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June 1, 2013

Elite Event Honors Wounded Warriors

POLK COUNTY, FLA. Ė They came to play. They arrived with vibrant spirits and talent undiminished by loss of limbs in combat. In the end, they were simply inspiring.

On the field, the national Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) handily beat the TOC American All Star team 23-12. On the stage in front of 1,500 players and their families at the gala TOC banquet at the Lakeland Convention Center, their stories captured a rapt audience and elicited pride in their bravery on the battlefield and, especially, after the battle ended.

ďThe mission of the WWAST is to raise awareness, through exhibition and celebrity softball games, of the sacrifices and resilience of the U.S. military, and to highlight their ability to rise above any challenge,Ē said David Van Sleet, who created the team a few years ago.

ďThe WWAST is comprised of young, competitive, athletic veterans and active duty soldiers who have lost limbs post-9/11, while serving their country.Ē

It was especially fitting that the Wounded Warriors played during the Original Tournament of Champions, which celebrated winners from the largest and most prestigious tournaments in North America here in February with an unmatched event that included:

- A free gala banquet for 1,500 players and their families.

- Free rings for division champions.

- A Limited Edition Gold Miken Ultra II bat for the MVP of each division.

- Free Hitting Clinic with some of the best hitters in the country, including Corky Pellien, Bobby Davis and Dave Reed.

- Free Skills contests with top prizes for each age division, including bats, shoes and fielders gloves.

- An All Star Game featuring the top player from each team.

- A TOC shirt and certificate for each player on each of the 89 participating teams.

ďOnly winners of the top 20 SSUSA Championships were invited to the TOC Ė the most elite tournament in the sport,Ē said Terry Hennessy, SSUSA chief executive officer, ďwhich resulted in thrilling games between the best teams of the year in each division.Ē

Teams from 30 states competed in 21 divisions Ė and hundreds of players participated in the free hitting clinics, skills contests and the warm-up mini-tournament.

And, after the real competition began, there were some tight games in several divisions.

In the Menís Platinum 50 Division, Team 1 Sports Softball defeated Good Times in the all-Florida final 28-18 to take home the 50 Major-Plus championship. Good Times was the highest finishing 50 Major team and by this virtue won the 50 Major Division title.

The seven-team Menís 50AAA Division was hotly contested. After losing to Phoenix Tube out of New Jersey in the winnerís bracket final, the Desert Dawgs from Arizona fought their way back to the championship game for a rematch with Phoenix Tube. After winning the championship game 15-12, the Desert Dawgs completed the double dip, beating a tough Phoenix Tube team 21-14 in the ďifí game.

Consisting of teams from four different areas, the Menís 50AA bracket was tough from start to finish. The Jackson Merchants from Michigan, won a nail biter against Romoís Old School out of Texas, 22-21, in the ďifĒ game after losing to them in the championship game by the same one-run margin.

The four-team 55/60 Platinum division featured hard hitting teams from all over the U.S. In one bracket, Addison Park defeated Kinnco Services in the ďifĒ game 21-13 to win the 55 Major Division. In the other bracket, Hollis Appraisals from Florida defeated the Fangrabbers from Arizona to take home the 60 Major-Plus title. The Fangrabbers, being the highest finishing 55 Major-Plus team, took top honors in that respective division.

Gonzales Insulation, hailing from Texas, rode their way to an undefeated tournament in the 55AAA Division, beating DNM Ram out of Canada in a close game 28-27. Gonzales Insulation had also dropped DNM Ram out of the winnerís bracket earlier in the weekend by a 21-20 score.

The Baker Boyz from California came all the way across the country to take home the three-team 55AA division. They beat Scrap Iron out of Colorado, 27-17 in the championship game. The Baker Boyz sported an unblemished record winning every game they played in the tournament.

In the battle between New York and Florida, South Florida Heat grabbed the 60 Major championship by virtue of a 19-8 victory over the solid Syracuse Merchants. Florida Thunder took the 65 Major-Plus title finishing as the highest team in that division in the mixed bracket.

