by Ho Hoffman 4. August 2011 10:18

DALTON, GEORGIA – Just like “fine wine” the HIGH STREET BUCS just keep getting better with age, this year adding the 2011 SPA 60 Major National title to the 2010 SPA 55 Major National championship they won in Dalton, last year.

“The organization (High Street Bucs) has been together for nearly 45 years,” SPA 60 Major manager-of-the-year Pat “Kid” Carey said, “The guys have been playing together starting in youth ball, as 30’year olds, then 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and now 60. As guys get older they move up to the next level and their spots on the previous team are taken by guys moving up from another age group.”

Carey, who is 62 years young, thus the nickname “Kid”, has been playing for the High Street Bucs for 42 years, was proud to point out the High Street Bucs is the longest existing (terms of consecutive years) softball team in the United States. He also mentioned they have won 36 national softball titles and in addition to the Dalton title they also won the SPA Eastern Nationals.

The Bucs started slowly in getting title number 35 in the SPA 60M National championship; winning one game and losing to the KC Kids 16-12 in the 11-team pool play. But when the double-elimination bracket games started the next day, High Street was all business.

The Bucs defeated Jim and Joe’s Ice 17-9 in the opener; ripped Minn Masters White 30-15 in the second round and then rolled over the Wild Bunch 33-17 in the winner’s bracket finals.  The Bucs then waited for Minn Masters White to make it out of the loser’s bracket before edging them 20-17 to win the title.

“We started out slowly in pool play,” Carey said; “but once the bracket play started everybody started hitting. It was contagious, it just was like a snowball rolling down hill, and the hits just kept coming.”

The Bucs are unique to the major/major plus division in that they are not a long ball hitting team. They do it with hitting from top to bottom and solid defense. In their six games they scored 132 runs but hit only three home runs.

“We pride ourselves on being a line drive hitting team that will hit the open area; use speed to take the extra base and then hit an RBI to bring in the run. That is the way we play.” Carey explained.

The Bucs which hit nearly .700 as a team was led by Tournament MVP short stop Kenny Ruffo. Some of the defensive plays Ruffo made were so spectacular the team was thinking of submitting them to ESPN’s WEB GEMS. Ruffo also contributed with his hitting adding a solid .680 average.

Making the All-Tournament team were clutch-hitting Ray Hubbe (2b, .635); 65-year young c  Dutch Detwiler (.680, 22 rbi’s); Mike “the Rabbit” Rohleder (LCF, .655, designated pinch runner); Billy Macuch (P 5-0, .642); lead-off batter Mike Serphin ( 3b, .682) and lf Ricky Grimm, who was almost arrested for highway robbery with some of the catches he made. Grimm also hit .660 for the tournament.

The rest of the team also played well throughout and as Carey says, “You need more than an MVP and six all-tournament players to win a National title.”

First baseman Bobby Lehman sparkled in the field and batted .640 and would have been an All-Tournament selection for many other teams as he had a tremendous tournament. Carey showed he was more than just a manager as he played rf and hit .630 while rcf Ed Ritter played great “D” and added a .580 average.

Drew Martin batted .655; Ralph Godwin hit .630 with a pair of home runs; Dennis NG had one home run and batted .625 and 3b Tom Branch hit .570 for the tournament.

Another difference between the High Street Bucs and other major/major plus teams is they do not have a sponsor.

“We are self sponsored,” Carey explained, “We run some fund raisers and kick in our own money. That is why we are so particular as to where we play. We go where the other teams are and in most cases it has been SPA tournaments. What we like about SPA is we get to play seven innings not those five inning shortened games. There is no doubt in our minds SPA runs the best tournaments.”

Still left on the schedule for this year are the ISSA World Tournament; ASA Nationals and Fort Myers in their last year as Major. Next year they move up to major plus.

“We know that,” Carey said, “But we are looking forward to it. We will play where the system dictates us to play, we won’t cry about it. If you want to be the best, you have to play with the best and we strive to be the best.”

Just like a bottle of fine wine.

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by Ho Hoffman 4. August 2011 10:10

DALTON, GEORGIA – It was sweet music for the “OKI’s” at the SPA Nationals in Dalton, Georgia as the mid-west team danced away with the 50 Major Plus title waltzing to a three-straight sweep of HOLLIS APPRAISELS in a best three-of-five showdown.

The OKI’s , which is short for Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana/Illinois where the majority of the players are from, edged HOLLIS APPRASELS 41-36 and 32-28 in the first two games and only went five innings in the third game with a 38-22 blowout.

