Add these names to the Champion Wall: LAPD Blue-Majors, Stanislaus-Mids, South Florida Lawmen-Gold, Northwest Shakedown-Silver
LAPD Blue Defends the Heavyweight Belt
“Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years.” After losing the 2020 season due to COVID, things felt normal again in Las Vegas for Police Softball World Series XVI. The event sold out with 32 teams competing in Uppers (Majors & Mids) and 38 teams in Lowers (Gold). We scheduled for a 40 team Gold division but we had 2 late drops. In total we had a total of 70 teams from over 30 states competing over the four-days.
Garrett Metal Detectors hosted the player party, and it was well attended as always. Year-end award winners were recognized and presented plaques courtesy of the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Association. Anthony “Big Tone” Costanzo, Nate Seger (SCDSA), Dennis Leonard, and Marieo Foster (Easton) were on field to present custom plaques to the winners. The winners were as follows:
Walt Conry Manager of the Year- Randy Sampson, Maryland Outlaws
Sponsor of the Year- Paul Chavez, Border Patrol Arsenal, Silver Stars, PS.COM etc.
Defensive Player of the Year- Jon Tibaudo, Great Lakes
Shevy Wright Sportsman of the Year- Neil Picillo, Maximum Elite
Garrett Outstanding Police Officer of the Community- Dan McIntyre, Midwest Heat
Player of the Year- Dustin Laughlin, The Connection
Del Pickney Career Achievement Award- Terry Dugan, Mid-Atlantic
Also recognized were the class of 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame Inductees. A special thanks goes out to Hall of Fame committee chairs Dennis Leonard and Tyson Becker for their work on this very important component to police softball. The inductees included the following:
Class of 2020
Ruben Rijos- Suffolk County Lawmen
Shawn McDonnell- NYPD Blues, NY Metro
Rob Menke- Ohio Lawmen
John Erven- Maximum Elite, Dirty Jersey Boys
Matt Bolan- North Florida Showdown, Jacksonville PSC
Shawn White- Chicago Metro
Ryan Register- Team 3N2/Down to Earth Lawmen
Jerry Boyd- DEA Combo
Nate Baez- DEA Combo, LAPD Blue, SoCal Alliance
Danny Wells- DEA Combo, SoCal Alliance
Lyle Reyes- Nitro2Go Hitmen
Keith Habig- Sin City Combo, SoCal Alliance, DEA Combo, LAPD Blue
Mark Jackson- The Connection, Hard Core
Perry Moore- Team Texas
Class of 2021
Joe Markulic – NY Hounds, Dirty Jersey Boys
Craig Sears- Maximum Elite
John Zintak- Great Lakes
Jim Smith- Thin Blue Line
Mick Ackerman- NY Metro
Tommy Hayes- SoCal Alliance
George Reyes- Riverside Sheriff Red, SoCal Alliance, Battle Born, LAPD Blue
Dan Potter- Policesoftball.com Umpire In Charge
The final round of the HR Derby featured the 2 finalists who survived a pool of 100 other contestants to swing in the Dr. Charles Garrett Memorial HR Derby. Each batter was given one minute to hit as many home runs as possible. Oklahoma Outlaws leader Justin Beal (also known for playing USSSA conference softball with the Seminoles) hit several bombs and posted what seemed to be an unsurpassable number. Somehow, Jake Reuvers from the Minnesota Lawmen bested him by one home run with only seconds left to claim the title of HR Derby King. Along with that honor came an AR-15 patrol rifle, courtesy of Buds Gun Shop and an El Presidente bat courtesy of Elite Sports.
The marquee exhibition game concluded the event with the West Managers and guests topping the East Managers and guests. Highlights of this game included Elite owner Carlos Vega lasering Hall of Fame pitcher Donny Meyer. Shane Roach hitting into the slowest developing 6-4-3 double play in police softball history. And finally, LAPD Blue coach Craig Snyder getting tagged by a “sniper” rounding third. Seeing a 6’4” man tumble down the baseline is a scary experience, but ever the gamer, Craig walked it off and was back coaching the next game.
