LAPD Blue, Stanislaus, Angel Armor, Connecticut Lawmen, Border Patrol Arsenal all bring home hardware.
LAPD Blue celebrating with a champagne shower
The 15th Annual Police Softball World Series was completely sold out over two months in advance. This year marked the 10-year anniversary at the Big League Dreams venue in Las Vegas. The park itself is only 10 years old, so Police Softball has been there since its inaugural year. The first 5 years saw the Cathedral City (Palm Springs, Ca.) as the host venue. The event itself has undergone very few changes over the past few years, so there is nothing new to report in regards to the format.
This was our second year without co-founder Del Pickney who unexpectedly passed away early last year. Del’s wife Michele was present as always, working the tournament director booth with our partner Ryan Coe along with me and my wife. We had a great volunteer core that went over an above all expectations to assist us throughout a long four-day weekend. I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize and thank the following volunteers: Anthony Costanzo, Matt Woolf, Kevin Schoch, Justin Witt, Steve Wrathall, Tyson Becker, Shane Roach, Dennis Leonard, Brad Johnson and the entire Louisville Metro softball team.
We once again used a provided bat tournament and as usual, Easton was the primary source of the game bats courtesy of Brett Helmer. We were fortunate to have some special bats donated to the event including the Chad Agustin signature “First Responder” bat costumed designed for him by Louisville Slugger. Event sponsor Carlos Vega from Elite surprised with a Del Pickney Memorial bat labeled, “El Presidente” which was his user name on our message board. The bat was the new Onyx with a special burnt orange paint job to pay tribute to the SoCal Alliance the team that Del and I founded in 2001. Finally, the bat had an image of my badge along with a black mourning band with Del’s badge number displayed. It was very touching for Carlos to do this and those in attendance certainly appreciated the gesture.
The opening ceremony drew a large crowd once again as the year end award presentations along with Hall of Fame inductions honored some well deserving players in the circuit. This year’s Hall of Fame Class included: Ralph Hamlin, Mike Valente, Mike Ryan, Ken Fry, John Sanzo, Rafael Trinidad Jr., Danny Ornelas, Tyson Becker, Keith Burgoon and Ed Hano. Our season end award presentations went to the following recipients:
Garrett Metal Detector Outstanding Police Officer of the Community- Rafael Trinidad Jr. for his work with the Shields for Kids program.
Sponsor of the Year- Bud’s Gun Shop (more on them to follow).
Walt Conry Manager of the Year- John Erven from Maximum Elite
Defensive Player of the Year- Matt McKinney from MO50
Shevy Wright Sportsman of the Year- Ed Leal from Border Patrol Arsenal
Player of the Year- Eric Theiss from New York Hounds
While the opening ceremonies were underway, our players party was taking place adjacent to the marquee field. The players party was hosted by Garrett Metal Detectors who have been proud sponsors of police softball for many years.
Our exhibition game featured and East vs. West Hall of Fame Game using senior league rules. All players were Hall of Famers, but each team had one ringer. Dan McIntyre from DynaMac Sports sponsored the game and provided individualized custom jerseys to all the players. Brett Helmer from Easton Sports brought two of his teammates to participate in the game and the gala that followed. Easton pro Greg Connell suited up for the East squad while his partner Kevin Bazat hooked onto the West team. It was a close game that ultimately saw the East prevail in the bottom of the 6th inning.
During the opening ceremonies Wendi Forrest from the Tustin Police Foundation spoke to the crowd about our fundraiser for the Del Pickney Memorial Scholarship. She raffled off a handmade Police Softball World Series quilt among other things. Several of Del’s close friends contributed to the fund including Rafael Trinidad through his Shields for Kids foundation. Our goal is the fun that annual scholarship through the World Series to ensure Del’s name and Police Softball go hand in hand perpetually.
Our finale to the opening ceremonies was our HR Derby which saw Mid-Atlantic’s Corey Rogerson win it for the 2nd time in 3 years. Corey was awarded a patrol ready AR-15 rifle courtesy of our Sponsor of the Year, Bud’s Gun Shop for his amazing accomplishment. Corey was on cloud-9 but came back to Earth when he faced Easton’s Greg Connell in a “Pros vs Joes” head to head exhibition derby. Those familiar with the complex know the fields are surrounded by huge nets to protect the parking lot. Let’s just say that when it was Greg’s turn to hit, those nets were simply ineffective from protecting the parking lot. After the exhibition, Corey was then crowned Police Softball’s Dr. Charles Garrett Memorial Home Run Derby King.