“We really hit in the three games,” manager Norm Stafford said, “We bat 13 players in every game and we still averaged .770 as a team. In one game we were 41-of-44 in the second-though-fifth innings. That is pretty good hitting.”

This is the first year for the current team. With only seven of the squad holdovers from 2010; they are off to a good start with titles in the Indianapolis Brickyard event and now Dalton.

Due to the shortage of Major Plus teams, the OKI’s now only play National and World Tournaments and only have Maumee, St .Louis, Las Vegas and Phoenix left on the schedule. For the most part the team is self sponsored but Attorney Jimmy Young also contributes a nice amount to the team’s expenses.

“When you are a major plus team it is difficult to find teams to play,” Stafford said, “and when you have to put up a lot of your own money you don’t want to travel all over the place just to play one team.”

If the OKI’s continue to play and hit like they did in Dalton, they may even have trouble finding one team to play them. Check out the following stats.

MVP of the tournament was pitcher Randy Johnson (Ind) who was 11-of-12 at the plate, pitched all three games, played outstanding defense and hit two home runs, one a grand slam

All-Tournament players were left fielder Jim Cushing (Ill; .753) who was tremendous in the field as one of only three outfielders the OKI’s play. The other two of’s who were also All-Tournament were cf Mike “Sully” Sullivan (ind; .846) and rf Bob Cole (Ky; .836).

Also on the All-tournament squad were Carl Underwood (Mich; c .866) and Dave “Stick” Mossiaon (Mich; mf, .833). Illinois resident Doug “Rookie” Barth made the All-tournament team in his very first senior softball tournament aided by a .916 batting average.

“Those were the guys who won the awards,” Stafford, who was named SPA 50 MP manager-of-the-year said, ” However, when you hit over .700 as a team and make the plays we did, I think everybody who played deserved all-tournament honors.”

Hard to argue when you see the stats of the others on the team.

Raymond Moscoe (Ky; ss .615); Steve Roeder (Ind; c .692); Dale Mayo (Ind, 1b .666, 5 home runs); Vern Hensley (Ind, c .785); John Kotzelnick (Ind, .666, 3 hr’s); Raymond Cullyear (Ind, utility); Jeff Ott (Ill); Young (Ill, 2b); Lee Greer (Mich, 3b) and Cecil Whitehead (Ga, 2b .692, 2 hr).

Also considered a very important part of the team is statistician Dawn Moscoe.

Due to its exploits in both the Brickyard and Dalton, the OKI’s also received some local press in a very nice article which can be found at softballtimesonline.com

Stafford, Cole, Moscoe, Roeder, Hensley, Johnson and Kotzelnic are the original seven with the rest coming on board this year. Most of the team has just turned 50 or 51 or 52.

“We are a young 50’s team, so we expect to be together for a long time in this division,” Stafford said. “We really enjoy each other’s company and playing together.”

The opponents of the OKI’s beware; the “dance” has just begun.

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by Ho Hoffman 3. August 2011 09:55

DALTON, GEORGIA – So much for tournament experience.

Wood Law/Texas Silverbacks put the theory to rest in Dalton, Georgia by besting sixteen other teams to win the SPA North American National 50 major championship on their first try in the SPA nationals.

“This is our first year playing senior softball in the 50’s as a team,” Wood Law/Texas Silverbacks manager Doug Wood said, “Some of us played together in the USSSA softball program but this was our first experience in the SPA Nationals.”

Wood Law/Texas Silverbacks won the title the hard way by beating Veltri Transmission 28-27 in the finals of the loser bracket and then knocking off Rapid Erectors twice by 16-14 and 13-12 for the championship.

Heroes were Rickey Hodges with a two-out, RBI hit in the bottom of the seventh to send Wood Law to the title game setting the stage for J.J. Schmidt to deliver a base clearing double to score  Hodges, Jody Creason and Tommy Clark to win the championship contest.

 “That Rapid Erector is a great team and to beat a good team like that to win the championship makes it that much rewarding,” Wood said, “Actually all the teams in the tournament were solid and all the games were pretty even.”

Wood Law/Texas Silverbacks had a little bit of an edge going for them as seven of the players are all on the same team in a Dallas league.

Wood, Paul Dorwaldt, Creason, Hodges, Walt Lowery, Steve Harris and Jimmy Fairchild are members of the Dallas league team which has helped the SPA tournament squad post a 23-3 mark this year with three tournament titles at Dalton, the four-team Texas State Championships and Little Rock.

