The SoCal Alliance, Chicago Metro, 40. Cal, NitroToGo and SoGal's all Win
Big League Dreams Las Vegas played host to the Police Softball World Series which drew 71 law enforcement teams, with 1000+ players from over 30 states. The word “World” in World Series was appropriate in that, there were three Canadian teams participating; Toronto Police Softball, Prince Albert Police and the Regina Cyclones. Early arrivals were treated to a catered player’s reception at the Golden Nugget Hotel hosted by Hall of Famer Terry Dugan and his new Virginia based Lockdown Sports Gear company. Easton Sports with Brett Helmer and Miken with Denny Crine supplied all the bats for the tournament. The provided bat format has become very popular as there was no specter of juiced bats looming over the teams. It was a level playing field for all the competitors as games would be won and lost based only on talent and execution.
The tournament was dedicated to Detroit Police Officer Pat Hill, who in 2011 was the starting third baseman for the Great Lakes Lawmen during their epic world championship run. Earlier this year Pat was following a murder suspect through the streets of Detroit when during the take down, the suspect opened fire and Pat was critically wounded during the ensuing firefight. Pat had been fighting for his life since that fateful day and during the opening ceremony Pat’s co-worker and teammate Mike DiCicco announced that Pat was not responding and would be moved into hospice. The tragic news cast a somber mood over the normally festive crowd, but it served as a reminder to all that given our line of work that could have been anyone of us instead of Pat. The news also served as notice to cherish every moment with your loved ones, with your friends, and your teammates. Every day you have the opportunity to step onto the softball field and play a kid’s game with your best friends is a good day no matter what the score. Several players participated in a PH1LL (Pat Hill) fundraiser and they raised over $4000 that was forwarded to Pat’s wife on behalf of the police softball circuit. The Big League Dreams staff donated third base on Angel Field to members of the Great Lakes Lawmen. This was a symbolic gesture as that was the position Pat played on Angel Field when his team won the World Series in 2011. Players wrote inspirational messages to Pat’s wife and signed their names on the base. In addition to Pat Hill, we also recognized the loss this year of Walt “Red” Conry. Walt was the longtime manager of the famed NY Metro teams and is enshrined in our Hall of Fame. Upon Walt’s passing, we re-named our Manager of the Year Award in his honor.
During the opening ceremony we officially recognized our year end award winners . Once again the awards were sponsored by the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. We would like to thank them and their president, Kevin Mickelson for all that they do for our sport. The awards were presented to the following:
West Conference Sponsor of the Year- King Taco (SoCal WarPigs)
East Conference Sponsor of the Year- Suffolk County Police Memorial Fund (Suffolk Lawmen)
West Conference Shevy Wright Sportsman of the Year- Lyle Reyes (Nitro2Go Hitmen)
East Conference Shevy Wright Sportsman of the Year- Ed Clarke (Montgomery Young Gunz)
West Conference Walter Conry Manager of the Year- Hector Jaramillo (LAPD Lawmen)
East Conference Walter Conry Manager of the Year- Anthony Buonadonna (Chicago Metro)
West Conference Defensive Player of the Year- Bryan Schmidt (HardCor)
East Conference Defensive Player of the Year- Matt Marksbury (OH5O)
West Conference Player of the Year (MVP)- Frank Terronez (California Showtime)
East Conference Player of the Year (MVP)- Jimmy Gnew (NYPD Blues)
The Hall of Fame committee once again convened and voted several players into the PoliceSoftball.com Hall of Fame. To welcome these players into this exclusive club, all current members were asked to come onto the field and be present for the induction ceremony of the class of 2013. Enshrined on this night were the following players:
Jeff Blair- SoCal Alliance *rumored to also be a good writer
Todd Patino- LAPD Blue
Steve Merchant- NorCal Choir Boys
Todd Waymire- LAPD Blue