The Uppers kicked it off early Thursday morning and played three round robin games for playoff seeding. Twelve teams were slated to go to the superheavyweight (Majors) division based on their history and performance to date this year. That left 20 other teams vying for 4 “at large” berths to Majors. It is an amazing accomplishment to even be considered a Majors team because that means you are one of the elite 16 teams in the nation and have earned the right to compete against the best of the best. The following teams were predetermined to be Majors teams: The Connection, Great Lakes, Maximum Elite, New York Hounds, LAPD Blue, Ohio/Shield, Thin Blue Line, Minnesota Lawmen, State 48 Syndicate, Mid Atlantic, Nassau Blues, and the DEA Combo. The four teams that earned berths based on their impressive 3 game round robin performance were: Miami Dawgz, I-80 Cartel, Kentucky Blue and the Maryland Outlaws.
The Connection and Great Lakes were the top two ranked teams in the nation, but expert analysists forecasted a rematch between The Connection and LAPD Blue in the championship, with LAPD Blue projected to repeat as champions. The experts appeared to be spot on after The Connection posted 3 run rule round robin victories to secure the #1 playoff seed with LAPD Blue not far behind in the #2 seed.
There were only a handful of surprises in the Majors playoffs. The top team of 2020, Great Lakes led by pitcher Jeff “Biscuit” Graus had only lost one game all season and that was in Texas at the hands of the Minnesota Lawmen. Minnesota must have a secret recipe against Great Lakes because they sent them into the loser bracket early. Apparently still reeling from that loss to Minnesota, Great Lakes was eliminated by the underdog Maryland Outlaws who had earned a wild card berth into Majors. Another wild card team, Kentucky Blue barely slipped into Majors and were quickly relegated to the loser bracket at the hands of The Connection. The Bluegrass squad caught fire after that and proceeded to eliminate some top tier teams including I-80 Cartel and the Pennsylvania based Thin Blue Line. Both Maryland and Kentucky finished inside the Top 7 which is certainly something they will build on in the future.
The Top 5 teams were the usual suspects, with the New York Hounds reestablishing themselves at the top of the East Conference totem pole. They had been challenged for that position by teams such as Great Lakes, Maximum Elite and Mid Atlantic in past years, but on this weekend, they made it clear they were still the team to beat out of the East. Their only 2 losses were to the defending World Champions, LAPD Blue. The Hounds finished a with a strong 3rd place showing.
The Connection looked unbeatable all weekend and in the undefeated game, they managed to look even better. They posted a decisive run-rule victory over their intra-state rivals LAPD Blue and had the luxury to watch the loser bracket play out while they prepared for their return to the “ship.” As project, the LAPD Blue emerged from the pack to face The Connection, but they would have their work cut out for them as they needed to defeat The Connection twice. If Vegas had a line on this game, it would have been heavily in favor of The Connection based on their game earlier in the day which only lasted 5 innings. LAPD Blue seemed to thrive in the underdog role and despite being battered from earlier games, managed to win the first championship game to force an “IF” game. In doing so, you could feel a palatable momentum shift and those in attendance quietly spoke about The Connection losing their steam.
Meanwhile, LAPD Blue had recaptured their swagger and that was evident early in the game as it seemed as if LAPD Blue was in command from the beginning. It was a well-played game by both teams but when the dust settled, LAPD Blue had defied the odds and won back to back games against The Connection to win their 2nd World Series in team history. The defending champs had successfully defended their title and made a clear statement that they intend the three-peat in 2022.
Swami predictions: LAPD Blue over The Connection.
