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June 1, 2011
TOC - ELITE TEAMS COMPETE TO WIN CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS TITLEDave Dowell National Director
POLK COUNTY, FLA. – The fifth annual Senior Softball USA Tournament of Champions presented by Miken Sports and Move Free was held in early February as 114 of the winners from the SSUSA’s 2010 tournament season convened to crown the Champions of Champions.
This year’s TOC was marked by two days of festivities prior to the actual tournament, including free hitting clinics, skills competitions, a mini-warm up tournament and a thrilling National vs. American All-Star Game on Wednesday.
The American All Stars put up six runs in the top of the ninth inning for a 28-27 victory, holding on as the Nationals only got four back in the bottom half of the inning. This marked the second year in a row the All-Star Game was decided in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Weather played a much more cooperative role this year with the TOC beginning under crisp, but clear, skies on Friday at five softball complexes here. The big bangers in the Men’s 50-Major+ and 50-Major divisions put on quite an exhibition of timely power hitting at the Diamondplex in Winter Haven, as Butch’s Line Drive (MI) slipped past the K.C. Barons (MO) by a 22-19 score in the championship game.
The seven-team 50-Major division was an extended affair as the Metro Stars (VA) won the “If” game, 25-24 over ENR (NJ) to avenge an 18-17 loss in the championship game.
The balance of the Men’s 50+ divisions played at Loyce Harpe Park in Lakeland, as Patriot Home Funding (FL) completed an undefeated week in the nine-team 50-AAA by defeating Action Auto Parts (RI) 21-19 in the championship.
Action Auto Parts was one of six teams that were invited to play in 2010, but weren’t able to overcome the great Northeast Blizzard last year to get here. The SSUSA rolled their invitation over to this year and they took advantage of the opportunity.
In the 50-AA, the Oxnard Rookies (CA) made their first TOC appearance a memorable one as they took home the trophy and championship rings by Jostens with their 20-9 finals win over the Tulsa Foxes (FL).
The Men’s 55-Major+ and 55-Major divisions made for an exciting weekend at the Auburndale Sports Complex as only one of the nine teams escaped unbeaten. Sweet Construction 55’s (NJ) ran through the bracket from the No. 1 Seed position to cap their perfect week, defeating the High Street Bucs (MD) in both the winner’s bracket final (18-17) and the championship game (33-12).
Meanwhile, back over at the Diamondplex, another TOC first-time appearance by the Desperados (NM) paid off with their 55-AAA title over Pat’s Sports (FL), 21-10 in the championship.
The Texas Classics were the 55-AA champions with an impressive 29-14 win over the Ohio Silverados on Sunday morning.
The Men’s 60-Major+ and 60-Major, also at Auburndale, were both full of exciting close games, again with only one of the 12 teams surviving unbeaten. Rose Enterprises (FL) finished 6-0 with their 60-Major+ championship game win (25-17) over PSL Construction (FL).
The nine-team 60-Majors were notable for the last two teams standing, both from the cooler climate of Minnesota. The Minnesota Masters White defeated the Minnesota Prize Co. (26-16) to take home both the TOC and a mythical Minnesota State Championships for the week.
The eight-team 60-AAA saw no team survive unbeaten. The Time Bandits (GA) defeated the South Florida Heat in the winner’s bracket final before the Heat avenged the loss with wins in both the championship game (25-11) and the “If” game (21-18) to capture their TOC championship.
Diamondplex also played host to the best of the Men’s 65’s as the four-team 65-Platinum was played with nobody escaping a defeat. The Villages Merchants (FL) avenged a winner’s bracket finals loss (20-15) to the Florida Thunder by turning the tables in the title game (7-5) and the “If” game (23-11) over the Thunder.
Down the road at the Southwest Complex in Lakeland, the New York Streaks defeated Game On (CA) 15-10 in the 65-AAA final.
Also at Southwest, the Bucs & Bulls 65’s (FL) and the Chicago (IL) Classics Gray Sox needed three games at the end to determine a champion, as the Bucs and Bulls avenged their winner’s bracket finals loss (23-16) with victories in the Championship (28-23) and “If” game (25-13) for their 65-AA title.
The Men’s 70+ divisions all played in the Lakeland facilities, at the picturesque Westside and Southwest Softball complexes. The 70-Platinum championship went to Agility Physical Therapy (FL) with their thrilling 18-17 win over Premium Seats USA (FL) in the championship game.
The last of the unbeaten teams for the week was the 70-AAA American Legion Post #8 (FL), capping their perfect run with a 23-16 win over the Naturals (PA).
Meanwhile, the 70-AA Bucs & Bulls 70’s went to the “If” game where they prevailed in a tense 19-18 win over the Prescott (AZ) Kokopelli Scorpions.
The Men’s 75’s and 80’s divisions once again proved they are the ideal of Senior Softball, playing a highly competitive brand of softball as the elder statesmen of the game. The 75-Gold division championship went to Joseph Chevrolet when the Pfeiffer Gray Sox were unable to play in the “If” game, and were assessed a 7-0 forfeit loss. The two teams had previously split two games with Pfeiffer Gray Sox winning by 25-24 and the Joseph Chevrolet taking the other 24-12.
Perennial Eastern powerhouse Center for Sight 80’s (FL) captured the most senior of titles with their 28-10 win over Kids and Kubs (FL).
The well represented eight-team Women’s Division played out over three days at the Westside Complex in Lakeland. Championships were earned by the Arizona Dream Team in the 40-Masters (18-12 winners over Michigan’s Motown Magic in the “If” game), Virginia’s Dreamgirlz in the 50+ division (19-5 over Florida’s Sunny Beaches Gray) and Virginia’s Golden Girls 55’s in the 55/60+ division (16-6 over their sister squad, the Golden Girls 60’s).
Polk County once again proved why they are one of the premier destinations for Senior Softball in the country, with first-rate facilities, hospitality second to none and outstanding weather in both Winter Haven and Lakeland. Plans are under way, and over 100 teams have already qualified, for the 2012 Tournament of Champions next year.
Dave Dowell is one of the SSUSA’s National Directors and its National Schedule Consultant. He served as the lead Field Director at the Auburndale Sports Complex at this year’s TOC. He may be reached at email@example.com