Brad Gidcumb – Jacksonville Police Softball Club
Andy Kunz – NYPD Blues
David Patrick – Mid Atlantic Lawmen
Dick Vogel – Cincinnati Police
On this night we also recognized team MVPs by announcing their name and having them come onto the field. Being named your team’s MVP is an honor and the following players were recognized:
Anthony Valera - Chicago Metro PSC
Matt Mejia - SoCal Warpigs
Richard Bengtson - 40Cal. Alliance
Perry Gallow - Team Louisiana
Rick Thornton - Toronto Police
Jimmy Gnew - NYPD Blues
Mike Bobbitt - HardCor
Robert Mason - DEA Combo
Derrick Dominguez - LA Lawmen
Matt Marksbury - OH50
Gabe Lara - BP Aresenal
Jaime Torres - Suffolk County Lawmen
Jason Newlin - South Florida Lawmen
John Phelps - Mid Atlantic Demarini Lawmen
Javier Ramos - 51 Fifty/Nor Cal Shockers
Patrick Vlasik - Eldo Cartel
Pat Hill - Great Lakes Lawmen
Brad Hackworth - Concord Combo
Trevor Neville - Battle Born
Dave Sisson - Maryland Outlaws
Dave Masi - Shamrock Enforcers
Frank Terronez - California Showtime
Allan Westfall - D2E Lawmen
Kevin Trott - Missouri Lawmen
Ed Clarke - Montgomery County Young Gunz
Kyle Skala - AZ Ablaze
Kevin Burger - SoCal Alliance
Ralph Contreras - Most Wanted
Chuck Sherman/Mario Barraso - Nitro Hitmen
Matt Guigar – Metro Detroit’s Finest
Tony McNeal – West Coast United
Norm Sells - NorCal Elite
Frankie Navarre – Dayton Metro
Casey Hill – Stanislaus
Brian Caron – Minnesota Lawmen
Val Lopez – San Antonio Law
PJ Carney- Team Jersey
Jeryl Tyson - Louisville Metro Police
After the ceremony we held the finals of our home run derby. Dave Masi from the Shamrock Enforcers (New Jersey) and Scott Thompkins of Las Vegas based Battle Born battled 70 sluggers from around the nation to be the last two men standing. They then went head to head and in the end, Dave came out on top and won the title as the new homerun king. Dave was awarded a champion’s medal and was awarded a new Easton bat. After the derby, Tournament sponsors Brett Helmer (Easton) and Denny Crine (4 The Fallen/Miken) put on a home run hitting display that lit up the sky brighter than the Vegas strip on New Years Eve!
There were several divisions within the tournament. The first to play was the Masters Division featuring teams consisting of players 40+. There was also a Women’s Division that allowed any female law enforcement employee or the spouse of a law enforcement employee to play. The Open Division had three sub-divisions; Majors (top tier), Gold (largest division) and Silver (teams that went 0-2 in Gold round robin play).
The open tournament was the standard format of two round robin games for seeding purposes followed by a double elimination playoff. Teams were divided with half playing in the uppers “Majors” division and the others playing in the lowers “Gold” division. In order to build the hype teams were pre-ranked based on their projected bracket finish. The pre-rankings provided locker room fodder for those not projected to win and put a target on the collective backs of those who were. Start days were staggered in order to allow both Majors and Gold championship games to be played on the marquee field, Angel, that was equipped with a DJ system and an announcer.
Masters Division Recap:
The 40+ Masters Division featured 7 veteran teams facing off in a straight double elimination format. The 2012 champions California Quake earned a bye based on their status as defending champs. The Great Lakes Lawmen sent Team California into the loser bracket as did Suffolk to Team Torture. The 2011 Champions 40-Cal Alliance posted an impressive win over the defending National Champions, Garden State Masters. Great Lakes continued rolling by taking the Quake the distance and knocking them into the loser bracket. 40-Cal stayed red hot by defeating Suffolk which set the stage in the undefeated game between Great Lakes and 40-Cal. 40-Cal won that game convincingly pushing Great Lakes into the loser bracket to face Garden State who had been on a 3 game roll sending teams home. Great Lakes responded with another victory, but it came at a cost as the team lost some key players due to injury. When the dust settled it was 40-Cal Alliance who were crowned Masters Division champions once again.
