Hanningtons wins Tournament of ChampionsBy Joe DeFelice
The Hanningtons of Massachusetts 70 and over softball team, sponsored by Canton Attorney Glen Hannington and managed by Canton Citizen columnist Joe DeFelice, was one of 85 teams from across the United States, Canada, and Japan that traveled to Lakeland, Florida, to compete in the 2012 Senior Softball Tournament of Champions. Only champions of all 19 senior softball USA’s regional, national, and world tournaments are invited. On Sunday, February 12, Hanningtons emerged from the 70+ AAA Division as winners of the 2012 Tournament of Champions.
Hanningtons got the tournament off to a great start by beating the Bucs & Bulls of Florida 16-8 and the Minnesota Masters 70’s 16-6.
In the semifinals of the winners’ bracket, Hanningtons had to come from behind, scoring four runs in the last of the seventh inning to beat the New Jersey Jaguars 14- 13. Bud Dodge delivered the key hit, a two-run triple, followed by a Peter Keville hit to win the nail-biting game.
Next were the finals of the winners’ bracket against the Long Island Jaguars 70 of New York. Hanningtons opened the game by scoring the maximum runs per inning of five, but by the last of the fifth inning, Hanningtons had fallen behind 15-10. In the sixth, keys hits by Tom Silvia, Lee Southworth, Don Murphy, Dick Ochampaugh, and Angie Scarcella narrowed the score to 15-14, but Long Island responded with two runs of its own to go up 17-14.
In the top of the seventh, Rene Vigneault led off with a single, followed by a double by DeFelice. Charlie Howe tripled to center, Don Swain doubled, and Dodge tripled, followed by singles by Billy Sayball, Southworth, and Scarcella, for seven big runs as Hanningtons surged ahead 21-17. In the last of the seventh inning, Long Island loaded the bases with no outs, but a line-drive out and a double play from first baseman Tom Silvia sealed the win for Hanningtons.
In the final game, Hanningtons rose to the occasion, posting a convincing 18-12 victory to secure the championship trophy. Hanningtons led from start to finish, showcasing a suffocating defense led by MVP shortstop Howe while pounding out 28 hits on offense.
The game featured superb hitting by Hanningtons, who belted out 13 straight hits for 10 quick runs in the first two innings. Dodge led the hit parade with two doubles, a triple, and a fence-clearing, 320-foot, two-run homerun. Seventy-two-year-old Billy “Bam Bam” Sayball had three hits, including a homerun estimated at 330 feet. Howe, Silvia, Scarcella, and Sheldon Ganz each had three hits.
For the tournament, Hanningtons went 6-0 and batted .630 as a team with three players hitting over .700, paced by Dodge, who hit a sizzling .889; Howe, who batted .737 and made some outstanding plays at shortstop, and Scarcella, who batted .733.
The all-tournament selections were Howe, Dodge, Sayball, Silvia, Southworth, and pitcher Vigneault, who did not walk a batter in all six games.
Hanningtons’ players each received a Tournament of Champions polo shirt and a specially designed gold ring, donated by the Jostens Ring Company of Minnesota, while Howe, the tournament MVP, received a special edition Miken gold bat.
Player-Manager DeFelice, who received the championship trophy, declared afterward:
“This was a team effort by many of the elite over-70 senior softball players from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. It is a tribute to these players that they make the commitment to stay in the kind of physical condition necessary to compete at the age 70 and over level. The players all come from years of competitive softball, and this Hannington team quickly gelled as a team to win the prestigious Tournament of Champions Championship. It was a once-in-a-lifetime tournament win.”
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