CHAMPS HIT .731 IN THE SEVEN GAMES
COLUMBUS,OHIO - “Maybe it was the water,” was PEPCO ELECTRIC'S manager TED BUDZIK response to how his team ripped the softball during the SPA 75 GOLD DIVISION WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS held at COLUMBUS,OHIO'S BERLINER PARK August 12-15,
The CLEVELAND team looked like the 1927 YANKEE'S MURDERER'S ROW when after losing their first game in pool play to the DELAWARE DIAMONDS 14-11, they ran off six straight wins to claim their first 75's tournament of the year.
“I don't know what we did different to hit like we did,” BUDZIK, who was the SPA 75 GOLD DIVISION MANAGER-OF-THE-YEAR said, “It (hitting) just started and it was contagious.”
BUDZIK was also quick to point out that his team was unable to hit like that at THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC or the HEART OF OHIO TOURNAMENT, where they took runner-up spots to HAMEL'S and the INDY CROWNS.
They did not have a similar problem at the 75 WORLDS as they beat the DELAWARE DIAMONDS 19-5, JIMMY'S MINNESOTA GOLD 19-14 and the ANTIQUES twice 20-6 and 17-1 in the title game.
“You may not believe it but this tournament was loaded with really great teams,” BUDZIK said, “PEACHTREE, INDY CROWNS, ANTIQUES, JIMMY”S, STATESMEN, GEEZERS, DIAMONDS and PROHEALTH all were capable of winning the tournament”
“In tournament play the winner is usually the one which gets hot at the right time and we really got hot. We didn't score a lot of runs like some of the teams did but we consistently scored around 20 runs.”, he added.
Carrying the big bat for PEPCO was TOURNAMENT MVP ROGER THRESHER. The mid-fielder was 20-of-23 for a sparkling .869 batting average.
ALL-AMERICAN selections from PEPCO were CHUCK BARRACATO (.814), JOE MISKE (.862), BILL MURPHY (.681), RUSS NEGRAY (.750) and JOHN MILLER (.680).
Other members of the championship team are: ALAN DEWERTH (.600), JERRY HATFIELD (.631), RICHARD HONKALA (.818), TOM MALONEY, JIM PRICE (.680), SAM WYMAN, WILSON YODER (.653), TOM SIEWIOREK (.590), ASSISTANT COACH HAM LUNARDI and STATISTICIAN KATHY WYMAN. Team Sponsor is JACK BORKEY of PEPCO ELECTRIC in EASTLAKE, OHIO.
Of course you just can't win a tournament with hitting, you also need defense. The “D” was also key for PEPCO. In seven games they made less than ten errors and turned eight double plays.
“If you keep the other team from getting extra bats because of errors and you're hitting, it makes winning a whole lot easier.”, BUDZIK explained.
Another factor which BUDZIK feels really helps everyone's play in the 75 Division is the two games a day maximum.
“That is really a great program for tournaments,” BUDZIK said, “When you only play two games a day and in this tournament we went 2-2-2-1 it keeps everyone fresh to play at the top of their game.”
PEPCO ELECTRIC is not new to the tournament wars with most of the players having played together since they were in their 50's.
“We all started in the MAYFIELD HEIGHTS LEAGUE, one of the first senior league in Ohio,” BUDZIK said, “We formed our team and called it the HALL OF FAMERS and had all softball HALL OF FAME players on it.”
According to BUDZIK that didn't last long as HOF players on the team retired and they couldn't find enough to take their place. Almost eighty-percent of today's team has been together for twenty years and has won five National Titles.
“We won at PLANO twice as 60-and-65, VEGAS at 65 and Palm Springs at 70,” their manager said,
“This is our first championship in awhile and it is bittersweet,” BUDZIK said, “Thanks to SPA, the 75 AAA DIVISION has become one of the best divisions in Senior Softball and now we have to move to MAJOR where there are only three other 75 major teams within a 400-mile radius.”
At this point, BUDZIK is not sure what the team will do next year.
“If we can't find tournaments like BARBERTON, COLUMBUS and SHELBYVILLE to play in because we're a major it may be best to split up the team,” BUDZIK said, “If SPA can come up with tournaments in OHIO, INDIANA, MARYLAND and other states close by where they have at least four major teams playing that would be great.”
“Unfortunately that has not been the case,” BUDZIK said, “If there will be tournaments for major 75's we have no problem staying together but if not we'll have to do what is best for everyone. Remember, we are all 75 and you don't have that many years left to play.”
Not wanting to sound like sour grapes, BUDZIK had high praise for the SPA organization.
“What SPA has done for the 75 DIVISION is tremendous,” he said, “THEE BUCKEYE CLASSIC, HEART OF OHIO and the 75 WORLDS are three of the best run tournaments we have ever played. I wish all tournaments were as well run as SPA'S. SPA is the main reason the 75 DIVISION keeps growing and we really enjoyed being a part of it this year and hope we can continue to do so.”