SoGal's, Quake, Utah Unified, Greene County, and SoCal Alliance all Champions!
The 8th Annual Police Softball World Series was hosted once again by www.policesoftball.com at the Big League Dreams facility in Las Vegas, Nevada the second weekend of October. The tournament has grown every year as it started with 32 teams in 2005 and swelled to 73 teams this year. Unfortunately, the open division is capped and for the first time ever teams were turned away for failing to qualify before the deadline. Every year the tournament follows a theme based on the numerical year since the advent. Being the 8th year, the theme was the “Dead Man’s Hand” Aces & Eights. The biggest change this year was the switch to a provided bat tournament. Title sponsor Easton Sports and Brett Helmer supplied the new line of Easton’s and Miken’s Denny Crine outfitted the fields with their latest bats. For many it was the first time they ever played in a provided bat tournament, and although there was some hesitancy it was refreshing to lift the specter of juiced/shaved/rolled bats and just concentrate on playing softball on an even playing field.
The opening ceremony drew a large crowd once again as the year end award presentation along with Hall of Fame inductions honored some well deserving players in the circuit. This year’s Hall of Fame Class included: Ronnie Connor, Lester Lawson, Anthony DiMauro, Dave Feather, Al Hoffner, Tim Grundmann, Benji Lehner and Bobby Pescitelli. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team was the special guests but a wrinkle was added to the exhibition game. The Warriors were divided by military branch with half playing on the Army/Air Force team and the others playing on the Marine/Navy team. Members of the Police Softball Honor team were separated out to either the Army or Marines team and it made for an exciting, competitive event. It took a bottom of the 7th inning rally for the Army team to claim the victory over the Navy team and it had those in attendance on the edge of their seats. Prior to the game, the WW were given approximately 8,000.00 which was raised mostly by Police Honor Team members. Former Player of the Year Jeff Regino did an outstanding job by raising 2700.00 himself.
The Home Run derby followed the Warrior game and 80 of the top police softball power hitters competed for the crown. The championship round was between Andy Williams of the DEA Combo and Dusty Bowling of the Ohio Lawmen. This was Andy’s second trip to the big show, but Dusty managed to best Andy by launching 7 home runs in 10 swings and in doing so, he became Home Run King. Brett Helmer presented Dusty with a new Easton bat and he was awarded the home run crown by policesoftball.com president Del Pickney. The grand finale to the night was a Team Miken vs. Team Easton team challenge. Brett Helmer was nursing an injury so he was replaced by Brian Wegman and neither of the pro’s disappointed as both Brian and Denny launched bombs into and over the protective screens beyond the fences. Special thanks to Fox Sports Radio host J.T. “The Brick” for serving as play-by-play announcer.
The first ever Women’s Division was a success and in future years is expected to grow beyond the 6 teams that participated. SoGal’s Alliance posted a perfect 5-0 record and sealed the tournament championship with a convincing win over the LAPD team. The Sin City Betty’s, Sacramento Lady Razorbacks, Gunslingers and Diamond Angels were also forever etched as competing in the 1st Annual Women’s Division World Series.
1. SoGal’s Alliance
3. Sin City Betty’s
5. Sacramento Razorbacks
6. Diamond Angels
MVP: Trish Hayes SoGal’s Alliance *presented with stone obelisk trophy
All Tournament Team SoGal’s Alliance: Amy Reyes, Brandee Platke and Michel Zermeno
Last year the Masters Division (40+) was aWorld Series first that worked out well and once again teams from all over the nation came to compete for the title. The defending World Champs, 40-Cal Alliance had a two year run of winning every tournament they played in. The team went undefeated in 2011 and in 2012 had only one loss on their resume. They were clearly the front runners, but as we all know there is a reason the game is played on the field and not in a book. This year it was the Alliance team’s long time rival Cal-Quake who earned the title of World Champions. The Quake lost a seeding game to the up-and-coming Mason Dixon Dawgz but they shook it off and ran the table in the winner’s bracket. 40-Cal Alliance got back to the dance but were quickly sent packing by the red hot Quake. Quake Hall of Famer Les Lawson got the walk off hit to win the game, the second time in two years he ended a big game in the World Series with a walk off hit. The Quake celebrated as they were declared Masters Divisions champions. The Quake received a uniform voucher from RoverPlusNine and the cherished stone obelisk trophy.
