS
8/6-8/29 COLUMBUS, OHIO BERLINER 

75-80 WORLD SERIES
9/9-9/12 DALTON. GEORGIA HERITAGE PARK

50,55,65 ALL DIVISIONS
9/6-9/9 DALTON. GEORGIA 

60 AA 60 AAA, 70 ALL
9/13-9/16 DALTON, GEORGIA 

WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

FLORIDA
4/12-4/15 SPRING NATIONAL. PENSACOLA
11/7-11/11 SPA WORLD SERIES, PANAMA CITY

INDIANA
8/22-8/26 SHELBYVILLE WOMENS NIT

TENNESSEE
5/16-5/20  TWITTY WOMENS NIT, HENDERSONVILLE
7/5-7/6 ROCKY TOP, KNOXVILLE

GEORGIA

SPA WOMENS WORLDS DALTON GEORGIA
9/19-9/23    50-70 AGES

SPA WOMENS MASTERS WORLD SERIES
9/22-9/23   30,40,45 AGES

MORE TOURNAMENTS AND TOURNAMENT INFO AT

http://softballspa.com/

JIM WELCH MEMORIAL TROY TOURNEY BACK

Good news for mid west softball teams as the TROY ILLINOIS JIM WELCH MEMORIAL SPA CLASSIC is back on schedule for MAY 22-27 at GORDY MAC COMPLEX in TROY..

The tourney was dropped earlier in January due to field availability. It is for 65,.70,.75 and 80 divisions..

"The field problem has been handled and we are ready to go," tournament director LENNY SUESS said. "We may change the format this year depending on amount of teams entered."

Last year TWENTY TEAMS took part in a round robin event but SUESS says, "If there is an increase in teams we will probably go to a five game guarantee of three pool and double elimination."

Dates for the tournament are 75 and 80 groups MAY 22-24 while the 65 and 70 divisions square of May 25-27.

The tournament will also provide 1/2 dozen softball to each team. The cost of the tournament is $325.

The host hotel is the BEST WESTERN ($76) with rooms at RED ROOF ($66), MOTEL 6 ($56) and HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ($125) also available.

Contact SEUSS at (618) 791-1380 or ljseuss@gmail.com

Following is the result of the 2017 tournament.

 

WELCH TOURNAMENT CONTINUES TO GROW

 

The second annual Jim Welch Memorial tournament in Troy, Illinois hit the magic 20  number in terms of teams attending.

The round robin event held May 23-24 showed a big improvement from the first year.

"We had a good turnout this year and I expect to see another big increases in 2018," tournament director Lenny Seuss said. "This is only my second year running a SPA tournament so each year you learn a little more about getting teams to attend."Pallet "Retention is the key," he explained. "If we retain at least 18 and add another 12 teams next year there is no reason we can not draw 30 teams.. We also expect to expand our draw to include more 60,55 and 50's teams."

This year's tournament with the emphasis on the older groups was divided into five groups (80, 75, 70, 65, 50-55-60) with five division winners.

US Pallet ran the table going 6-0 to win the 70's group with Bank of Rison, Indy 70's and Mokando finishing 2-3-4.

Dr.Vinyl bested MidState 65's 27-14 in the title game to finish ahead of them and 50 Caliber  65's in the 65 group.

In the 80's the Texas Greyhounds avenged and earlier loss to Antiques of KC to finish 5-1 on top of the group with the Antiques at 4-2 for second. Texas Classics (2-4) and Louisville Thunder (1-4) rounded out the four-team division.

The Senior Redbirds edged Midwest Driving 17-16 in the semi-finals and Indianapolis Classics 25-23 in the finals to win the 75 division crown.

The Central Illinois Chiefs 60's beat the 50 Caliber 55's 17-10 to win the 50/55/60 bracket. Team Illinois 50's was third.

Next year's tournament will be around the same time, so save a space on your schedule.

DAYTON SPA TOURNAMENT BACK WITH A BANG

The Dayton, Ohio First Flight Senior Tournament is back on the SPA schedule but with a new name and new date.

"We were never really gone," tournament director John Zampatti said, "it was just a matter of seeing when our Dayton fields were available and what SPA dates were available so we could match them."

The new dates correspond with the new name "Dayton First Flight Fire Cracker" SPA Tournament.

The dates are July 5-6-7-8 and is open to all ages and depending on teams entered, all divisions.

Entry fee is $450.

For more info or to get an early signing contact Zampatti at 937-371-9717.

With Dayton having a July date it means Ohio will have five SPA senior tournaments, once a month May thru August.

Two other SPA Ohio tournaments have also changed dates for 2018.

Columbus heart of Ohio is now may 9-13 and Thee Buckeye Classic June 12-24.

Distances from PA, Mich, KY, Ind, WVa are all within 400 miles while NY, NJ, VA and MD are about seven hours drive so each Ohio event is within driving distance.

The Ohio tournaments are:

   Columbus Heart of Ohio - May 9-13  $450/$495

   Thee Buckeye classic - Barberton - June 12-24  $475

   Dayton First Flight Firecracker July 5-8  $450

   Great Lakes Classic -- Sylvania August 1-5 $450/$495

   Spa 75-80 World - Columbus August 6-9

For more info on Thee Buckeye Classic and SPA tournaments as it becomes available visit:

 http://softballspa.com/

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."

 

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.