by Ho Hoffman 16. November 2010 09:52

DALTON, GEORGIA -  Florida’s Double L Roofing 60 Majors team participated in their final tournament in that age bracket by winning the SPA Nationals in Dalton, Georgia.

SIX members of the team (Tols Mihailoff (68), Terry O’Donnell (65), Juan Alicea (67), Bob Conrad (66), Jim Causier (66) and Ed Lee (67)) have all reached the  65 year plateau and is was just a matter of time of waiting until the others made it to the 65 mark.  The 2011 season they will play as 65’s.

“We wanted to wait until everybody was ready to make the jump to 65’s,” manager Ed Lee said. “Most of us have played together since we were a 50’s team, so we want to move up together.”

However, Double L Roofing will not leave the 60 Major group empty-handed. The Orlando/Naples squad won the most competitive age group of the Dalton Nationals and also their first senior softball National championship.

The ten-team Division’s 19 games in the double-elimination tournament had 11games decided by four runs or less. Double L Roofing went 5-2 in the group’s pool and tournament combined play.

In pool play they beat Texas 60’s 23-17 and lost to D&K Softball 15-14. In the double elimination bracket they knocked off Time Bandits 22-13, Wild Bunch 13-12 and Jim&Joe’s 21-19. They were knocked from the undefeated ranks 21-19 by D&K Softball setting up the “if” game for the 19-14 championship win.

“That was the best and most balanced tournament we have ever played in,” Lee said. “Anybody could have won the tournament; we just got hot at the right time and made big plays when we needed.”

Probably no defensive play by Double L Roofing was bigger than the one made by third baseman Don Lesher in the championship game against D&K Softball (California).

Lesher entered the game in the sixth inning as a defensive  replacement and an inning later would turn into a tournament hero. In the bottom of the seventh D&K trailed 19-14 and had the bases loaded with only one out. The D&K hitter nailed a rocket heading to left field, Lesher went left and to his knees, grabbed the hard hit grounder and fired to second for the start of a game ending and tournament winning double play.

“That was one of the best defensive plays I have seen,” Lee said. “But that is the type of play that our defense pulled off the entire tournament. We only hit three home runs in seven games and only batted in the .650’s as a team but we sure played great defense and Lesher’s play was one of the best.”

The Roofers rely a lot on balanced hitting and average around 15 runs per game but put the major emphasis on defense.

“Defense is the key for us,” the manager said. “If you don’t allow teams four outs in an inning and you can average two runs an inning, you will win most of your games. In this tournament we averaged 15 runs and made the defensive plays.”

The team was so balanced with heroes, Lesher didn’t even make the All-tournament team, although according to Lee, “everybody should have made the all star team, it was just a great team effort.”

Two “Roofers’ were awarded the tournament MVP Award and both were original members of the team.  Mihailoff  pitched all seven (5-2) games and batted .725 while short stop O’Donnell, who looked like the second coming of Ozzie Smith in the field hit .725 for the seven games.

Selected to the All-Tournament team were five more  originals in the person of infielder/outfielder Alicea (.683), outfielder Conrad (.664), Gary Chambers (1B, .660, Ed Haney (OF, .670), Mike Henderson (OF, .652) and  “ newbie” Stu Casterline (IF/OF, .655).

Also contributing great to the championship run were three more originals Frank Lott (C/INF, .557),  Causier (OF, .543) and Dennis Schroeder (2B, .590). Lee was also honored, receiving his first SPA Manager of the Year Award.

Double L Roofing has been sponsoring the team the past two years and Lee thinks this year’s team is just a tremendous group of individuals.

“They are great people first and great ballplayers second,” the sponsor/manager said. “There are absolutely no ego problems on this team and we all get along so well. It is just a total pleasure to be associated with them.”

The Roofers are also not an all-out travel team usually playing only three events a year. This year’s list included Dalton, Fort Myers and Phoenix.

“This was really a good year for us,” Lee said. “We were competitive in all the tournaments and finished in the top five in all of them.”

Lee, who is 67 years young and been a playing manager for close to 37 years had nothing but high praise for Ridge Hooks and the Dalton tournament.

“SPA and Ridge put on a great tournament,” Lee said. “You know immediately SPA’s main concerns are the players and the teams and go out of the way to make certain you have an enjoyable time. It is really a great tournament and we will be back next year.”

There is your warning 65 majors, look out for the new kid on the block in 2011.

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by Ho Hoffman 16. November 2010 09:50

DALTON, GEORGIA – Sweet Construction  came out of the loser’s bracket to beat Willie’s Wolves twice to win the SPA 50 Major National championship crown in Dalton, Georgia.

