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LAS VEGAS ROLLS AGAIN!
Dec. 1, 2015
546 Teams: 4th Record in a Row
LAS VEGAS – The World Masters Championships made an indelible mark on this gambling mecca attracting a record 546 teams from across the nation and many foreign ports.
The largest tournament in senior softball history set records for the fourth straight year with nearly 1,800 games being played across 13 complexes throughout 32 divisions.
The bulk of the tournament took place, Sept. 25-Oct. 4, however, to accommodate the significant growth, all Men’s 40 divisions were scheduled Oct. 23-25. The Men’s 40 division hosted 62 teams compared with 52 last year.
As a result of the move, the 40’s players were able to avoid the blistering heat endured by the other divisions in late September and early October. Consistent temperatures topping the 100-degree mark took their toll on players and umpires alike throughout the first three sessions. Thankfully, aside from a few cases of heat exhaustion, most participants were able to stay well hydrated while playing in the grueling temperatures.
Of the many draws of the tournament, one in particular seems to attract the most attention, the Triple Grand Slam. Teams practice and compete all year in hopes of capturing the prize. The first leg begins in early August at the Eastern and Western National Championships.
Teams that make their way through their respective divisions can conceivably take home the Triple Grand Slam, should the chips fall their way in the U.S. National Game.
This year, nine realized the rare accomplishment of winning their division and capturing the Triple Grand Slam (Story on Page 16).
A highlight of the tournament occurred Sept. 28 with the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at Big League Dreams’ replicated Fenway Park. With many friends and family members on hand, those in attendance were welcomed by former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and his famous showgirls.
Those inducted, Don Cate, John Chacon, Fran Dowell, Argie Haddock, Marcel Mathieu, Fred Purvis, Jack Robinson, Bob Swarthout and Roger Thresher were presented with honorary plaques for their tremendous accomplishments in the sport of senior softball. Fred Purvis’ family accepted the post-humous award on his behalf.
The ceremony was a testament to not only the great players/managers in the sport but also the humble and deserving individuals and personalities the award serves to identify. Congratulations to all.
History was made at the tournament when for the first time one senior softball team competed with an entire roster composed of deaf players. Franz’s WVentures competed at the 50 AA level as an exhibition team. The team’s manager, Robert Harrison, compiled an entire roster of deaf players from across the country forcing them to play exhibition due to the bordering states rule. That rule was recently amended during the ISA/SSUSA National Convention that will allow all deaf teams to draw players from across the United States to compete on an equal playing field with those in their respective divisions.
Another first for the World Masters Championships was the introduction of the Pacific Rim International Slow Pitch Championships to the United States. The tournament was previously hosted in China for its inauguration and in Japan in 2014. This year, for the third annual Pacific Rim Championships, three teams from China, Japan and Taiwan made their way to Las Vegas to compete against four teams, Blue, Grey, Red and White, comprised of senior softball players from the United States. The Pacific Rim Championships were a huge success for all involved.
“The spirit of the Pacific Rim Championships is one of friendship. The bonds that have developed between our organizations through the sport of softball are truly unique,” said Terry Hennessy, chief executive officer of SSUSA. Team Grey of USA took home the championship with a 17-16 walk-off victory over Team Red (Story on Page 21).
In other tournament play:
The 40 Masters Major Plus division grew to a record 14 teams that played several one-run ballgames. In the third round of the winner’s bracket, J.K. Inc. took on Miken/Voodoo out dueled Miken/Voodoo 23-22 to set up a Northern vs. Southern California showdown with Nor Cal Stars. Strong defense was the theme of the semifinal with J.K. edging out Nor Cal Stars 19-15. Dudley/Prestige then handed J.K. their first loss, 24-22, to force an “IF” game. Both teams were firing on all cylinders during the “IF” but ultimately J.K. prevailed 21-20 to win the division championship.
