Archive for July, 2004

Jr. Men in Camp Today, Corona CA for the weekend

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

Head coach Tim Lyon and assistants Scott Standerfer and (So Cal’s) Gary Mullican have the USA Jr. Men’s team in camp this week, at the Olympic training facility in Chula Vista, CA (near San Diego, by the border with Mexico) for it’s second summer camp in preparation for next year’s international competition at Prince Edward Island. The team will travel to Corona, California this weekend, to compete for the second time against teams in the ASA So Cal Alliance league, which consists of ASA “C” level teams. The Jr. Men’s team competed in an earlier tournament in Lancaster, California last month, finishing the week of play with an admirable 3-2 record. This weekend, the team will feature a couple of “favorite sons”, literally, with the offspring of Jerry Leavitt and Paul Castillo vying for spots on the team. Jerry, as many of you know, anchored the ISC World Champion Camarillo Kings, catching Hall of Fame pitcher Mark Smith in the early ’80’s. Paul Castillo continues to play in the local So Cal leagues, after retiring as a teammate of the editor, on the El Segundo Rounders. We wish both of them well. (Click here to view photo of Paul’s son, Kevin, playing for USA Jr. Men in So Cal ASA Alliance tournament.)

The team’s games this weekend are 9:45am, 11:30am and 3:00 p.m. For the complete schedule of games, click the title of this story above. For a map or driving directions to the fields in Corona, click here.

For more on the team, visit our Jr. Men’s team pages by clicking here.

Sparring With Giants

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

How’d you like to work your way up to being the #12 team in the country, head to a tournament and find yourselves the lowest ranked team in the tournament? Well, that’s exactly what Team Rainey will experience this weekend competing in the prestigious Bob Walsh Memorial tournament this weekend, July 24-25, 2004. The tournament is an invitation-only affair, limited to eight teams. This year, the field of teams has the #1,2,3,4,6,8, 11 and 12 ranked teams in the world. The eight teams are: County Materials WI (1), The Farm Tavern WI (2), Broken Bow Spirit NY (3), Circle Tap WI (4), Fedlock DC (6), Heflin Gremlins NY (8), Imaging Systems Knights ND (11) and Team Rainey CA (12)

The tournament committee sparked a bit of controversy earlier in the year by leaving out two local teams that wanted to play in the tournament. One team was particularly vocal about the committee’s decision to leave them out, the Quaker Riversharks. The Riversharks were last year’s NAFA “AA” runner-up and finished at #26 in the ISC World rankings. The Sharks stepped up this year to open level competition, adding a number of the defunct Can-Am Windmillers, who were regulars (and even won) the Bob Walsh tournament in a prior year. But that controversy is in the books, and this year’s field of teams could well be the toughest ever.

Team Rainey flew out to Allentown yesterday and are getting ready today for the start of play on Saturday. They decided to add a travel day, to avoid a repeat of their 5:30am arrival on game day in Wisconsin earlier this month for the “Boys of Summer” tournament. For a west coast team like Rainey, the rigors of travelling to face the best competition in the world can be extremely demanding.

Team Rainey will be without ace Travis Price for the weekend, but are picking up Bricklin Anderson, from Vancouver, British Columbia. Anderson pitches for Morgan Transfer of Olympia, Washington, and shut out Team Rainey in a 1-0 pitchers duel against Tony Peeples at this year’s Portland Rose Cup. The two (Anderson and Peeples) will now be teammates for the weekend. Anderson came into the spotlight in the 2002 NAFA World Series at Salem, Oregon, when he tossed a perfect game. Peeples was recently named to the All Tourney team for this year’s Portland DeMarini Rose Cup tournament, posting a 0.70 ERA in 20 innings pitched, with a Gagnesque 37 strikeouts and only 2 walks. “Peeps” took a hard line drive off his arm at “Boys of Summer” a couple weeks ago, but appears to be OK. Team Rainey also had two other players make the Rose Cup All Tourney team, Mike Butler and Jason Porto. Butler had three home runs, including two in the upset win over Victoria Travellers Inn in the quarterfinals, while Jason Porto was a one-man wrecking crew with 9 hits, a .476 batting avergage, including a homer, double, and 5 RBI.

