SOFTBALL IS BACK IN SOCAL
Yet another championship for The Connection
It had been 2 long years since the last Police Softball West Conference Championships were held. A lot has changed since that time, including the venue. West Covina Big League Dreams was no longer an option and Cathedral City in late June generally produces intolerable playing conditions (average daily high temperature 108 degrees). Fortunately, the softball gods must like the PS circuit because the opportunity arose to play in coastal San Diego County at the SportsPlex USA.
It is a unique complex because one facility is in the city of Santee and the other is a few miles away in Poway. PS assigned the 10 team Gold division to play in Santee and the 9 team Majors division along with the 4 team Masters division to play in Poway. Both venues offered 3 well maintained 300’ fields surrounding a clubhouse/restaurant that serves food, beer etc. The weather was as good as billed which meant sunny and mid-high 70’s throughout the weekend.
Off the field many teams decided to catch a Padres game at Petco Park and visit the Gaslamp District. The rival LA Dodgers were in town and the stadium was rocking all three days. The majority of the players attend the players reception hosted by the D.S.A. San Diego at their clubhouse. This was arranged by Silver Stars leader David Leonhardi who happens to be the president of the D.S.A. The D.S.A. offered complimentary food, drink, music along with a competitive Cornhole tournament.
On the field, games were played with unprecedented vigor as many players had not played police softball since the COVID shutdown of 2020. Even the round robin games had a heightened sense of competitiveness as it was clear players were leaving nothing on the field.
GOLD DIVISION PLAYOFFS
The Swami predicted that Utah Unified would win the championship for a 2nd time. In 2018 a feisty Utah delivered a double dip deluxe on Familia to claim the title, but on this weekend they were determined to stay out of the loser bracket. They secured the #1 seed by winning their round robin games in convincing fashion. They then cut through their playoff opponents like a hot knife through butter: West Coast Lawmen, Gold Combo, Northwest Shakedown, and Sin City Saints to earn their ticket to the dance. They were sitting comfortably, undefeated, in the championship game waiting for the loser bracket to play out.
In the loser bracket West Coast Lawmen eliminated SoCal Riot and Nitro2Go dispatched NorCal Impact to send them to the Silver Division. Those two winners would soon join Riot and Impact in the Silver division courtesy of CV Kings and Mixed Nutz respectively. And those two winners would be eliminated at the hands of Northwest Shakedown and Gold Combo. Northwest Shakedown was just heating up as they eliminated Gold Combo and a determined Sin City Saints in back to back games to earn their berth to the championship game.
The “ship” was held across town at the Poway complex and the wind happened to be blowing out so a high scoring affair was anticipated. Utah and Shakedown did not disappoint as they engaged in a shootout that eventually led to extra innings. In the 8th, Shakedown plated several runs including a mammoth 3 run home run by former Battle Born slugger Scott Tompkins which proved too much for Utah to overcome. Utah had been dealt their first loss of the tournament and the momentum had shifted to Shakedown’s side. In the “IF” game it was yet another back and forth contest that produced yet ANOTHER extra inning affair. The Utah fans were by far the most vocal of any team in the entire tournament and they never gave up hope. In the bottom of the 8th Utah loaded the bases and with the winning run on 3rd, eventual MVP Josh Preece slashed a backside line drive into left field to drive in the winning run. In doing so, he secured Utah’s 2nd WCC Gold Division championship in the past 3 contests. The Northwest Shakedown vs Utah championship games (both) will go down in PS history as one of the most exciting championships in history. Never has the “ship” and “IF” game both gone into extra innings and never have two games gone back and forth so many times over the course of the two games.
In the Silver Division Mixed Nutz met WC Lawmen in the championship game. The Swami had predicted WC Lawmen to win the Silver Division and they almost delivered. They put up a valiant effort, but Mixed Nutz were too strong. The Nutz secured the Silver Division title and locked themselves in as top contenders in the Gold Division for the World Series in October.
3.Sin City Saints
Tournament MVP: Josh Preece-Utah Metro
All Tourneys: Blaine Ibey, Austin Rowberry, Zach Bate- Utah Metro
Team MVP: Sean Goforth- Northwest Shakedown
All Tourneys: Chris Werre, Rob Slinkman, Bobby Price- Northwest Shakedown
Tournament MVP: Esgar Hermosillo- Mixed Nutz
All Tourneys: Matt Bryant, Aaron Flores, Alex Perez- Mixed Nutz
MAJORS DIVISION PLAYOFFS
Two words. THE CONNECTION. Here is what The Swami predicted for round robin: “The Connection has been playing regularly, their players are all on the same page, they are seemingly drama free so the prediction is for them to professionally execute their game and post a perfect 2-0 round robin record.” And for the playoffs the prediction was : “The Connection are simply too complete of a team and they execute yet another perfect game to finish the weekend undefeated. The Connection will win their first WCC championship and build a strong case to pass Great Lakes as the top team in the nation.” That was what we said BEFORE the event. Now the event is over, well, let’s just say there is no need to change a single word. To steal a quote from WWF legend Brett “The Hitman” Hart, they are “The Excellence of Execution.”
