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May 1, 2012

The Senior Softball-USA’s Spring Worlds invaded fields in Mesquite and St. George March 20-25 bringing with it more than 1,500 competitors ages 50-80.

In what might be termed the battle of the gray hairs playing a game supposedly intended for players at least half their age, the annual gathering was inspirational, energy-filled and complete with enough stories to fill a book.

No question that teams from states all over the country journeyed to its headquarters in Mesquite to have fun. But even at ages when many others are attempting to relax in their loungers, Senior Softball USA’s players came to the area brimming with enthusiasm and a drive to be victorious even while possibly suffering aches and pains that usually accompany high activity for seniors.

This was the big-time of senior softball especially considering that teams were battling for qualification to the 2012 LVSSA/SSUSA World Masters Championships scheduled for late September and early October in Las Vegas.

Ninety-two teams competed in the impressive tournament. At the latest count, there were representations from Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington.

In every direction of both St. George and Mesquite was a testimonial to the tournament. Everyone came to (a) enjoy some good softball and (b) soak up the hospitality of Mesquite, which sports some of the most impressive special events in not only Nevada, but also the entire country.

Ken Hiatt, 65, of Broomfield, Colo., came to town playing for Scrap Iron Phiten, whose team largely flew to Las Vegas from Denver.

“I’m retired,” said Hiatt. “I really enjoy the guys and the camaraderie. This is a fun game and I love proving to myself that I can still do this.”

Make no doubt about the fact that this is serious stuff, though.

“I have been playing for 15 years,” said 65 year-old Tom Shell of Colorado Springs, Colo. “This keeps me young and I assure you that we’re absolutely serious about this.”

In addition, Senior Softball has proven to be great therapy for many reasons.

“I have been playing since 1994,” said Jim Roe, a 65 year-old resident of Yuba City, California about 40 miles north of Sacramento. “This is great exercise and there is a very competitive nature to the game.”

Then, Roe brought yet another important element to his own participation saying: “I have been dealing with prostate cancer and this helps me.”

Jack Searle, 71, echoed Roe’s comment.

“The big benefit of playing softball is my health,” he said. “In fact, this is the only reason I’m alive today.”

Part-time writer John Dearing, a retired public affairs officer with the Bureau of Land Management in Sacramento, played for Specialists Realty in Las Vegas.

“This really keeps me young and I enjoy playing the game,” said Dearing, who now resides in Mesquite. “I have established some really good friendships.

“We didn’t play that well today, but we’ll always have the memories.”

Ed Sullivan, a 69 year-old traveled from Albuquerque, N.M. to play for the High Desert Road Runners.

“It keeps me off the couch,” he said of the sport. “Teams we play used to rub their hands together in glee, but that’s not the case anymore.”

Senior Softball USA National Director Dave Dowell has been coming to Mesquite for five years and he wouldn’t miss the trek. He is now in his eighth year with the association and his sixth year as a national director.

“Even if you’re driving to the tournament (rather than flying), you’ll enjoy the experience,” said Dowell, who works out of the Senior Softball USA offices in Sacramento and is the husband of National Executive Director Fran Dowell. “This city is a lot of fun. If I’m not in a meeting or on the field, I’m in front of the television screens watching March Madness.”

Dowell said the tournament activity started long before the first pitch was thrown considering that umpires gathered at the CasaBlanca Resort for their annual meetings.

“Our umpires started showing up Sunday morning,” he said. “Most of the umps came in three days early. We had about 50 of them.

“Overall, this tournament played out very well. Everyone was happy with the event, even teams that did not win a championship.”

Tournament Director Tim McElroy traveled from Frederick, Md. His travels during the year include stops in Maryland, Florida, Virginia and South Carolina and he especially enjoys heading for Nevada.

“This is my fourth time coming to Mesquite,” he said. “I love it here. It’s significantly different than the geography I’m used to in Maryland and I love coming out West.

“I’m just 42 years old and I love the tournament and love everything about Seniors Softball. I go out and watch a group of 75 year-olds play the game with passion, which is the way it’s supposed to be. These guys sincerely enjoy themselves and you can tell by the way they share war stories.”