Their pool play schedule on Saturday, July 24 pits them against the (new) #1 ranked team in the world, County Materials, WI, #2 The Farm Tavern, WI, and #9 Houston H.I.S. Construction. Team Rainey faced County Materials at the Boys of Summer tournament, facing the legendary Darren Zack. County topped former #1 Broken Bow recently in the Casino Ramo tournament in Ontario Canada. Houston was the team that knocked Team Rainey out of the World Tournament last year, though Team Rainey has already beaten them in 2004, as well as notching wins against other higher ranked teams including Victoria Travellers Inn and Midland Michigan. Click the title of this story above to visit the Team Rainey website for game times and results of their games, or just click here:

North by Northwest

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Portland De Marini Rose Cup Tournament Brings out the Best Teams West of the Rockies

When you talk about the best fastpitch teams and tournaments west of the Rockies, all eyes turn North by Northwest. The Pacific Northwest, that is, and in recent years, to the Portland DeMarini Rose Cup tournament. The 2004 Rose year’s tournament was held on June 26-27, 2004, under picture perfect Portland sunny summer skies, hosting fourteen teams, including three of the top 10 teams in the world (Broken Bow Spirit, Victoria BC and Vancouver BC) and two more in the top 20 (Team Rainey, and Portland’s own DeMarini Merchant team.) Broken Bow NY, the defending ISC World Champions came away the winner, adding another tournament title to the one they won last month at Red Rock in St. George Utah. (As covered in the July 2004 issue of Softball Magazine)

In fastpitch’s earlier heyday, the Rose Cup tournament was a fixture, but had gone by the boards, like so many others. But thanks to energetic organization by Tom Ree and his staff of volunteers and support of the City of Portland Parks and Recreation Department and local community, the tournament was revived starting in 2001 and has quickly become a team and fan favorite. The tournament is designated as an official “Rose Festival” event, part of the month-long festivities of all kinds going on in Portland. Teams are housed in local hotels in the Jantzen Beach area, at the north end of Portland, just a stones throw from the Columbia River that separates Portland Oregon from Vancouver Washington. Local restaurant and tournament sponsor Damon’s joined in the fun by hosting a player buffet on Friday and Saturday night, as they did last year. The “Rotunda” as some player call it serves as a gathering place throughout the day, for teams to unwind after a game, or share stories while they wait for their next.

But above all, it is top flite men’s fastpitch played in a top notch facility, Delta Park that is the biggest draw for these highly competitive teams, who now earmark the last weekend in June for Rose Cup a “can’t miss” event. The games are played at Delta Park, a five diamond complex set up “wagon-wheel” style, with a large rotunda shaped concession building complete with air conditioning, restaurant style seating, TV’s, plenty of food and of course, everyone’s’ favorite beverage. The “Rotunda” as some of the players call it, serves as a gathering place where teams unwind after a game or get ready for the next, while chatting it up with teams from other cities and states. For the second year in a row, the #1 ranked team and defending ISC World champions made the trek to the Portland Rose Cup.

While the majority of the top ranked men’s fastpitch teams in the world hail from east of the Rockies, there is a solid, and growing group playing fastpitch in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and meet up in the Rose Cup tournament. Victoria Travellers Inn and the Vancouver Grey Sox, both of British Columbia are familiar rivals, as are the Rose Cup host team, the Portland DeMarini Merchants. Last year’s NAFA AA champions have reformed as Morgan Transfer of Olympia WA and give the Norwest region four nationally ranked open level teams. All four compete in the “Norwest League” generally recognized as the strongest men’s league out west. British Columbia also has two other upper level teams in Linus Software Stealers of Richmond and Meraloma of Vancouver. Add to that Bodle Chiropractic of Washington and CR/Adidas of Portland Oregon, and you have 8 of the best men’s fastpitch teams all within driving distance of each other, and a great nucleus for the field of teams in the Rose Cup tournament, and good drawing power to teams outside the region, like those in California, Utah and New York that made the trip in 2004. For the first time this year, selected games (six in all) were broadcast live on the internet to a worldwide listening audience, by Jim Flanagan of

