PICK-UPS PICK-UP SPA WORLDS 75 MAJORS CROWN

by Ho Hoffman 26. November 2013 23:26

  BECKLER CARPET LEGENDS JELL TOGETHER FOR WIN

 

DALTON, GEORGIA – So much for a team having to play a lot of tournaments together to prepare for a WORLD TOURNAMENT.

Manager KEN GRIFFITH put the BECKLER CARPET LEGENDS SPA 75 MAJOR WORLD CHAMPS together at the last minute for the DALTON TOURNAMENT and took the 75 MAJORS' WORLD title.

Not only was the team organized almost overnight, but the sponsor BECKLER CARPET of DALTON was lined up shortly before the start of the tournament.

We changed the players at the last minute,” the SPA 75 MAJOR MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR said, “ We were supposed to be in with one other 75 MAJOR team but they pulled out.”

We had loaded the original roster with 75 MAJOR players but when we learned we would be playing 80-year old teams we dropped the major players and picked up AAA players and so we averaged 77-years old,”GRIFFITH added, “I didn't think it would be fair to play MAJOR players against the 80's.”

Actually the team wasn't that new since some of them played together and won the 75 SENIOR OLYMPICS in Cleveland this past summer as the CHATTANOOGA LEGENDS.

New may not be the correct word,” GRIFFITH said, “All of us have probably played on the same team together or played against each other numerous times over the past several years.”

The DALTON BECKLER CARPET team lost their first two games 19-16 (CENTER FOR SIGHT) and 19-18 (FLORIDA INVESTMENT PROPERTIES) before finishing strong.

It took us a couple of games to get used to playing together but the second day we got it going,” GRIFFITH said.

The CARPET boys downed the 2013 80 WORLD CHAMPS FLORIDA INVESTMENT and finished with a 21-15 win over CENTER FOR SIGHT.

The team was led by MVP RAY KENT, who in his first ever travel team tournament batted .944 (17/18). For KENT, a solid local house league player, it was his first ever tournament award of any kind.

The DEFENSIVE MVP winner was long time senior softball and well known SPA tournament Director and player MIKE DESORBO.

ALL-AMERICAN honorees were: BEN DUPREE, PHIL JOHNSON, DR, EDWARD LAMMONS, RON PFEIFFER , QUINETH ROBERTS, and GRIFFITH.

Other members of the championship team are: DAN DUPREE, JIM WATERS, RAY PHELPS, HOWARD GUNN, LES BROWNING, THOMAS ASHBURN, GEORGE ALEXANDER and EARL WILLIAMS.

If there was a TOURNAMENT INSPIRATION AWARD, it certainly would have gone to WILLIAMS. The 80-year young player, who is suffering from PARKINSON'S disease not only logged some playing time on the field but delivered four key hits in DALTON BECKLER CARPET'S TITLE run.

This was not the only senior softball EARL plays, “GRIFFITH said, “He plays in our local CHATTANOOGA LEAGUE and also played in the CLEVELAND SENIIOR OLYMPICS”

But getting four hits in a WORLD TOURNAMENT was really special,” GRIFFITH added, “To see EARL not only get out there and play a few innings but also deliver some big hits, that meant more to all of us than winning the title.”

So now that the tournament is over and done, does that mean the team will again disband?

We had such a great time, I think we will stick together and play travel ball next year,” GRIFFITH said, “We hope to have two teams, one in 75 and another in 70's. We will call ourselves the LEFTOVERS.”

The big thing is, we will have more than a week to get ready to play,” he said, “Maybe we can get a restaurant to sponsor us, it would be a great name for a restaurant team, the LEFTOVERS.”

 

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Tournaments

MICHELLE SHEPHERD, HER MEMORY LINGERS ON

by Ho Hoffman 25. November 2013 12:55

DAYTON TEAM PLAYS SEASON IN HER HONOR

WEST MILTON, OHIO - To describe MICHELLE SHEPHERD only one word is needed, “SPECIAL”

MICHELLE was a special person, “MICHELLE'S BOYZ manager JAMIE VICKERS said, “She was that type of individual that once you met her, you would never forget her. MICHELLE was that special type”

To the MICHELLE'S BOYZ team she was like a “team mom”. She was the organizer off the field, the head cheerleader, social chairperson and she did anything that was asked of her.