3.Mason Dixon Dawgz
4.Suffolk County Lawmen
9T.Detroit PD Masters
9T.Sin City Relics
MVP: Matt Boykin- Cal Quake *presented with stone obelisk trophy
All Tournament Team Cal Quake: Keith Crofton, Ron Connor, Andy Williams
Defensive Award Cal Quake: Doug Calcagno
All Tournament Team 40Cal Alliance: Mark Tolliver, Jim Sanders, Lowell Buck
All Tournament Team Mason Dixon Dawgz: Calvin Butcher, Tom Gault , Ronnie Farrell
The Gold Division was created in 2010 to give some very good teams a chance to compete on a level playing field without having to face the goliath’s of police softball who have line-ups loaded with conference players. Since there is no player classification in police ball it’s not uncommon to find the upper teams loaded with players who are classified as A/B level in the USSSA player classification system. That said, there is no shortage of talent in the Gold Division. Many have mentioned that the Gold Division teams in today’s world would have been in the mix for the Majors world championship just a few short years ago. The Gold Division was the biggest (31 teams) and by far the least predictable. Teams that were “supposed” to be the front runners such as SoCal Warpigs, Chicago Metro and the Capital City Lawmen exited much earlier than anyone anticipated. Meanwhile teams like OH5O (making first ever World Series appearance) and the underrated Team Vargas broke through to the top 5 even though neither was in the conversation leading up to the event. Certain things did pan out as expected. The Border Patrol Arsenal based out of New Mexico/Arizona advanced deep into the tournament because their pitcher, Gabe Lara proved why he is considered the best USSSA pitcher in the division. The loaded Mid-Atlantic/Demarini Lawmen were supposed to give it a good run last year and they fell far short of their expectations. Team members vowed to avenge their 2011 flop and that’s just what they did. They advanced all the way to the championship game and although they did not win the title, they did win the respect of every team they faced and eliminated on their road to the title game. The Greene County (Ohio) Enforcers were an early favorite to win the division, but they showed up with a light roster of only 12 players. The core of this team is veteran players, and make no mistake, these are not youngsters. The median age of the team was 37.5 years and three of their outfielders also played in the Masters division the previous day. Being veterans, they knew that if they dropped an early playoff game they would not be able to sustain a long run through the loser’s bracket. They knew they would need to run the table and that’s exactly what they did. Greene County orchestrated the perfect game plan and they simply outplayed their opponents in every aspect of the game. Most teams use a 5 man infield, but Greene County knew their outfielders could not cover the gaps so they went against current trends and fielded a traditional 4 man infield/outfield. Most teams burned through their allotted home runs by the 2nd or 3rd inning. Greene County plated runs without using home runs and saved them until the late innings. The bottom line is they outplayed, outsmarted, and outperformed their opponents and when the dust settled they were 7-0 and Gold Division World Champions! The Enforcers won an assortment of bats courtesy of Brett Helmer along with a uniform voucher from RoverPlusNine.
MVP: Brian Mangin- Greene County Enforcers *presented with stone obelisk trophy
All Tournament Team Greene County Enforcers: Lloyd “Rocky” Alexander, Terry Ables, Jeff Moore
Defensive Award Greene County Enforcers: Tony Vitale
All Tournament Team Mid-Atlantic/Demarini Lawmen: Scott Franklin, Darin Bumgarner, Corey Rogerson
1 Greene County Enforcers
2 Mid Atlantic/Demarini Lawmen
3 Border Patrol Arsenal
5T Team Vargas
5T Toronto Police Services
7T SoCal Warpigs
7T Iowa Lawmen
9T El Dorado Cartel
9T Montgomery County Young Gunz
9T LAPD Lawmen
9T NorCal Elite
13T No. Florida Showdown
13T Capital City Lawmen
13T Chicago Metro
17T Maryland Outlaws
17T Louisville Metro
17T NorCal Shockers
17T Charles County Lawmen
Another first this year was the Silver Division. As stated earlier, the Gold Division has basically evolved into what the Majors Division was about 5 years ago so the idea was hatched to allow all Gold teams that went 0-2 in round robin to advance to a 10 team double elimination Silver Division playoff. This too was very popular as some teams that were outgunned in the Gold Division now had a fighting chance to win in the Silver Division. There were many close one run games and overall it was a very even playing field. That alone makes every team, win or lose, enjoy the event even more. Based on the field many expected Alameda’s Most Wanted, SoCal Riot and the Fontana Gunslingers to be the front runners. And generally speaking that was the case. What nobody expected was the emergence of a first year team from Utah to sweep the division with a perfect 4-0 playoff record. This wasn’t just their first World Series; it was their first tournament in the police softball circuit. Utah Unified came into the tournament as an unknown and walked away being the team the other teams were talking about. Utah walked away with a prize package of shirts, power necklaces and an assortment of police softball goodies.
