Softball Players Association News

SPA Softball blog for Senior Softball Players


clock April 18, 2012 09:47 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck


PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – “Three years ago the SPRING NATIONALS had 11 teams and last year we had 21,” SPA NATIONAL WOMEN'S DIRECTOR JUDY LEE SCHREIBER said, “This year we reached 31 teams. It just shows me the SPA WOMEN'S SENIOR SOFTBALL program has really taken off and is continuing to grow.”

The Pensacola tournament at Exchange Park had thirty-one teams compete in eight divisions. SPA also had it's first 35-year young team, the ARKANSAS SYNERGY/REEBOK team enter a SPA tournament.

We are finally reaching the dream we at SPA have had,” SPA PRESIDENT RIDGE HOOKS said, “JUDY LEE and I have always envisioned making the women's program the most player friendly and respected women's program in senior softball.”

With people like JUDY LEE, PEGGY O'NEILL, LAYLA BRYAN, BUDDY CONNELLY and Tournament Director MIKE DESORBO being involved, we have shown the women's teams we listen to their concerns and opinions and act accordingly to make the SPA program the way they (women) would like it to be.”, HOOKS continued, “Senior Softball men's and women's both should be for the player's first and that is what SPA strives to do.”

The SPA approach is apparently working as the past two years, the women's program has seen increases in players, teams and tournament attendance.”

The SPA program is really growing, “ SCHREIBER said, “All tournaments are expecting an increase in entries. I just hear COLUMBUS, OHIO is expecting over forty teams and I am looking for between 50 and 60 teams at the SPA WORLDS in DALTON, GEORGIA

The biggest age group at PENSECOLA was the “65” DIVISION with the Village's GOLDEN GALS taking the title. The KY FILLIES; DREAM CATCHERS from Albaquergue: GOLDEN GIRLS of Virginia; CHATTANOOGA CHARGERS and the West Virginia MOUNTAIN MAMA 65'S also competed in the six-team field.


The big news in the 70's DIVISION was the antics of the Village's GOLDEN GALS' EVELYN HAYES. HAYES not only cleared the 225-foot fence with one shot but did it twice and also hit a pair of ground rule doubles that bounced over the fence.

Paced by the play of their tournament MVP, the GOLDEN GALS beat Ontario's SPORTACULARS 65/70 in the “IF” game to take the five-team division crown. Third place went to the FREEDOM SPIRIT OF FLORIDA 70 II. The GOLDEN GIRLS 70's and the TENNESSEE SENIOR STARS 70's were also part of the competitive 70's group.

It was a GOLDEN time in the 60's PAIRINGS as the Virginia GOLDEN GIRLS 60's took the Gold ring with the Missouri FUN BUNCH in the second spot and the Buckeye State OHIO CARDINALS third. Michigan's JOLICO SENIORS and the “Show Me State's” MISSOURI FLASHBACKS completing the five-team bracket.

The Michigan JOLICO SENIOR 50's captured the five-team 50's DIVISION finishing ahead of second place TENNESSEE SENIOR STARS and the third place Chattanooga LADY LOOKOUTS. Louisiana's LA SPORTS and SERIOUS FUN from Tennessee completed the field.

In the 55's DIVISION the MARYLAND ROADRUNNERS raced away from the second place VILLAGE VIXONS and the third place JOLICO SENIOR 55's of Michigan.

The South Carolina CAROLINA SNIPERS out dueled the PENSACOLA LADIES in the two-team 45's DIVISION.

KRYPTONITE from Florida bested Maryland's LADIES FIRST for the 40's TITLE with the Tennessee CHICKS WITH STICKS squad coming in third.


All teams who finished first and/or second in the SPA GSPRING NATIONALS earned spots in the inaugural SPA 2012 WORLD SERIES in JACKSONVILLE,FLORIDA October 31 and November 1,2 and 3.

The next SPA WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT is the COLUMBUS, OHIO HEART OF OHIO tournament JULY 11-15. Information on this and other women's 2012 SPA events can be found at the SPA women's web site:


clock April 17, 2012 10:10 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck


PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Move over BABE and HENRY and make room for the newest member of the history making “long ball club.”

EVELYN HAYES of the GOLDEN GALS 70'S Village team joined the group with a pair of shots over the 225-ft fence at  Pensacola, Florida's Exchange Park during the SPA WOMEN"S SPRING NATIONALS. The new “SULTANA of SWAT” also had a pair of ground rule doubles which one-hopped the fences.

That is the first time any woman has hit it out at the SPA SPRING NATIONALS,” SPA National Women's Tournament Director JUDY LEE SCHREIBER said, “and EVELYN isn't on one of the 40-year young teams, she plays in the 70's Division.”

