Archive for Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Softball Tourney a success for Lawrence

Hummers, Phenix Fyler come away with fifth-place finishes

July 27, 2005

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The American Fastpitch Assn. National "B" Tournament came to a dramatic end Sunday at Clinton Lake Sports Complex.

Each age division in the tournament crowned a champion after more than 300 games by upwards of 100 teams from around North America.

"It was a tremendous tournament," said Ed Kimminau, tournament director. "I'm going to do everything I can to get it back here next year."

Teams from as far away as Hawaii and Manitoba, Canada, descended on Lawrence for the week long event, held here for the third year in a row.

All week the streets were full of cars with team names and slogans scrawled on the windows and groups of girls in brightly colored jerseys discovering the town.

The Mid-Missouri Richochet won the 14-U division, defeating the Missouri Intensity, 2-0, in the final game. The Heartbreakers won the 16-U division and the Southwest Hammers took the 18-U division.

Members of the 16-U phenix fyler team pose with their fifth-place trophy Saturday night at Clinton Lake Sports Complex. The Phenix were eliminated by the Lightning from Church Hill, Md.

Members of the 16-U phenix fyler team pose with their fifth-place trophy Saturday night at Clinton Lake Sports Complex. The Phenix were eliminated by the Lightning from Church Hill, Md.

Kimminau said the city itself has much to do with the tournament's continued success.

"There's a reason this is in Lawrence," he said. "I hear from a lot of participants how unique this city is."

Massachusetts Street alone has won over a lot of people who are appreciative of the diverse stores and restaurants, a unique thing in this day and age where chain establishments have become the norm in many towns across the country.

The event is a coordinated effort between the city and tournament organizers. The city of Lawrence and the Department of Parks and Recreation are instrumental in taking care of the details necessary for the tournament like maintaining the fields throughout the week.

"To make it very simple, that's why the tournament's here. Because of what Parks and Rec and the Chamber of Commerce does," Kimminau said.

In fact, according to Kimminau, the national board of the American Fastpitch Assn. recommends to teams like the Kauai Kine from Hawaii that they come to this tournament because it has received such rave reviews over the last couple years.

The presence of the Kine, and that of teams from Maryland, Manitoba, San Antonio and other far-off places, in turn makes the event that much more exciting for participants and spectators.

"It just added to this tournament, from the Canadian national anthem to the input from the Hawaiian team," Kimminau said.

The players participated despite some uncooperative weather last week.

Rain canceled tournament games Tuesday, and on the other days the temperatures often topped 100 degrees.

In addition to the games, the week included a skills competition where players took part in events like the Home Run Derby and the Cut-off Relay.

The double elimination tournament featured six teams from Lawrence. The 18-U Phenix T and the 18-U Phenix Riling team were both eliminated Friday.

The 14-U Phenix Rusk team lasted until Saturday when it was defeated, 1-0, by the Trojanettes.

The 14-U team coached by Bill Finucane went 2-2 in bracket play, and was eliminated Saturday by the OK Caution, 11-3.

The Lawrence Hummers finished in fith place overall in the 18-U division, losing a 7-6 thriller to the Paola Explosion on Saturday.

Randy Fyler's 16-U Phenix team also had an impressive run, taking fifth place in their age group.

They were finally eliminated, 6-3, by the Lightning from Church Hill, Md., on Saturday.

Fyler said momentum is crucial in a tournament like this and that his team came together at the right time after losing a couple players to injury.

"You get a little bit of confidence in the people there and what you are doing," he said. "It kind of builds on itself."

The week featured a number of one-run games and teams were generally evenly matched.

"I haven't seen any weak teams here," said Neil Brannon, who made the trip to Lawrence from Arkoma, Okla., to watch his granddaughter Benson, who plays for the Lady Lightning.

And, win or lose, playing in a tournament like this is, above all, about taking part in the excitement of the event, being in a new place and meeting new people.

"The interaction between the teams at this type of thing is incredible," Kimminau said.

"It's something these kids are going to remember forever."

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