Clark had an outstanding tournament both at bat and in the field to earn MVP award. The left center fielder and lead-off hitter batted .780 and sparkled defensively making numerous running catches and key throws.

All-Tournament selectees from Wood Law/Texas Silverbacks were  Cuellar (3b, .710, 8 hr); Wood (c, 700); Creason (ah, .650); Fairchild (2b, .640); Harris (1b, .680, 6 hr) and Schmidt (ss, .700). Other award winners were Dorwaldt (p, 8-1) as Mr. Pitcher and Wood with the SPA 50 Major Manager of the Year award.

Other members of the “iron man eleven” squad who also were instrumental in the victory were Lowery (lf, .550); Hodges (rf, .510); and Charles Mueller (rcf, .560).

Wood’s comment that they only needed eleven players for the nine-game tournament may raise eyebrows among the older teams, but to Wood it wasn’t even a concern,

“Hey, we are only 50-years old,” Wood said, “We’re youngsters and should be able to play nine games with no problem. We all play league ball too, so we are in good shape.”

For a few of the team this was their second SPA National title. Harris, Dorwaldt, Lowry and Fairchild all played on 2009 AAA Silverbacks national winner.

Wood thinks the reason for his team winning the title is simple.

“We played good defense and had timely hitting,” he said, “all the teams at this level can hit, so the edge goes to the team which plays defense and comes up with the key hits and that is what we did throughout the tournament.”

The Wood Law/Silverbacks still have four tournaments on their agenda for 2011.  Coming up are trips to Mesquite, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Fort Myers.

“The SPA Dalton tournament was a great tournament with lots of teams,” Wood said, “Having all those teams made winning the championship that much better. We’re hoping we see the same type of competition the rest of the year.”

When reminded his team will be a major-plus team in 2012, he commented quickly.

“That is no problem,” Wood said, “If you want to be the best you play with the best and right now we think we are a pretty good team.”

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by Ho Hoffman 3. August 2011 09:39

DALTON, GEORGIA – After going 0-2 in pool play, manager Randy Hendricks decided something more than extra batting and fielding practice was needed to get his team, HENDRICKS SPORTS MANAGEMENT, ready for bracket play.

“We’ve all played enough ball to know what had to be done,” Hendricks explained, “I told everybody after pool play to just go get a good meal and go to bed early, so we would be ready for bracket play the next day.”

The results were amazing, as HENDRICKS SPORTS rolled through the competition in the double-elimination bracket by scores of 31-8, 35-25 and 37-19 to win the SPA 55 Major Plus National Championship in Dalton, Georgia.

“We played sensational on Saturday,” Hendricks said, “We run ruled everybody except the one game, and then we only batted six times to their seven. In those three wins we hit a combined, 753 as a team and often scored the nine run maximum per inning.”

HENDRICKS SPORTS MANAGEMENT also has a unique schedule; it only plays national tournaments and doesn’t bother with the qualifiers or regional events.

“The best teams show up at the nationals.  We don’t waste our time going to qualifiers or a regional because most teams there do not want to play us,” Hendricks said, “ We have often been put in our own bracket which makes no sense.  So we just don’t go.  The team splits up and the players on it play for whoever they want to on the local and state level.” 

This year’s win was also pay-back for HENDRICKS after finishing a disappointing fourth at Dalton in 2010.

“We wanted to make amends for last year,” Hendricks said, “The 2010 Dalton tournament was our first of the year and we were not as ready as we would have liked to have been. This year we warmed up for Dalton by playing in the National Senior Olympics in June, going 9-0 to win the gold medal.

Hendricks also is a firm believer that you do not win a tournament with one MVP and six all-tournament players.

“On our team everybody is qualified to make an all tournament team, ” Hendricks said emphatically, ”Some guys play a little better in one tournament and the next tournament some other guys play better. Unfortunately you have to pick six or seven.”

At Dalton, the MVP nod went to pitcher Albert “Bud” Weathers who hit .955 (21-of-22) and played solid defense.

For the all-tournament teams, you needed to get your calculators out.

Heading the list was the two-headed catching combination of Ivan Dennis and Bill Blake who shared the defensive duty and both hit .818 for the tournament.  Joining the pair were third sacker Russell Young, .786; Joe Witherspoon (lc, .786, 10 Home runs in 21 at bats); Reggie Simmons (2b/of, .846); and Andrew “Doc” Sigur (1b, .727).