Hayes, who played thirty years with the Fort Lauderdale MIAMI DOTS in ASA competition before getting involved in senior softball six years ago, also added 15 RBI's and a .792 batting average to her fantastic tournament.

In addition it was a “no-brainer” to make HAYES the tournament MVP.

That was a nice honor,” Hayes said, “But it meant more to me that we beat the SPORTACULARS (Ontario, Canada) to win the 70's championship. We had to go to an “IF” game to win the championship and that was a great feeling to win that game.”

Hayes did her part to beat the SPORTACULARS hitting her first home run in pool play against the ONTARIO team and nailing the second one in the “IF” game.

'The first one just barely made it over and I wasn't sure I had hit it out,” Hayes, who used a 27-oz ULTRA II for her homers, said, “The second one I knew was out when I hit it. It was one of the few good pitches I got to see after that first home run and I was waiting for any good pitch to tee-off on. The second one cleared the fence with plenty to spare.”

The GOLDEN GALS' right center fielder isn't even the team's clean-up hitter. Early in the tournament she hit in the third spot but was moved to the second hole in the “IF” game.

Although HAYES was the first woman to hit it over the fence, she thinks that it will eventually become a common thing in the women's tournament.

That was one of the few times we (women) got to play on a woman's 225-foot fence field,” HAYES said, “Usually we play on 300-foot fence fields. Another thing is with SPA going all-out to improve and increase the woman's division, more teams and more players will be participating in SPA tournaments, so I think we will see more home runs but only if we play on the 225-foot fields.”

According to HAYES, the WOMEN'S SPRING NATIONALS was a high point of her softball career.

To have my team win the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP and for me to hit two home runs over the fence and be selected tournament MVP, it just doesn't get much better than that,” she said, “I really enjoyed the tournament and to be able to share the experience with my teammates made it that much more special.”


clock November 22, 2011 08:50 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

GALLATIN, TENNESSEE - The Villages Vixens made it three National SPA Women’s titles in a row but it didn’t get any easier as they needed some late inning heroics to keep the streak intact.

Trailing 4-2 with two out in the sixth inning against the Golden Gals in the third game of best two-out-of-three finals, the Vixens came up with the big hit. Karen Clausen’s two-out single scored both Tiny Cazel and Linda Landry to tie the game at 4-4.

In the seventh it was tournament MVP Aileen Laing who supplied the key hit plating Terri Skinner from third with two-out for the eventual game winner and a 5-4 lead.

Laing wasn’t finished because in the bottom of the seventh she was the middle player in a rally-killing 4-3-5 double play to choke off the Golden Gals’ hopes.

With a runner on first the Golden Gals batter hit a grounder to Vixen second baseman Wendy Neff, who threw out the batter. The runner tried to make it to third but first baseman Laing fired a dart to Bev Morgan, who slapped the tag to complete the double play.

The next batter grounded out to end the game.

“Those plays were the difference between winning and losing,” Vixen’s coach and SPA women’s 65 Major Manager-of-the-Year Alan Mahar said, “To win championships you need to have a lot of luck and be able to make the defensive plays and have the two-out hits.”

The Villages Vixens must have had a lot of luck this year because the championships continue to pile up. With 2011 championships at Gallatin, Pensacola, Columbus, Huntsman and a second at Fort Myers, the gold medal count has climbed over 20.

Not bad for team which has only been around for three years.

“You need a solid team effort in each and every game and every tournament to accomplish that,” Mahar said, “The biggest difference between us and other teams is we have hitters from the first spot in the batting order to the twelfth spot. We do not have any easy outs in our batting order.”

“Every team has at least five-or-six good hitters,” Mahar continued, “but what decides who wins and who loses is usually determined by the bottom six batters in the order and our bottom six are as good as a lot of team’s top six”.

“Because of that our girls have a lot of confidence in each other,” he continued, “They do not feel that additional pressure of one-or-two people having to deliver because they know there is somebody always there to pick the team up.”

Because of the team balance, everybody on the Villages Vixen roster plays.

“They may not play every game in the tournament but they will all play a few games,” the manager said.

Laing had an outstanding tournament for the Vixens hitting .824 with an on-base percentage of .842 to go along with a team high 14 hits. Joining Laing as tournament All-Americans were Lee Dragon (.643 BA, .722 OBP, 9 hits); Karen Clausen (.600 BA, .692 OBP); Terri Skinner (.500 BA, .600 OBP); Brenda John (.526 BA, .550 OBP,10hits,9 runs, 7 RBI’s) and Jeanne Harrington (.722 BA,.750 OBP, 13 hits, 10 runs, 8 RBI’s).