FINAL MASTERS DIVISION RESULTS
1. 40-Cal Alliance
2. Great Lakes Lawmen
3. Garden State Masters
4. Suffolk County Lawmen
5t. California Quake
5t. Team California
7. Team Torture
Women’s Division Recap:
The Women’s Division is a relatively new component to the World Series event. Last year the SoGal’s Alliance bested the LAPD team in the championship game to claim the first ever Women’s Division World Series championship. This year there were some familiar faces but also some new teams. The bracket winners after round robin play were SoGal’s and the San Bernardino Knockouts. Although they didn’t win their bracket, the Sacramento Lady Razorbacks put on an impressive offensive display that included a decisive win over the favored LAPD squad. The only big surprise was LAPD going 0-2 in the round robin because as last year’s runners up many projected them to win their bracket.
Come playoff time, the LAPD bats woke and they cut their way through their opponents like a surgeon. Meanwhile the SoGal’s were mirroring the performance of the LAPD team and it was shaping up to be a rematch of last year’s championship game. As projected, that is exactly what happened. Once again the big game featured the SoGal’s against LAPD and once again the SoGal’s prevailed to defend their title.
FINAL WOMEN'S DIVISION RESULTS
1. SoGal’s Alliance
3T. Sacramento Lady Razorbacks
3T. Cen Cal Swingers
5. San Bernardino Knockouts
6. Sin City Betties
Gold Division Recap:
The 36 team Gold Division was unique in that, if a team went 0-2 in bracket play they were bumped down to the Silver Division for the playoffs. Bracket winners vied for a first round playoff bye and there were limited byes available so run differential was critical. The bracket winners were:
Stanislaus, Mid-Atlantic Lawmen, Mid-West Heat, Miami Metro Dawgs, Texas Cartel, Chicago Metro, Team Louisiana, LAPD Lawmen, Maryland Outlaws, NorCal Elite, and the Montgomery County Young Gunz.
Although bracket play helped set the stage the real show was the double elimination playoffs. In a huge first round upset North Florida Showdown defeated the favored Dayton Metro 20-18. Another upset was the rookie Miami Metro Dawgs sending the monster OH5O team into the loser bracket in round one. In round two, North Florida continued to play the spoiler role as they defeated the Division’s top seed Montgomery County Young Gunz. Another first year World Series team, Team Louisiana continued to command attention after winning two convincing round robin games followed by a big win over the El Dorado Cartel. Iowa began to live up to expectations by defeating the defending Silver Division champions Utah Unified and then the heralded Maryland Outlaws. Miami came back to earth suffering a defeat at the hands of another first year World Series team, Texas Cartel. Chicago Metro continued to roll with a victory over fan favorites, Toronto Police Softball. The 2011 Gold Division champions Metro Detroit’s Finest notched a tough victory over the Mid-Atlantic Lawmen.
As the winner’s bracket progressed, some teams seemed to be gaining momentum. NorCal Elite took the wind out of North Florida’s sails, Iowa popped Louisiana’s bubble, Stanislaus clipped the collective tails of the Texas Cartel and Chicago sent Metro Detroit into the loser bracket. At this point only four teams remained unbeaten. Iowa plated 28 runs to defeat NorCal Elite and Chicago gutted out a tight win over Stanislaus. For the first time ever, the undefeated game would feature two Mid-West teams, Chicago Metro and Iowa. Since one would win and advance to the championship game, both teams were happy that the road to the gold would have to run through the Mid-West. Neither team disappointed in a game that featured outstanding pitching and rock solid defense. It was a back and forth affair but Chicago did just enough and closed it out with a 9-8 victory.