Sweet Construction lost 28-13 to the Wolves in the winner’s bracket semi-finals on Saturday setting up the Sunday showdown. Before reaching the rematch with the Texas team, Sweet Construction edged Mid-Atlantic Softball 31-30 to set up the finals.

Sweet Construction saddled Willie’s Wolves with its first tournament loss 36-21 and put them away 28-16 in the finals to win the 16-team tournament.

Manager-of-the-Year award for the 50 Major Division went to Sweet Construction’s Michael Boone with Sweet’s Jerry Alcide selected as tournament MVP.

Sweet Construction players named to the All-Tournament team were Johnny Alicaide, William McNanans, Chip Cregar, Andrwe Snyder, Frank Bersterman, Walter Miller, Richard Ihlinf and Curt Mauer.

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by Ho Hoffman 16. November 2010 09:48

DALTON, GEORGIA - MTC 55 came out of the loser’s bracket to win the seven-team SPA 55 MAJOR PLUS national championship in Dalton, Georgia.

After losing  their first game in the double-elimination tournament, MTC 55 beat Black & Blue (34-19), Hendricks Sports (15-13), Line Drive Sports (22-20) and Roberts Construction twice (28-13, 10-8) for the crown.

Manager of the Year Award in the 55 Major Plus Division went to MTC 55’s Larry Campbell while Vern Fowler, also of MTC 55, was selected as the tournament MVP.

MTC 55 players named to the All-Tournament team were Gary Shelley, Art Tressler, Joe Rin Aldi, Rick Cady, Sam Ferri and Bryan Lowry.

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by Ho Hoffman 4. November 2010 21:15

DALTON, GEORGIA  – You can’t accuse the 55 Major High Street Bucs of taking the easy route to a National Title as the Maryland squad won six straight in the loser’s bracket to claim the SPA 55 Major National championship.

The Bucs lost their  opening game in the seven team double-elimination tournament 21-20 to the West Coast All Stars before starting the march to the title.

In order they disposed of Docs/Green Canteen (34-21), KC Thunder (12-6), West Coast All Stars (27-11), Greco Hitmen (23-22), Texas Legends (21-13) and the Legends again, this time 23-7 in the championship game.

“The game with the Hitmen was the crucial game,” Bucs’ manager  Pat Carey said, “Steve Pope , who was the tournament MVP, hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give us a three-run lead and we held on to win by one.”

According to Carey, Pope had a fantastic tournament both with the glove and bat and that along with his key hits definitely earned him the Tournament MVP award.  

Winning titles is nothing new for High Street having taken 34 National Crowns. Currently they are on a streak of three consecutive Nationals which include SPA, ASA and ISSA championships.

“We play about eleven tournaments a year,” Carey said. “We have a group of guys that really enjoy playing travel ball, especially the competition.”

The High Street Bucs also have the distinction of being the oldest team name in organized softball in terms of longevity.  Started in 1968 (when most of the players were 18 years old), the “Bucs” jersey has been competing in the adult softball world for 43 years.

“Our 55 Major team hasn’t been playing together for 43 years,” Carey, who became a Buc in 1970, said, “But a lot of us became part of the High Street Bucs softball club when we were old enough to play on the team, whether it was an adult league or a senior league.”

Over that span High Street certainly has had its share of top notch talent and the Bucs who played at Dalton kept the high level of play continuing.

Selected to the All Tournament team were Timmy Potter (SS, .720), Greg Christ (1b, .700), Jim Muncy (3B, ,720, 7 HR’s), Joe Herr (RF, .717), Ricky Grimm (LF, .690) and Steve Propert (.670, 13 for 14 on Sunday).

Defense wasn’t slighted either as  Potter (.720) and 2b Ray Hubbe (.645) sparkled in the middle starting and completing numerous rally killing double plays.

Others who contributed “big time” to the Bucs’ championship were pitcher Ross Roberts. who shutdown  the Texas Legends in the semi’s and finals; Mike Rohleder (LCF, .712), National Senior Softball Hall of Famer Dutch Detwiler (DH/C, RBI leader) and assistant manager Terry Lee (DH .620.

The manager says the secret to his team’s success is he and the players treat their association like a marriage.

“In a marriage there will be disagreements over time but once it is fixed , it is over and the marriage continues,” Carey, who was selected as the SPA 55 Major Manager of the Year said, “We are also like that. We occasionally have disagreements but after it is handled, everything is back to normal again and we continue as nothing ever happened.”

“This is just a great group of guys, just like a family,” he continued. “we all look out for each other and cover each other’s back.  They not only respect each other but they respect their opponents and also the game, I am really proud to be associated with them.”

Carey also had high praise for Ridge Hooks the SPA organization.