35 teams from Hawaii to New Jersey squared off in the 40 Masters Major division. Mid-Atlantic Elite, VA, ensured themselves the top seed by defeating Epic, CA in the U.S. National Championship game 22-21. However, Mid-Atlantic’s run was short lived after falling to the NorthWest Legends 26-25. The Cinderella story of the division came from Elite/AG Painting as they entered the bracket as the No. 15 seed. Elite/AG Painting bulled their way through the bracket by winning five games in a row by an average of seven runs to claim their spot in the championship. Team Joose, hailing from Nevada, clawed their way from the elimination bracket to face Elite/AG in the championship. Elite/AG Painting continued their offensive roll by defeating Team Joose 28-15 for their most convincing win of the bracket and the division championship.
The 40 Masters Major division was perhaps the most geographically dispersed with teams from Canada, Guam and Hawaii comprising six of the 13 teams in the division. Defend Pono of Hawaii and R&R Pumping Unit, CA earned the top seeds respectively heading into the bracket. R&R faced a stern test right off the bat against Pattie House. Pattie House plated 18 runs against R&R but fell short in losing 19-18. R&R and Defend Pono continued their unbeaten streaks and found themselves up against one another in the semifinals. R&R dropped Defend Pono into the elimination bracket with a 20-11 victory only to meet them once again in the championship. Defend Pono certainly defended with two consecutive victories over R&R 19-18 and 24-17 to take home the division championship.
In the 50 Major Plus division, 13 teams from 11 states vied for their shot at the division title. Sommerville Softball dispatched Proven Legends Express 31-9 and Brysons Pub/Veltri/AIA 30-16, in the seeding round to earn the number one seed in the bracket. Sommerville sustained their dominance with three consecutive victories by an average of 13 runs per game over Proven Legends, Mid-Atlantic Softball and Arizona Elite. Sommerville and Arizona Elite faced each other once again in the championship and Sommerville once again prevailed 24-17 to go undefeated in winning the championship. With the win, Sommerville etched their name in senior softball lore by earning the coveted Triple Grand Slam.
One of the largest divisions of the tournament was the 50 Major division with 40 teams. Due to the size of the division, bracket play was split into two 20-team pods, American and National, with divisions merging Sunday for the championship finals.
Cornerstone defeated Doerflinger 20-15 to win the National Bracket and Aftershock squeaked by Team USA 23-22 in the American Bracket final. Cornerstone went on to beat Aftershock 26-16 and claim their spot in the championship game.
MTC 50’s persevered through the elimination bracket with 10 consecutive victories to defeat Aftershock in the third place game and face Cornerstone in the championship. MTC’s remarkable run fell short against Cornerstone when they ran out of gas and retired in the bottom of the fourth inning trailing, 20-2.
The 50 AAA division set marks with the largest division in the history of senior softball at 68 teams. Due to the enormous amount of teams, the division had to be split into American and National pods for bracket play, with divisions merging Sunday for the championship finals.
KC Naturals took down Carolina Five-O (23-10) in the National bracket final. Tucson Hammertime handled Chi Town 21-12 in the American bracket final to set up a showdown with KC Naturals. KC Naturals continued their dominant ways with a 23-15 victory over Hammertime.
However, the true story of the division was a remarkable showing of grit and determination by PDC from Michigan. After falling to Tucson Hammertime, 18-17, PDC strung together five straight victories in the elimination bracket, setting up a showdown with KC Naturals in the finals. Showing incredible perseverance, PDC forced an “IF” against the Naturals 24-18 and proved that defense wins championships with an 18-15 victory in the “IF” for their seventh consecutive victory and the division championship.
Twelve teams from across the U.S. including Guam and Hawaii comprised the 50 AA division. Senior Softball-USA’s first all deaf team competed as an exhibition team. Tenth seeded Hawaiians, going 0-2 in pool play, were determined to right the ship. The Hawaiians strung together some timely hitting and defeated the Lumberjacks, 15-14, in the opening round of the bracket. In the semifinals Romo’s Old School had them on the ropes but the Hawaiians fought back and edged out a 20-18 victory. The championship game set up a rematch with KSS, whom the Hawaiians had previously defeated in the bracket. KSS ran out of gas and came up short, falling to the Hawaiians 18-8 in the championship.