Meanwhile there were a lot of happenings going on in the loser bracket. Dayton Metro eliminated the previously red-hot rookie squad Miami Metro Dawgz while Louisville Metro sent a pre-tourney favorite NorCal Shockers home. Utah experienced an early exit at the hands of Mid-Atlantic, and somehow the tourney’s top seeded Montgomery County Young Gunz also left in the first round. Bracket winner Mid-West Heat were cooled with a quick 0-2 playoff performance, but still looked much improved over previous years. The Washington State based NorthWest Shakedown went on a roll in the loser bracket by eliminating El Dorado Cartel and the Maryland Outlaws before falling short against Metro Detroit. Speaking of Metro Detroit, they got hot along with OH5O, Toronto and Louisville Metro. Of those teams it was OH5O who ended up coming out of the bracket and defeated Iowa for a chance at the title. Keep in mind, Policesoftball.com had earlier predicted that OH5O would win the tournament but after their first round loss at the hands of Miami Metro they would have to win 8 games in a row to do it. They were doing their best by ripping off 6 back to back wins but now would need to double dip the undefeated Chicago Metro.
The crowd around Angel Field was abuzz and you could feel electricity in the air. The heavily favored OH5O were battle wary but determined to derail the Chicago party train. Meanwhile, Chicago’s fans were in glee as they sensed their players were ready to go in for the kill. Many expected a close game but that changed when Chicago roared out of the gates to post a commanding lead. Chicago played like a team possessed as they hit gap after gap and ran the bases like greyhounds. Their pitching and defense were tighter than the Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain as their execution was flawless. When the final run crossed home, sealing a 35-15 victory the Chicago team went bananas on the field. They celebrated all night and at one point made it onto the faux-waterfall in the outfield to pose with the stone obelisk World Champions Trophy. They have been called “America’s Favorite Team” for years and on this date, just about everyone there, regardless of the jersey they were wearing celebrated with Chicago. For years Chicago traveled the circuit, supported other tournaments, played with class and came up short in the wins department. They built the team from the ground up, and instead of taking players from other teams developed their own farm system. All that hard work and good karma owed to them paid off on October 12, 2013 when they convincingly won the Police Softball Gold Division Championship!
FINAL GOLD DIVISION RESULTS
1. Chicago Metro
3. Iowa Lawmen
5t. Toronto Police Softball
5t. NorCal Elite
7t. Louisville Metro
7t. Metro Detroit’s Finest
9t. Team Louisiana
9t. North Florida Showdown
9t. Texas Cartel
9t. North West Shakedown
13t. Mid-Atlantic/Demarini Lawmen
13t. Dayton Metro
13t. Maryland Outlaws
13t. LAPD Lawmen
17t. Oakland PD
17t. El Dorado Cartel
17t. Mid-West Heat
17t. Montgomery County Young Gunz
17t. Utah Unified
17t. CenCal Syndicate
17t. NorCal Shockers
17t. Miami Metro Dawgs
Silver Division Recap:
The Silver Division was also a double elimination format and it featured the teams that went 0-2 in their round robin bracket. Nobody would have predicted the Nitro2Go Hitmen or SoCal Riot to be two of those teams but that is exactly what happened. In early action the SoCal Hoodlums defeated the DC Enforcers. SoCal Riot posted big numbers against the first year Canadian team Prince Albert Police while Nitro2Go narrowly got passed Most Wanted. Arizona Ablaze handled the other Canadian first year team Regina Cyclones. Detroit PD soundly defeated the Hoodlums advance to the final four. Riot defeated Detroit 10-9 in a nail biter while Arizona Ablaze did the same to Nitro2Go 21-20. It seemed fitting that the undefeated game was almost as close with Riot plating 16 to Ablaze’s 14. Nitro2Go wasn’t ready to go home as they marched through the loser bracket eliminating the Hoodlums, Detroit, and Ablaze before advancing the championship game against Riot. Both teams based out of Southern California have played many times in the past and as fate would have it they would play twice more. And on this day, Nitro2Go won both of those games to “double dip” Riot and earn the Silver Division championship.
