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TEAMS FROM 16 STATES BATTLE IN EASTERN NATIONALS
June 1, 2011RALEIGH, NC – SSUSA returned here for the fourth consecutive year as host of the 2011 Eastern National Championships at the beautiful nine-field Walnut Creek Sports Complex, a former SSUSA Complex of the Year award winner. The 51 teams played softball at the highest levels over six days, seeking Eastern National titles and the coveted spots in the upcoming USA National Championship Games at the World Championships in Phoenix.
The first session kicked off with 13 teams competing in the Men’s 65 Plus and more senior divisions as temperatures hovered in the upper 90s, with matching humidity numbers. Despite the somewhat uncomfortable conditions, play was spirited with last at-bat victories being the norm.
By session end, only one team had completed a perfect unbeaten week, the Southeast Seventies (GA) in the 70-Major Plus division. Three other brackets required “If needed” games to determine champions, Flip Dow Bonding (NC) over Stahl Post 30 (DE) in the 65-AAA, Columbus Silver Sticks (IN) over Jim & Joe’s Ice (KY) in the 65-AA and the Hamel Cavaliers (VA) over the Indianapolis Classics (IN) in the 70-AAA.
On Friday morning, the remaining 38 teams began play as Session 2 expanded to all nine fields nestled in the trees of Walnut Creek Park. Seeding play was spirited and hopes were high for a perfect weekend, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Overnight, Raleigh received a record rainfall for that date with 4.3 inches, flooding just about everywhere. The grounds crew at Walnut Creek worked feverishly and, after a relatively short five-hour delay, play resumed with perfect field conditions and all Saturday games were completed.
This year also marked the emergence of the Women’s Divisions at the Eastern Nationals as a record 10 teams competed in four championship age groups. By Sunday afternoon, The Motown Magic had won the 40-Masters (21-8 over Lew’s Crew) and Dreamgirlz repeated as champions in the 50 Plus division (8-3 over the HamelLady 50’s). The Maryland Roadrunners 55’s completed the only unbeaten weekend by a Women’s team as they completed their perfect run with a championship win over the Why Nots (11-1) while the Golden Girls 60’s slipped by the Smoky Mountain Stars (12-9) for the 60+ title.
Meanwhile, over on the Men’s side, competition was well balanced, with only two of the 28 teams escaping the weekend without a loss. The home town 55-Major Triangle Masters (NC) were perfect as they captured the trophy with a 12-0 win over Sweet Construction (NJ). The 55-AAA Bay State Bombers matched that effort in sweeping through the seven-team bracket from the top seeded position, holding off Reality Check (16-14) in the final.
For full coverage of the 2011 Eastern National Championships, please see the online edition of Senior Softball News at www.seniorsoftball.com.