The Masters Division is slowing regaining traction once again. We had 8 team participate in a straight double elimination tournament and the early favorites headed into the event were the defending champions, West Coast 40’s. West Coast has been in the championship every year since the team formed five years ago, but the winds of change were blowing hard in Las Vegas. For some reason, the intensity was higher than ever this year and teams made a concerted effort to field highly competitive master’s teams, even if it put their open teams at risk. That strategy paid off as the West Coast team was sent into the loser bracket by a very determined Border Patrol Arsenal 40’s. They then ran into the Lockdown Lawmen (Mid-Atlantic region) who were firing on all cylinders and eliminated them.
What followed next was the most intense championship game of the weekend. The game was played on the marquee field immediately following the opening ceremonies so there were a lot of players and fans left lingering in the complex to check out the action. The crowd was clearly separated between East and West and each side took turns being the noisiest. Players got heated, fans got heated, and the intensity kept ramping up all the way until the final out was recorded and for the first time ever, Border Patrol Arsenal 40’s were claimed Masters Division World Champions. Many of these players were Mid-Majors champions for the Border Patrol Arsenal open team last year, so they have become accustomed to winning big games. Overall it was an impressive effort by both teams as they each played with a lot of heart and determination.
1 Border Patrol/BP Arsenal
2 Lockdown Lawmen (Mid-Atlantic/EC Lawmen)
3 West Coast 40s
4 Louisville Sluggers
5t Honolulu’s Finest
5t Northeast Lawmen
7t Team Galvez
7t Empire Sportsmen
Del Pickney MVP: Gabe Lara- BP Arsenal
All World Team BP Arsenal: Josh Eldridge, Richard Elvester, Christopher Grijalva
Defensive Award: Gabe Lara-BP Arsenal
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Saul Enriquez- BP Arsenal
All World Team Lockdown Lawmen: Brett Parnell, Mike DiCiccio, Nate Baez
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.
Even though the talent level in the Gold Division was a tick below that of the Mids and Majors, some of the most exciting games were played in Gold. To begin with it was the largest division by far, boasting over 40 teams. To be declared champion, you would have to defeat 39 other teams from all over the United States and Canada. Generally speaking, Gold is the most balanced division because if there were any monster teams they would be bumped up to a higher division. Needless to say, since there was balance it meant there were some very close games that included several that went into extra innings.
Some of the favorites going into the event were former champions, Chicago Metro, Dayton Metro along with teams that had previously played Mids or Majors who were allowed to bump down: Louisville Metro, Maryland Outlaws, and Midwest Heat to name a few. The team that eventually won it was perhaps the most underrated team in the division. Angel Armor from Colorado was making their 2nd World Series performance and for some reason they were an afterthought despite being the highest finishing Gold team from last year’s World Series who were allowed to remain in the division. They finished 4th last year behind Team Louisiana and Goodyear PD, both of whom did not participate this year. The 3rd place finisher, Miami Metro Dawgz bumped up to Mids, leaving Angel Armor as the only team inside the top 4 from the previous year. Although they might have been overlooked going into the weekend, by the end of round robin play they were already the talk of the tournament. They played solid all weekend and although they were in some dogfights they were able to claim their first Gold Division World Championship.
Louisville Metro finished 2nd, but they were number one in the hearts of the fans because they put on one of the gutsiest performances in World Series history. They were bruised, battered and injured but still forced an “IF” game against Angel Armor only to fall short despite an epic performance. The Maryland Outlaws were projected to win the division after being bumped down to Gold, but their 3rd place finish was nothing to be ashamed of. They too were banged up and playing short-handed, so you can expect to see them back in Mid Majors next year. The talented NorCal Degenerates and ever consistent Chicago Metro also cracked the Top 5.
Another team that won’t be flying under the radar next year was Houston Heat. Last year they finished tied for 17th, and they made the leap into the top-5 this year. They looked to be much improved and should be in the conversation for earning a top round robin pool seed next year.
