The 55 East Coast Gems 2-9 played the 2017 SPA 55 Worlds with an empty spot on the bench but Vivian Jones was still in their thoughts as they won the tournament for number 2-9.
“Vivian played her last game with us at the Dalton Worlds last year,” Gems manager Wendy Ledford said. “She passed away after the tournament and our team dedicated this season to her memory.”
Number 2-9 would have been extremely proud of her teammates as they easily won the Women’s 55 World Championship going 6-0 (3-0 pool, 3-0, bracket).
“I know she was watching us,”Ledford said “She was always here for her teammates and I know she is proud of us.”
The 55 East Coast Gems 2-9 beat the Suuny Beaches 21–11, Serious Fun 12-11 and the Sunny Beaches again, this time in the finals 28-6f for the title.
In pool play they handled Sluggers 16-11, Serious Fun 11-6 and Sunny Beaches 16-1.
“We were not trying to run up scores,” the manager said. “We just started hitting and it became contagious and I wasn’t going to tell everyone to make outs.”
The Gems have been doing a lot of hitting this year in winning five out of seven tournaments and a runner-up in another.
The team is made up of players from ten different states but primarily from the East Coast.
Tournament MVP was short stop Cynthia Smith while players selected to the All-American All-Tournament team were Mona Onyemelukuve, Deborah Franklin, Carol McCoy, Jeanette Bailey, Brenda Jones and Ledford.
Assistant coach Bryan Vandagriff received the SPA 2017 Manager-of-the-Year Award.
Members of the 55 Champs are: Onyemelukuve, McCoy, Donna Vandagriff, Bailey, Brenda Jones, Smith, Sherri Clark, Kathy Keys, Anita Kimery, Theresa Houpus, JoAnn Jones, Misty McGill, Louise O’Donnell, Cynthia Nelson, Judy Ann Trimmer, Deborah Franklin, Ledford, Evelyne Evans, Rebecca Atkins, Chris Pike, Joan Maurer, Donna Foley, Sylvia Jones and coaches Bryan Vandagriff and Ed Maurer.
Final results of SPA 55 Worlds: 1. 55 East Coast Gems 2-9, runner-up Sunny Beaches, 3. Serious Fun. The Sluggers beat Sho Me 55’s 25-12 in the consolation game for fourth place.