by Judy Lee Schrieber 20. February 2015 21:06


 Michigan Mavericks, the Oldest Women’s Senior Softball Team.  Kay Oswait, 90-years-old was the coach and Jerry Gawara, at the time was 92-years-old.  Kay just passed away three weeks ago after suffering from cancer for 12 years.  The Michigan Mavericks are from Garden City, Michigan. 

 Kay Oswait was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.  She played fast pitch, modified fast-pitch, and then slow-pitch softball.    She was a pitcher, catcher and outfielder.  She began playing senior softball in 1989.  She was manager and player despite some major health issues.  She had a fall in 2007 resulting in a fractured hip and thereafter became the manager of the Mavericks 75+.  Kay is one of those pioneers that paved the way for all the younger female players.

 Kay wrote about Jerry Gawara – She is now 91-years-old and would still be playing if we had enough players over 80 to play.  In 1988, Jerry played shortstop in the Women’s Senior Olympics in St. Louis.  One of Jerry Opponent wrote, “I had the privilege of playing against her (Jerry) as well as with her.  She played various positions but noted for her stamina with her pitching.  She was a good hitter.  Jerry’s personality is one of graciousness and humbling demeanor.  She is competitive, but in a civil way.  She cares about others on the team and opponents.  Because of Jerry, Judy Lee had  the pitching rule changed to allow her to pitch 2 innings, rest, and then come back into the game; plus allowing 12 players on the field for this age group.

 Judy Lee Schreiber wrote, “They (Jerry and Kay) are an inspiration to all of us younger ladies and they keep us on our toes because they are not sitting at home twiddling their thumbs.”  Kay is the one that always said to me, “NEVER give up on helping the Senior Women to play ball. “  She was my encouragement all of these years.  I loved this lady.  She is one in a million.”

 Below is the Women’s Softball Tournament Schedule for 2015.  If you happen to live or happen to be in one of these cities during tournament play, please stop by and cheer them on and welcome them to your city.


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General | Women


by Ho Hoffman 15. April 2014 15:22



GEORGETOWN, TEXAS – A record thirty-five teams turned out to remember the late LAYLA BRYAN and participate in the tournament renamed in her honor which was held at MCMASTERS ATHLETIC COMPLEX in GEORGETOWN, TEXAS MARCH 27-30..

BRYAN, who was a beloved member of the senior softball family passed away suddenly last fall. She was well known and respected as the ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the SOFTBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION (SPA) and also as the TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR of many SPA events, including GEORGETOWN.


LAYLA meant at lot to not only us but also the entire senior softball family,” SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS said, “ Due in part to her hard work and love of the game SENIOR SOFTBALL and SPA especially has continually grown over the years.”

Although she was the tournament director for a number of SPA tournaments, the GEORGETOWN event was her “baby”, “HOOKS continued, “ She loved the GEORGETOWN TOURNAMENT, the players, teams, the complex and just everything about it. We felt it was only fitting to rename the tournament in her honor. I am sure she had a front row seat this year watching down from above and saying to anyone who would listen, “Isn't that great. RIDGE named a tournament after me, How special is that”?.

Just a special recognition for a special lady.

On the field TEN BRACKET CHAMPIONS were crowned with the biggest group being the 70's division.

The TEXAS LEGENDS won the five-team bracket besting the TEXAS CLASSICS 23-6 and STILL 8-7. To reach the finals the TEXAS CLASSICS defeated the TEXAS GREYHOUNDS. HILL CONTRACTING rounded out the field.

HARRIS AUCTION beat HILL CONTRACTING 75'S 22-12 and ALAMO CITY TRAVELERS 25-13 to claim the 75 PLUS TITLE. The TEXAS CLASSICS 80's were the fourth team in the group.

In another four-team bracket, ROCKY MOUNTAIN ran the field beating OKLAHOMA RHINOS twice including 24-16 in the title game. The “MOUNTAIN” men also beat A&B GRAPHICS 23-13 along the way. AUSTIN ROCK completed the 50 GOLD grouping.

It was as simple as 1-2-3 with NORTEX beating TEXAS MAVERICKS 19-15 (title game), 24-4 and TEXAS PLAYERS 29-22 for the CROWN in the three-team 50 PLATINUM DIVISION.

The 50 GOLD THREE-TEAM DIVISION saw TEXAS ELITE BUD down MIXED BREED 19-16 in the title game and the BULLETS 21-20 leading up to the championship game. MIXED BREED reached the finals by beating the BULLETS 26-13.

SAN ANTONIO (SA) 55 SOFTBALL CLUB dumped GONZALES INSULATING 19-1 in the showdown game and 27-15 in the opening round to win the three-team 55 GOLD GROUP. GONZALES INSULATING reached the finals by edging HOUSTON FIRE 55's 26-25.

In the three-team 60 PLATINUM GROUP, GONZALES INSULATING had to go to the “IF” game to edge HOUSTON FIRE 29-28 for the GOLD RING.

THE “FIRE” GUYS forced the “IF” game by beating GONZALES INSULATION 26-25. In earlier bracket games GONZALES had beaten HOUSTON FIRE 35-25 and OOPS SOFTBALL 27.26.

In a BEST TWO-OUT-OF-THREE SHOWDOWN for the 60 PLUS TITLE, the TEXAS THUNDER was all over the DALLAS SPURS winning two straight by 28-21 and 25-10 counts.

CENTEX 65's went THREE-AND-ZERO in bracket play to claim the FOUR-TEAM 65 GOLD CROWN. The CENTEX gang beat the LOUISIANA LEGENDS 19-4 in the finale . In earlier bracket contests CENTEX 65's downed TEXAS LEGENDS 26-22 and LOUISIANA LEGENDS 21-11.