1 Utah Unified
2 SoCal Riot
3 Alameda’s Most Wanted/AMW
4 SoCal Dawgs
5T Fontana Gunslingers
5T Midwest Heat
7T DC Enforcers
7T Arizona Ablaze
9T Officers Only
MVP: Greg Neer- Utah Unified *presented with stone obelisk trophy
All Tournament Team Utah Unified: Preston Casey, Zack Adams, Carson Niederhauser
Defensive Award Utah Unified: Mike Sheldon
All Tournament Team SoCal Riot: Felix Figueroa, Ulric Storey, Henry Ornales III
The 24 best teams in police softball played in the Majors Division. This is the highest level police teams can play in and the winning team would forever be known as World Series Champions. Brett Helmer commented that most of the Majors teams would be very competitive in the USSSA class C division and some of the teams would be a major factor in the B division. Up and down the rosters you saw players like Jeff Graus Combat/Sports55, Rob Menke 3rd Street Financial/Shinetime/TPS, Matt Tindell Magic/S&S/Tyja/Easton etc. You could tell the Majors teams were a cut above the others when you saw the defensive execution and bat control. Coming into the event there were some favored teams, but since the talent level was so high every team playing was capable of taking home the championship.
The Great Lakes Lawmen were the defending champs and deep down, many teams were relieved when news broke that they had been eliminated and finished tied 7th. Another favorite was the 2010 champions the NYPD Blues. Although the Blues handed the former two-time champions, SoCal Alliance an early playoff loss the Blues lost focus and ended up tied for 5th. Another shocker was the 2005 champions, and perennial favorites the Ohio Lawmen checking out early tied for 9th. Generally speaking although the West Conference has won 3 of 7 previous World titles, the East seemed to always dominate the top 5. That was not the case this year. This year the West had 4 teams in the top 5 for the first time ever. Sin City Combo revisited the top 5 and first year team Showtime cracked the top 5 which is a HUGE accomplishment for a first year team. The only first year team that outshined Showtime was the Florida based Down2Earth Lawmen who finished in 3rd place. They were the top placing East Conference team and the front runner to finish as the top ranked EC team. The championship game came down to 2 former champions. The California based HardCor team won the title in 2009 and they went through round robin and the playoffs undefeated. The SoCal Alliance (2007 & 2008 champions) seemed to be doomed to repeat their 2011 season where they went into the World Series by winning 8 of 8 tournaments, one loss, but then dropped an early round robin game. They won 8 in a row to force an “IF” game against the Great Lakes Lawmen but gassed out and finished in 2nd place. 2012 seemed to be playing out the same way for SoCal as they dropped an early playoff game to NYPD Blues. They would need to win 7 in a row which was possible but not probable. The team seemed focused and intent on avenging their 2011 heartbreaker as they rolled through the loser’s bracket to eliminate South Florida, Great Lakes, Showtime, Sin City and the Down2Earth Lawmen. They had no breaks in between games and it would take a gutsy performance to beat the well rested, undefeated HardCor team twice. This year the “Evil Empire” would not be denied as they defeated HardCor to force an “IF” game and then earned their 3rd World Championship by defeating HardCor 25-16. No team has ever won the Police Softball World Series twice…SoCal Alliance was crowned champs for the 3rd time.
MVP: Mike Snyder-SoCal Alliance *presented with stone obelisk trophy
All Tournament Team SoCal Alliance: Kevin Burger, Chad Bankston, George Reyes
Defensive Award SoCal Alliance: Eric Harryman
All Tournament Team HardCor: Chad Howard, Tyson Becker, Mark Tolliver and Brian Schmidt
1 SoCal Alliance/Easton
3 D2E Lawmen
4 Sin City
5T NYPD Blues
5T California Showtime
7T Great Lakes Lawmen
7T Minnesota Lawmen
9T Ohio Lawmen
9T Concord Combo
9T Suffolk County
9T South Florida Lawmen
13T West Coast Aftershock
13T Team Texas
13T DEA Combo
13T SoCal Lockdown
17T Vegas Heat
17T Team Jersey
17T LAPD Blue
17T Metro Detroit’s Finest
17T Steel City Enforcers
17T Shamrock Enforcers
17T NorCal Choir Boys
17T Missouri Lawmen
The dates for next year have been inked, 2nd weekend of October at the same venue. You can expect bigger and better things as the event grows and evolves every year. Policesoftball.com sends special thanks to event sponsors and supporters Brett Helmer, Brian Wegman/Easton Sports, Denny Crine/Miken, RoverPlusNine, Ed Farmer Big League Dreams, Dennis Rulli & Tom Phundstein USSSA directors, Ernie Ohno & Dan Potter USSSA U.I.C. crew, Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Floyd Selleck, Mike O'Neill (announcer), David Stevens (photographer) Dennis Leonard & 3N2 Sports, Anthony Costanzo & the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, J.T. the Brick, and Softball Magazine.