T9.Thin Blue Line
Del Pickney MVP: Eric Mattos- LAPD Blue *custom watch courtesy of Paul Chavez
All World: Walter Sevilla, Danny Higa, Kimo Cavaco- LAPD Blue
Defensive MVP: Keith Habig- LAPD Blue *custom fielding glove courtesy of Dan McIntyre
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Buddy Lundy- LAPD Blue
All World: Chais Fuller, Stephen Martins, Stephen Bautista- The Connection
All World: Ryan Theiss, Rich Ceili, Bruce Monro- New York Hounds
This division featured the 16 teams that did not crack the elite tier but are still considered “Uppers” by police softball analytics.
Generally, teams that finish first or second get an automatic bump or “berth” to Majors, but since 2020 was a dark year, teams were given a clean slate.
Suffolk County New York earned the top seed with San Antonio Law securing the 2 seed. Despite their pedestrian 8th place seed, it was no secret that all eyes were on the defending Mid Majors champions Stanislaus Combo. As expected, Stanislaus did what Stanislaus does, and that is they level up come playoff time. They proceeded to reel off wins against formidable teams such as Miami 5-O, Suffolk County, and the LAPD Shot Callers to advance to the undefeated game against fellow NorCal rivals, The Enforcers. The Enforcers were the surprise team of the division as they handily defeated a loaded Houston Heat and followed with victories over San Antonio Law, and North Florida Showdown to earn their ticket to the undefeated game. In that game, Stanislaus had too much firepower and sent The Enforcers into the loser bracket.
In the loser bracket, the Gold Division defending champions Angel Armor out of Colorado were having success in their promotion to the uppers, as they eliminated former Mid Majors champions, Border Patrol Arsenal and San Antonio Law before falling to North Florida. Two SoCal teams, LAPD Shot Callers and the San Diego Silver Stars also cracked the Top 5. North Florida and The Enforcers met in the 3rd place game and this time, North Florida prevailed and earned a shot at Stanislaus in the championship.
Both the Stanislaus offense and North Florida were firing on all cylinders, but Stanislaus was playing inspired defense, especially in the outfield. They built a small lead that they were able to maintain throughout the game. Stanislaus recorded the final out accomplished what will likely never be done again, and that is winning back-to-back World Championships in Mid Majors. Champagne flowed in the Stanislaus as the team celebrated their successful title defense. Both Stanislaus and North Florida will receive national bumps to Majors next season and both have the offensive firepower to compete with any team in the nation.
Houston Heat over I-80 Cartel
2.North Florida Showdown
4.LAPD Shot Callers
T5.San Diego Silver Stars
T5.Angel Armor Colorado
Del Pickney MVP: Jon Quiro- Stanislaus *custom watch courtesy of Paul Chavez
All World: Victor Ortega, Garrett Hyer, Luis Duran- Stanislaus
Defensive MVP: KJ Vandagriff- Stanislaus
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Richard Stidham-Stanislaus
All World: Spencer Craven, Randy Walker, Donny Meyer- North Florida
All World: Sammy Lopez, Mike Freitas, Frank Terronez- Enforcers
The largest division in police softball by far is Gold. Majors has 16 teams, Mid Majors has 16 teams, but Gold has nearly 40 teams which is more than twice as many as both Majors and Mid Majors combined. As a result, Gold is a much more difficult division for police softball analysists to forecast. This year, scouting experts had made a bold prediction to not include a single team that finished inside the Top 8 in the last World Series to even crack the top 5. A team that has not been a serious contender in years, the South Florida Lawmen were somehow considered the front runners over the rebuilding Team Texas. Another Florida team, Center Mass out of Tampa Bay had never finished higher than 9th, but insiders believed they would finish 3rd with the up and comers, Sin City Saints rounding out the top 4. Were the analysists right?
Metro Detroit’s Finest are a veteran team with one Gold Division championship under their collective belts so they likely felt snubbed by being projected outside the top 5. As a result, they posted some lopsided round robin scores to earn the top seed. Meanwhile, the team that was disbanded and rebuilt, Team Texas looked as strong as ever securing the 2 seed.