I remember when our team first started playing together and of course a lot of the wives didn't know each other,” MICHELLE'S HUSBAND TOM said, “ All the wives were sitting in individual groups at our game, three here, another three over there, one by herself and so forth.”

What happened next gives you an idea of who MICHELLE was.

Between games we all went to the parking lot but MICHELLE wasn't with us and I didn't know where she was, “SHEPHERD said, “When we all returned to the field for the next game, there was MICHELLE. She had taken everyone's lawn chair and arranged them all together next to each other.”

It was MICHELLE'S way of making certain nobody was left out and we all, wives included, were part of a team,” SHEPHERD said, “And from that time on, all the wives sat together in the same order MICHELLE had arranged”

MICHELLE never missed a game, even when they discovered she had a brain tumor and the pain at times had to be unbearable.

The doctor told me the headaches MICHELLE was having was ten times worse then a migraine and he didn't know how she was able to cope with it,” SHEPHERD said, “She was able to because of her fighting spirit.”

She kept fighting the pain even when it was time to go to a tournament,” he continued, “She loved the guys and the wives on the team and she was always excited when we got together, she always looked forward to tournaments.”

Tom said MICHELLE also had a calming affect on him and knew when it was time to settle him down.

At times I get frustrated during a game and let my emotions get the better of me,” he explained, “When that would happen, MICHELLE would come down to the dug out and say, 'OK, THOMAS that is enough, settle down'. She always called me TOM except when she wanted me to settle down and then it was THOMAS. And when I heard THOMAS, I knew I had better settle down.”

MICHELLE, with her laughing eyes and smiling face, was always there for others and again, always more concerned about others' problems than her own

 

On January 5, 2013 the illness finally snuffed out her fighting spirit.

She was doing well but had to go back into the hospital and some complications set in and she never left the hospital,” SHEPHERD said.

I still feel her presence around me and especially on the ball field,” SHEPHERD said., “In that last inning in the championship game at DALTON, I know she was there.”

I agree, I know MICHELLE was with us at DALTON, “ VICKERS said, “We went into the seventh inning tied in the championship game and everybody was saying, 'Come on, we have to win this for MICHELLE.”

RICK HOPPE did his part pounding out a two-out grand slam home run to put MICHELES BOYZ on top 24-20 but they still needed to shut the door on BIG TEN in the bottom of the seventh.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh and runners on base for BIG TEN, I told DEANO MILLER (second baseman) we needed to end this game and win this tournament for MICHELLE,” SHEPHERD said, “Someone else must have been listening.”

The final two outs of the game came on a diving stop by MILLER and a flip to SHEPHERD (short stop) for a force out and a diving stop by SHEPHERD and a flip to MILLER for the final out.

That was a very special moment,” SHEPHERD said, “I stayed on my knees and with tears in my eyes looked towards the heavens and spoke to MICHELLE.”

That game ended a very memorable year for the team who played the season in honor of MICHELLE by changing the team's name to MICHELLE''S BOYZ.

I agreed to let the team call ourselves MICHELLE'S BOYZ, but for only for this year,” SHEPHERD said, “After that everyone can remember MICHELLE in their own individual way.”

However, they remember MICHELLE, you know it will be SPECIAL because after all she was a VERY, VERY SPECIAL person.

 

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MICHELLE'S BOYZ WIN 2013 SPA 50 AAA WORLDS

by Ho Hoffman 25. November 2013 12:43

 

TEAM DEDICATES SEASON TO MICHELLE SHEPHERD

 

DALTON, GEORGIA: Sometimes it takes more than hits and runs to win a tournament, it takes a little extra from inside and it is called HEART.

MICHELLE'S BOYZ reached down inside at DALTON to come up with that something extra to win the 2013 SPA 50 AAA WORLDS not just for themselves but more importantly to honor the remembrance of MICHELLE SHEPHERD.

MICHELLE SHEPHERD was the wife of teammate TOM SHEPHERD, who passed away on JANUARY 5, 2013 from a brain tumor. Her infectious smile and laughing eyes and her constant battle to try to defeat the tumor endeared her to the entire MICHELLE'S BOYZ family.

