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Fierce Competition and Close Games in the 2023 Atlantic Coast Championships

May 1, 2023

By Donna McGuire
Softball News Reports

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Close games and see-saw championship bouts highlighted play during a competitive Atlantic Coast Championships tournament that drew 53 teams here in mid-May.

Except for steady rains that washed out nearly all Friday play, teams enjoyed near perfect weather while battling May 16-21 at the picturesque, nine-field Walnut Creek Softball Complex.

Competition was so fierce that only four teams finished undefeated. One out of every four games ended in a one-run victory. And half of the divisions needed an “if” championship game to crown a winner.

Fans also witnessed a walk-off home run, a special birthday celebration, and Cinderella finishes by five teams that lost their first bracket games — only to never lose again.

“It’s hard to come back through the loser’s bracket, but it can be done,” manager Chris Williams said after Extra Innings/OBF of Virginia won five games in a row on championship Sunday to claim the men’s 55+ AAA title. “We just had to keep hitting and keep fighting.”

The Carolina A’s of North Carolina also won five in a row Sunday, including a 26-25 finale. Capturing the 60+ Major title capped a great weekend for player Drew Pearson and his wife, Donna, who surprised Donna’s dad with an 82nd birthday party during Saturday’s games. Balloons, a banner and a food banquet floored the honoree, Johnny Lee, a former Navy submariner who survived serious health scares a year ago.


Donna Pearson’s dad with a 82nd birthday party at the tournament. Honoree Johnny Lee (right, sitting in his walker) and his wife, Carolyn Lee, (left, sitting on her scooter) watched the games surrounded by the large birthday display.

“Is that for me?” Lee asked when he saw the balloon display, which the Pearsons carted from backstop to backstop so that Lee could sit with it and watch games alongside his wife.

The tournament’s four unbeaten teams included Talaga Construction of Connecticut, but even that 65+ Major title did not come easily. Talaga scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 14-10 lead over Pill & Pill 65s of West Virginia. Four batters into the seventh, Pill & Pill had closed the gap to 14-13 with only one out. A fly ball and ground out later, Talaga finally celebrated.

“It was definitely a team effort,” manager Dee Kuchinsky said afterward.

Venom of Florida (70/75+ Platinum), 4 Seasons/Evil Sports of Massachusetts (50+ AAA), and Dan Smith/Steve Smith of Georgia (55+ Major) also finished undefeated.

Overall, 14 division winners earned berths to the 2024 Tournament of Champions in Polk County, Florida.


Men’s 40+ Masters Major Plus: In a best-of-three format, Killman’s/Lewis Lawn/Demarini of South Carolina (photo below) needed all three games to defeat HDI of Virginia, 28-12, 20-26, and 38-21. Killman’s broke open the finale by scoring 12 in the top of the seventh.

Men’s 40+ Masters Major: Certified Ground Breakers of Maryland (photo below) lost its first bracket game by one run then reeled off four victories in a row to win the four-team division. In a thrilling finish, it narrowly double-dipped the PA Legends 20-19 and 26-25. Shinbiscuits/Potomac Sports of Maryland took third.

Men’s 40+ Masters AAA: Top-seeded Gigantes O.C. of Maryland lost its first bracket game but won three in a row to win the three-team division. It defeated the Black Kings of Maryland 15-13 for the title. The Smokin Aces/American Legion Post #327 of Virginia finished third.

Men’s 50+ Major: Automotive Triage/JG Construction/Haterz Athletics of North Carolina (photo below) lost its first bracket game by one run then won three in a row, including a 22-21 championship finale over Roebell Painting/Paradise/Allstate of New York. After Roebell scored seven in the top of the seventh to take a 21-19 lead, Automotive Triage scored three in the bottom to nab the win. Walkoff of Maryland finished third in the three-team bracket.

Men’s 50+ AAA: 4 Seasons/Evil Sports of Massachusetts (photo below) went 5-0 and won the title with a 19-17 victory over runner-up Old Skool/GTS Sports of Pennsylvania. Maryland Classics 50s finished third in the four-team bracket.

Men’s 50/55+ AA: In a best-of-three format, the 50+ AA team Flatline/Van Metre Homes of Virginia swept the 55+ AA team Longshoremen of Virginia 21-20 and 24-15.

Men’s 55+ Major: Dan Smith/Steve Smith, which went 5-0, recorded more lop-sided victories than close ones. It defeated .50 Core Sports & Apparel/Grit Hounds of Virginia 26-9 in the championship game of the five-team bracket. of Pennsylvania finished third.

Men’s 55+ AAA: Extra Innings (photo below) lost its first bracket game by one run but never lost again. It captured the title with a 20-18 victory over Xtreme Home Improvements & Restoration/New York Fitness Clubs/Frederick’s of Pennsylvania when John Maddern hit a three-run, walk-off home run using a bat he had bought the previous day and named Precious. Holy City Hitmen of South Carolina took third in the six-team bracket.

Men’s 60+ Major: The Carolina A’s defeated top-seeded The Bank 18-9 and 26-25 in the title games. Olympian Athletics of Pennsylvania took third in the five-team bracket.

Men’s 60+ Silver: The top-seeded Hudson Valley Cyclones (photo below) only lost once — in the first championship game, 18-16. In the “if” game, the Cyclones led Turn 2 Electric of North Carolina the entire way and won 19-11. The New England Vipers of Connecticut finished third in the seven-team division.

Men’s 65+ Major: Talaga Construction (photo below) went 5-0 and defeated Pill & Pill 14-13 in the title game. Bassa/Old Skool took third in the three-team bracket.

Men’s 65+ AAA: Northern Virginia Force 65s (photo below) knocked off the top-seeded Hudson Valley Cyclones of New York 12-7 to win the five-team bracket. Peak Softball/Scrap Iron of Colorado finished third.

Men’s 70/75+ Platinum: Venom (photo below), a 75+ Major Plus team, defeated the 70+ Major team Pill & Pill 17-13 and 21-14 in a best-of-three format.

Men’s 70/75+ Gold: Northern Virginia Force 70s (photo below) defeated Northern Virginia Force 75s 14-10 to win the three-team division. Code Electric/Oakes Grading/LeBleu Cobras finished third.

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