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Plano, TX: Chicago Classic Red 50's traveled to Plano Texas to play in 50 & Over AAA Softball Players Association (SPA) National Softball Tournament on September 18th through 21st and came home with the national championship. The Chicago Fifties (1-2) was the only other Illinois team that participated in this tournament finishing in 9th place.
Chicago Classic Red 50's were led by the play of Gary Thorsen .880 who was named as the MVP of this tournament. Six other Chicago Classic Red 50's players were named to either the first or second team, All-National Tournament team for their play in this tournament. These players were, Bob Schulz .750, Terry Hoveseth .818, Cliff Noble .667, to the First Team All-Tournament team and Charlie Baumgartner .733, Ron Danoski .730, & Bud VanKlaveren .760, to the Second Team All-Tournament team.
Chicago Classic Red 50's opened the tournament with pool play and they were matched against the Dallas Devils in their first game. Ray Jenkins pitched a shutout as every starter contributed at least one hit in the first inning as the Chicago ball club jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead as they rolled to an easy 15-0 4 inning win by the mercy rule. VanKlaveren led the attack with three hits during this win.
In their second pool play game Chicago Classic Red 50's was matched with Senior Brothers from Houston, Texas and the Chicago ball club continued their hot hitting combine with a strong defense as they posted their second straight four inning win by the mercy rule 18-0. Once again Jenkins pitched another strong game for the victors as Danoski paced the attack with a three hit game. The defense of Chicago Classic Red 50's was also outstanding as they turned a number of double plays by the combination of Noble (SS) to Bob Kolvitz (2B) to Schulz (1B).
Chicago Classic Red 50's complete their pool play on Friday morning with a one run loss to Segura (from Louisiana) 10-9.
On Friday afternoon Chicago Classic Red 50's played a rematch with Segura in the championship tournament and showed everyone why they would be the team that would win the 2003 National Title as they destroyed the Louisiana ball club by the score of 25-9 and also gaining revenge for their lone loss in pool play. Chicago Classic Red 50's jumped out to the big lead early scoring twelve runs in the first two innings as the attack was led by Baumgartner, Thorsen, Danoski and Hoveseth who each contributing four hits during this win.
Next up for the Chicago Classic Red 50's was a game against the Alabama 50's. Chicago Classic Red 50's continued the offensive attack getting three hits each from Schulz, Larry Hall, Thorsen and Terry Hoveseth as the Illinois squad rolled to another four inning mercy rule win 15-0. Chicago Classic Red 50's defense also shined in this game as they turned a double play in each of the four innings that were played.
On Saturday evening Chicago Classic Red 50's met the top seeded team in this tournament, Arkansas. Chicago Classic Red 50's came to play and put on an awesome display of hitting scoring 28 runs in four innings wining again by the mercy rule 28-3. Baumgartner, Schulz, Randy Robarge, Danoski led the attack and Noble who all had four hits each during this win. Late on Saturday evening Chicago Classic Red 50's met the Fort Smith Steelers from Arkansas in the game between the last two unbeaten teams in the championship tournament. Chicago Classic Red 50's broke on top by scoring six runs in the top of the first inning before the Fort Smith Steelers answered with six run on their own in the bottom of the first inning. Chicago Classic Red 50's answered the challenge by posting an eleven on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning to take a commanding lead 17-6. From this point on Chicago Classic Red 50's used there outstanding team defense to keep the Fort Smith Steelers from ever having a chance of getting back into this game as the Chicago based ball club breezed to a 24-11 win to become the only undefeated team left in this tournament. Thorsen and Noble led the attack in this game for Chicago Classic Red 50's with four hits each during this win.
In the national championship game the Chicago Classic Red 50's were matched against the Texas Legends a team that had just won the losers bracket. Chicago Classic Red 50's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the Texas ball club tried to answer in their half of the first inning. The Texas Legends set the table in the bottom of the first inning only to be denied by Chicago Classic Red 50's who turned a key double play to snuff out the rally attempt. Chicago Classic Red 50's added three more run in the top of the second inning to open up a 5-0 lead. In the bottom of the second inning the Texans again were stopped by another Chicago Classic Red 50's inning ending double play. Chicago Classic Red 50's could now smell blood and they poured six more across the pay station in the top of the third inning to open up an 11-0 lead. The Texas ball club had a lead-of double to open the bottom of the third inning but Chicago Classic Red 50's defense stiffened and left him stranded. This took the last of the fight out of the Texas squad as Chicago Classic Red 50's pounded out fourteen more run in the top of the fourth inning to win by the four inning mercy rule 25-0 in the 2003 SPA National Softball Tournament championship game. Chicago Classic Red 50's were led in this game by the hitting of Baumgartner, Hall, Cox and Hoveseth who all contributed four hits each in this national title game of the SPA 50 & Over AAA National Tournament.