MICHELLE was loved by everyone,” MICHELLE'S BOYZ manager JAMIE VICKERS said, “She was special to us all. Despite severe headaches, she never missed a game, helped with fund raising, she was like our team mom”

:She also had a fighting spirit up until the end,” VICKERS said, “We wanted to honor MICHELLE and her spirit by dedicating the 2013 season to her memory”

(EDITOR'S NOTE: See accompanying article on MICHELLE SHEPHERD )

At DALTON, MICHELLE'S BOYS capped the 2013 season by battling back in a way MICHELLE would have been proud winning the “IF” game over BIG TEN 24-18.

It was not an easy tournament for us,” VICKERS said, “After pool play we really had to battle to win the championship.”

After a 3-0 start in pool play (13-11 ESB RENOVATION, 16-1 CROSSCUT FREEDOM RANCH, 34-13 ELITE 50), MICHELLE'S BOYZ found the going tougher.

They edged CROSSCUT 19-17 in the bracket first game and had to go extra innings to defeat PHOENIX TUBE 30-25 in the second round.

That win was huge because P HOENIX TUBE was such a great team,” VICKERS, the 2013 SPA 50 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE YEAR said, “They scored ten runs in the seventh to tie us, but we came back with five in the eighth to take the lead and then we shut them out in the bottom of the eighth to win. We sort of think MICHELLE'S fighting spirit carried us through that one.”

It didn't get any easier as they edged the LIGHTHOUSE LOOKOUTS 22-21 to stand as the only undefeated team left and were just waiting for the team coming out of the loser's bracket.

BIG TEN SOFTBALL came out of the loser's bracket and immediately put a damper on MICHELLE'S BOYZ tournament by forcing an “IF” game with a 23-22 win.”

I thought this was going to be DEJA VU all over again, “ VICKERS said, “It was looking like a repeat of last year when MONTGOMERY SWARM came out of the loser's bracket to beat us in the championship “IF” game.”

To make things worse, starting pitcher DAVE MELAMPY was hit by a batted ball between games and was taken to the hospital.

It wasn't a good situation but we were still upbeat and we were determined to win the game and championship for both MICHELLE and TOM, “VICKERS said.

Tied going into the seventh inning,something special happened. Although there were no ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD like the HOLLYWOOD movie, there may have been one in the dugout.

RICK HOPPE delivered a two-out grand slam home run to spark a six-run uprising and shortstop SHEPHERD and second baseman DEANO MILLER each came up with diving stops and a flip-to-each other for force outs for the final two outs of the game.

It was a great finish,” VICKERS said, “Everybody gathered at the pitcher's mound along with RIDGE HOOKS to say a few prayers thanking GOD and MICHELLE for the strength to win. Not for the win but the strength to win. There were not to many dry eyes.”

It was a fitting way to end the season for the team put together by VICKERS, SHEPHERD and TIM STANSELL when they were part of the DAYTON LEGENDS organization. four years ago. The next year they struck out on their own and this season in addition to winning their first ever NATIONAL or WORLD title they compiled a 34-9 record.

This was our best year ever,” VICKERS said, “We won THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC, SYLVANIA, LANSING, DALTON and finished second in the BRICKYARD. We'll just forget about COLUMBUS.”

MICHELLE'S BOYZ made good use of their bats in their final 2013 tournament collecting an actual team batting average of .700.

It wasn't so much the batting average that was the big factor,” VICKERS said,”It was the timely two-out hitting and our defense.

Earning the TOURNAMENT MVP award for his all around play was SHEPHERD. The short stop sparkled in the field and was second on the team with a .788 batting average.

Earning ALL-AMERICAN honors were STEVE BOOSO, DAVE KIDWELL, STEVE FRYMAN, FRANK MARKLEY, KYLE SPARKMAN, MELAMPY and HOPPE. JAMIE VICKERS was the SPA 2013 50 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR.

Other members of the team were: TIM KNECHT, SCOTT MINEER, RON WILLIAMS, RICK BATES, MILLER and STANSELL.

Next year the team will not only move up to MAJOR but will also play under a new name.