FINAL SILVER DIVISION RESULTS
1. Nitro2Go Hitmen
2. SoCal Riot
3. Arizona Ablaze
4. Detroit PD
5t. SoCal Hoodlums
5t. Most Wanted
7t. Prince Albert Police
7t. Regina Cyclones
9. DC Enforcers
Majors Division Recap:
The Majors Division featured the best 24 teams in police softball. Teams are placed here based on their accomplishments during the past few seasons and the caliber of players on their roster. Occasionally a Majors team will come shorthanded but they still typically play “up” in their division rather than drop into Gold. The reason for this is because that team faces a no-win situation. If they lose, they lost to a lower division team. If they win, they will be accused of sandbagging to play down. Even teams that are outgunned for the weekend can hold their heads high knowing they are considered among the elite 24 teams in the circuit and are viewed as the best of the best!
Eight brackets with three teams in each bracket were constructed and the bracket winners received a first round playoff bye. To spice things up Policesoftball.Com projected the winners of each bracket and put those teams in the spotlight to either shine or melt. Many of the teams projected to win their bracket did so including: Sin City, SoCal Alliance, HardCor, DEA Combo, and NYPD Blues. Some teams rose to the occasion by beating the “favored” team in their bracket including: Battle Born (over Ohio Lawmen), Showtime (over Great Lakes Lawmen) and Steel City Enforcers (over Down 2 Earth Lawmen).
The playoffs started early Saturday and as expected the level of play in the Majors Division was impressive. The first round saw the following: SoCal Lockdown defeat the Missouri Lawmen, Great Lakes Lawmen beat Suffolk County, Ohio introduced first year World Series team San Antonio to the loser bracket, South Florida over West Coast United, Concord beat the SoCal War Pigs, Shamrock Enforcers defeated Team Texas, and Minnesota over Team Jersey in a close one. Things got interesting in round two as there were some upsets recorded including South Florida defeating Sin City Combo who was ranked #1 in the nation coming into the event. Although not really an “upset”, Minnesota soundly defeated California Showtime who was a team that finished in the Top 5 last year.
Teams that stayed hot in the winner’s bracket were Down2 Earth Lawmen, HardCor, the NYPD Blues and the SoCal Alliance. Of the four teams left unblemished, three were former World Series Champions (HardCor, NYPD Blues and SoCal Alliance). Down2 Earth Lawmen got by HardCor and the defending World Series Champions, SoCal Alliance defeated their cross-country friendly rivals, NYPD Blues. The dance in the undefeated game featured a team that had been there and done that before, SoCal Alliance and the sophomores Down2 Earth who were in only their 2nd year in the circuit, but were guaranteed to crack the top 3 once again. Being the defending champions it would seem that the SoCal Alliance should have been favored but by their own accounts the team played largely uninspired ball all season. Team leaders called a meeting two months before the tournament and rekindled the flame that burned inside these athletes and it certainly showed on the softball field all weekend. They came out like gangbusters against Down2 Earth and earned their way into the championship game once again. Last year the Alliance needed to come through the loser bracket and double dip HardCor to win it. This year they were in the driver’s seat which was a bad omen for opponents as the team has never been double dipped in its 12 year history.
Nobody in the loser bracket was going home without a battle. Sin City tried to make a run, but injuries derailed them and they fell to the DEA Combo. The first ever World Series champions Ohio Lawmen suffered an early loss but they bounced back in the loser bracket by defeating Team Jersey and the Great Lakes Lawmen before eventually losing a slugfest to the Minnesota Lawmen. The win turned attention to the Minnesota crew because they were heating up at the right time. That was until they ran into a team that was making an epic run and announcing their presence in the Majors Division. Last year the SoCal WarPigs played in the Gold Division had a disappointing finish. In the off-season the team added talent and pledged to make a run at the Majors Division. After what could have been a back breaking blow in a first round loss to Concord, the WarPigs went on a tear and recorded victories over the Steel City Enforcers, SoCal Lockdown, and the South Florida Lawmen before meeting up with the Minnesota Lawmen. The determined WarPigs gutted out an impressive 33-32 win against the big dogs, Minnesota and in doing so solidified their status as a top tier team. Afterward Minnesota’s superstar infielder Bobby Lambert, “Those WarPigs can hit. You just can’t put them away.”