The biggest non-mixed division for the TOC was the 60AAA Division. Teams from seven states competed in what is historically the largest or one of the largest divisions in any major SSUSA tournament. Indiana Legends/Campbell Tire cruised into the championship game undefeated in both pool and bracket play. They finally met their match, however, in the championship game. Georgia/Alabama Masters beat them 32-31 and exacted revenge on them for knocking them to the loserís bracket earlier in the tournament, ironically by a same one-run margin. In the ďifĒ game, the Indiana Legends/Campbell Tire proved supreme and outlasted the Georgia/Alabama Masters 29-9.

Slug-A-Bug continued their impressive run and capped off the 2012 season with the 60AA title. The No. 3 seed after pool play, did not lose a single game in bracket play and defeated the impressive N.Y. Capitals by the slimmest of margins 18-17 in the championship game.

Two Florida teams continued the domination from that state in the five-team Menís 65/70 Platinum division. Florida Legends/Human Kinetics won the 70 Major-Plus Division while the Panhandle Hitmen took the 65 Major title.

Teams from Colorado to Nebraska to Michigan to Florida made up the 65AAA division. Steve Levin Financial from Florida rode a five-game winning streak to the championship game where they faced off against a familiar foe from Florida, Voice Tech. After losing to them in their first bracket game, Voice Tech repaid the favor beating Steve Levin Financial 23-20 in the Championship game. The momentum was short lived though for Voice Tech as Steve Levin Financial upstaged them in the ďifĒ game 19-15 to win the 65AAA division.

After winning the Triple Grand Slam in 2012, the Syracuse Cyclones from New York finished off a magical year with a 21 -7 victory over Hill Contracting from Texas in the Championship game of the 65AA Division. The Syracuse Cyclones won the Eastern Nationals in Raleigh, the East vs. West National Game and the 11-team division at the biggest Senior Softball tournament ever, The LVSSA/SSUSA World Masters Championships in Las Vegas.

The largest division was the nine-team Menís 70 Division and it featured teams from both coasts. Direct Employers II from Indiana showed why the Midwest is the heartland of softball, as they beat all comers and went undefeated to take the 70AAA division.

PDR Fastsigns from Oregon took the 70 Major title as they finished higher than any other 70 Major team.

The Long Island Jaguars from New York came into the 70AA bracket as the No. 1 seed and that seed proved legit. They stormed past the competition and beat the Barracudas from their home state 23-8 in the Championship game.

The Menís 75/80 Division showcased three teams in the 75 division and an impressive five-team 80ís division.

In the 75 division, the Syracuse Cyclones from New York put a cherry on top of their Triple Grand Slam season as they won the 75AAA division in impressive fashion. Joseph Chevrolet won the 75 Major Division as they finished as the highest ranked team in their division.

The 80ís bracket was not devoid of drama as an ďifí game was needed to determine a champion. Center for Sight, which had struggled in its pool games going 1-2, beat Buffalo Wild Wings in a close battle 13-11 in the ďifĒ game, after having lost by the same margin in the Championship game.

The Womenís 40/50 division included teams from California, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and Canada and made it one of the most well represented womenís divisions ever at the TOC.

Kryptonite who hailed from Florida had an impressive run as they won all six of their games. Their great play culminated in a 28-18 victory over Team Works out of Virginia in the championship game to give them the Womenís 40 Masters AAA title. The Womenís 40+/40AA bracket was won by Dreamgirlz out of Virginia. They won all of their games in the tournament by at least six runs! Motown Magic from Michigan won the 40 Masters AA Division as they finished highest in their division.