When JAMIE (VICKERS) and the rest of the team asked if they could honor MICHELLE by calling the team MICHELLE'S BOYZ, I was very honored and I know MICHELLE would be also,” SHEPHERD said, “But I only wanted it to be for this year because MICHELLE was really looking forward to this year.”

The team name may disappear into history but the memory of MICHELLE SHEPHERD will always remain in the hearts of the MICHELLE'S BOYS softball team organization. And I would not be surprised if next year under a new name and in a tough game, they may hear a voice come from somewhere saying, “Come on guys you can do it, where is that fighting spirit.?”

Team name or not a team name, in their hearts they will always remain MICHELLE'S BOYZ.

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Tournaments

KRT WINS FIRST EVER SPA TITLE

by Ho Hoffman 22. November 2013 11:30

 

STARTED IN 2004 FLORIDA TEAM TAKES 65 MAJOR WORLDS

 

DALTON, GEORGIA – The cork finally came out of the bottle for FLORIDA'S KRT 65 MAJOR team as they won the highly competitive five-team SPA 65 MAJOR SPA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

If the truth be known, we were lucky,” SPA 65 MAJOR-MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR JAY RAE said, ”Any of the five teams in the tournament could have won it, we were so evenly matched”

What helped us at the end was THARALDSON was playing its’ third game in a row and it was only our second, so they were a little more worn out than us,” RAE explained.

Winning the Manager-Of-The-Year Award was also somewhat of a surprise for RAE. It was only the second time all year he had managed the KRT team.

We hadn't qualified yet earlier in the year,” regular manager LOU URBINATI said, ”We were going to play in this one qualifier and I was going to be out of town, so I asked JAY (RAE) to do it.”

Since we then listed as KRT's manager on the DALTON entry form (from the qualifier), I just decided to not change anything,” URBINATI, “Now it makes me look like a genius because JAY manages to our first ever NATIONAL or WORLD title.”

KRT'S march to the title wasn't an easy one. They played .500 in pool play beating BALE CHEVROLET (16-14) and PANHANDLE HITMEN 20-8) but lost to THORALDSON (24-23) and FLORIDA THUNDER (11-9).

In the five-team bracket play they started by beating PANHANDLE HITMEN 29-17 and then sent THORALDSON to the loser's bracket 19-17.

THORALDSON came out of the loser's bracket and forced an “IF” game by beating KRT 20-15 before running out of gas in the title match 20-15.

Look at those scores,” RAE said, “All the games were close considering this was a MAJOR'S bracket and anybody could explode at any time and win any game.”

Because every team in the MAJOR bracket can hit, RAE said the secret in winning a major tournament is not so much offense but rather the defense.

The way these teams hit, you cannot give them extra outs in an inning because they (major teams) will just continue to hit and add on the runs,” RAE said, “ Pitching (no walks) and defense (three outs an inning) determines who wins and who loses when major teams play each other.”

Just because KRT won the SPA WORLDS, URBINATI doesn't want everyone to think they are now the best team in 65 MAJORS.

Us the best?”, he asked, “You have to be kidding.”This is our first major tournament win in nine years and our first tournament win this year, period.”

We finished second in RENO and third in VEGAS. Want to know how much of a power we are?, “he asked again, “We went to FORT MYERS and had to play MAJOR PLUS and got smoked 32-9, 20-11 and 19-4 to ROSE ENTERPRISES. That is 71-24 in three games and we went 0-3. Does that sound like a major plus team.?”

Both RAE and URBINATI think the SPA 65 MAJOR DIVISION could grow into one of the best divisions in senior softball.

If they bring up some of those AAA powers who fly under the radar by not attending NATIONAL and WORLD tournaments so they won't get noticed, up to MAJOR and keep the current MAJOR teams together, ”they suggested. “this would be one great division and major teams would finally have opponents when they go to tournaments and not have to fly to the west coast to play tournaments with major teams.”

Both also had high praise for SPA.

SPA is the best organization in senior softball,” URBINATI, “They run good tournaments where the emphasis is the teams and the players. If any organization is going to help cure this major division problem of lack of teams and competitive tournaments, SPA will be the one.”

One more thing about KRT'S win at DALTON is they did it with only eleven players.

We had the eleven players who wanted to play with the team and play as a team, “ RAE said, “Team work won the tournament for us.”