The WarPig magic finally ran out against the 2009 Champions and 2012 Runners-Up HardCor. HardCor had marched through the winners bracket with victories over the Great Lakes Lawmen and DEA Combo before dropping a game to Down2 Earth Lawmen. In the loser bracket they got right back to winning by offing the WarPigs but then suffered payback at the hands of the DEA Combo. The DEA had caught lighting in a bottle as they had earlier posted wins against the Ohio Lawmen, California Showtime, Sin City Combo and the NYPD Blues. All those games took their toll and injuries began to mount so when they faced the Down2 Earth Lawmen they were running on nothing but adrenalin. Down2 Earth was simply too strong and ended the impressive run by the Combo.
The championship game featured a rematch of the undefeated game between the best of the West, SoCal Alliance against the beasts from the East, Down2 Earth Lawmen. The weather gave the participants a scare as gusty winds and ominous clouds began to circle the Big League Dreams field. The SoCal faithful, commonly referred to as the Evil Empire, hunkered down for a battle regardless of field conditions. Down2 Earth started strong but could not maintain the frantic pace set by the SoCal offense. SoCal Alliance defeated a strong challenger in the Down2 Earth Lawmen to defend their title and claim their fourth World Series championship. No team has ever won the title twice, except SoCal who has now won it four times including back to back years in 2007 & 2008 and 2012 & 2013.
The celebration was not as jubilant as it had been in past years because the news of Pat Hill’s condition was still fresh in the minds of all the players. There was no champagne uncorked and no Gatorade showers this year. Instead the team dropped to a knee in a moment of silence for Pat. Both teams embraced after the game in a show of good sportsmanship and as a tribute to how strong the brotherhood of law enforcement, and specifically the police softball circuit is.
On Saturday October 19, 2013 six days after the World Series ended, Pat’s battle for life also ended. As teammate Ollie McMillan stated in an announcement on behalf of the Great Lakes team, “Pat is in a better place today, he is the #1 Honey Badger in Heaven.”
FINAL MAJORS DIVISION RESULTS
1. SoCal Alliance
2. Down2 Earth Lawmen
3. DEA Combo
5t. SoCal WarPigs
5t. NYPD Blues
7t. Minnesota Lawmen
7t. Sin City Combo
9t. Ohio Lawmen
9t. South Florida Lawmen
9t. California Showtime
9t. Battle Born
13t. SoCal Lockdown
13t. Shamrock Enforcers
13t. Concord Combo
13t. Great Lakes Lawmen
17t. Missouri Lawmen
17t. Suffolk County
17t. San Antonio Law
17t. West Coast United
17t. Team Texas
17t. Steel City Enforcers
17t. Team Jersey
Policesoftball.com would like to thank all those who participated in the event because we know it is all of YOU who make the event what it is. Also thanks to event sponsors and those who assisted in making the event a success: Brett Helmer & Easton Sports, Denny Crine & Miken, 4 The Fallen, Golden Nugget Hotel, Softball Magazine, RoverPlusNine, Safariland, Elite Sports, New Equity Productions, Ed Farmer & Chris Devlin of Big League Dreams, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department Honor Guard, Rick Munder & Diaz Gloves, David Stevens and all of our players who stepped up to announce the games. Lastly, we wanted to thank the Great Lakes lawmen for allowing us to be part of their team and celebrate the life of Pat Hill who passed away six days after the World Series. During the opening ceremony Pat was inducted into the PoliceSoftball.com Hall of Heroes. This induction is the highest honor PoliceSoftball.com can bestow upon a player. Pat’s actions on that fateful when he ran towards the fight personifies why he is one of our heroes. May God bless Pat and his family.
NOTE: Next week we will do a story on the players that were named All-World, Gold Glove and MVP.