Due to the huge volume of teams, the playoff bracket took quite a while to play out. There were 8 teams still undefeated come Saturday night and they were: Sin City Saints, Nitro 2 Go, Center Mass, Midwest Heat, Lonestar, South Florida, Oklahoma, and Chicago Metro. Shockingly, the top seed Metro Detroit’s Finest lost early to Lock & Load out of Texas and the 2 seed, Team Texas lost to crosstown rivals, Lonestar. The only real surprise in the undefeated group was SoCal’s Nitro 2 Go who struggled to field a consistent team all year. Manager Lyle Reyes equated running the team to herding cats and getting them all together at the same time had been quite a challenge. That said, the lure of Las Vegas brought together his best line-up and they were playing up to their abilities. Nitro defeated Sin City to advance into Sunday undefeated. Center Mass sent the Midwest Heat into the loser bracket and were set to match up against Nitro early on Sunday morning. South Florida dispatched the pesky Lonestar team and had a date with the Freshman squad, Oklahoma Outlaws on Sunday morning. Oklahoma had made some noise by sending perennial contenders and former World Champions, Chicago Metro into the loser bracket.
Somehow overnight, Nitro 2 Go lost two key infielders but still managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat and defeat the balanced attack of Center Mass to kick off Sunday. Nitro 2 Go was advancing to the undefeated game and that is something nobody saw coming. Meanwhile, the two most impressive offensive teams South Florida and Oklahoma engaged in a slugfest that saw both teams exchange haymakers with South Florida eventually securing the victory.
In the undefeated game, it appeared South Florida was going to run away with it, but somehow Nitro 2 Go stuck around and never let South Florida separate. In what ended up being a very close game, South Florida prevailed and advanced to the championship where a team out of the loser bracket would need to double dip them.
Meanwhile in the loser bracket, Team Texas had been putting in work. They won a whopping SEVEN games in a row (no breaks) to advance all the way to the final dance against South Florida. They got to work at 8 AM on Sunday morning and proceeded to eliminate the following teams: Norsemen PSC, Honolulu’s Finest, Midwest Heat, West Coast Lawmen, Oklahoma Outlaws, Center Mass, and Nitro 2 Go. Of those teams, the West Coast Lawmen were the biggest underdog and they put together their strongest showing since the advent of the team. They will definitely be able to build on their World Series performance and should have free agents knocking on their door this off-season.
A gassed Team Texas faced a fully charged and deep South Florida squad and although it looked like it was going to be a shootout, South Florida’s defense buckled down and prevented Texas from having any big innings. Meanwhile the South Florida offense was posting crooked numbers every inning and had jumped to a double-digit lead late in the game. Team Texas had no more bullets in the gun and South Florida seized the moment to put them away and become Gold Division World Champions for the first time ever. South Florida’s line-up was chocked full of first year players, but they had a nice sprinkling of veterans who helped lead the youngsters to play inspired ball all weekend. There was no question, on this weekend South Florida was the best team in the Gold Division and earned their moment to dogpile in the middle of the field while being showered with champagne.
Swami predictions: South Florida Lawmen over Team Texas.
1.South Florida Lawmen
T9.Metro Detroit’s Finest
T9.Sin City Saints
T13.United Kansas City
T17.Nor Cal J-Cats
T17.NY Necessary Force
T17.Lock & Load Texas
T25.San Bernardino Hitmen
T25.San Francisco Seals
T25.Mixed Nutz (socal)
T33.Las Vegas G-Men
Del Pickney MVP: Kevin Fry- South Florida *custom watch courtesy of Paul Chavez
All World: Anthony Delaney, Danny Terreiro, Craig Turner- South Florida
Defensive MVP: Sam Kimmell- South Florida *custom fielding glove courtesy of Dan McIntyre
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Kevin Drummond- South Florida
All World: Charlie Lenhard, Clay Britton, Josh Nimo- Team Texas
All World: Steve Wrathall, Dale De Schepper, Curtis Ford- Nitro 2 Go
“If you get served a plate of lemons, make lemonade.” That was the mantra of Northwest Shakedown’s manager and Hall of Famer Bill Judd. Judd’s Shakedown team was considered one of the top Gold teams in the nation after going the distance in the West Coast Championships before dropping the “If” game to Utah Metro. For whatever reason, they never got firing on all cylinders in Vegas until Sunday, but by that time they had already been dispatched to the Silver Division.