Members of the KRT team were: TOURNAMENT MVP DAVE HADDEN, ALL-AMERICAN PHIL GRIMPE, ALL-AMERICAN TIM VALENTINE, ALL-AMERICAN DON CABRAL, ALL-AMERICAN ED SPARKMAN, All-American RAE. PAT ZAMPELLA, ALLEN SMITH, HOWARD BERGER, ERNEST WATSON and URBINATI.

So what is left for KRT this year and next?

We will play an ISSA tournament in January and the FLORIDA HALF-CENTURY LEAGUE,” URBINATI said, “After that it will depend on our rating and where we can compete.”

 

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Tournaments

WHO'S ON FIRST FINISHES FIRST

by Ho Hoffman 18. November 2013 12:17

MARYLAND TEAM WINS SPA 55 AAA WORLDS

 

DALTON, GEORGIA: Their roster wasn't loaded with WHO, WHAT, WHY, BECAUSE, ETC but WHO'S ON FIRST had enough other help to win the 2013 SPA 55 AAA WORLDS.

The Maryland team did not play the part of a typical 55 AAA Powerhouse averaging only 18 runs a game (108 6 games) but played enough defense (67 runs 6 games) to go undefeated in pool play (2-0) and bracket play (4-0) to win the nine-team field.

We have never been a scoring team,” SPA 55 AAA MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR BOBDECARLO said, “Our defense (14 DP'S in Dalton) has always been the key to our game, that and timely hitting is what carried us in this tournament.”

DECARLO also believes there is more important things then just pure talent when a team is put together.

Sometimes its not the team with the most talent that wins all the time,” he explained, “ but a team that plays together. We are always friends before we play the game and friends when the games are over and I really feel that is the most important part of this team.”

WHO'S ON FIRST opened their run with a pair of 17-9 pool play wins over (BY) GRACE REDEEMED and CENTRAL ILLINOIS CHIEFS.

In bracket play COLUMBUS (GA) 55's fell 21-15, followed by DIXIE SENIOR SOFTBALL 18-13, CENTRAL CHIEFS 11-7 and the CHIEFS again in the title game 24-12.

Carrying the big stick for WHO'S ON FIRST was WHAT or better known as 2B MIKE HALL. The second baseman earned the tournament MVP AWARD by his defense, clutch hitting and high .820 batting average.

HALL was joined on the ALL-AMERICAN squad by I DON”T KNOW, WHY, BECAUSE, TODAY, TOMORROW and NOBODY. Their actual names are in-order 3B TONY LAWSON, OF BRYAN BASISTA, OF RONNIE BAKER, C DON SEYFFERTH, P BILL REDMAN (5-0) and OF BOB WOODY, JR.

I DON'T GIVE A DARN (SS DECARLO) was MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR

The rest of the WHO'S ON FIRST championship roster is: GEORGE NICHOLSON, BARRY TAYLOR, LARRY BECKETT, TOMMY KAUFMAN, KURT MCKINNEY, REDS CATTERTON and BOB PIERCE.

So how did the name WHO'S ON FIRST come about.

Most of us grew up together playing on the same team when we were younger,” DECARLO said, “It just seemed every time we were making out our line-up, we were not sure what position everyone would be playing, it was like, 'OK Who's on First?” and it stuck as a team name.”

This year WHO'S ON FIRST has played eleven tournaments winning five. The big ones being SPA DALTON, FORT MYERS and the ISF SENIOR WORLD CUP.

We really enjoyed the DALTON SPA TOURNAMENT because of all the different teams,: DECARLO said, “We are self sponsored so we play mostly tournaments around our area and we always see the same teams. I wish there were more SPA tournaments in our area, we really like the way they are conducted.”

Unlike most AAA teams who win a WORLD TITLE and have to move up to the next level, they follow the old adage “THERE IS NO CRYING IN SOFTBALL.”

We're ready to move up, we earned it,” DECARLO said, “We will probably pick up a couple of stronger players to help us but why cry about moving up. I always thought you play to be one of the best, teams should look forward to moving up to the next level.”

Too bad BUD ABBOTT and LOU COSTELLO aren't still around, they would have loved playing and coaching “WHO'S ON FIRST”, heck, they already knew everybody's name.

 

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Tournaments

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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