Softball Players Association News

SPA Softball blog for Senior Softball Players


clock November 8, 2011 12:00 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

DALTON, GEORGIA – It was as easy as 1-2-3-4-5 for the Agility Physical Therapy 70 Major Plus gang as they went 5-0 in pool and bracket play to win the SPA National title in Dalton, Georgia.

The Florida team opened with three wins in pool play against a trio of Major teams. Libby’s fell 16-8 followed by the Michiana Merchants, who lost 22-14 and finally the Georgia Classics were beaten 20-12.

With only two teams in the Major Plus Division it was a showdown between Agility Physical Therapy and the Southeast Seventies in the best two-out-of-three battle.

Although both games were close with defense more than offense taking center stage, Agility Physical Therapy swept Southeast by 12-7 and 11-10 counts.

Agility Physical Therapy’s Melvin Eubank was selected the tournament MVP and John Zoccano was named 70 Major Plus Manager-of-the-Year.

Named the All-American tournament team were Bill Lowry, John Mello, Steve Papalas, Vincent Remson, Frank Urmann and Ramon Valdes.

The other members of the 70 major Plus National Champions are Ernest Barton, Hansel Faulkner, Lou Giovanini, Herman Zornes, Frank Vargo, James Pigott, Jose Ramirez, R. Shiflett and James Spelbrink.


clock November 8, 2011 11:54 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

DALTON, GEORGIA – The Rangers of North Texas proved “it doesn’t matter how you start, all that matters is how you finish” as they came out of the loser’s bracket to win the SPA 70 AA National title in Dalton, Georgia.

Ushered to the sidelines in the six-team division by the Indy Crowns 9-8 in the third round, the Rangers roared back.  First up was a win over Tri-City, who they had lost to in pool play but beaten in the opening round of bracket play.

Coming out of the loser’s bracket with one loss, they now had to beat the Indy Crowns twice to win the championship. The Rangers took the first game in a cliff hanging 18-14 battle to force a “winner take all” title game.

The Texas team came out on fire to roll to an easy 24-10 victory and claim the SPA 70AA championship.

The Rangers’ Marlyn Schroepfer was selected the tournament’s MVP while manager LTC Eddie Moore was named SPA 70AA Manager-of-The-Year.

The rangers were also represented by Dan Thompson, Gary Cook, Roger James, Jerry Killingsworth and Don Rodgers as members of the tournament’s All-American selections.

The other members of SPA 70AA National Championship team are: Rex Houze, Aten Beach, William Frankeberger, Eugene Geller, Charles Goin, James Heigel, Jeff Jeffers, Jesse Smith. Joe Svoboda and William Tatum.


clock November 8, 2011 11:46 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

DALTON GEORGIA – It is one and out for the Florida Thunder who rolled undefeated (6-0) through the five team SPA 65 Major Division in Dalton, Georgia to win the National crown.

That was the good news. The bad news is there will be no repeat in 2012 as the team is disbanding.

“We will be splitting up for next year,” acting manager Richard Mekeel said, “ Six of us, mainly the big home run hitters will stay as the Florida Thunder and play  major plus while another  six, who are definitely not major plus players,  will hook up with the Naples Heat  major team and a couple of others will just no longer play travel ball. “

Although the THUNDER stormed through the field in Dalton, it wasn’t by blow-out scores. They beat Michael’s 65’s 17-9, Minnesota Pride 19-11 and Scrap Iron 65’s Redux 26-20 in pool play. In the double elimination bracket they disposed of Scrap Iron (17-12) and Minnesota (26-10, 18-17).

According to Mekeel, “It was a pretty balanced field with everyone having a good chance to win it.”

A couple of factors are paramount in the Thunder breaking up.

“Half of the guys on our team can play anywhere in the world, they are so good,” Mekeel said, “They are the ones who carry us through most of the tournaments. However, there are about six of us who are good major caliber players and can compete in that division but are definitely overmatched at major plus level.”

“We just decided it would be better for everyone to disband the team and let everyone play at their own competitive level.” He said.