“I just love Ridge and the SPA organization,” the manager said. “SPA is the best softball organization going because they concern themselves with the enjoyment of the players first. We know when we go to a SPA tournament it will be well run, we will be treated fairly and we will also be guaranteed seven full innings in each game, regardless of time limits. The players come first in SPA.”

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by Ho Hoffman 4. November 2010 21:04

DALTON, GEORGIA -  California’s SeaCrest Mavericks continued its winning ways in the SPA 50 Major Plus Senior Softball Division by going undefeated at 5-and-0 in taking the SPA National title.

The other three teams (Windy City, Oki Players, Tapley Striping) in the tournament came away knowing how 110 other Mavericks’ opponents have felt over the past three years.  In the past three years SeaCrest has won 115 games while losing only 19 and the majority of those defeats have been at the hands of non-senior teams.

“We play between 10-and-20 tournaments a year,” manager Ken Lipinski said. “We play all the major tournaments because that is where the major plus teams are.”

The Mavericks also play in “young kids” tournaments and other tournaments where they only play majors.

“We don’t go to those tournaments to try and win titles,” the SeaCrest manager said. “We treat those mainly as exhibition games as we just try to stay sharp when we go to the big National tournaments.”

So far this year against the other 50 Major Plus teams, they are undefeated in tournaments at Dalton, Las Vegas, ISSA and Phoenix. At Dalton they outscored the opposition 145-93 in five games and hitting .767 as a team and clobbering 33 home runs.

With all that firepower, you would think defense is an afterthought, but that is not the case with these fence busters.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Lipinski said. “In the major plus division you had better be able to limit a team to three outs and not give them extra chances or you will pay for it.”

The Mavericks are one of the few teams anywhere that only use a three-man outfield, preferring to load the infield up with five defenders. When you do that you had better have some race horses in the outfield and Seacrest certainly does.

Leading the troops at Dalton was MVP second baseman Gary Springer. The Mavericks’ leadoff hitter hit .826 and touched home plate 18 times in the tournament.

All- tournament selections were CF Aaron Stone, aka “Turbo, whose nickname symbolizes his actions on the bases. Stone hit .750 and had a hat trick 0f 15 hits, 15 runs and 15 RBI’s. He was joined on the elite group by Brian Hausner  (RF .727, 6 HR’s, 13 RBI’s and runs); Paul Salow  (LF .826, 19 hits); Guy Haberman (SS  .800); Ron Parnell (MF .783, 18 hits and RBI’s); Jon “Bull” Kramer (1B .773, 7 HR’s) and Randy Holbrook.

Lipinski  along with co-manager Mike Trusty were awarded the SPA 50 Major Plus Managers of the Year Award.

Other members of the title winning Mavericks were: Beeler (.824, 5 HR’s 17 RBI’s), Dahilig (.733), Hughes (.750), Ledesma (.667),  Meggison (.737), Struck (.778) and Vackar .

While this edition of the SeaCrest Mavericks has only been together for three years, the organization has been around for 17 years. The team is sponsored by SeaCrest Group; Huntington Beach, California. Lipinski is the president of the real estate consulting and turnaround management company and has 22 National Tournament Championship rings to prove his involvement.

“This is just a great group of players we have this year,” the longtime sponsor and manager said. “But you know it is more than just a softball team it is more like a family.”

“When we go to a tournament we take our wives too. At Dalton we had 16 players and 9 wives,” Lipinski continued,”we go out to eat together, stay at the same hotel and just hang out with each other. We are just a very cohesive group that really enjoys each other’s company.”

A lot of the new players brought a lot of experience and winning ways to the Mavericks when they joined the squad. Most of them played on the 45’s National Championship teams.

The pipeline never ceases to end for the SeaCreast  Mavericks and of course never do the senior softball National titles.

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About the Editor

Ho Hoffman of Wadsworth,Ohio is a sports writer for the Medina (Ohio) Gazette daily newspaper. Hoffman also has been playing competitive softball for nearly sixty years and 3,000 games starting in the adult fast pitch leagues as a teenager and continuing through into today's 70's senior division.  

Hoffman for the past twenty years has also been playing on senior softball travel teams. In addition, he along with Red Bole are the tournament directors of the highly successful SPA Ohio Buckeye Classic June senior softball tournament which last year drew 77 teams, in the 50, 55, 60, 65, 70 and 75 AA and AAA only divisions. 

He is also married. He and his wife Sue have three sons who are also active in softball and baseball. The youngest Matt plays adult slo-pitch softball, Mike plays Roy Hobbs 40-and over baseball and Marc is the founder, owner and president of U.S. Baseball Academy, the nation's largest baseball training program.


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