The LOUISIANA LEGENDS reached the finals by downing CARRIAGE HOMES 28-16 and TEXAS LEGENDS 26-25 to fight their way back into the winner's bracket.

The TEXAS RATTLERS were “real snakes in the grass” striking for three straight in bracket play to win the 65 SILVER TITLE.

The RATTLERS edged OKIES 19-18 in the championship game and RELENTLESS 65's 10-5 and the TEXAS EAGLES 24-21 in earlier games.

OKIES made it to the finals by beating RELENTLESS 65's 20-12.

It was a great tournament both in terms of competition and teams,” TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR LONNIE O'HAVER said, “ I know LAYLA is smiling down on us because she would have really been proud of it.”

We were close to reaching FORTY teams ,” O'HAVER said,”We had to turn four teams away for trying to enter after the deadline and we had three which pulled out at the last minute. Based on how well the tournament went this year, I am certain we will top forty teams in 2015.”


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by Ho Hoffman 15. April 2014 14:56


GEORGETOWN, TEXAS – They say talk is cheap, so SPA, the teams and players at the 2014 LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL (formerly GEORGETOWN CLASSIC) put their money were their mouth was.

Paced by the Tournament’s $500.00 donation, they raised over $900.00 for the LAYLA BRYAN SCHOLRASHIP fund.

It was a tremendous way to honor someone who has done so much for SENIOR SOFTBALL, “LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL tournament Director LONNIE O'HAVER said, “The teams and the players were anxious to chip in for the Scholarship Fund.”

BRYAN, who passed away in 2013, was an integral part of the SPA organization. She was not only the moving force behind the GEORGETOWN CLASSIC TOURNAMENT but numerous other SPA Tournaments.

As the Assistant Executive Director for SPA, BRYAN was also a fixture at the SPA DALTON WORLDS and the SPA 75 PLUS WORLDS in COLUMBUS, OHIO.

LAYLA was like my right hand man,” SPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RIDGE HOOKS said during the MEMORIAL SERVICE for LAYLA at the tournament.

You can not put into words how much she meant not only to SPA but to senior softball in general,” HOOKS added, “ She definitely was a “mover and shaker” for senior softball and will be greatly missed by all.”

In a memorial service conducted at the tournament Friday morning, HOOKS presented Plaques to her husband JON and her two daughters, thanking them for the sacrifices that they made in enabling LAYLA to devote so much of her time and energy to improving the game of Senior Softball.

Anyone who wishes to contribute to the LAYLA BRYAN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND can do so my sending a check or money order to:


PO BOX 1307


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General | Tournaments | Women


by Ho Hoffman 25. November 2013 12:55


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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by Ho Hoffman 6. August 2013 12:28


 BURBANK, CALIFORNIA – Some team members don't have to hit home runs or make outstanding defensive plays to be considered an “IMPACT” player.

 Just being a part of the team and contributing in a variety of non-playing areas is sometimes enough to not only consider that individual as an “IMPACT PLAYER” but also as a team MVP.

 Such is the case of SPA 60 MAJOR TEAM COMBAT JOE BROWN'S ALLSTARS with the person in question being JOE BROWN, himself.

 No JOE BROWN isn't even the sponsor, he is just one of those “good guys” who do all the work players on the team really are not excited about doing.

 JOE is just a huge asset to our team, “ TEAM COMBAT JOE BROWN ALL STARS and an actual IMPACT player DAVID CLOVER said, “ JOE is the first one there arranging the bats, the bat bags, organizes the dugout, checks out the line-up, grabs the bats after a guy hits. Cleans out the dugout after the game and handles all our necessary tournament paper work. He really is a big asset.”

 He is so well thought of by members of the team, they honored him by naming the team after him.

 We were changing sponsors and team names and trying to decide what to call our team,” CLOVER said, “JOE says `'Why not the JOE BROWN ALL STARS' , BINGO!, so that is what we called our team.

 Don't get the idea BROWN doesn't know what he is doing because he is quite experienced with softball.

 I have about thirty-or-forty championship rings,” he said, “Never from playing but from managing or coaching a World Championship team. I've been doing it (coaching,managing) for around forty years.”

 Another amazing thing about BROWN is he does all his traveling secretary and “bat boy” duties with one leg.

 I lost my leg in 2008 because of a freak softball accident,” BROWN explained, “I was hit by a line drive and it (leg) swelled up and it led to a staph infection. I owe a lot to my teammates and especially STEVE IMLAY and his wife CARROLL; DAVE and SHARON CLOVER and STEVE and DEANNA OWENS because they really all helped save my life.”

 The loss of one leg does not seem to be a hindrance for BROWN

 Having one leg makes me faster,” BROWN said, “I move faster now with one leg than I did with two.”

 So what does the 73-year young BROWN think about today's senior softball game?

 Too many silly rules,” he quickly responded, “limiting home runs, equalization rules, teams sandbagging so they don't have to move up in class because they would rather beat up on weaker teams then playing competitive teams. All those things take away from the game.”

 BROWN may not like the rules but he sure has a soft spot in his heart for team members of TEAM COMBAT JOE BROWN'S ALL STARS.

 The fellowship and camaraderie of the guys on this team is something special, “the IOWA NATIVE said, “I go to the dinners with them, they pick me up and drive me to the tournaments, they do so many special things for me, I can't express enough how much their friendship means to me.”

 BROWN apparently has a special impact on his teammates also. Not too many “bat boys” have ever had a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP softball team named after them, as a matter of fact BROWN is probably the only one.

 And for good reason!!!


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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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