Chicago Classic Red 50's manager Bob Schultz said, "This Championship was a total team win. After our early offensive attacks succeeded our defense was strengthened by inserting Denny Just and Ray Jenkins to seal the wins. Our defensive confidence added to a relaxed approach to hitting. Our success came because we finally after two years together found the killer instinct which enabled us to finish off every opponent."
Chicago Classic Red 50's Win Their Second National Title In 2003
Mobile, AL: The Chicago Classics Red 50 & Over softball team traveled to Mobile, Alabama to play in the 50 & over Senior Softball USA World Tournament on October 23 through October 26. The
SSUSA World Tournament is the largest senior tournament played each year. The Chicago Classics Red team was hoping to keep their momentum going following their national title win in Plano, Texas six weeks ago in the Softball Players Association National Tournament and their second place finish three weeks ago in the LVSSA National Championship.
The seeding pool play started on Thursday with Chicago Classics Red facing a very tough Ursillo Insurance team from Rhode Island. The visitors Ursillo put up three runs in the first on the Chicago Classics Redís and again they scored three more runs in the second inning to build a 6-3 lead. Chicago Classics Red switched pitchers going to Ron Danoski in the third inning and held Ursillo to one run. Trailing by four runs, Chicago Classics Red tied the game in the bottom of the third by putting four runs across the pay station. Chicago Classics Red defense tightened in the fourth inning as they held Ursillo scoreless while Chicago Classics Red added four runs to take the lead. In the sixth inning, Ursillo scored five runs to take a one run lead before Chicago Classics Red answered with two runs to regain the lead by a single run. In the final inning the Chicago Classics Red defense once again held Ursillo scoreless to preserve the win. The hitting attack was lead by Terry Hoveseth, Bob Schulz and Larry Hall with three hits each.
In the second pool play game on Thursday Chicago Classics Red faced Metro Softball from Belleville, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. After allowing five runs in the first two innings again Chicago Classics Red switched to Danoski for their pitching chores and the defense tightened allowing only one run the rest of the way as they cruised to an easy 22-6 win. The attack in this game was led by Danoski with five hits as Schulz, Hall and Gary Thorsen each chipped in with four
The their third game of pool play on Friday Chicago Classics Red faced Stixx from San Jose, CA. Chicago Classics Red turned a 15-8 advantage into a runaway in the last inning when they put up nineteen runs to close out a 34-8 win. This game the attack was lead by Danoski and Denny Just with five hits each as Hoveseth, Schulz, Hall, Thorsen, Ray Jenkins and Cliff Noble collected four hits each during this win.
The fourth game of pool play on Friday Chicago Classics Red squared off against Jackson Merchants from Michigan. Chicago Classics Red made quick work of another good opponent by pushing five runs in each of the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to post another run rule
win by the score of 25-10. This win was aided by four hits each from Hoveseth, Thorsen and Bud
At the end of pool play there were only three undefeated teams left out of the eighteen teams that were entered in the 50's & Over tournament. The tie breaker rule, for fewest runs allowed gave Chicago Classics Red the number one seed and a bye in the first round.
On Saturday the double elimination play began with Chicago Classics Red played a rematch with Stixx. Chicago Classics Red took a quick 8-0 lead after three innings of play. Over the next three innings Chicago Classics Red could only put three more across while Stixx added eight to close to gap to only three runs going into the last inning of play. In the top of the seventh inning the Chicago Classics Red killer instinct put nine huge runs across the pay station as the defense put the locks on the preserve a 20-9 win.
On Saturday the second game Chicago Classics Red played another rematch game, this time their opponent was the Jackson Merchants. A determined Jackson team put nine runs across in the first three innings while Chicago Classics Red answered that with eleven runs of there own. Chicago Classics Red defense tightened allowing only one run in the next two innings as double plays were turned in by Noble and Bob Kolvitz to shut down rallies. In the sixth inning Jackson put on a charge by scoring five runs to make it a one run game but Chicago Classics Red answered with five runs of their own in the bottom to retain a six run lead going into the seventh. Once again Chicago Classics Red s defense rose to the occasion as the Jackson Merchants were sent to the losers bracket by a final score of 21-15. This game the attack was lead by Schulz and VanKlaveren with four hits each.