Rounding out the squad who all contributed in allowing HENDRICKS to average over .750 for the tournament were Joe Reed (ss, .647); David Standefer (inf/ss, .667 and an outstanding defensive effort throughout the tournament); Tom Brown (rf, .714); Curtis Chiasson (rc, .786); Joe Standefer (lf, .472 and outstanding defensive play) and 66-year old manager and second sacker Randy Hendricks, who hit .667.

“If you notice, all of our players handle a variety of different positions,” Hendricks pointed out. “It really helps when you can move guys around.”

Hendricks, who also was named 55 Major Plus manager of the Year, will now get his charges ready for the next national tournaments in Florida, Virginia, Mesquite and Phoenix.

“The other tournaments are good but it is always nice to win a Ridge Hooks’ tournament,” Hendricks said, “Ridge and I were teammates in 1995 and 1999 and I know Ridge always puts his heart and soul into putting on his tournaments. It is always special when you win a SPA National.”

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by Ho Hoffman 1. August 2011 13:14

DALTON, GEORGIA – Some teams “talk the talk” but Spicer Properties also “walked the walk” in winning the SPA North America senior softball 55 Major Championship in Dalton, Georgia.“We finally turned in around and played the way we should play,” Spicer Properties Manager Chris Williams said. “We had been I a rut all year talking a good game but never finished it off with a solid performance. In Dalton we accomplished that.”

Spicer also did it the hard way. They not only rallied from behind in the championship game but did it with two outs in their last at bats.

After going one-and-one in pool play, the new champs disposed of Memphis Investments, Mo Town Stars and NJ Hitmen in tournament bracket play but lost to the Hitmen forcing the championship “if” game.

Trailing 22-19 in the bottom of the seventh with the ninth, tenth and eleventh hitters due up Spicer put on the rally caps. With one out Keith Hudson and Joe Picareilo hit back-to-back triples and Mike “Ratchet” Wingard’s sac fly cut the deficit to 22-21 but now there were two out.

Bubba Crostic singles and moved to third on Hal Harrison’s double. The softball Gods smiled down on Spicer when Eddie Parker’s infield grounder ended up as a two-base throwing error bringing in both Crostic and Harrison for the 23-22 title win.

For eight members of Spicers it was especially sweet, since that group had been together since 2005 and it was their first SPA National title. The eight are Crostic, Harrison, Charlie Howe, Tim MacDonald, Williams, Kenny Raynolds, Parker and Dennis Tuck.

For Williams, MacDonald and Howe it was extra special since that trio has playing together for 25 years starting in fast pitch softball; while Howe and Williams started playing together in little league baseball.

“It was really worth the wait,” Williams said, “This group is so close and they put it all together in this tournament, hustling on defense in the field and on the bases, delivering key hits and just doing everything they could to win and we did it as a team, that is what makes it so special.”

Of course every team needs that leader on the field and in this case it was Rupert “Bo” Curry, who did everything except drive the bus and tape everybody’s ankles.

Rupert, an outfielder/shortstop, hit .831; had a slugging average of 1.700; scored 18 runs; had 24 RBI’s (including 7 two-out RBI’s); 26 extra base hits and seven Home runs. Naturally he was named the 55M Major MVP.

Six Spicer players made the All-Tournament team. They were Hudson (of, .740), Harrison (P, .650), Eddie Parker ((of, .725), Jerry Liscomb (of/3b, .740), Tuck (1b/3b, .733) and Crostic (p, .760).

“In my eyes everybody on our team was all-tournament,” Williams, who received the SPA 55 Major Manager of the Year award, said. ”You win and lose as a team and it took everybody on our team to win this championship and the players who received the All-Tournament awards will be the first to say the same thing.”

The other “All-Stars” for Spicer, who were not officially recognized as such, were MacDonald (1b, .666), Pat “Squirrel” Daily (of, .850 plus outstanding defense), Howe (2b, .520), Picareilo (of) and .520), Wingard (c, .615).

“I’ll tell you somebody else who should be All-Tournament and that is Jack Spicer,” Williams said, “Jack is our sponsor (SPICER PROPERTIES) and none of this could have happened without his support. We are all really appreciative of him giving us the opportunity to play in senior tournaments and represent his company, so this championship is really for JACK SPICER.”

The team now sports a 35-11 record with tournaments left in Manassas, Virginia Beach and Phoenix.

“Everything after this will be anti-climatic,” Williams said, “This was the tournament we talked about winning and we backed it up with our performance. It is just a great feeling.”

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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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