GALLATIN, TENNESSEE – The Maple Leaf took center stage in the finals of the SPA WOMENS 70 Division title as the Ontario Province Sportaculars edged the British Columbia Swingers 10-9 in the championship game.
“People were saying since you guys are right next to each other you could have played the championship game in Canada instead of coming to Tennessee,” Sportaculars’ manager Sylvia Mergl said. “What they didn’t understand is British Columbia is on the West coast of Canada and we are on the east near Niagara Falls, so we really aren’t next to each other.”
The Sportaculars didn’t just have to beat the Swingers once, it took two wins to put them away.
The Ontario Province team first beat the Tennessee Senior Stars 9-8 in the opening round of the seven team tournament and then beat the Swingers 9-6 in the semi-finals and 10-9 in the finals.
“All our games were close because they were all very good teams,” Mergl said. “All the games went back and forth they (Tennessee and BC) would score and then we would score, everything was decided in the last inning.”
Tight games and tournaments are not new to the Sportaculars team since over the past twenty years they have seen it all. Ironically the very first tournament the team entered as a 50-year young team they won.
Mergl, Adeline Rosmus, Jean Mills, Jackie Crawford, Jeannette Kalynuik and Earlene Fogal are original Sportacular players from their first full year of tournament ball and still going strong.
Over the years they have all won their fair share of tournaments in the 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 age divisions as well as individual recognition.
Both Mergl and Rosmus have received the highest honor SPA can bestow on an individual. Mergl was inducted into the SPA Hall of Fame in 2004 while Rosmus joined the HOF at this year’s Gallatin tournament.
So what keeps a team like the Sportaculars keep playing for over twenty years?
“Our passion for softball and our love of each other,” the SPA 70 Division 2010 Manager of the Year said, “We are motivated to keep in shape during the off season so we will be ready to play in the spring.”
Off season activities for the ladies include indoor tennis, curling, bowling and indoor softball workouts.
Scott Bullett of Bullet Proof indoor training facility in Welland, Ontario has graciously allowed the women to use his facility to keep their game sharp.
Bullett’s off season training sure showed its results at Gallatin as the ladies won their second straight SPA 70 National title.
Earning the MVP award was rover Delsie Clayton, who hit .750 and was also dynamite in the field. Her glove hand and strong arm were instrumental along with 2B Fogal and SS Judy Bolton in turning a number of double plays.
Selected to the all-tournament team were pitcher Barbara Keller (6-0, .600 BA), Rosmus (3B, .813), Mary Cole (RCF, .875), Mary Lynn Patterson (LCF, .750) and Mergl, who moved from the outfield to first base for the tournament.
Other ladies who contributed greatly to the repeat title were Doreen Garrett (LF), Crawford (RF), Mills (C/DH), Marjorie Boyd (C/DH), Kalynuik C/.DH) and Arlene Marshall (1b/C). Coach Dave Keller, with his calm attitude and his knowledge of the game, was also a big factor in the team’s success.
According to Mergl playing travel ball is a great experience and the players plan their lives around softball tournaments..
“We see so much of the country, both Canada and the US, by playing softball, it is really a great experience,” she said. “It may be a little expensive but it would also be expensive if we were traveling to these places just for a vacation.”
In addition to the titles., the Sportaculars are also very proud of receiving the Sportsmanship Trophy in Phoenix a in 2008 at the SSUSA worlds.
Mergl also has high praise for Judy Lee Schreiber and the SPA Gallatin tournament.
“Judy Lee has put a lot of time and effort into this tournament and it shows,” Mergl said. “This is the best women’s tournament going. We have lots of teams in our division, it is organized, we are kept informed, there is a nice dinner and SPA makes all of us feel welcomed.”
“SPA runs a great tournament and God willing we will return next year to defend our title”