It is a shame, since eight of the players have been together for ten years starting as the Heat Wave in 2001 and winning the SPA Nationals as a 55AAA team.  Over the tears the squad has continued to perform well having won around 20 National titles.

The main man in charge for the Thunder has been Tols Mihailoff, but he was in Seattle prior to Dalton and had Mekeel help get things organized before he  was able to get there. Mihailoff sponsors the team with the entry fees but the players furnish their own transportation, lodging and meals.

“Tols was able to get back in time to make out all the line-up and run the show on the field,”Mekeel said, “I was more like a traveling secretary handling paperwork and rooms and such.”

The team, which averaged over .730 for the tournament with only two home runs, was led by the play of MVP Roy Hern. The speedy outfielder played outstanding defense and hit over .850 for the week.

All-American selections were Bob Falzone, Herman Griffith, John Wick, Bob Thornton and Dave Weber. Mihlailoff was named SPA 65 Major Manager-of-The Year.

Other members of the championship team were Ed Steele, Juan Alicea, Frank Galuppo, Stephen Swisher, Robert Shreyer,   Raymond Guitierrez and Mekeel.


clock November 8, 2011 11:38 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

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.


clock November 8, 2011 11:29 by Ho Hoffman   Hockepuck

DALTON, GEORGIA – The 70 AAA WILDCATTERS will always remember 2011 as that once-in-a-lifetime magical year when everything came together as they won three Senior Softball National titles.

In their first year of existence, the Texas team won the SPA National, SSUSA National, the SENIOR Olympics and eight smaller regional events. The team posted an 11-1 tournament record.

“This was our first year as a team;” Wildcatter manager Howard Hill said, “Some of us are from the old Houston Texans’ team while others come from Louisiana and Oklahoma.”

Hill also pointed out the team wasn't  picked by chance,  since he had a method in his plan.

Hill, who has been managing senior softball teams for 20-years, explained, “Everyone was chosen, not just for their playing ability but they also had to be `team players’ and have a pleasant and positive attitude”.

The strategy was especially potent in Dalton. The Wildcatters went 6-1 overall including a perfect 4-0 run culminating with a pair of 16-14 and 17-12 semi-final and final wins over runner-up Brennan’s Akron 70’s in the double-elimination bracket to claim the SPA 70AAA National title in the nine-team field.

Even though the team had an on-base percentage of .712 for the tournament, according to Hill his team’s defense was the difference.

“We only gave up 65 runs in seven games,” the SPA’s 70AAA Manager of the Year said, “Our outfielders played tremendous taking away numerous hits and having great throws to hold runners. The outfield set the tone and the rest of the defense just followed their lead.”

The Cougar Oil and Gas Exploration Company sponsored Wildcatters used a six-man outfield rotation throughout the tournament which included Jim Torrence, Lucky Roton, Jim Tinelli, Lenny Yaffie, Everett Sims and Ron Lagneaux.

Yaffie (.750), Sims (.800), Torrence (.722, 17 RBI’s), Roton (.632) and Tinelli (.909) all joined manager/first baseman Hill (.889) on the All-Tournament team.  The team’s pitcher Dick Kreger, who in addition to having an ERA of less than eight and an on-base-percentage of .706, was named the 70AAA MVP.

Rounding out the squad were Cat Taylor (1b/dh .538). Ray Rowland (2b .533), Phil Holland (ss .611), Keith Mixon (mf .588), Roscoe Smith (3b .660), Ron Lagneaux (.400) and sponsor Charlie Plumb (c .540). Another big part of the team was scorekeeper Helen Hill, who has been crunching the numbers for her husband’s team for twenty years.

According to Hill the secret to the Wildcatters’ success is team work.

“Every tournament, every game, every inning there is somebody different stepping up with a big hit, defensive play or key base running move,” Hill said, “Somebody always steps up and picks up the rest of his teammates.”

Hill was also impressed with the balance of the 70AAA division.

“The tournament was very balanced with numerous teams coming back to win games in their last at bats,” Hill said., “The difference for us was we took advantage of all our opportunities, played solid defense and had timely hitting.”

Hill might have added that it also took a little bit of magic and in Dalton the Wildcatters had most of those magical moments.

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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