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.”