By Donna McGuire – Softball News Report
Close games, recurring rain, and some hot afternoons highlighted the 56-team Senior Softball USA Northeast Championship played July 7-12 in the Syracuse, N.Y., area.
The largest Northeast Championship tourney in years drew teams from eight states plus Ontario, Canada. When a glove snapped around a softball for the tourney’s final out, 11 teams had captured division crowns and berths to the 2024 Tournament of Champions to be played in Polk County, Florida.
The competition was so even that only four teams managed unbeaten runs through pool and bracket play.
A rain delay greeted the seven divisions of younger teams that opened the tournament on a Friday. On championship Sunday, directors shortened games to finish before more rain arrived. Then on Monday, stubborn rain washed out the first day of pool games for the 65+ and older teams.
Tournament Director Gayle Collins credited field crews for getting fields playable, and she thanked players for their positive attitudes involving the weather, which included some temperatures in the 90s.
“We had a lot of close, close ball games,” said Collins, who pointed to the 40+ Masters Gold championship game as an example. First Capital of New York won 26-25 on a walk-off home run.
Games took place at Hopkins Road Park in Liverpool and at Legacy Park in Clay. Hopkins Road Park will remain available to host the tournament for at least two more years, Collins said.
Men’s 40+ Masters Gold: Top-seeded First Capital, (photo below), a Major team, finished 5-0 overall with a 26-25 championship game victory over Mutants/JVA Sports of Pennsylvania. The Mutants won four elimination games to reach the finals of the seven-team bracket. Vinnie’s Hitmen of Pennsylvania finished third.
Men’s 50+ Major: Top-seeded Taylor Made Construction/BPA of Pennsylvania (photo below) finished 6-0 overall, including a 21-13 championship game victory over second-seeded Steves Sports/AJS of Connecticut. Covello Sanitation of Connecticut finished third in the eight-team bracket, which was the tournament’s largest.
Men’s 50+ AAA: In a thrilling finish, second-seeded Magic Softball of Massachusetts (photo below) double dipped top-seeded 4 Seasons Paint & Remodeling/Evil Sports/Sundial Cocktails of Massachusetts 22-21 and 27-26 to win the title. OTC/SMIRES of New Jersey finished third in the four-team bracket.
Men’s 60+ AAA: Top-seeded Hudson Valley Cyclones of New York (photo below) capped a 5-0 tournament with a 14-10 championship victory over Team Riporti/Jerzee of New Jersey. The New England Vipers of Connecticut finished third in the seven-team division.
Men’s 60+ AA: In a best-of-three format, the New York Capitals (photo below) needed three games to dispatch Pelley’s Stix of Ontario 18-10, 15-16 and 21-10.
Men’s 65+ Major: Top-seeded Empire Monroe of New York double dipped DEEP PURPLE of Massachusetts 10-5 and 16-9 to win the four-team division. Talaga Construction of Connecticut placed third.
Men’s 65+ Silver: Third-seeded Spring Ford of Pennsylvania defeated top-seeded Hudson Valley Cyclones of New York 13-9 in the championship game. The Durham Silver Stix of Ontario finished third in the five-team bracket.
Men’s 70+ AAA: Fifth-seeded JAG-ONE/Jersey Masters Red edged top-seeded Upstate Xtreme/Boombah 17-16 in the title game. Brantford Nissan Seniors of Ontario took third in the five-team bracket.
Men’s 75+ AAA: The second-seeded Syracuse Cyclones lost the first title game 13-11 but rebounded to defeat the Long Island Jaguars of New York 21-11 in the second title game. Rochester Knights/Bob Johnson Chevrolet finished third in the three-team division.