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2022 World Championships - Session 2 Brings Together Our Oldest Divisions Including the First-Ever 90+ Teams
Sept. 1, 2022
By Donna McGuire
Softball’s elder statesmen put on a Vegas-worthy show during Session 2 of the 2022 Senior Softball USA World Championships.
After the inaugural game between 90+ division teams warmed the hearts of many, 155 other teams age 65+ and older pursued bids for World titles, National titles and Triple Grand Slam honors at ballparks in the Las Vegas area.
Forty-six teams that played Sept. 19 through 22 featured players age 75 and older. Half of those played in the 80+, 85+ and 90+ divisions.
“It’s always good to see the increasing numbers of the most senior teams in the sport, including the 90s,” said Terry Hennessy, SSUSA’s chief executive officer. “We have very strong divisions in the 70s, 75s, 80s and 85s.”
No region of the country claimed superiority. Teams from 12 states won the 17 World Championship titles awarded during this session of play. Eastern, Northern, Midwestern, Southern and Western teams all triumphed.
Three teams earned the most coveted award: The Triple Grand Slam.
The 70+ Major New Jersey Hitmen (photo below) conquered the most difficult road of the three. After winning the Eastern Championships in July, they took on the Western Champion Animals of California for the USA title. The Hitmen won 16-13 at Big League Dreams. That victory earned them the top seed in a 15-team 70+ Platinum bracket, one of the larger brackets of Session 2.
The Hitmen beat everyone they played except for Timberworks, the tournament’s lone 70+ Major Plus team. Timberworks, based in California, had to win the bracket to win a Worlds title and Tournament of Champions bid. It did. As the top-finishing 70+ Major team, the Hitmen won Worlds, the TOC bid and the Slam.
The other two Slam winners earned titles in two-team brackets. Venom of Florida (photo below) repeated as 75+ Major Plus Triple Grand Slam champions by defeating Omen of California in the USA game. In the 75+ AA division, Triple Play of California won the Slam by defeating the Texas Knight Riders.
Three other teams won National Championships by defeating cross-country opponents in USA games.
In the 65+ Major USA game, the Oregon Crabs (photo below) edged Dan Smith/FAI/Dudley of North Carolina 13-12.
In the 65+ AA USA game, the Hudson Valley Cyclones of New York (photo below) defeated the Cascade Thunder of Oregon 11-4.
In the 75+ AAA USA game, the Northern Virginia Force (photo below) beat Al’s Sport Shop of California 17-14.
The Crabs, Cyclones and Force failed to win their World Championship divisions, which they needed to do to win the Slam.
World Championship winners earned berths to the Tournament of Champions scheduled for early February in Polk County, Florida.
Results by division:
65+ AA: Fourth-seeded Bat Attitude of Utah won seven games and lost none in a 17-team bracket. They led the championship game 17-15 after four innings before pulling away for a 22-15 victory over Los Vatos Viejos 65s II of Arizona. Godzilla of California finished third.
65+ AAA: Deep Purple of Massachusetts showed off a deep hitting lineup in going undefeated as the third seed in a 28-team bracket. In three of its seven games, Deep Purple never trailed. It barely trailed in the others. Deep Purple prevented the top-seeded Gamers from winning a Slam by beating the Oregon team 20-7 in the bracket finals. Team 907 of Alaska placed third.
65+ Major: Ninth-seeded Samurai of California went 6-1 overall, including 5-0 in bracket play, to win the 18-team division. It won three of the bracket games by double digits before beating Dan Smith/FAI/Dudley 24-17 in the title game. That prevented Dan Smith from winning the Slam. Houston Fire of Texas finished third.
65+ Major Plus: Six teams vied for the division title won by unbeaten Texas Crush (photo below), which went 5-0 overall. Crush crushed Cal Energy, the Western champion, 26-9 in the finale. After losing its first bracket game, Cal Energy won three elimination games to reach the title bout. The KC Kids 65 of Missouri finished third.
70+ AA: The OKC Outlaws of Oklahoma pulled off a thrilling 21-19 victory in the “if” game against Burnette/Spikes of Washington by tagging out a runner at third base on a bang-bang play for the final out. Burnette won five elimination games in a row before nipping the Outlaws 25-24 in the first championship game, which featured nine lead changes. The top-seeded New Mexico Boomers finished third in the 10-team bracket.
70+ AAA: Fifth-seeded No Guts, No Glory of California (photo below) revenged a 16-10 loss in the first championship game with a 25-17 victory in the second game against Last Call of Nevada. No Guts never trailed in the finale. The Texas Rattlers finished third in the 20-team bracket.
70+ Platinum: This 15-team division had 14 Major teams and one Major Plus team, Timberworks, which won the title with a 22-7 victory over the New Jersey Hitmen. New Jersey finished as the Major champion and Triple Grand Slam winner. Via Citrus of Florida finished as the second-best Major team. The Scorpions from Arizona were third among the Majors.
75+ AA: Slam winners Triple Play of California (photo below) defeated the Texas Knight Riders in a best-of-three format 19-9 and 12-3.
75+ AAA: The fourth-seeded Chicago Strikers went 7-1 overall and defeated the Long Island Jaguars 20-15 in the championship game of the 14-team bracket. For health reasons, the schedule limited teams to two games a day by having them play four pool games to seed a single-elimination bracket. The two quarterfinal losers, Northern Virginia Force and Al’s Sports, tied for third.
75+ Major: This division needed two championship games to decide a winner, and both games ended with 22-12 scores. The third-seeded Sidewinders of Arizona claimed the title over the top-seeded Tri-State Diamondbacks of New Mexico by breaking open a close game in the fifth inning. SoCal Gusto finished third in the five-team bracket.
75+ Major Plus: Venom of Florida (photo below) knocked off Omen of California 19-14 and 22-9 in a best-of-three format.
80+ AAA: Teams played a full round robin to be seeded into final game match-ups. The top two seeds played for first, and the next two seeds played for third. Libby’s - Ethic of Wisconsin won all six pool games then never trailed in winning the championship game 14-3 over Gold Rush of California. The Scrap Iron Gray Berets Base Force of Colorado beat Git-R-Done Silver of California 12-7 for third place.
80+ Major: The seven entrants played a full-round robin to determine a champion. General Equipment of Oregon emerged unscathed, winning its games 21-15, 17-16, 19-7, 19-4, 21-4 and 13-4. The Sidewinders of Arizona finished second. The San Francisco Seals of California took third.
80+ Major Plus: In a best-of-three format, Florida Investment Properties defeated LOTA Softball 18-10 and 16-0.
85+ AAA: Second-seeded Team Rehabilitation of Minnesota defeated the Jaguars of California 8-5 in the championship game. Midwest Driving School of Kansas finished third in the three-team bracket.
85+ Major: In a best-of-three format, Center for Sight of Florida (photo below) lost the first game to the Top Gun Blue Angels 20-19 but rebounded to win the next two 13-7 and 11-10.
90+ Open: In the first-ever 90+ game in softball, the East team (photo left) beat the West team (photo right) 14-9 in a game called after five innings because players were tiring in the heat. Dick Anderson, 91, of Minnesota managed the East with help from Hugh Brotherton, 91, of Florida. Guy Anderson, 90, of California coached the West team.