Other members of the Villages Vixens are Dar Huntsinger (,235 BA, .409 OBP); Deanna Rhea (.455, .538); Wendy Neff (.667 BA, .692 OBP); Tiny Cazel (.500, .529(; Virginia Roward (.615 BA, .615 OBP); Bev Morgan (.400 BA,.400 OBP); Linda Landry (.667 BA, .688 OBP, 10 hits, 7 RBI’s); Karen Adams (.533 BA, .611 OBP, 10 RBI’s),Bobbi Crocker (.182, .308) and assistant coach Fred Greenlee.

Mahar also spoke highly of the Golden Gals, the team they have beaten the last two years in the deciding third game for the SPA National title.

“The Golden Gals are our neighbors, we are both from the Villages,’ he explained, “They are a very talented team and in the majority of the tournaments it always seems to come down to us playing each other for a championship. That shows the type of talent we have here in the Villages, I think we (the Villages) have two of the best women’s senior softball teams in the country.”


clock November 22, 2011 08:35 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

GALLATIN, TENNESSEE – Some say it takes a village but Dreamgirlz SPA 50 major Coach-of-the-Year Elliott says, “It takes the entire team” to win a National Title.

The Norfolk, Virginia team did that using a full 20-player roster to go 6-0 in pool and bracket play to win the five-team SPA 50 Major title in Gallatin, Tennessee.

“The secret to us winning the Gallatin National was  we had our entire team there,” Elliott said,  “It was the first time ever, we had our full squad at an SPA tournament and it helped us to win our first SPA National championship.”

As effective as they were in pool play outscoring the opposition 38-21, they were downright nasty in bracket play with a 46-15 differential in the three games.

“Our result was sort of surprising,” team captain Freda Jones said, “We came into the tournament not knowing what to expect because we had never played these teams before.”

“I think maybe because we weren’t sure of what to expect, we concentrated on playing our best games and I think that is what happened  We just kept saying five runs or crooked numbers every time we came to bat” Jones added.

The big question is how do you play twenty players in a six game tournament and keep everyone happy?

“No problem at all,” Elliott said, “With the run differential in pool and bracket play we were able to give everyone ample playing time. You always need extra runners and the weather also determines how often you have to sub.  Another thing, with our team, we do not lose that much when we sub non-starters for starters.”

Of course every team needs a leader and the leader in Gallatin was Tournament MVP Diane Mobley, who compiled a lofty .727 batting average. All-American tournament selections from the Dreamgirlz are: Barbara Miles-Davis (.583), Barbara Foxx (.695), Cynthia Tucker (.521), Debra Tucker (.687) and Sylvia Echols (.714).

The rest of the roster who also played a huge part in the title run are: Kathy O’Meara (.710), Jan Jones (.574), Diane Rooks (.550), Jones (500), Treva Green (.500), Linda Puentes ).444), Gina Sivells (.444), Vanessa Farrington (.418), Carolyn Cotterell (.333), Ernestine Saunders (.333) and Terri Houpos (.333). Also instrumental in Dreamgirlz success are assistant coaches Angela Holloway and Harlin Trapp, scorekeeper Diane Graham , team president and manager Jo Ann Moore and Elliott, the 2011 SPA 50 Major’s Coach of The Year.

Dreamgirlz relies a lot on teamwork and fellowship.  The team is actually run by a committee. They have a President (Moore), Secretary (Terri Houpos), Chaplain (Jones), Treasurer (Carolyn Cotterell) and the coach (Elliott).

“Our team has been together since 2007,” Moore said, “We started adding players to strengthen the team each subsequent year and that has helped us to get to where we are today.”

“It is a good feeling to win a National title, especially when the teams we played were so good,” Moore said, “There is no doubt winning gave us  the lift because we went on to win in Myrtle Beach, giving us two SPA tournaments and two SPA championships.”

All three Jones, Moore and Elliott believe the secret to the Dreamgirlz success is the closeness of the team.

‘The camaraderie of our team is awesome, we all get along so well,” Jones said, “Everyone realizes they will get to play and they all want to win. We have so much love for one another and we not only respect each other but also the other team and the game in general. We are also all in accord with coach Elliott and we all respect and listen to him.”

They are definitely a coach’s dream and ironically that is how they got their name.

“I had a dream one night and was thinking if I ever would coach a woman’s team I should call it Dreamgirlz,” Elliott, who has been coaching women’s team since 1963 said, “ When I got the call to coach this  team it was like someone had already told me what to call them and the name was Dreamgirlz.”

One thing they would still like to add to the mix is a sponsor.

“We are self sponsored and hold a lot of fund raisers to support our other tournament expenses,” Moore said, “It certainly would be nice to obtain a sponsor to  help offset those expenses. There is little doubt the sponsor would benefit from name  recognition and exposure as a result of all the tournaments in which we participate.”

