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.