Make no mistake, once they got to Silver, they looked like a completely different team as they were scoring run totals north of 20 every game. And it wasn’t like they had any pushovers on their path to the championship. They drew tough matchups such as the pesky SB Hit Squad and former Gold Division champions Team Louisiana in the early rounds. Their final game would be against the revamped Oakland PD and although Oakland was vastly improved, they were no match for Bill’s Northwest squad. It wasn’t the championship they came to take home, but they still walked away as victors ahead of 14 others.
T5.San Francisco Seals
T8.Las Vegas G-Men
T8.San Bernardino Hit Squad
Del Pickney MVP: Bobby Price- Northwest Shakedown
All World: Bob Sinkman, Sean Goforth, Chris Werre-Northwest Shakedown
Defensive MVP: Chris Werre- Northwest Shakedown
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Garrett Gunderson-Northwest Shakedown
All World: Randy Villa, Andrew Gartner, Stu Donaldson-Oakland PD
The winning teams won a variety of amazing prizes from our sponsors. Depending on final finish teams received a variety of Easton bats, Easton roller bags, Miken backpacks, Easton/Miken batting gloves, script (gift cards) from Elite Sports, Blue Line watches from Paul Chavez, custom metal watches from Rockwell (Chavez), custom fielding gloves, champions medals, All World Medals, Pat Hill Medals, Del Pickney MVP medals, engraved plaques and of course the coveted stone obelisk trophy which is unique to police softball. A special shout out to our bat providers: Brett Helmer and Easton, Carlos Vegas and Elite/Onyx (El President) and Chad Agustin with Louisville Slugger and his Blue Line bat.
In the spirit of quoting famous sayings, here is another. “It takes a village to raise a child.” In our case it takes a village to run this tournament. Although PS.COM might seem like a big corporation, in reality it is just JB, his wife Anne Marie, partner Ryan Coe, and Del’s wife Michele. Just four of us. We had Coe’s dad Norm working his tail off since Ryan just had reconstructive elbow surgery. Honestly, we could not have done it without everyone who helped pitching in. Huge shout out to Justin Witt who brought the ENTIRE Louisville Metro team out to the complex at 0530 hours on their off day (Thursday) to help us set up. Witt also secured us a major sponsor in Bud’s gun shop, worked the booth checking IDs, umpired the marquee game and ultimately was unmasked as the Covid Clown on the message board. Shane Roach, Justin Camper, Tyson Becker, John Koster all spent hours of their days checking ID’s. Kevin Schoch who stepped up to run our Free Agent team and coordinate the players party/sponsorship with Garrett Metal Detectors. Big Tone was our all-star as he relieved us of tourney director duties on Thu/Fri nights so we could get a few hours of sleep. Dan Potter once again showed why he was the first civilian voted into our Hall of Fame as his umpire crew was amazing and Dan himself was there whenever and wherever we needed him. Mike Oneill might be the first guy to get into the Hall of Fame on his announcing alone. He is the Vin Scully of police softball, and he really makes those big games feel BIGGER.
I am sure I have missed a few people in this paragraph but trust me, you are in our hearts. If it were not for those who put more into the game than they take away, we would not be successful. We have already inked the dates of Oct 6-9 (Thu-Sun) 2022 at the Vegas BLD. Same venue, same host hotel. Majors Thu-Sat and Gold Fri-Sun just like this year. No need to ask..now you know so put in your vacation time now and if you are thinking of knocking up the wife, plan accordingly!
As I said, it takes a village. And as long as my heart is beating and I am physically capable, I will be there doing my best to create a memorable weekend for all of you.
Jeff, AMB, Michele and Ryan aka PS.COM