Summy’s 55 stole the show in the nine-team 55 Major Plus division. After going 2-0 in pool play with a winning margin of 20 runs in each of those games, Summy’s established themselves as the clear favorite. They would not disappoint, Summy’s continued their dominance in the bracket with four consecutive wins for the title. The championship win secured a fantastic year for Summy’s and earned them the elusive Triple Grand Slam.
The 55 Major division drew 29 teams. A bevy of competitive games were littered throughout the division. Triangle Masters grabbed the number one seed with a victory in the U.S. National game over Wolfpack, 25-17. Triangle Masters won their opening bracket game 25-24 over Softball Club. However, they fell in their next game 32-28 to Scrap Iron Rocky Mountain Thunder and were never able to fight their way back. The success story of the division came from Oregon Flatliners who, as the No. 6 seed, went undefeated through the tournament. The Flatliners defeated Rocky Mountain Thunder 27-20 to claim their spot in the championship only to square off with Rocky Mountain Thunder once again. The Flatliners slugged their way to the division championship, with a 27-16 win.
The trend of large divisions in the 55 age group continued in the AAAs with 45 teams competing. Play was split into National and American pods. Roadhouse Blues took on LVSSA Hitmen in the National pod final, with Roadhouse displaying defensive prowess and taking the ball game 17-9. In the American pod final, Michigan Smash smashed the Beltway Bandits 22-6 setting up a game against the Roadhouse Blues. Roadhouse Blues slapped their way to a 14-12 victory in the first game and again squeaked by Michigan Smash in the championship 22-21 to win the division.
The 55 AA had its share of competitive ballgames throughout the 10-team division. Number one seeded Scrap Iron Coyotes were trounced by El Paso Old School in the second round of the bracket 24-9. Old School then topped 1st Interiors 19-13 to gain their way into the championship game. The Coyotes then beat 1st Interiors 22-21 to set up a rematch with El Paso Old School. The championship game was solidly played by both teams, but El Paso Old School had momentum and grasped the championship with an 18-13 victory over the Coyotes.
Heading into the nine-team 60 Major Plus bracket many figured that Hollis Appraisals would win the division. But the Old Dawgs were not about to lay down without a fight. The two teams meet on Friday afternoon for their first showdown in the U.S. National Championship Game. In a great ballgame for spectators and players alike, Hollis edged out the Old Dawgs 29-26, grabbing the overall one seed in the bracket. The Old Dawgs, as the two seed, slipped against Superior Senior Softball in the third round of the bracket 19-16. However, the Old Dawgs proceeded to enact revenge against Superior with a 24-23 victory to square off with Hollis again in the finals. Needing two consecutive victories the Old Dawgs dug deep to take down Hollis 32-30 in the championships and then dominated the “IF” 27-11 to win the division.
The 21-team, 60 Major division was dominated by Southern California’s Top Gun III. Top Gun went 2-0 in pool play, including a 26-15 victory over Crystal Cobras in the U.S. National Game. By winning the game, Top Gun III earned the top seed for the bracket and rattled off four consecutive wins to find themselves in the championship game. Edge II was the No. 21 seed in the bracket with the odds stacked against them. But Edge II fiercely defied the odds and found themselves in the championship facing Top Gun. Edge won 31-27 to force an “IF,” game for the title. One of the best games of the tournament ensued as Top Gun held on by a thread to win the division 20-19 and the Triple Grand Slam.
In the 60 AAA division, 39 teams competed for supremacy in the 60 AAA division, yielding yet another huge draw for the tournament. Like other large division, the bracket was split into American and National pods. Cut Loose took on Dixon ZTR on the American side and Cut Loose prevailed 19-15. The National pod pitted Tubby’s Pub against War Eagles with the winner to face Cut Loose for a shot at the division. War Eagles and Tubby’s played an extremely close game with the Eagles eking out a 21-20 win. War Eagles carried their momentum into the matchup with Cut Loose, handing them a 16-13 defeat. As a result, Tubby’s needed to double dip the Eagles. Tubby’s won an offensive shootout against the War Eagles 34-29 but fell short in the “IF,” 16-14 and the War Eagles were crowned division champions.
