DELAWARE TEAM ALSO CELEBRATES HARRIET MAIR'S HOF HONOR
DALTON, GEORGIA – It was a double-scoop of enjoyment for the BLUE CHICKS at the 2012 SPA 65 AAA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS in DALTON, GEORGIA.
Not only did the DELAWARE team win its first 65 AAA WORLD TITLE, but also saw teammate HARRIET MAIR inducted into the SENIOR SOFTBALL HALL-OF-FAME.
“It really was a great tournament for us,” manager JUNE SMITH said,”I don't know what our team was more excited about---winning the SPA WORLD TITLE or seeing HARRIET (MAIR) being inducted into the HOF – both accomplishments were very special to the BLUE CHICKS.”
While MAIR'S induction was already set prior to the tournament the BLUE CHICK”S Championship wasn't. As a matter of fact after their first pool game, the odds looked more like a two-and-gone scenario than a WORLD TITLE.
The FLORIDA GOLDEN GALS 65'S welcomed the BLUE CHICKS to pool play by hanging a 20-11 defeat on the “birds”.
“It wasn't a very good way to start the tournament,” SMITH said, “It was twice as bad sitting on the bench watching what was going on...sometimes we were wondering if we would ever get an out.”
“We didn't panic because we are usually a slow starting team and if you are going to have a bad game it is better to have it early and get it out of your system,” she added.
In their final two games in pool, the BLUE CHICKS get their act together..but just barely as they beat the 2011 SPA 65 AAA champs the DREAM CATCHERS 9-7 and the NORTH CHARLESTON PRIMETIMERS 11-10.
In their first game in bracket play it was more of the same as they barely got by the VIRGINIA GOLDEN GIRLS 8-6. But after that it was all over but the crying for the rest of the 65 AAA field.
“When we reached the semi-final game against the CHATANOOGA CHARGERS we were more focused and played our game,”SMITH said, “We started making plays defensively and putting long innings together offensively.”
Determined not to falter in the finals as they did in 2011 when they took runner-up honors in the 65 AAA WORLDS, the BLUE CHICKS sent CHATANOOGA to the loser's bracket by an 18-8 count and finished them off in the title game 13-2.
The championship was especially sweet for SMITH and BARBARA SWEENEY, who were original BLUE CHICKS on the 50+ team which was started fifteen years ago.
“BARBARA (SWEENEY) and I started the team after we saw an article in the paper about senior softball,” SMITH said. “We called everyone we knew and we put a team together.”
“Just as important, if not more important was the work of PAULA KLEMM.” SMITH added, “PK kept this team together the past 15 years, while the other younger age group BLUE CHICK 50's team folded, she has been like a general manager for us. We are here today mainly due to the efforts of BARBARA and PK.”
The biggest hero in DALTON for the BIRDS was TOURNAMENT MVP PHYLLIS MEAD. According to SMITH, “.......she hit like crazy and made unbelievable plays on defense.” The left fielder also supplied a number of key hits throughout the tournament.
Selected to the ALL-AMERICAN team were BARB SWEENEY (RF), EDNA ALLEN (1b), JANET ROBINSON (LF/RF/2B), NOEL HAUSER and pitcher “CHARLY” NEILL-ROE.
SMITH received the 2012 SPA 65 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR AWARD and was very humble in her acceptance.
“Two others deserve part of this award,” SMITH said, “PAULA KLEMM couldn't attend the tournament due to an illness, but she is also deserving of this award. With PAULA not being here, LINDA VAN VALKENBURG stepped up taking over assistant manager's duties and was a great help throughout the tournament. She also deserves equal recognition.”
The other members of the SPA 2012 SPA 65'S WORLD CHAMPS are:
DORIS BROWN (SS), ELLEN CAVINS (SF), JANIS DILLARD (2B), MARIE KNABBE ( C ), BONNIE STRANG (2B), GAINELL TEASLEY (RC), DORCY WILKINS (P), LINDA VAN VALKENBERG (1B), and PAULA KLEMM (Manager).
The team which is self sponsored and only plays three tournaments a year all agreed this was a great year for the BLUE CHICKS.
“This has been a great year for us winning the WORLD TITLE and having HARRIET make the HOF,” SMITH said, “We take the game seriously when we are on the field, but for us there is more than just softball.”
" We enjoy each others company and friendship,” SMITH added, “ that is what senior softball is all about, the camaraderie between not only the players on your team but also the other teams. This was just a great year for the BLUE CHICKS.”