BAD NEWS BEARS COME ALL THE WAY BACK TO WIN CROWN
DALTON, GEORGIA – The MONTGOMERY SWARM came out of the loser's bracket to defeat THE CATCH twice and win the nine-team SPA 2012 50 AAA WORLD TITLE in DALTON, GEORGIA.
The SWARM, who their manager DON HOWELL refers to as a diverse and close knit group that could possibly win a Z.Z. TOPS look-a-like contest and at times plays like the BAD NEWS BEARS, beat the KENTUCKY team 22-15 and then again 29-17 in the “IF” game to claim the title.
“We put it all together Sunday,” HOWELL said, “We sort of limped through pool play and early bracket play but on Sunday we played our best ball of the tournament.”
The SWARM only went 1-2 in pool play losing to PLAYER'S WAREHOUSE (15-22) and RAM SOFTBALL (11-19) on Thursday before beating the LA LEGENDS 12-10 on Friday.
They barely made it through their first two bracket games beating the LA LEGENDS 16-15 and PLAYER'S WAREHOUSE 16-15 before being sent to the loser's bracket on Saturday by THE CATCH 21-11.
“We didn't hit and we didn't play very well at all in pool play and at the beginning of bracket play,” HOWELL explained, “But SUNDAY morning we were a different team and just caught fire.”
The SWARM started their run with a win over PLAYER'S WAREHOUSE , who HOWELL referred to as a very talented and strong team, 20-16. Next it took a couple of late inning rallies to propel the MONTGOMERY team to the 22-15 victory over THE CATCH forcing an “IF” game.
“We got out in front quickly in the “IF” game,” HOWELL said, “We had 19 runs after four innings and THE CATCH couldn't keep up.”
The way the tournament went for the SWARM was typical of their season to date. Play good at times and not so good at other times. The team has played in nine tournaments and been champs four times (DALTON, MARIETTA, PENSACOLA, ALABAMA ISSA).
The self-sponsored team considers itself “Home Grown” since in the twenty years they have been playing either with or against each other in local league. The SWARM roster however has not changed in the past three years.
“We really liked the SAVANNAH SAND GNATS (minor league baseball team) logo but we knew we couldn't use the name so we kept the logo and came up with a name to fit the logo”, HOWELL explained.
Although there were a lot of stars and great individual efforts by everyone, individual tournament awards are limited.
“Defense is the name of our game,” HOWELL, who received the 2012 SPA 50 AAA MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARD said, “We either win or lose with our defense and we wanted to recognize our outfield, short stop and pitcher, who really stepped up their defensive game in DALTON.”
TONY HERRERA, according to HOWELL was phenomenal on defense and made plays others only dream of making. He made every conceivable play and fielded everything he touched, he definitely was the difference maker in the championship run and truly earned the TOURNAMENT MVP AWARD.
The ALL-AMERICAN selections were pitcher DARELL BAILEY, who spun a 6-1 record in the games he pitched to go along with a .560 batting average (the SWARM does not use O.B.P. , just regular batting average) and played like a gold glove on defense..Joining BAILEY on the ALL TOURNAMENT team were STEVE TAYLOR (lf,.593), TIM ODOM (lcf, .571), FRANKIE FLETCHER,(rc, .609) and 59-year young right fielder JIMMY YOUNG (.621).
“Our outfielders do 75-percent of the running for our team in a game whether in the field or on the bases,” HOWELL said, “They not only run for themselves but for others. That is in addition to running all over the outfield and playing defense, We felt they (four outfielders) deserved the recognition.”
Another person who would have received an award if there was one was “the ultimate team mom” KATHY JOHNSON (RONALD JOHNSON'S wife). KATHY is the GIRL FRIDAY for the SWARM keeping the score book and compiling stats; serving as the team treasurer and secretary.
“We would be lost without her,” HOWELL said.
Rounding out the squad are JIMMY REEVES (3B,.662), DAVID GRIFFIN (2B, .618); R.B.I. leader. RONALD JOHNSON (1B, .654); DON HOWELL (C, .727); JAMES STROUD (C, .688, 6HR); DONNY REGISTER (OF, .714); 63-year young CHARLES “CUZ” CASMUS (OF, .727); ARNIE BURRIS (1B/DH, .500; 63-year young lead-off hitter MIKE JACKSON (DH, .685) and ROGER DAY (C/DH, .550).
“They say managing a senior softball team is one of the toughest jobs in softball, “HOWELL said, “Maybe it is but I wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything, I love all of these guys it is just a great group of guys and a real pleasure to be one of them.”