In one of the larger divisions of the Spring Worlds, eight competitive teams took to the field to determine the champion of the Men’s 50 Platinum Division. California’s Barcelona Bandits sailed through the bracket play as they beat the After Party from Las Vegas 20-15 in the championship game.

The top-seeded SoCal Knights from California certainly proved they were the best team in the nine-team Men’s Silver Division by never losing a game during the tournament. In the title game, the Knights topped the Desert Dawgs 50’s from California 19-16.

The Baker Boyz 55’s from California captured the Men’s 50/55 AA Division by eliminating Scrap Iron from Colorado 26-8 in the championship game.

Summy’s Nighthawks from California won the Men’s 55 Major Plus Division with a 10-run win over the Arizona Rogue by a 31-21 score in the finale.

Top Gun III from California emerged as the champion of the three-team Men’s 55 Major Division, but only after some very tense play. California Energy beat Top Gun in the championship game 17-16, but Top Gun came back in the “IF” game and won 20-18.

After losing to the California Coasters 12-8 in an earlier bracket game, the Desert Dawgs from California came back through the loser’s bracket to 16-14 in the championship game and 15-6 in the “IF” game to win the title in the Men’s 55 AAA Division.

Ryan’s Way from Utah won three very close bracket games before surging to a 30-17 win over California’s Timberworks Construction 30-17 in the championship game of the Men’s 60 Platinum Division.

The Men’s 60 AAA Division attracted eight teams from throughout the western states. In the end, SoCal Gusto from California emerged as the champion. SoCal Gusto came back from losing the “If” game to Last Call from Nevada 18-17 to win the championship game 25-21.

In the Men’s 60 AA Division, Scrap Iron Freedom from Colorado took two out of three from Git-R-Done from California to win the title.

Powerhouse Omen 65 from California swept its two-game series with Tharaldson’s 65 from Nevada by scores of 17-2 and 29-16 to win the Men’s 65 Major Plus Division.

In the Men’s 65 Major Division, Rusty’s from Arizona nipped the High Desert Roadrunners from New Mexico 20-19 to capture the championship.

The Men’s 65 AAA Division saw a number of close games with the California Silver Sox advancing through bracket play to meet Scrap Iron/Phiten from Colorado which came out of the loser’s bracket to win the championship game 10-9. But the Silver Sox prevailed in the “IF” game 22-19 to take the title.

In the Men’s 70 Platinum Division, the Streamline Circuits from California won the 70 Major Plus Championship and the Mesa Cardinals from Arizona won the 70 Major Championship.

In the Men’s 65 AA Division, The Zone 65’s from Utah beat the Sacramento Blues 24-23 for the championship while Top Gun 70 II from California beat ABR Bones from Utah 30-21 to claim the division title.

Over in the Men’s 70 AA Division, Scrap Iron Reds from Colorado topped Git-R-Done from California 20-9 for top honors in the division.

The tournament field was pleasantly quite full for the Men’s 75 Major Division with six teams competing in a full round-robin format. The winner was the San Francisco Seals which was 6-0 in the tournament and second place went to Fairway Ford with its 4-2 record.

The Sage 75’s from California swept their two-game series with the Slammers from Utah by scores of 13-4 and 23-12 to win the Men’s 75 AAA Division.

The Spring Worlds is the first step of the most coveted prize in senior softball -- the Triple Grand Slam.

Playing in the Spring Worlds qualifies teams to compete in the Western Nationals in August in Aurora, Colorado. Winners of the Western Nationals receive a berth to the US National Game (against the winner of the Eastern Nationals in their division). Teams that win the US National Game (played during the World Championships in Phoenix in October) and the World Championships win the Triple Grand Slam.

In addition, winners of each division are invited to Tournament of Championships in Polk County, Florida, in February 2013. The TOC was a tremendous success this last February. Only the winners of the top 20 SSUSA Championship tournaments are invited. In addition, the event includes several free events, including hitting clinics, skills contests, an All Star Game, a banquet and free rings for winners (See stories on Pages 16-17).

