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» Latest news   Sections: Obituaries | Tournaments | Womens' Corner | Editorials     » For Advertisers: Editorial Calendar
Sept. 1, 2010

NORTHERN REGION RECREATIONAL TOURNAMENT CIRCUIT SETS ATTENDANCE RECORD

Steve Simmons New England & North Regional Director, Clubs & Leagues
ROCHESTER, MN – The final outdoor event of the 2010 SSUSA North Region Recreational Tournament Circuit saw a record 16 teams arrive here Sept. 7 to take part in this end of summer one-day extravaganza.

The circuit formerly began in 2006 and this marked the 23rd tournament that has been played in the three years and nine months that the circuit has been in existence. The previous high attendance had been 14 teams at the February, 2009 dome tournament in the Twin Cities.

The recreational tournament concept has really caught on in the SSUSA North region which encompasses seven states. More than 900 players have participated in at least one tournament and they have come from Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota (the seven North region states), Wisconsin (a Great Lakes region state) and the province of Manitoba. There has even been a guest appearance from a Floridian, Dave Reed, the National Senior Softball Hall of Famer who is the “unofficial” ambassador of senior softball.

In this tournament there were two Iowa teams; one Wisconsin team; one Minnesota team with players from both rural Minnesota and Iowa; eight Twin Cities teams; and four Rochester teams.

The recreational tournament circuit, which is part of the SSUSA Clubs & Leagues program, holds tournaments where the teams call the games themselves (no umpires are used) and no awards are presented. Teams are a blend of all ages and all skill levels and include several women. Players range from recreational players who only play league ball and local recreation tournaments to tournament team players who are national champions.

The Minnesota Grayhounds 55’s won the ISSA 55 Major national championship this past August in Virginia and two of their players, Mike Marrinan (Jimmy’s) and Dave Mattson (Forest Products), played in this tournament. Just recently the Minnesota Masters 60’s – White were the 60 Major regional champions at the SSWC Northern Championships in Michigan. Eight of their players were split among three teams in this tournament. Larry Nelson, Gene Thompson, Tony Udean and Dave Weber played with Jimmy’s; Gordy Gerlach, Dick Kuyath and Gregg Shaver played with the MN Masters; and Lud Nordahl played with Russellsbats.com.

Steps are taken to keep the competition as fair as possible with this range of talent on hand. Teams are seeded based on individual point totals accumulated over the nearly four years of circuit competition.

Although not a perfect science this seeding process has worked fairly well for the last two tournaments. Once seeded, a single elimination format is then used, with consolation games scheduled, so teams advance to games where they are hopefully paired against teams of equivalent capabilities. All teams play the same number of games and face a variety of opponents so they are not matched up with the same team over and over again.

The balance of competition was witnessed in the final game of the competitive division matching the two teams that were 0 & 2 at that point. Those same two teams, Russellsbats.com (WI) and Forest Products (MN), met for the championship game in the July tournament with identical 2 & 0 records. This is indicative of the equality of all the teams involved in the competitive division. For the record, Russellsbats.com defeated Forest Products 28-20 in the battle of the 0 & 2 teams.

The team that hammered their way to the competitive division title was Jimmy’s (MN), the second oldest team (average age 63.09) in the division. They began their journey with a 15-11 win over Russellsbats.com. They then knocked off the MN Prize 55’s 23-11 to advance to the finals where they defeated the MN Masters 25-19.

The oldest team in the competitive division, the MN Prize 65’s (age 65.09), made the biggest gain in the division. They started out as the division’s eighth seed and ended up in third place. In their first game they used an eight run seventh inning rally to defeat Forest Products 23-18 before losing their second game 26-22 to the MN Masters. In their final game they used shutdown pitching from Bob Hartshorn to beat their younger counterparts, the MN Prize 55’s, 14-5 for third place. The “old guys” displayed their muscle as four of their players, Tom Engfer, Keith Irlbeck, Steve Simmons and Steve Strommen, combined for a total of eight home runs.

The youngest team in the division, Scott Hanson’s Rochester Relics (MN) team (age 54.82), came oh-so-close to being 3 & 0. They lost their first game of the tournament 29-28 to the MN Masters when they gave up an 11-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. They won their next two, 16-10 over Forest Products and 18-14 over the Lumberjacks (MN), to capture fifth place in the competitive division.

The 9th thru 16th seeds comprised the recreational division. They followed the same format as that used for the competitive division. The victorious team in this division was Victorious Secret (MN). Victorious Secret was one of three teams in the recreational division that hailed from the West Metro (MN) senior league and they faced Butler Video / C&M Screen Painting (MN), one of three teams in the recreational division from the host Rochester league. In a battle of the best of West Metro versus the best of Rochester, Victorious Secret prevailed 10-3.

Manager Donn Hartford relied on veteran pitcher Al Hargreaves and inspirational leader Jack “Showtime” Guldberg to guide his team to a 3 & 0 record. Their other two wins were by scores of 21-14 over East Side Services / Smart Candle (MN) and 14-11 over Tammie & The Seniors (MN).

Tammie & The Seniors, named after their star female player Tammie Picton (one of six women taking part in this tournament), were another West Metro team that fared well. They began the tournament with a 19-7 win over the Mason City Seniors (IA). They then lost to fellow West Metro team Victorious Secret before claiming third place in the recreational division with an 18-13 win over Tom Spears’ Des Moines Seniors (IA) team, the oldest team in the tournament (age 69.55).

The third West Metro team in the recreational division, Scared Hitless (MN), finished fifth in the recreational division with a 2 & 1 record. Manager Bob Guetschow relied on three 60 Major players, Larry Anglin, Mark Lilledahl and Ron Nelson (all from the MN Prize 60’s), surrounded by a strong supporting cast, to achieve that finish. They first lost to Butler Video / C&M Screen Painting 13-5 before winning two straight, 25-8 over Adlers / Prime Time (MN) and 14-9 over the Mason City Seniors.

The seventh place game matched the team with the youngest player in the tournament, Adlers / Prime Time with 39 year-old Jodi Schmidt (another female player), against the team with the second oldest player in the tournament, East Side Services / Smart Candle with 81 year-old Irv Diderrich. East Side won that game 19-3.

The game that placed East Side Services / Smart Candle in the seventh place game was a 13-12 loss to the Mason City Seniors. That game had Diderrich facing another 81 year old player, Jim Bembnister of the Mason City Seniors. Bembnister claimed the oldest player title with an April birthday versus Diderrich’s July birthday.

The SSUSA North Region Recreational Tournament Circuit now takes a break while most of the senior softball national championships take place. The final event of the 2010 circuit will be the Dec. 9-10 dome tournament in the Twin Cities. If you are interested in participating in that tournament contact Steve Simmons – SSUSA North Region Director.(H) 952-470-9250, (C) 952-239-7674, (E) stnlsimmons@aol.com
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