Terry Hennessy, SSUSA, California

Barney Greene, Custom Graphics 65, Georgia

Ira Turner Florida Classics, FL

Stacy Warden Rio Grande 50ís, NM

Candido Perez Romoís Old School, TX

Steve Holman Baker Boyz, CA

Darryl Nielsen Fat Nancyís/Gubiotti, NY

Jay Yocum Scrap Iron 55ís, CO

Doug Doolittle Last Call, NV

Joe DiFabio N.Y. Capitals, NY

Jack Orbin San Antonio Silver Streaks, TX

John Beard Tanel 360/Bud of Austin, TX

Doug Robbins Timberworks 60ís, CA

Dave Reed Florida Thunder, FL

Billy Hill Hill Contracting Inc. TX

George Nunez Physiomotion 65, CA

Mike Ebbing Scrap Iron/Phiten, CO

Chuck Detore Voice Tech Slammer, FL

Marv Rueck PDR Fastsigns, OR

John Ventura Triple Play 70, CA

Frank Miller Pfeiffer Gray Sox, MI

Hugh Brotherton Center for Sight, FL

Roland Johnson Jimmyís MN Legends 80ís MN

Louise OíDonnell Team Works, VA

Mike LaFramboise Chicago Hitmen 60ís

James Vetter Indiana Legends/Campbell

Phil Kvasnicka Blue Chips 60, IL

Tom Kelm Hill Contracting Inc. (HCI), TX



Bill Ruth, SSUSA, Washington

Ed Sullivan, High Desert Roadrunners, New Mexico

Ron Hogan Jackson Merchants, MI

Rick Brock Twin City Movers, IL

Mike Crabbs Freddieís Shooters, MD

Steve Rogers Kinnco Services, IN

David Hanna Athletic Outlet-Travato Ins. NY

Bobby Davis Hollis Appraisels, FL

Billy Swanson Stahl Post #30, DE

Steve Carpenter Columbus Silver Sticks, IN

Bob DiPietro Cross-Cut, FL

Sam Lamerato Rush Trucking, MI

Jack Kitchens Custom Graphics, GA

Dan Glum Syracuse Cyclones, NY

William Miller American Legion Post 8, FL

John Morris Long Island Jaguars, NY

Eddie Lloyd Monkey Joeís Big Nut Co. NY

Mike Fitzgerald Syracuse Cyclones, NY

Will Venema Gray Sox 80ís, MI

Marvin Hunter Mitchell Men, MD

Joanie Waidelich Motown Magic, MI

Bucky Wardel Barracudas, NY

Larry Peterson Midwest Express, NE

Daniel Difedele Phoenix Tube, NJ


Winning teams in each of the 27 divisions of the Tournament of Champions selected a Division MVP. Each Most Valuable Player received a limited-edition gold Miken Ultra II. Only 30 gold Ultra IIs are produced each year. Here are the MVPs:

1. Team 1 Sports, Fl. Menís 50 Major-Plus - Whole Team 

2. Good Times, Fl. Menís 50 Major - Bobby Benton 

3. Desert Dawgs 50, Ca. Menís 50AAA - Greg Bovero 

4. Jackson Merchants, Mi. Menís 50AA - David Luce 

5. Fangrabbers/Towtime 55, AZ. Menís 55 Major-Plus - David Niles 

6. Addison Park, Fl. Menís 55 Major - Whole Team 

7. Gonzales Insulation, TX. Menís 55AAA - Robert Garcia 

8. Baker Boyz, Ca. Menís 55AA - Marty Wilcox 

9. Hollis Appraisals 60, Fl. Menís 60 Major-Plus - Pat McLellan 

10. South Florida Heat, Menís 60 Major - John Smutnick  

11. Indiana Legends/Campbell Tire, Menís 60AAA - Billy Wright  

12. Slug-A-Bug, Fl. Menís 60AA - David Whitney 

13. Florida Thunder, Menís 65 Major-Plus - Anatol Mihailoff 

14. Panhandle Hitmen, Fl. Menís 65 Major - Whole Team 

15. Levin Financial, Fl. Menís 65AAA - Donald Cabral  

16. Syracuse Cyclones 65, NY. Menís 65AA - Dan Glum 

17. Florida Legends, Menís 70 Major-Plus - David Decker 

18. PDR/Fastsigns, Or. Menís 70 Major - Marv Rueck 

19. Direct Employers II, In. Menís 70AAA - John Loiacano 

20. Long Island Jaguars, NY. Menís 70AA - Joe Jacaruso 

21. Joseph Chevrolet, Fl. Menís 75 Major - Whole Team 

22. Syracuse Cyclones 75, NY. Menís 75AAA - Whole Team  

23. Center For Sight, Fl. Menís 80 Major - Whole Team 

24. Buffalo Wild Wings, Fl. Menís 80AAA - Donald Schroeder 

25. Kryptonite, Fl. Womenís 40AAA - Sara Payne 

26. Motown Magic, Mi. Womenís 40 AA - Whole Team   

27. Dreamgirlz, Va. Womenís 50 - Shirley Snell


The 2013 Tournament of Champions saw hundreds of players compete for supremacy in four special competitions, Speed, Pitching, Power Hitting, and Precision Hitting.

In the Speed Competition, participants raced around the bases. The winners, listed below, received a certificate and pair of Tanel shoes for each division.

50 Division Ė Ron Hogan (Jakson Merchants)

60 Division Ė Ken Brown (Tanel 360/Bud Light of Austin)

70 Division Ė Lowell Thompson (MN Masters)

Womenís Division Ė Debra Tucker (Dreamgirlz)

In the Pitching Competition, participants pitched into a bucket at home plate. The winners, listed below, received a certificate and Miken glove for each division.

50 Division Ė Ed Fischer (Jackson Merchants)

60 Division Ė Terrance Smith (The Bomb Squad)

70 Division Ė Bud Dodge (Hanningtonís of Massaschusetts)

Womenís Division Ė Joanie Waidelich (Motown Magic)

In the Power Hitting competition, the most home runs in 10 pitches won.

The winners, listed below, received a certificate and a Miken Ultra 2 bat for each division.

50 Division Ė Arnulfo Estrada (Baker Boyz)

60 Division Ė Steve Rogers (Kinnco Services)

70 Division Ė Dennis Lutz (Scrap Iron/Phiten)

Womenís Division Ė Shirley Simmons Snell (Dreamgirlz)

In the Precision Hitting competition, players hit line drives between strategically placed cones throughout the field. The winners, listed below, received a certificate and a Miken Ultra 2 bat for each division.

50 Division Ė George Romo (Romoís Old School)

60 Division Ė Louis Sotelo (Physiomotion)

70 Division Ė Bob Bartholomew (Syracuse Cyclones)

Womenís Division Ė Fay Jennings (Dreamgirlz)

All Tournament Selections

Menís 50 Major-Plus - Team 1 Sports - Alan Tanner (MVP), Craig Knowles, Kip Grant, Will Vriesenga, John Beasley

Menís 50 Major - Good Times - Bobby Benton (MVP), Ken Blackwell, Kurt Smith, Jack Doan, Tim Fincher; H & O Sports - Jeff Hunter, Bodie Shields

Menís 50AAA - Desert Dawgs - Tony Baltazar, Wayne Galer, Joe Quintero, Jamie Lagos, Doug Cherry, Greg Bovero (MVP); Phoenix Tube - Rick Matisak, Billy Esler, Wayne Peragallo

Menís 50AA - Jackson Merchants - Jerry Cox, Greg Maddelein, Robert Smith, Mark Zwolensky, Rich Bosowski; Romoís Old School - Rueben Rodriguez, Candido Candy Perez, George Romo; Silver Foxes - Harry Freedman, Scott Manchester

Menís 55 Major-Plus - Fan Grabber/AZ Lone Sharks - Dave Niles (MVP), Dave Patton, Mark Reagin, Jim Allender, Willie Medlin, Michael Koch

Menís 55 Major - Addison Park - Doug Pysser, John Miles, Gerard Stigliano, Mark Strebeck, Pete Bassignani; Kinnco Services - Terry Lee, Leo Osterday, Steve Rogers