For Complete results, see, click on Tournaments and Spring Worlds.


Men’s 50 Platinum-Barcelona Bandits Armada- Neal Schultz, Ryan Blanchard,Donald Wolfe, Eric Prevost, Ray Robles.Rapid Erectors-Chris McTigue,Jack Donnelly.

Men’s 50 Silver-So Cal Knights- Bill Delia,Wayne Galer,Greg Rojas,John White, Russell Kester.

Men’s 50/55AA-Baker Boyz- Rudy Bondietti,Dan Little,Bobby Soto,Ray Mascarinas,Julio Ruiz,John Granillo.Scrap Iron 55Northern- Dennis Lutz,Mike Hamner, Kelly Hallman.Bob’s Classics- Tim Demay, Ernie Reyes.

Men’s 55 Major+-AZ Rogue- Kenny Vaught, Mike Hildebrandt, Reyes Gonzales.Double Play Classics- Paul Smit, Terry Parrott.

Men’s 55 Major-Top GunIII-Scott Wolters,Steve Vin Curek,Richard Pratt,Tom Lewis,Jim Palecek.Christensen Arms- Carson Smith, Nick Rudelich.

Men’s 55AAA-Desert Dawg’s-Don Whitted,Bob Eyre, Mike Bortz,Mike Muto,Nolan Spencer.Coasters- Richard Wickman, James Woodruff, Joe Penado. C.C.Over- Paul Laliberte, Curtis Jackson.

Men’s 60 Platinum-Ryan’s Way- Jim Amiconie,Gary Gosz,Bob Bravetti,Steve Hurd,Paris Brown.Timberworks- Dennis Barrett, Chris Dayak,Randy Faulkner.

Men’s 60AAA-SoCal Gusto- Check Meeks, Jon forbes, Lou Bratcher, Tim Cermak,Larry Swearingen.Last Call- Dean Wickizer, Mike Donahue, Larry Berger.

Men’s 60AA- Scrap Iron Freedom- Ed Berghuls, Sebastian Muzio, Mike Anderson, Ken Mason, Rich Vieira, Mark Newman.Git R Done-Jim Ziemer,John Bankson,Artie Hartington,Jerry Woodard.

Men’s 65Major Plus-Omen 65- Ed Carey, Tom Best, Bob Rohatch, George Sylvia, Ellwin Jobe.

Men’s 65 Major-Rusty’s- Bob Pryor, Bob Williams, Jay Larson, Robert Charameda, Don Joesten.Hi-Desert

Roadrunners-Ron Mercer, Jerry Sanchez,Ray Maxey.Tri-State Diamondbacks- Stan Suichta, Bill

Acosta,Barry Sustin.

Men’s 65AA-The Zone 65- Leonard Mecham, Gary Jackson, Steve Haslam,Ken Nelson,Dean Corwell.

Men’s 65AAA-Mustang’s- Ron Tatti, Al Oxley.

Men’s 70 Platinum- Scrap Iron 70 Legacy- Jerry Sunberg,Mike Baker,Chris Christopherson.Cardinals- Al

Brown, Mel Bentley, Paul Dvordck,Mike Wlasichuck,Neil Reibe.

Men’s 70AAA-Top Gun II- Edwin Balinger, Rico Coronado,Dan Haveron, John Ihrig, Frank Sperling.ABR

Old Bones- Larry Morgan, Roger Taylor, Jon O’Dell.El Paseo Bank- Ben Placencia, Carl Craft.

Men’s 70AA-Git-R-Done- Wayne Stein, Steve Swartz, Gene Dick.

Men’s 75 Major-San Francisco Seals- Jim Phillips, Bob Swarthout, Don Fields,Jim Douglas,Gus Niklas.

Fairway Ford- Duf Sfreddo,Dick Williams,Bob Kaump.Joeseppi’s-Tom Davis,Jack Scott.

Men’s 75AAA-Sage 75- Al Wells, Jerry Zyistra,Ray Luke,Harold Brown,Neil Barnes.Slammers- Stan

Mickelson,Roger Pusey,Pete Sparreboom.

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