The Tournament

The Broken Bow Spirit of Amsterdam NY captured the 2004 Portland DeMarini Rose Cup championship with a 6-0 win in the title game over Team Rainey of Whittier, California on July 27, 2004 at Delta Park in Portland Oregon. It marked the second time in two years that the defending ISC World Champions had won the Rose Cup title (St. Joe’s Frontier Casino Players doing it last year). Broken Bow finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record, scoring 35 runs, while surrendering only 4.

8-0 win over Vancouver Grey Sox BC

3-1 win over Morgan Transfer WA

4-1 win over Team Rainey CA

8-0 win over Morgan Transfer WA (quarterfinal)

12-2 win over Portland DeMarini OR (semi-final)

6-0 win over Team Rainey CA (championship)

Frank Cox was the winning pitcher in the championship game as the Spirit finished the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record. Broken Bow started the day as one of two #1 pool play seeds, earning a first round bye, defeated Morgan Transfer of Olympia WA 8-0 in the quarterfinals, followed by a 13-2 mercy rule win over host Portland DeMarini in the semis, to put them into the championship game.

For Team Rainey, it was the second year in a row that they reached the championship game, and the second year that they found themselves facing the defending ISC World Champions and #1 team in the world in the finals. (Last year, it was St. Joe’s Frontier Casino Players) Team Rainey reached the finals this year with a 2-0 win over the Fullerton Leafs in a 9am opening round game, behind the pitching of Tony Peeples, followed by a quarterfinal win over #6 ranked Victoria Travellers Inn, 10-2, with Travis Price picking up the win. Rainey brought out the big bats in that one, as Chris Wright, Nate Devine and Mike Butler all homered, Butler hitting two, his second and third home runs on the tournament. Tony Peeples struck out 11 in the semis against Castlewood, as Rainey defeated the Utah team and advanced to the final. Peeples was named to the All Tournament team with a 0.70 ERA in 20 innings pitched, striking out a Gagnesque 37 batters while walking two. Rainey teammates Mike Butler and Jason Porto earned All Tourney honors as well. Porto had 9 hits, hit .476, while driving in 5 with a homer and two doubles, while Mike Butler turned heads with his three home run performance, two of them coming in their upset win over Victoria that catapulted them into the semifinals. Rainey’s victory over #6 ranked Victoria was one of two upsets on the day, with another California team, the River City Rockers providing the other, with a 7-6 win over #10 ranked Vancouver Grey Sox. Vancouver’s last inning rally of double, double, homer came up just short, resulting in an early exit for the top two Canadian teams.

Ryan Wolfe of the Broken Bow Spirit was named the Most Valuable Player of the Rose Cup tournament, creating havoc from the leadoff spot all weekend long, and playing some great defense in centerfield. Wolfe led all hitters in the tournament with 10 hits, posting a batting average of .476, scored 7 runs and stole 4 bases. In the championship game, Wolfe had 2 hits, stole 2 bases, scored two runs, and ran through the portable fencing to take a home run away from Rainey’s Nate Devine.

Broken Bow’s Gerald Muizelaar was the Most Valuable pitcher, picking up two wins Sunday to go with two he had on Saturday. Broken Bow teammates Darren Box and Jody Eidt joined Wolfe and Muizelaar on the All Tourney Squad. Box hit .353 with 6 hits and 6 RBI, while Eidt hit .368 with 7 hits, 4 RBI and 6 runs scored.

