From the editor.
The 15th edition of the SCIFL Las Vegas Road Trip is underway at Sunset and Warm Springs Parks Las Vegas Nevada, April 8-10, 2022. This year’s tournament hosts a field of 48 teams competing in three divisions, AA, A-Major and A.
Temperatures soared into the 90’s (32+C) for the first two days, cooling off a bit for Sunday’s games, with temperatures dropping down into the 70’s. (24+C) In spite of the heat on Friday and Saturday, it was actually cooler than the temperatures back home in Southern California, that topped 100.
The tournament’s organizer, SCIFL President Jesse Ortiz (also NAFA Executive Committee, California State Director) was on hand to greet the teams, and keep things rolling all weekend long, perched in his tournament headquarters, a distinctive orange tent behind home plate, where he posted updates to the brackets throughout the event.
While many tournaments were cancelled during 2020 and 2021 due to Covid, the SCIFL managed to hold their “Road Trip” event, the kick-off to the season for teams from around the country. But Covid-related rules were strict for last year’s tournament, and enforced by the local powers-that-be, requiring even spectators to mask up. Not great, Bob.
This year’s tournament has a decidedly different feel to it, mask-free, with players ebullient to be able to play under “normal” conditions. The smiles were back and plain to see.
Interest in this year’s event was high, with 50 teams signing on, with 48 teams finally making their way to the popular tourist city in Nevada.
As in any year, the first big tournament is fun to watch, to see what teams, and players returned for yet another season of fastpitch. Especially so this year, when players and fans do not have to mask up for Covid, and you can actually see and recognize the faces of teammates, opponents, fans and friends alike.
One of the familiar faces returning to the diamonds was photographer Maddy Flanagan, whose photos will be posted here at Fastpitchwest.com
As a fan at this year’s event, I was struck by the number of younger players playing in the tournament, an encouraging sign for the state of the game. There were plenty of salty veterans to be sure, but the next generation was plain to see. One team in particular that caught my eye on that count was Raymar, a longtime team from Southern California. With the exception of a veteran or two, the team taking the field was essentially a 23U team. The editor competed for many years against Raymar in the local league. This youthful version has a number of familiar names from the old team, but now it is the sons and nephews stepping into the batter’s box. Those that played with or against Yogi and Fernie would be glad to see them still in uniform. But plenty of good young talent, as is the case with many of the teams in Las Vegas this weekend. USA 23U head coach Tim Lyon was in from his home in Utah, and spotted watching one of the Raymar games, likely sizing up the talent for the 23U national team.
The Macabbi organization had four teams in the tournament, Maccabi USA, Maccabi Canada, Maccabi Mexico and a master’s team. The late Dave Blackburn, longtime pitcher and broadcaster, and longtime supporter of the Maccabi program would have been proud. His friend and former teammate, Larry Silfen was on hand for this year’s event.
Canada sent seven (7) teams “out west”, to enjoy the warmer weather and get some early games in for their season:
- Aiken Lake Silver
- Alexander Tee Pee Crawlers
- Camrose Merchants
- Dieppe Ridge Legends
- Maccabi Canada Rays
- PDC Comets
Mexico sent three teams, two from Maccabi and Team Marquez, which invariably includes a number of players from Mexico’s National team. Team Marquez knocked off a tough Globe team from Minnesota 2-0 on Saturday and will play in the (top) AA division’s Winner’s Bracket final on Sunday morning.
California, of course, had the largest contingent of teams, with seventeen (17), many of whom compete in the SCIFL (So Cal Independent Fastpitch League) during the season, and can get to Las Vegas in 4-5 hours.
Oklahoma sent five teams, while other teams travelled from other states, including Arizona, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Montana, Texas, South Dakota, Minnesota and DC
The lower A Division boasted the largest contingent of teams with 25, while the A-Major had 13 and the top division, 10. The tournament utilized a NAFA-style bracket, which provides a three-game guarantee for teams making the trip.
Championship games are slated for 3:00 PM PT on Sunday afternoon in the two upper divisions, AA and A-Major, while the A Division will hold their “Gold” final at 9:45 AM PT, followed by the “Silver” final for the next two teams in line.
Fans are encouraged to visit the official SCIFL website, where league prez Jesse Ortiz is updating the brackets as things progress. Click here.
We’ll post a tournament wrap on Monday, along with some photos from The Maddy.