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A SSUSA Tradition: 207 Teams Compete in 2018 Rock ‘N Reno Challenge Cup
June 1, 2018
RENO/SPARKS/CARSON CITY – The oldest and longest running Senior Softball-USA tournament, the Rock ‘N Reno Challenge Cup, was held here May 25-June 3. The 2018 edition saw 207 teams embark upon “The Biggest Little City in the World” to compete in “The Biggest Little Qualifier Since 1988.”
The first of three sessions of the tournament featured 78 teams in action on the diamonds, across the Men’s 40 and 60 age divisions, as well as the Women’s divisions May 25-27.
Day one of the opening session got off to a rocky start, as rain washed out the morning games, causing major rescheduling across all divisions. With games cancelled at Shadow Mountain Softball Complex and Reno Softball Complex at Rancho San Rafael, all games were shifted and condensed to Golden Eagle Regional Park.
The 8 a.m. games at Golden Eagle were played, with the Men’s 60 Major Plus and Major teams in action, before rain came through to halt play.
Play resumed at 2 p.m. with the Women’s 50/55 and Women’s 65 age divisions coming from Shadow Mountain to Golden Eagle to finally start their part of the tournament. The Men’s and Women’s 40 divisions would also begin play Friday afternoon, as the Men’s 60 age divisions were delayed until Saturday.
Play would again be halted, this time due to a power outage in Sparks, causing the 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. games to be blacked out, causing further rescheduling into Saturday.
Playing through some rain on Saturday, the first session would finish off on a high note, as Championship Sunday featured optimal playing conditions.
In the three-team Women’s 40 Masters Major Division, top seed Fun Bunch 40’s (CA) took care of business, going 2-0 in bracket play, including a 14-6 win over Wikkd (CA) in the championship game. Smack That (CA) finished in third place.
Following an 0-2 showing in seeding play, No. 5 seed Old Nasty Curves (CA) bounced back with a perfect 4-0 record in bracket play, including a 16-13 win over Idaho Spirit, the No. 6 seed, in the championship game. Tharaldson Softball (NV) finished in third place, as the team won three straight elimination games.
Old School (CA) swept Arizona Dream Team by scores of 22-5 and 22-21, respectively, in a best two-out-of-three game series to win the Women’s 50 Major Division; while B.O.O.B.S (CA) won the five-team Women’s 50 AAA Division, taking down top seed OnFire/Afoa Insurance (CA), 21-7, in the championship game. Team Battleaxe (OR) finished in third place.
Top seed 2nd Wind (CA) won the three-team Women’s 55 Division with a convincing 16-1 victory over Nevada Sage in the championship game. Oregon Reign finished in third place.
Playing a six-game double round robin to determine the champion in the four-team Women’s 65 Division, California Spirit took home the top spot with a perfect 6-0 record. Saints Express (CA) and Ye Olde Bats (NV) each finished with an identical 3-3 record. With each team holding a win over the other, Saints Express earned the tie-breaker for the runner-up spot over Ye Old Bats, due to least runs allowed.
In the seven-team Men’s 40 Major Plus Division, top seed GTS (ID) went through the weekend undefeated, going 2-0 in seed play, before going 3-0 in bracket play, including a 34-20 win over K&B Beverage/AB Painting/D Bat (AZ) in the championship game. Team CPC (CA) finished in third place after winning three straight elimination games.
The largest division of the tournament, the 19-team Men’s 40 Gold Division, saw No Limit/Fay’s Sports (CA) post a perfect 5-0 record in bracket play to take the top spot, including a 28-17 win over Swing Up Club/Spiderz (CA) in the championship game. Swing Up Club/Spiderz made a valiant run to escape the elimination side of the bracket, winning five straight win-or-go-home games, en route to their runner-up finish. Mach One (WA), the lone AAA team in the bracket, had a strong showing, finishing in third place. DTA/KJE/SUP (CA) rounded out the top four finishers.
The champion of the four-team Men’s 60 Major Plus Division was determined by round-robin play, with Summy’s (CA) taking the top spot, followed by East Bay Oldies (CA), MTC 60’s/Dudley (CA), and Old Dawgs (CA).
