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Dec. 1, 2010
WINTER WORLDS SHOOTS TO 182 TEAMS FOR RECORDSenior Softball-USA
LAS VEGAS – The Western portion of the 2011 Senior Softball-USA tournament season kicked off in grand style here in mid-November as a record-shattering 182 teams competed for Winter World Championships in 28 divisions of play, up from 150 teams in 2009.
For the first time here, a significant portion of the tournament schedule was played at the new state-of-the-art Big League Dreams Sports Park, featuring six replica stadium fields modeled after current and historical major league baseball venues. The Park opened recently on the site of the former Freedom Park Softball Complex.
“The availability of the Big League Dreams Sports Park was a wonderful new development for the Winter Worlds, providing our players a new and unique softball experience,” said Tournament Director Dave Dowell. “Las Vegas is a destination our teams love because of the 24-hour entertainment options. Playing in one of the finest parks in the country contributed to the surge in attendance without a doubt,” he added.
Play began for 39 teams on Tuesday as the 65+ and more senior divisions took the fields at BLD and Desert Breeze Parks under brilliant sunshine and perfect playing conditions. Teams alternated play between the two sites on Tuesday and Wednesday before the Championships were determined in 10 divisions on Thursday.
The Men’s 65+ divisions had a rather unusual result as all three division Champions completed unbeaten weeks by sweeping through the brackets from the #1 Seed position. The Men’s 65-Platinum was won by Rusty’s (AZ) over Bickerton Iron Works (CA), Game On (CA) captured the 65-AAA over the Silver Sox and the 65-AAA title went to the El Paso Nine-Elevens over the Scrap Iron 65 Classics (CO).
The Men’s 70+ and older divisions were more tightly contested, without a single team escaping the week unbeaten. Champions in the 70+ Platinum divisions were the 70-Major+ Las Vegas Elks, slipping by PDR/Fastsigns (OR) in the “If needed” game and Robson.com (AZ) over the Thousand Oaks Panthers (CA) for the 70-Majors title.
The 70+ Silver divisions saw the Arizona Titans defeat El Paseo Bank (CA) for the 70-AAA trophy and the Triple Play 70’s (CA) won a highly emotional 70-AA Championship over Makule Kane (HI). Their victory came despite the tragic passing of long-time senior player Billy Eagleton in surgery at a Las Vegas hospital following a cardiac incident during Wednesday’s play (see related article page __).
The 10-team Men’s 75/80+ divisions were the most competitive of the session as not a single team was unbeaten following round robin seeding play. Championships were earned by Fairway Ford (CA) over the Sidewinders (AZ) in the 75-Majors, the Gold Coast 75’s (CA) over Tiodize D-99 80’s (CA) in the 75/80-Gold and the Minnesota Legends over the Redwood City Chiefs (CA) in the “If needed” game for the 80-AAA Division.
Friday morning play commenced in Session #2 for the Women’s divisions and all Men’s divisions age 60+ and younger. The 143 teams playing comprised the largest ever three-day tournament session in the history of the SSUSA, eclipsing the 132 teams that participated in Session #3 of the 2010 World Championships. The tournament expanded from two to seven softball complexes throughout Las Vegas and Clark County as play began early and went late into the evenings.
Top seeds performed in the brackets as expected in several instances as the 50-Major title went to the Barcelona Bandits (CA) over Roll With 2 (CA), the 50-AA to Kamikaze Softball (CA) over Top Gun Thunder (CA), the 55-AAA to California Energy over the Coasters (CA) in the ‘If needed” game, the Women’s 40-Masters AAA to Hafta Play (CA) over Tharaldson Softball (NV), also in the “If needed” game, the Men’s 40-Masters Major+ to JK, Inc. (CA) over Cheetah’s (NV) and the Men’s 40-Masters AAA to Team Mando/Easton (CA) over Team Braves (CA).
The highlight of the session may have been at the Shadow Rock complex on Sunday. In the largest division of the tournament, the 20-team Men’s 60-AAA, the Redwood City Bay Supporters (CA) won for their first time ever in an SSUSA regional/national event with a thrilling 26-23 “If needed” game win over the Hawaii Masters. The teams played three times, in the Winner’s bracket final, the Championship Game and the “If” game, with the last game being the widest margin of victory at three runs.
Plans are already underway for the 2011 Winter World Championships, where attendance is again expected to surge.
Complete scores and bracket results for the Winter Worlds 2011 in Las Vegas are available at the SSUSA website at www.seniorsoftball.com.