Menís 55AAA - Fat Nancyís/Gubiotti - Pat Kelly, Rick Palermo

Menís 55AA - Baker Boyz - Gary Weichelt, Richard Estrada, Steve Holman, George Frietas, Ray Mascarinas, Marty Wilcox (MVP); Freddies Shooters - Morris Brown, Tom Barton

Menís 60 Major-Plus - Hollis Appraisals - Dave Motta, Mike Monnier, Jimmy Shingledecker, Jack Lambert, Bobby Davis

Menís 60/65 Platinum - South Florida Heat - John Smutnick, Dan Dockum, Tom Mackey, Larry Ball, Jim Kahn; Syracuse Merchants, Dan Kelley, Joe Frongello, Paul OíBrien; Handeland Flooring - Ken Gilpin, Brad Mueller

Menís 60AAA - Indiana Legends/Campbell Tire - Art Robertson, Gary Hunt, Chuck Loeser, Curt Pribble, Bill Wright (MVP); Georgia Alabama Masters - Steve Perlman, Jerry Wilbanks, Harry Mansell

Menís 60AA - Slug-A-Bug - Ray Brown, Mike Gardner, Dave Whitney, Phil Farmer, Paul Uzialko; NY Capitals - Jerry Smith, Gino Mullaney, Bill Kloc; Blue Chips - Warren Larison, Steve Kilkline

Menís 70 Major Plus - Florida Legends/Human Kinetics - Zeb Carter, Tom Dabbs, Bill Lowry, Steve Papalas, David Decker (MVP)

Menís 65 Major - Panhandle Hitmen - Jimmy Thompson, Herman Griffith, Ray Guttierez, Juan Alecia Sanchez, Lenny Rizzuto; New Mexico High Desert Roadrunners - Joe Almodova, Les Poland, Ed Sullivan

Menís 65AAA - Levin Financial - Ted Wess, Phil Grimpe, Rich McCann, Ron Rieches, Lou Urbinati; Voice Tech Slammers - Jim Davidson, Jim Holmes, Jim Phelan; Midwest Express - Larry Peterson, George Scott

Menís 65AA - Syracuse Cyclones - Chuck Andrews, Vern Wagar, Gary Contri, Ken Moses, Al Dragomidi, Dan Glum (MVP); Hill Contracting - Tony Morales, Tom DeRoo, Tommy John; Physiomotion - Mike Rupley, Penne Adams

Menís 70 Gold - Direct Employers - John Meeden, James Kiggins, Willy Tharpe, Jeff Crump, Bob Willoughby, John Loiacano (MVP); American Legion Post 8 - Pete Ostojic, John Ormsby, Jim Garrison; Monkey Joeís Big Nut Co. - Jim Harris, Eddie Lloyd

Menís 70AA - Long Island Jaguars - Joe Jacaruso (MVP), Louis Fatato, Brian Lyons, Bob Moore, Joel Riech, Jimmy Nugent; Barracudas - Rich Poliquin, George Shimono, Dick Ochampaugh; Triple Play - Bill Svoboda, Don Burden

Menís 75 Gold - Syracuse Cyclones - Doug Hammond, Joe Hill, Mike Fitzgerald, Don Corey, Ben Dorsey; Joseph Chevrolet - Vinny Remson, Duffie Stone, Frank Vargo, Whole Team (MVP)

Menís 80 Gold - Center For Sight - Russ Booth, Ferrall Sparks, Jack Lewis, Ted Battistone, Les Blum, Roger Thersher, Whole Team (MVP); Buffalo Wild Wings - Don Schroeden, Jim Price, Elmer Wilcox; Jimmyís Minnesota Legends - Bob Damadio, Stan Droogsma

Womenís 40 AAA Ė Kryptonite - Lori Poe, Miriam Shields, Rhonda Cline, Cathy Clifford, Theresa Walburger, Sara Payne (MVP); SoCal Toxic - Joann Hester, Linda Blakely

Womenís 50 Ė Dreamgirlz - Lydia Crandall, , Sylvia Echols, Barbara Foxx, Fay Jennings, Cynthia Mobley, Shirley Snell (MVP)

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