1 Angel Armor Colorado
2 Louisville Metro
3 Maryland Outlaws
4 NorCal Degenerates
5t Houston Heat
5t Chicago Metro
7t Midwest Heat
7t Steel City Enforcers
9t Metro Detroit’s Finest
9t Utah Metro
9t Center Mass
9t United Kansas City
13t Central PA Enforcers
13t Dayton Metro
13t Northwest Shakedown
13t RSO Force
17t Mixed Nutz
17t NorCal J-Cats
17t Toronto Takedown
17t El Dorado Cartel
17t Necessary Force
17t Norsemen PSC
25t Motor City Lockdown
25t Detroit PD
25t San Bernardino Hit Squad
25t Lock and Load Texas
25t CT. Lawmen
25t Texas Guns
25t Gold Combo
33t Guard Dogs
33t Team Omerta
33t Richmond PD
33t Oakland PD
33t Las Vegas G Men
33t SoCal Riot
33t West Coast Lawmen
33t Controlled Chaos
Del Pickney MVP: Tony Ortiz- Angel Armor
All World Team Angel Armor: Steve Garcia, Wes Keelan, Derick Keeton
Defensive Award: Talon Gleaton-Angel Armor
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Eric Romero-Angel Armor
All World Team Louisville Metro: Justin Witt, Mike Wright, Devin Luckett
All World Team Maryland Outlaws: Jim McShane, Andrew Fenwick, Nick Trice
The Silver Division is a bittersweet pill for some because playing in it means teams were eliminated early from the Gold Division. At the same time, it gives those teams who had a rough start to the World Series a fresh start and a brand new 16 team tournament. That fresh start was invigorating for some teams, especially the first year Connecticut Lawmen and NorCal’s Oakland PD. Connecticut in particular look like a different team once the Silver playoffs started. They were a buzzsaw on offense and played lock down defense enroute to a perfect 4-0 record and a Silver Division championship. That is an outstanding accomplishment considering it was their first year attending the World Series.
Oakland PD gave Connecticut a strong fight, but they could not overcome the offensive attack of Connecticut. Overall, bouncing back to go 3-1 on the day was a positive way for Oakland to wrap up the season and set their sites on their goals for 2020.
The West Coast Lawmen and San Bernardino Hit Squad finished inside the top 3, largely due to the offensive efforts of both teams. Both teams are loaded with a combination of veterans and young talent, so they should both continue to ascend in the rankings next season.
1 CT. Lawmen
2 Oakland PD
3t West Coast Lawmen
3t San Bernardino Hit Squad
5t Guard Dogs
5t Las Vegas G-Men
5t Motor City Lockdown
9t Team Omerta
9t SoCal Riot
9t Controlled Chaos
9t Gold Combo
9t Texas Guns
9t Lock and Load Texas
9t Detroit PD
16 Richmond PD
Del Pickney MVP: Josh McElroy- Connecticut Lawmen
All World Team Connecticut Lawmen: Rich Davis, JJ Nelson, Josh McElroy
Defensive Award: N/A
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Eddie Linares-Connecticut Lawmen
All World Team Oakland PD: Carlos Carillo, Ernie Parrish, Jason Belligan
Mid Majors Division
The Mid Majors would be our version of the light-heavyweight division. Generally speaking, they can compete with the Majors teams, but at the end of the day, it is unlikely anyone in the Mids would crack the top 5 or so in Majors. They are paired up in round robin brackets with Majors teams, but come playoff time, 16 of the Mids teams separate to play in their own double elimination playoff format. I mentioned that the Mids teams can compete with the Majors teams and that occurred during the round robin when NorCal Standard upset the New York Hounds and Lonestar NEP defeated the DEA Combo.
There were no clear-cut favorites going into the weekend because last years champions, Border Patrol Arsenal bumped up to Majors. Stanislaus Combo inked the top seed after an impressive round robin performance and they never looked back. They didn’t dominate the competition but they did what they needed to do to find a way to win every game which is what champions do. The championship against Canada’s Northern Lawmen was an epic game that went into extra innings. Northern Lawmen jumped ahead by 5 runs in the top of the 8th which seemed insurmountable, but somehow Stanislaus caught lightning in a bottle and walked off the win courtesy of a double against the left field wall by team sparkplug KJ Vandagriff.
This marked the 3rd time the Northern Lawmen have finished runner’s up in the World Series and although it is a bitter pill, it is a testament as to how consistently good they have been through the years.
One of the more impressive teams of the weekend was the newly formed I-80 Cartel which is based out of Iowa and Nebraska. Several of the veterans formerly played with the Iowa Lawmen, but the I-80 team brought a talent level not previously seen from that region.
Former Mid-Majors champions Arizona Ablaze checked out earlier than anticipated but vowed to come back stronger next year and has Kentucky Blue. The newcomers Sin City Saints have promised to become an active team in the circuit which will be a welcome addition since police softball has not had a Nevada based team since the demise of Sin City Combo several years ago. The LAPD Shot Callers are clearly a team on the rise so they could be in the conversation as an early projected favorite in Mids come 2020.
