GALLATIN, TENNESSEEE -  “Defense is the name of the game,” NY Double Play manager Maryann Bubelnik said, “ You win with defense and timely hitting. If the other team can’t score and you take advantage of your opportunities you should win.”

Bubelnik’s philosophy worked great at Gallatin, Tennessee as her NY Double Play team won the five-team SPA women’s’ 50 AAA National title by going 3-and-0 in the double elimination tournament.

Following a first round bye, the Long Island squad started their championship run with defense by beating  Missouri  Sho-Me 14-2 ; used timely hitting to down LA Sports 15-14 and used the whole package in the title game 24-15 victory over the LA team.

“The first game against LA Sports was the key game,” the NY manager said, “We were ahead going into the top of the seventh but LA Sports rallied and went ahead . Then in the bottom of the seventh we came back.”

Right fielder Pat Klammer  started the comeback with a triple and Tournament MVP Julie Dooney took care of the rest with a home run to win it. 

“That was key for us to win that game and stay out of the loser’s bracket,” Bubelnik said. “Those extra games just wear a team out and that is what happened to LA by the time we played them again in the championship game.”

Dooney had a tournament to write home about. The centerfielder not only hit .524 with double digit RBI’s but sparkled in the field. According to her manager, Dooney “ saved as many or more runs for us with her glove as she scored with her bat.”

Judy Christ (mf/EH .706), Bubelnik (2b/.619), Klammer (.481), Pat Schiller (SS, .524 12 RBI’s) and Carole Tucker were selected to the All-tournament team. Tucker, one of the newest members of the team, pitched all six games (5-1) in pool and tournament play.

“Tucker was phenomenal,” Bubelnik, the SPA women’s’ 50 AAA manager of the Year said. “ She stayed ahead of the hitters, fielded her position and didn’t walk people”

In addition to the All-Tournament players, Double Play had a host of other big-time players.

Leftfielder Debbie Rossano-Cloke (.435), Laura Schiavone (3b, 420) and rookie Diane Zalewski, who was playing in her first major tournament came up with great defensive plays throughout the tournament in addition to supplying key hits. Another valuable commodity was RCF  Penny Zielinski, who did it all with her defense, hitting and running. 

Rounding out the squad were Gail Hamel, Arlene King, Anne DiPrima (coach) and catcher Jane Richards.

DiPrima did a fabulous job helping with the coaching moving players and runners in and out of the game while  Richards was the spark on the field throughout the tournament keeping everyone aware of the situation, where to throw the ball and in general  keeping everyone in the game.

 “I just wish we could have awarded everyone all-tournament status,” Bubelnik said. “Our team is built on teamwork not individual play and glory. Everybody contributed to this tournament win in some special way. I just believe you win as a team not as individuals.”

The current NY Double Play has been doing a lot of winning since being organized three years ago, but they have also been helping to “clone” other Double Play teams.

Started as a 50’s group, Double Play also has  40’s and 60’s teams and maybe soon a 55 group.

“Right now a lot of the girls on our 50’s could play 55 or even 60,” Bubelnik said. “But we want to play in that 50 group as long as we can compete and when we can’t compete then we will think about moving  up.”

This year they  have competed pretty well compiling a 17-5 mark and winning tournaments at Fort Myers, Connecticut and Gallatin in addition to a third at Raleigh.

The Double Play group has come a long way from just a few years ago when they were only playing League ball on the Island and participating in the New York state games.

“We didn’t know senior tournaments existed back then, “ Bubelnik said. “We are just learning about the opportunities open to women softball players and have become addicted to them. Playing in tournaments like the SPA National was just a great experience and one we won’t forget and are definitely looking forward to returning in 2011.”

Bubelnik is also like a proud mother when she talks of the twenty players on the Double Play roster.

“I am so proud of every one of these girls both individually and as a team,” the manager said. “ They are all so dedicated and have such a love of the game it is just a tremendous experience and an honor for me to be part of this group.”