DALTON, GEORGIA - After losing three of their first five games and finding themselves in the loser’s bracket, the 70’s Major Premium Seats USA team decided enough was enough and it was time to put up or shut up.
The results were three straight wins as they fought their way out of the loser’s bracket to beat Ed’s Aluminum 18-12 and Libby’s twice 21-2 and 28-18 to win the SPA 70’s Major crown.
“What a great feeling that was, “ Premium Seats USA co-manager Arden Siegendorf said, “I have been playing softball since 1956 and coaching since 1960 and this was my greatest thrill watching our team come back like that to win the SPA Nationals.”
Making it extra special was the way they did it, playing four games in a row (noon; 1:30; 3:00 and 4:30) on the final day.
“That was tough,” Siegendorf said, “But something just clicked for us and we were not going to be denied. Everybody had one goal and that was to do whatever it took to win the championship.”
This was only the Florida team’s second year in 70's tournament play although a lot of them had been playing together in Florida Leagues the past three and four years.
“We’re not really a big travel team. “Siegendorf said, “We just go to tournaments we can drive to, except we did go to Huntsman this year. We won Fort Myers, played the Spring Nationals and here in Dalton, so those were our other tournaments.”
After surprising Libby’s of Wisconsin, who they had lost to 14-13 and 12-9 earlier, with the 21-2 victory to set up the title game, Premium Seats didn’t crack.
They broke away from a 12-12 tie and held off Libby’s in the bottom of the seventh for the 28-18 championship win.
Leading the comeback for Premium Seats was MVP and middle fielder John Butler. Voted unanimously for the award by his teammates, Butler sparkled in the field and carried a hefty .786 average.
All-American selections were Scott Logan (2b, .636); Tom Fulton (3b, .630); Tom Ladd (lf, .630); Larry Callaway (c, .593); George Pringle (of, .577) and Len Scheinheft (p, .577). Scheinheft was the winning pitcher in the 21-2 game and relieved starter and winner Wayne Hughes to earn a save in the championship game.
Logan joined Siegendorf in winning the SPA 70 Major Co-Managers of The Year Award.
Rounding out the squad were Frank Curran (of, .500);Jim Bender (1b,.522); Evilio Bacalao (ss, .565) ; Jack Westbrook (of, ,519) and Hughes (p, .518).
“I am really so proud of all of our guys because everyone contributed in the comeback championship run,” Siegendorf said, “We had 12 players and all 12 contributed, that is what made it so special.’
Unfortunately, it may have been the last hurrah for this Premium Seats USA 70 team since birthdays are piling up and the next level (75 division) is looming in the future.
“In 2012 we will be fielding both a 70 and 75 division team, “Siegendorf said, ‘We aren’t quite sure how we will be rated. We’re hoping as a 75AAA and a 70 Major since it will almost be like two new teams. We will just have to wait and see. “
Whatever happens with the rating, nobody will ever be able to take that special moment away, when they rallied coming out of the loser’s bracket to run the table and win the SPA 70’s Major Crown.
That was really special.