Host Portland DeMarini and Castlewood Utah tied for third, reaching the final four. Hometown favorite Rob Gehrke went deep twice in the tournament, earning All Tourney honors along with teammate Larry Ybarra. Castlewood pitcher Steve Black and Chris Hathaway were also named to the All Tourney team. Host Portland DeMarini had struggled earlier in the season appeared to be regaining its 2003 form which saw them in the “Sweet Sixteen” of the ISC World Tournament. For Castlewood Utah, which plays at the “ISC-II” (intermediate) level, it was the second major tournament of 2004 where they finished in the Final Four, very impressive when considering the field of teams they were competing against.

DeMarini Classic

In addition to the 14 Rose Cup teams, there were also 8 intermediate level teams in town, playing in the “DeMarini” Classic, also at Delta Park. The Boise Clippers from Idaho topped JRW & Associates of Yakima WA, 7-4 to win the DeMarini title. Boise pitcher John Clark was 6-0, earning MVPitcher honors, while teammate Mike Lehman, Boise’s first baseman was named the tournament’s MVP.

Two That Had the Fans Talking

Two pitchers at this year’s Rose Cup tournament had the fans talking. The first was Collin McKenzie, the hard throwing right-hander for Victoria Travellers Inn. Collin has already notched a NAFA AAA World Series title, while pitching for Fineline Painting. But at this year’s Rose Cup, he did something else remarkable, throwing not one but two perfect games, striking out 26 batters along the way.

Another pitcher who turned heads was Robin Freels, who threw for Paole’s, a local Portland team which competed in the DeMarini (intermediate level) tournament. Robin’s appearance in the tournament was noteworthy, because she was the only female player in the otherwise all male tournament. (Shades of Anika Sorenstam) Like Anika, Robin silenced the critics, performing admirably in the tournament, pitching from men’s regulation distance of 46’ instead of the 43 feet that she pitches for at college back east. While a few didn’t seem to like the idea (the one that struck out, perhaps), she was generally well received by other players in the tournament. At the end of the day, she answered the “can she compete” question with a resounding “yes”, and that is all anyone can ask.

Judging from the comments heard ‘round the fields over the weekend, the Portland Demarini Rose Cup tournament is alive and well, and players and fans alike will be making plans to be in Portland for the 2005 edition of the Rose Cup Tournament..

New Home for Best of the West

Tuesday, July 6th, 2004

Quick bit of trivia — What is the longest running men’s fastpitch tournament in Southern California? Answer: “Best of the West”, now in its 14th year. The tournament was started in 1991, by longtime fastpitch sponsor, Allan Ruegsegger, then of the Long Beach Painters. The first tournament was held at Joe Rodgers Field in Long Beach, former home of the famed Long Beach Nitehawks. Peter Meredith and his Larry Miller Toyota team came down from Salt Lake City that first year, to take on the host Painters and other teams, including the editor’s team, the Vista Bombers. It was called the “Best of the West” Shootout that first year (still have the T-shirt from that one). In recent years, through ups and downs, and several different locations, the tournament has survived, mostly through the efforts of one man, David Blackburn, ISC Streaming Audio maven and fastpitch pitcher. This year David faced a special challenge, when he lost the Soboba Sports Complex to a wedding at the last minute and had to scramble to find a replacement. Thankfully, David succeeded, releasing the following announcement the other day:

“Much thanks to Sam Goepp of the Valley Wide Recreation & Parks District for coming through with the facility at Winchester Park Softball Complex, at the very last minute” stated Tournament Director Dave Blackburn. “Without Sam’s cooperation and understanding, the Tournament was temporarily in jeopardy, when we lost access top the Soboba Sports Complex on Saturday July 31, due to a private wedding. I am happy to be holding the 14th Best of The West Tournament at this excellent new 3 field complex at Winchester Park”.

Team Rainey will be attempting a “three-peat” in this year’s event, having won the tournament in 2002 and 2003.

For more information on this year’s Best of the West, click here.