The bracket of the nine-team Men’s 60 Major Division was determined by a blind draw after seeding games were rained out. Bulldogs 60’s (OR) was the eventual champion, going 4-0 in bracket play, including a 21-8 victory over Scrap Iron High Octane (CO) in the championship game. After dropping their first two games in the three-game guarantee bracket, Scrap Iron High Octane rattled off four straight wins to secure their place in the championship game. Goodman Racing (WA) finished in third place.
Similarly, the bracket for the 13-team Men’s 60 AAA Division was also determined by a blind draw due to the rain out of seeding games. The Crew (CA), took full advantage of its top billing, going 4-0 in the bracket, including a 14-2 win over Baker Boyz (CA) in the championship game. Game Time Sports (ID) finished in third place. Baker Boyz dropped a nail-biter to The Crew, 21-20, earlier in the bracket to get knocked down into the elimination side of the bracket. Baker Boyz won three straight elimination games to reach the championship game.
After being rained out Friday, the three-team Men’s 60 AA Division began play on Saturday. All three teams posted a 1-1 record in seeding play, with East West Aircraft Sales – Two (ID) earning the No.1 seed following tie-breakers. East West Aircraft Sales – Two defended its top seed, going 2-0 in bracket play, including a thrilling 22-21 win over Fresno Mayhem (CA) in the championship game. Out of Storage (CA) finished in third place.
Following a break in play for Memorial Day, the tournament continued with 80 teams taking the field Tuesday through Thursday, May 29-31, with the Men’s 65-80 age divisions in action.
Tragedy struck the second session, when a player from the Nor Cal Reds, Allen Pampe, 65, died unexpectedly May 31. The Nor Cal Reds, the top seed in the nine-team Men’s 65/70 Platinum Division, was scheduled to play in the winner’s bracket final against Omen 70 (CA) at 11 a.m.
With heavy hearts, the team would drop its game against Omen, 19-13, as well as its third-place game against Hendricks Sports Management (TX), 31-26.
Omen (70 Major Plus) edged out Hendricks, 20-19, in the championship game. As the highest finishing 65 Major team, Hendricks earned a TOC berth for their division. Ryan’s Way (NV) made a valiant push through the elimination side of the bracket, winning three straight games en route to a fourth-place finish.
“I started the team last September,” said Tom Westrup, manager of Nor Cal Reds. “Players told me I had to talk to Allen. He was easy to deal with, a great hitter, and just a great guy to have in the dugout.”
The team played on at the insistence of Pampe’s wife, Marj, who urged the team to play for Allen, as he would have wanted.
Prior to the Nor Cal Reds game against Omen, the umpire announced Pampe’s name and issued a four-pitch walk in his honor. A pre-game prayer was also held. At the conclusion of the Nor Cal Reds’ game against Hendricks, the teams gathered for a prayer as well.
In the three-team Men’s 65 Major Plus Division, Timberworks/Adidas (CA) won three straight elimination games, including double-dipping Rebels (OR) in the championship (18-10) and “if” game (22-15). R & R 65’s (CA) finished in third place.
In the 16-team Men’s 65 AAA Division, No Dice/Bay Photo Lab (CA) registered a flawless week, going 2-0 in seeding play, before cruising through the bracket with a perfect 5-0 record, including a 20-3 win over Aro Glass Clubbers (WA). Following an 0-2 showing in seeding play, Texas Pickups 65’s bounced back in bracket play to finish in third place. After dropping their opening game in the bracket, Nisqually Pounders (WA) rattled off five straight wins en route to a fourth-place finish.
The top seed in the four-team Men’s 65 AA Division, Legends (CA), posted a perfect 6-0 record for the tournament, going 3-0 in seeding play and 3-0 bracket play, including a 21-2 win in the championship game over Git-R-Done (CA). Redwood City Blues (CA) finished in third place.
The 11-team Men’s 70 Major Division featured a winner-take-all “if’ game, as Sons of Pitches (CA) avenged its 28-20 loss in the championship game against Nor-Cal Stixx, with a 30-22 victory in the “if” game. After falling to Sons of Pitches, 21-10, earlier in the bracket to drop down to the elimination side of the bracket, Nor-Cal Stixx won four straight games, including the win in the championship game to force the “if” game, en route to their runner-up finish. Scrap Iron/3n2 (CO) finished in third place.