1 Stanislaus Combo
2 Northern Lawmen
3 I-80 Cartel
4 LAPD Shot Callers
5t High Desert Law Dawgz
5t Silver Stars
7t Miami Metro
7t Sin City Saints
9t Kentucky Blue
9t Arizona Ablaze
9t Team Galvez
13t NorCal Standard
Del Pickney MVP: Danny Miller- Stanislaus Combo
All World Team Stanislaus Combo: Luis Duran, Danny Fairchild, Brett Sayad
Defensive Award: Kyle Briggs- Stanislaus Combo
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: John Quiro- Stanislaus Combo
All World Team Northern Lawmen: Kris Chartrand, Dwayne Hamilton, John Bell
All World Team I-80 Cartel: Cory Buckley, Curt Schultz, Matt Pavelka
The 16 best police teams in the nation competed in our Majors Division. Most of these teams are loaded with USSSA Conference players, former minor league baseball players, or others with impressive softball resumes. This division had a clear front-runner, LAPD Blue. LAPD Blue boasted an absolutely stacked 20-man roster with bench players who would be anchor starters on most teams. LAPD Blue is essentially the top players from defunct teams, SoCal Alliance, Battle Born and Sin City Combo all mashed together to form a perfect Rubik’s Cube of softball talent from the West Coast.
The famous quote of the weekend was, “They are who we thought they were.” I will save you the suspense, they went 7-0 to win their first World Championship. They were simply too strong to compete against. They could have had an “off” game and still won, and when they are all firing on all cylinders, they are unbeatable in police softball. Although it was the first championship for the team under the name LAPD Blue, for some players on the team such as Eric Harryman and Mike Snyder it was their 5th championship!
The LAPD Blue does have at least one team breathing down their collective necks and that is the younger, hungrier CenCal Connection squad. For the past few years CenCal has played bridesmaid to the SoCal powerhouse teams, but you could sense change was in the air. CenCal executed like a Navy Seal team throughout the weekend and played near flawless softball sans some home run management issues which ultimately cost them the championship. Overall, their defense and fundamentals were absolutely textbook and it is just a matter of time for them to assume the top seat on the national totem pole.
Maximum Elite (formerly Shamrock Enforcers) could be the most consistent team in the nation and typically represent the East’s best chance to win the championship. Unfortunately, that consistency has worked against them in a negative way come World Series time. For years the have come into the event ranked as one of the top 4-5 teams in the nation but they have struggled in Vegas. They broke that cycle this year as they played at a level we have never seen them play at. The roster was the usual squad which is a mix of 40+ year old veterans with some young fast outfielders. On this weekend, they were collectively clicking as a unit and mowing down the competition along the way. Their hitting has always been strong, as it was this weekend, but they really stepped it up on the defensive side. Most impressive was the speed in which they played the game. They are typically not known for aggressive base running, but these guys were moving around the bases like they had jet boosters on their turf shoes. They were eventually eliminated after losses to the 2 big West Coast teams, LAPD Blue and CenCal Connection, but to say they were impressive is a huge understatement.
Mid Atlantic brought their strongest line-up since their World Series championship in 2017. They played great softball all weekend but when you get to this level, small mistakes and missed opportunities determine wins and losses.
The next two teams of mention, NY Hounds and DEA Combo both suffered early losses and had to dig their way out of a long, competitive loser bracket. Neither team disappointed as they were sending teams home game after game, but eventually they both gassed out and finished tied for 5th. Their gutsy performances as they worked their way through the loser bracket did not go unnoticed.
1 LAPD Blue
2 CenCal Connection
3 Max Elite
4 Mid Atlantic
5t NY Hounds
5t DEA Combo
7t San Antonio
9t Ohio Shield
9t BP Arsenal
9t Thin Blue Line
9t Team Texas
13t Missouri Lawmen
13t Nassau Blues
13t Great Lakes Lawmen
13t North Florida Showdown
Del Pickney MVP: Keith Habig- LAPD Blue
All World Team LAPD Blue: Charlie Hinojosa, Walter Sevilla, Michael Dacken
Defensive Award: Eric Harryman-LAPD Blue
Pat Hill Inspirational Award: Tim Dorn-LAPD Blue
All World Team CenCal Connection: Steve Abina, Jorge Vina, Eric Mattos
All World Team Maximum Elite: Dave Masi, Craig Sears, Bruce Monro
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, Carlos Vega, Chad Agustin, Ed Farmer & TJ Lombardi Big League Dreams, Ernie Ono & Nicole Ono our umpire crew chiefs, Tom Phundstein from USSSA, Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, Mike O'Neill (announcer), Mark Sauerwein (photographer), Anthony Costanzo & the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Softball Magazine, Justin Witt and Bud’s Gun Shop, Dan McIntyre and Dynamac Sports, Rafael Trinidad & Shields for Kids, the Las Vegas Metro Honor Guard, the Canadian Honor Guard (Northern Lawmen), American National Anthem singer Mike Gay, Canadian National Anthem singer Annabel Skala and Vaughan Garrett from Garrett Metal Detectors.
On behalf of team Policesoftball.Com; Jeff Blair, Anne Marie Blair, Michele Pickney and Ryan Coe, thank you all for your support and we look forward to seeing you next year.