A sponsor could do a lot worse with his promotion budget, where better to place that money than with a Dream that does come true?


clock November 21, 2011 10:39 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

GALLATIN, TENNESSEE– For the third straight year the SPA Women’s 70’s National Championship title is heading north across the Canadian border to Southern Ontario province’s SPORTACULARS.

Not only have the Canadian ladies won three straight championships, they have yet to be beaten in bracket play. In 2009 it was 4-0, 2010 3-0 and this year 3-0 for a10-0 record in the championship double elimination bracket contests.

“Regard less of how old you are or how many championships you win you never get tired of it,”2011 SPA Women’s 70 Division Manager-of-the-Year Sylvia Mengl said, “We all liketo compete and as long as we can still compete you never get tired of playingand winning.”

Winning has become a rite of passage for the Sportaculars ever since they were formed asa 50’s team more than twenty years ago. This year has been especially fruitful. In addition to the SPA Nationals they have won the SPA Columbus, Ohio Heart of Ohio tournament; another three-peat at the Huntsman games, the United States Senior Olympics in Houston and a second in Phoenix.

“We love coming to the States to play,” Mengl said, “Actually we don’t have anyother options since the only other 70’s team in Canada is in Vancouver (3,000miles to the west) and the Canadian tournaments do not have an age division for us unless we want to play in the 35-40 group.”

Mengl also said, “It is no contest as to who has the best run women’s tournaments inthe States and that is SPA. We just wish there were more of them a little closer since we are a self-sponsored team.”

Mengl was also proud of the fact that five of the original Sportaculars who took to the diamond 22-years ago are still playing. That quintet is Mengl, Adeline Rosmus, Jean Mills, Jackie Crawford and Earlene Fogal., Mengl and Rosmus have also been inducted into the SPA Hall of Fame.

The secret to the team’s success is simple; keep in shape.

“We all love to compete in anything during the off season be it curling, bowling,badmitten or tennis,” Mengl said, “I just love to play tennis, almost as much as softball, Well, not really but I do like tennis.”

Being in shape helped the ladies go 5-1overall in Gallatin losing only to Freedom Spirit of Florida 8-1 in the final pool game. In bracket play it was over quickly as the champs defeated the Golden Girls 14-4 and the Tennessee Senior Stars twice by a 16-7 and 15-10count.

In an unusual MVP selection, the girls decided the MVP was the entire team and the team received the bat.

“Itdidn’t surprise me thatwe all thought everyone contributed equally so as a team we were our own MVP,” Mengl explained.”We all respect each other and thereis never anything negative said, it is always positive reinforcement.”

“That is part of our secret for winning,” she continued, “That and teamwork and a strong passion for the game and always wanting to compete at the highest level of play possible.”

Nextyear the Sportaculars will get that wish because they will compete as a major meaning opponents will be able to use an extra player in the field during the game.

“Wetreat that as an honor being moved to major,” the Hall of Fame manager said, “It took us 22 years to get to this point and we don’t want teams staying away from tournaments because they don’t think they would be able to compete with us. Whatever it takes to level the playing field to make the games competitive, we are in agreement.”

GallatinAll-American selections for the Sportaculars went to Delsie Clayton, Arlene Johnson, Lil Baughman, Nean Bohn and Mengl. Other members of the team are Rosmus, Mills, Crawford, Mary Cole, Helen Edwards, Doreen Garrett, Barbara Keller, Arlene Marshall, Claudia Wasik, Judy Bolton, Mady Szumlinski, Mary Lynne Patterson, coach Dave Keller and scorekeeper Lucy Parker.

Despite being moved to majors, the only big problem the ladies may face in 2012 is getting anymore championship hardware back across the border. The border guards have got to start being suspicious soon.

About the author

Ho Hoffman of Wadsworth,Ohio is a sports writer for the Medina (Ohio) Gazette daily newspaper. Hoffman also has been playing competitive softball for nearly sixty years and 3,000 games starting in the adult fast pitch leagues as a teenager and continuing through into today's 70's senior division.  

Hoffman for the past twenty years has also been playing on senior softball travel teams. In addition, he along with Red Bole are the tournament directors of the highly successful Ohio Buckeye Classic June senior softball tournament which last year drew 53 teams, in the 60, 65, 70 and 75 AA and AAA only divisions. An independent tournament in 2010, this year the Buckeye Classic is joining the SPA Tournament family. 

He is also married. He and his wife Sue have three sons who are also active in softball and baseball. The youngest Matt plays adult slo-pitch softball, Mike plays Roy Hobbs 40-and over baseball and Marc is the founder, owner and president of U.S. Baseball Academy, the nation's largest baseball training program.


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