The 60 AA division drew 18 teams from 13 states. The bracket came down to two teams from Hawaii, Fresh Poke and Kona Legends, along with Scrap Iron Freedom, Colorado. Kona Legends outdueled Fresh Poke 10-9 to earn their way into the championship. Scrap Iron Freedom then dispatched Fresh Poke in another tight game, 13-12, setting up a championship matchup with Kona Legends. One of the highest scoring games of the division ensued during the championship with Kona Legends defeating Scrap Iron Freedom, 25-20, for the division title.
In the six-team 65 Major Plus division, the No. 2 seed Hamel Builders/Superior defeated the fifth seeded Omen 29-17 to claim the top spot. Hamel Builders/Superior went a perfect 3-0 in bracket play to earn the title. Omen got off to a solid start with a pair of upsets, downing four seed Team Florida 37-16 and top seed Hitmen 20-19 in a thriller. Omen then fell to Hamel Builders/Superior, 28-7, to drop them into the elimination bracket. Omen once again met up with Team Florida, earning a hard-fought 26-23 victory to set up another matchup against Hamel Builders/Superior. In the end, Hamel Builders/Superior prevailed 29-17 for the title.
The 15-team 65 Major division saw a Cinderella team take the title, as the No. 11 seed Enviro-Vac Marauders, hailing from Canada, went a perfect 5-0 to win the championship. Enviro-Vac began bracket play with a 17-14 win over No. 6 seed R & R 65’s, before downing No. 14 seed Southern California Marauders 17-15 in an unlikely matchup of teams with the same names. Enviro-Vac Marauders then upended San Antonio Silver Streaks 16-15 before defeating SW Florida Thunder 21-13 to reach the championship game. In a rematch of an earlier game, Enviro-Vac Marauders once again defeated San Antonio Silver Streaks in a thriller 31-30.
The 65 AAA division attracted 30 competitive teams looking for the title. Coming back to life out of the elimination bracket, the No. 9 seeded Animals outlasted the field to take the top spot. The Animals won their first three games before falling to fourth seeded US Jobs/Indy 20-12 and dropping into the elimination bracket. Once in the elimination bracket, Animals rattled off another three-game winning streak to climb back into the championship picture. Needing two wins to defeat previously unbeaten US Jobs/Indy, the Animals did just that, earning a 23-21 win to force the “IF” game and then a 29-28 triumph in the final game for the title.
R & D Leverage, the No. 2 seed in the 65 AA division, posted a perfect 4-0 mark to earn the top spot in the 14-team field. R & D Leverage won its first two games to set up a showdown with the top seed Sims 65. R & D Leverage continued its solid play with an 18-12 win to earn a spot in the championship and dropping Sims into the elimination bracket. Sims bounced back with a 21-13 win over Makua Alii to get into the championship game. In the final, R & D Leverage would again get the better of Sims, earning a 26-15 win to claim the title.
The 70 Major Plus division saw two teams battle it out for the right to be called a champion, as Omen 70 swept Scrap Iron 70 Legacy by scores of 12-7 and 19-18. With the division win, Omen was awarded the Triple Grand Slam.
The 70 Major division featured 14 teams with another Cinderella team, the No. 14 seed W.E. Ruth Realty 70 taking the top spot. Despite being the lowest seeded team in the division, Ruth posted a perfect 5-0 record to earn the championship. In their first game, W.E. Ruth clawed out a nail-biter, 13-12, over No. 3 seed AMR South, before taking down 11 seeded Texas Legends 21-13. W.E. Ruth would then secure its second upset of the tournament with a 29-15 win over the second seeded Libby’s/Michael’s, before picking up another upset, this time over Tharaldon’s 18-13 to reach the championship game.
After dropping its first game of the tournament, AMR South ran through the elimination bracket, winning six straight games to get back into the championship game and set up a rematch with W.E. Ruth.
In the end, W.E. Ruth took the final game.
In the 19-team 70 AAA division, the fifth seeded Hooters Casino/Ginco were the top dogs, running through the division with an unblemished 5-0 mark.