On Saturday the third game of the day with now only four teams remaining in the winners bracket matched KC WOV from Kansas City, Kansas against Chicago Classics Red . Chicago Classics Red batted first and built a 12-6 lead after 4 innings. KC shut down Chicago Classics Red in the top of the fifth and put up five runs of there own in the bottom of the fifth inning to make it a one run game going into the sixth inning. Both teams put up five run innings going into the seventh. In the top of the seventh Chicago Classics Red added three runs to give them a four run lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. KC was shut down in the bottom of the seventh inning to preserve a 20-16 win for Chicago Classics Red that put Chicago Classics Red into the finals of the winners bracket. Chicago Classics Red's attack was lead by Hall's five hits, and Just clutch double in the top of the sixth that cleared the bases scoring three runs.
On Saturday playing in their fourth game of the day a tired Chicago Classics Red faced the Road Dogs from Los Angeles for the final of the winners bracket. To gain the final of the winners bracket the Road Dogs knocked off a tough team Roberts Construction, the number two seed, from Madison, Wisconsin. The teams matched runs in the first and second innings to carry a tie game at six runs each into the third inning. Rain halted the game in the middle of the third inning but after an hour delay the game continued with Chicago Classics Red scoring five runs in the bottom of the third while limiting the Road Dogs to three runs in their half of the third to give Chicago Classics Red into a 11-9 lead. Rain continued and caused a slight delay but the advantage continued to grow as the Chicago based ball club held a 16-10 led after five innings of play. In the top of the sixth inning Road Dogs scored five runs to make it a two run game 17-15. In the bottom of the sixth Chicago Classics Red's first six batters stroked base hits that pushed four more runs across the dish. In the final inning Chicago Classics Red 's defense again closed out the game by allowing only one run to give Chicago Classics Red a 21-16 victory. The attack was lead by Hall, Thorsen and VanKlaveren with four hits each.
On Sunday the losers bracket was played out with the Road Dogs surviving to challenge Chicago
Classics Red for the national title . Chicago Classics Red charged into the lead after three innings as the defense was sharp by a score of 13-1. In the top of the fourth however the Road Dogs came to life with five runs before holding Chicago Classics Red scoreless in their half of the inning. In the top of the fifth inning the Road Dogs scored three more runs but Chicago Classics Red answered the call this time and posted five runs of their own on to the scoreboard. In the top of the sixth inning the Road Dogs again scored three more runs to close Chicago Classics Red's lead to 18-12 but again Chicago Classics Red responded by scoring five runs of their own. Chicago Classics Red sensing victory confidently took the field in the seventh inning with a 23-12 lead. The Road Dogs talking confidently but showing otherwise were held scoreless to give the Chicago Classic Red team the victory and the World Title. In the final game the attack was lead by Hoveseth and Noble with four hits each as Hall, Danoski, VanKlaveren and Tom Page each chipped in with three hits apiece.
Five of the seven stars of the tournament came from the Chicago team. Named from the Chicago team were Larry Hall, right center (.872), Gary Thorsen, left field (.848), Cliff Noble, shortstop (.786), Bob Schulz, 1st base (.778) and Ron Danoski, pitcher and catcher (.703).
Player/Coach Bob Schulz stated, "The Chicago Classics Red team had a tremendous year. With
two National Titles and being a finalist in a third out of the three championships we attended was
beyond our goals and dreams. Last year we played very well early but finished fourth at the
SSUSA World. This year we didn't start as strong but we all came together at the Worlds. In
each of the world tournaments in Plano, Texas, Las Vegas and Mobile, Alabama we had seven
hitters of .700 or better. Our infielders, Paul Cox, Cliff Noble, Bob Kolvitz, Bob Schulz, Ray
Jenkins and pitchers Terry Hoveseth and Ron Danoski helped to turn in excess of 20 double
plays in each tournament. The four games that we won by shutout in Texas is a mark we will
always be proud of. I plan to turn over the coaching duties to another player next year so I'm glad
we finished by winning the biggest senior tournament of the year. I've always tried to think team
first and players second and although my teams have usually been successful as a result I have
lost some friends along the way. I can't afford to lose any more friends."