LAPD Blue finished 2nd despite scrambling for players, even at the last minute. These guys are so good (and deep) they can literally be missing half their squad and still make a run at any championship on any given day. They posted wins over Silver Stars, DEA Combo, and State 48 twice
Speaking of State 48, their only losses on the weekend were to LAPD Blue and the NY Hounds in the round robin. They made amends for that loss to the Hounds with two wins against the Hounds in the playoffs. Let this set in for a minute. The Hounds are the #2 ranked team in the NATION. And their only losses were to State 48. Let’s be honest here, everyone expected The Connection, LAPD Blue, Hounds, and DEA to do their thing. State 48 was an afterthought. After this past weekend State 48 will be causing teams heartburn.
No team travels the country more than the New York Hounds and their leader, Jimmy Wolters always lives up to his word. Although they were a bit shorthanded, they still fielded a top tier team. Despite a first round loss to State 48, the Hounds displayed a level of confidence that only champion caliber teams can channel. They went on a winning streak that saw them eliminate: Silver Stars, DEA Combo, and Shot Callers in back to back to back games. With no breaks, the Hounds were looking to avenge their first round loss to State 48, but never got firing on all cylinders. State 48 managed to secure yet another “upset” and the Hounds finished 5-2 on the weekend in 4th place.
RSO Force was the Swami’s pick to crack the top-3 but could not string together a series of wins. The Shot Callers played as good as we have seen them play and if you play the stock market, load up on Shot Caller shares before they break out. Look for them to do damage in the Mid Majors in Vegas. BP Arsenal was scrappy as usual, but didn’t recapture the magic of their epic Mid Majors championship run of 2018. They finished tied for 7th with DEA Combo. Speaking of the DEA Combo, they are certainly not excited about a 7th place finish but they LAPD Blue and NY Hounds for their first 2 playoff games. They would get rolling later in Mid Majors. The hometown favorites Silver Stars did not seem outmatched in any game, but at the same time, they did not look as sharp as usual. This division was so loaded, you have to bring your “A” game to compete.
1. The Connection
2. LAPD Blue
3. State 48
4. NY Hounds
5. RSO Force
5. Shot Callers
7. DEA Combo
7. BP Arsenal
9. Silver Stars
Tournament MVP: Jorge Vina- The Connection
All Tourneys: Dustin Laughlin, Stephen Martins, Daniel Martins- The Connection
Team MVP: Kimo Cavaco- LAPD Blue
All Tourneys: Andrew Avila, Michael Dacken, Walter Sevilla- LAPD Blue
1. DEA Combo
2. BP Arsenal
3. Shot callers
3. RSO Force
5. Silver stars
The former Mid Majors World Champs fell to the former Majors Division World Champs DEA Combo in the championship game. Kudos to the DEA for playing hard all weekend despite dropping to Mid Majors. For BP Arsenal, they represented in Majors, Mid Majors AND Masters. Talk about maximizing your softball experience….some of these guys must have played 16+ games over the 3 days.
Tournament MVP: Jason Brennan- DEA Combo
All Tourneys: Matt Fox, Danny Wells, Kevin Mort- DEA Combo
As the Swami ball predicted, McBraun’s Legends rolled through the day undefeated. The team featured several “young” Masters players as many had just qualified as 40-year olds. They did get pushed hard throughout the day, particularly by Joe Monahan’s Louisville Sluggers. McBraun’s squad got the better of the Sluggers, but the games were closely contested. BP Arsenal, the defending Masters World Champs started out slow, but gained steam as the playoffs arrived. They could not sustain their momentum and were eliminated by the Sluggers. The North East Lawmen were literally picking up players the day of the tournament. They had unexpected drops and were playing out of position. They still played with passion and hit the cover off the ball. Their defense was limited and prevented them from getting deeper into the bracket. When the dust settled, McBraun’s Legends were anointed PS.COM MASTERS WORLD CHAMPIONS.
Del Pickney Tournament MVP: Ryan Coe- McBraun’s Legends
All World: Kyle Henin, Carlos Vasquez, Walter Sevilla- McBraun’s Legends
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Mike Snyder- McBraun’s Legends
Winning teams in the Majors and Gold Divisions won a variety of Easton bats and a prize package courtesy of event sponsor, Elite Sports.
Jeff, Coe, Anne Marie and Michele would like to thank all who came out to support the event. We enjoy watching the players having fun and playing competitive softball. Our motivation to keep PS.COM alive and well is all about the brotherhood of police softball and creating lifelong memories for those who come to our events. Hope to see you all in Las Vegas for WSXVI in October.