The top two seeds faced off for the championship game in the 12-team Men’s 70 AAA Division, as No.2 seed Suburban Auto Group (OR) topped No. 1 seed Sacramento Islanders (CA), 24-18. Earlier, the teams faced off in the winner’s bracket final, where Suburban Auto Group edged out Sacramento Islanders, 12-11, to advance to the championship game. Sacramento Islanders rebounded with a thrilling, 8-7, win over Please Don’t Bug Me (CA) in the third-place game to advance to the third-place game.
Direct Sales Flooring (CA) won the four-team Men’s 70 AA Division with an 11-7 victory over Triple Play (CA) in the championship game. California Oaks finished in third place.
Omen (CA) dominated the five-team Men’s 75 Major Plus Division, going 4-0 in seeding play to lock up the top seed, and then 2-0 in the bracket, including a walk-off 20-19, win over Scrap Iron 75 Legacy (CO), in the championship game. Trailing 19-17 heading into the bottom of the open, Omen scored the three runs it needed to complete the come-back win for the title. General Equipment (OR) and San Francisco Seals (CA) each tied for third place in the modified single elimination bracket.
State Roofing Systems (CA) won the four-team Men’s 75 Major Division, as the team came out of the elimination side of the bracket to defeat Scrap Iron Beams (CO), 25-16, in the championship game, forcing an “if” game. State Roofing Systems would go on to claim the championship, as the Scrap Iron Beams forfeited the final game. Lincoln Hills Coyotes (CA) finished in third place.
Going 3-1 in seeding play to secure the top seed, Triple Play 75 (CA) won the five-team Men’s 75/80 Gold Division with a 15-10 victory over Git-R-Done 75 (CA) in the championship game. Magic Stuff 75’s (UT) and Sac Blues (CA) each tied for third place in the modified single elimination bracket.
A full six-game round robin with best record determined the champion of the seven-team Men’s 80 AAA Division. With identical 5-1 records, Lincoln Hills Coyotes 80s (CA) and Sacramento Gold (CA) tied for first place. Via its 13-12 head-to-head win over Sacramento Gold, Lincoln Hills Coyotes would earn the tie-breaker for first place. Git-R-Done 80 (CA) took home third place with its 4-2 mark.
The third and final session of the tournament saw the Men’s 50 and 55 age divisions close out the 2018 Rock ‘N Reno Challenge Cup, with 49 teams in action June 1-3.
Starting with the 13-team Men’s 50 Major Division, Crush 50’s (CA) recorded a perfect weekend, going 2-0 in seeding play to earn the No. 2 seed, before continuing their strong play in the bracket with a 4-0 record, including a 30-9 win over KM Sportz (CA) in the championship game. KM Sportz fell to Crush 50’s earlier in the bracket 14-5, to drop down into the elimination side of the bracket, where the team pushed through with three straight wins to reach the championship game. Top seed North Valley Seniors (CA) finished in third place. Battle Born (NV) made a valiant run through the elimination side of the bracket with four straight wins, en route to a fourth-place finish.
Sin City Warriors (NV) won the 12-team Men’s 50 Silver Division, as the team ran through bracket play with a perfect 5-0 record, including a 28-21 win over Calhoun/Michael’s Toyota (WA) in the championship game. Elite/Scrap Iron (CO) finished in third place.
Sommerville Softball (CA) won the six-team Men’s 55 Major Plus Division via its 19-10 win over Elite/Dudley (AZ) in the championship game. Elite/Dudley bounced back from an 0-2 showing in seeding play with a 3-2 record in bracket play en route to their runner-up finish. Another team that rebounded from an 0-2 mark in seeding play was Nor Cal Warriors, who won three straight games in the elimination side of the bracket to eventually finish in third place.
55 OH MY (CA) won the eight-team Men’s 55 Major Division with its 21-7 victory over Scrap Iron/Rocky Mountain Thunder (CO) in the championship game. Scrap Iron/Rocky Mountain Thunder dropped a nail-biter to 55 OH MY, 20-19, earlier in the bracket to knock the team down into the elimination side. The team won three straight games to escape the elimination bracket and reach the championship game, before running out of gas. Sonoma County Crush (CA) finished in third place.
The 10-team Men’s 55 AAA Division was captured by Trachsel Auto Body (OR), who completed a perfect weekend, going 2-0 in seeding and 4-0 in bracket play, including a 17-16 win over top seed Alaska Kings in the championship game. Alaska Kings reached the championship game after winning three straight elimination games. Fresno Heat (CA) finished in third place.