Hooters Casino won their first two games with relative ease before edging out top seed California Wrecking Crew 11-10 to advance to the championship round.
Hooters Casino then outlasted six seed Top Gun 13-11, to remain in the driver’s seat, before taking out Top Gun again for the title, 20-13.
The seven-team 70 AA division saw No. 1 seeded Top Gun Gold live up to its name, going 3-0 in the division to win the championship.
After winning its first game 19-14 over Git-R-Done 70, Top Gun Gold won back-to-back games over No. 2 seed Silver City Brewers to take home the title.
The 75 Major Plus division featured a best two-out-of-three series with San Francisco Seals sweeping Top Gun 75’s by scores of 34-10 and 25-8, earning them a division title and the Triple Grand Slam.
The 75 Major division featured a five-game round robin format in the six-team field. PDR Fastsigns and Harris Auction each finished with identical 4-1 records, with PDR Fastsigns earning the head-to-head tie-breaker via its 16-8 victory over Harris Auction.
The victory earned PDR the Triple Grand Slam.
The 75 AAA division featured eight teams divided into two pools. The division was set up as a modified single elimination bracket with a consolation bracket.
Hill Contracting 75s, the second seed in Pool B, defeated the top seed in Pool B, New York Statesmen in back-to-back games by scores of 18-6 and 23-3 respectively, to win the title. Buzzards, the top seed in Pool A, took home the third place game over Pool A second seed, Arizona 75, 12-7.
Both the Men’s 80 Major Division and 80 AAA Division featured five teams each, with a full four-game round robin to seed the championship playoffs.
In the 80 Major division, Florida Investment Properties defeated Fairway Ford 29-10 to force an “IF” game, avenging a loss earlier in the tournament when Fairway Ford defeated Florida Investment Properties 14-7.
Florida Investment completed its comeback, winning the final game 22-18 over Fairway Ford. The victory earned Florida Investment Properties the elusive Triple Grand Slam.
The 80 AAA division saw the Scrap Iron Gray Berets edge out C & M Softball Club 16-15 for the title victory. In the third place game, Texas Classics downed Hawaii Seniors 80+ 18-12.
The three-team 85 Major division featured a double round robin to seed the championship field, with the two and three seeds playing in the semifinals, with no “IF” game in the championship round.
In the semis, Center for Sight defeated Southwest Stars 85’s 16-10 to advance to the final where Jimmy’s Legends 85’s would win it all 21-13 over Center for Sight.
On the Women’s side, the 40 Masters Major division featured a 10-team field, with Force40 winning all four of their games as the fifth seed.
After dropping their first game, top seed Old School 40’s rattled off five straight wins to come out of the elimination bracket and reach the championship round. In the end, Old School’s come-back attempt fell short as Force40 completed its perfect tournament run with a 16-12 victory in the final.
The largest Women’s division, the 16-team 40 Masters AAA division, saw top seed Kiss Our Stix overcome an early loss to capture the title. After easily taking care of No. 16 seed Guam Women’s 40, 27-1,
Kiss Our Stix fell in their second game 15-8 against eight seed Old Nasty Curves. Playing for their tournament lives in the elimination bracket, Kiss Our Stix ran off five straight wins to get back in the championship picture.
Meeting Kiss Our Stix in the championship would be the team that knocked them down earlier, in Old Nasty Curves, who entered the championship undefeated. Needing two wins to win the championship, Kiss Our Stix did just that, defeating Old Nasty Curves 18-9 and 22-18. The win was that much sweeter as it secured Kiss Our Stix with the Triple Grand Slam.
Going undefeated in the Women’s 50 division, top seed Dreamgirlz proved worthy of their number one billing winning all four of their games en-route to capturing the title as well as the Triple Grand Slam.
Dreamgirlz ran through the bracket with relative ease, winning, 14-11, 20-1, 19-10 and 21-8. Three seeded Sudden Impact posted a runner-up finish coming out of the elimination bracket with wins over Mike’s Fence/Battleaxe, Karphone 50’s and Arizona Dream Team.
Visit seniorsoftball.com for complete results of the 2015 LVSSA/SSUSA World Masters Championships