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Sept. 1, 2010

BALANCED DIVISIONS, BEAUTIFUL WEATHER FOR NORTHERNS

Dave Dowell National Director
LANSING, MI Ė The 2010 SSUSA Northern Championships returned here this year to perfect weather conditions, in marked contrast to last yearís rain-challenged event. The 50 teams competing at the East Lansing and Lake Alliance Softball Complexes vied for championships in 10 divisions, as well as invitations to the 2011 Tournament of Champions. Play was marked by strong and balanced competition throughout the week.

The Menís 65ís and more senior divisions began play on Thursday at East Lansing with 15 teams comprising four championship brackets. Bracket play began on Friday following the completion of seeding games, and resulted in a series of unusual Saturday finishes. As if to underscore the importance of round-robin seeding games, each of the division champions in session No. 1 began bracket play as the No. 1 seed.

The Menís 65-AAA was won by West Michigan Carelinc, completing a perfect unbeaten week with a 22-10 championship game win over the Olde Dís (MI). Meanwhile the 65-AA title was grabbed by the Chicago Classics Gray Sox in a bit more difficult fashion. After dropping their first bracket game to the Akron Silver Masters (OH), the Sox roared back through the elimination bracket, winning four in a row on Saturday, ending with championship game (24-19) and ďIf neededĒ game (27-21) victories over Akron.

Bracket play in the Menís 70/75+ Divisions also played out according to form. The Michiana Merchants (MI) completed a perfect unbeaten week with their 28-15 championship game victory over the Chicago Geezers (IL). Meanwhile, the Pfeiffer Gray Sox 75ís (MI) swept through the 70/75-Silver division with an 18-10 triumph over ProHealth Care (WI).

On Friday, the tournament sessions overlapped as the 50ís, 55ís and 60ís began play at both complexes. At Lake Alliance in Potterville, the Menís 50-AAA required the ďIf neededĒ game as the Detroit Jaguars and the last seeded Michael Valerio, CPA (MI) completed their own little Best 2 of 3. Valerio won the winnerís bracket final (24-12), the Jaguars took the thrilling championship game (25-24), but Valerio bounced back in the ďIfĒ game with a come-from-behind 19-16 win for the title.

The Menís 50/55-Gold saw Banker Builders (MI) 50-AA take the championship game (18-14) from the Chicago Prime 55-AAAís, with both teams earning TOC bids in the process. The 12-team Menís 60-Gold division was the largest of the tournament. Following seeding play, the Minnesota Masters White team took two from the Michigan Express, 20-18 in the winnerís bracket final and 23-7 in the championship game.

In the Menís 55/60-Silver Division, Zeppelin Softball (KY) followed up their impressive win in the ISA Nationals with a perfect unbeaten week here. They defeated Bathtub Billyís (NY) in the championship bracket final (24-9) and were awarded a 7-0 forfeit win in the championship game after a rematch with Bathtub Billys became irrelevant with both teams having already secured TOC berths.

Back over at East Lansing, the 50-Platinum and 60-AA Divisions shared field time with the Session No. 1 teams. In the Menís 50-Major+, Butchís Line Drive (MI) swept their Best 2 of 3 Championship Series on Saturday over KMB/AMR (OH) by scores of 34-29 and 24-12. Everyone in the park was impressed with the awesome display of power softball played by both teams.

In the Menís 50-Major, the Milwaukee Merchants became the final team to sweep through the tournament unbeaten, with thrilling wins over Can-Do Metals (IL) in both the Winnerís bracket final (17-13) and championship games (11-10) to win a very strong 50-Major field.

The Menís 60-AA division had a truly storybook ending for the Indiana Legends / Webb Auto. After barely slipping by their first two bracket opponents in one-run games, they opened it up with a 29-21 championship game win over The Bomb Squad (MI). This was the first SSUSA tournament championship for the Legends, and was made special by the fact they had dedicated this tournament to the memory of their long-time coach and sponsor, Doug Webb, who passed away earlier this season.

Dave Dowell is one of the SSUSAís National Directors and he authors all SSUSA administered tournament schedules as its National Schedule Consultant. Dave may be reached at dave@seniorsoftball.com
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