National 40-over softball players here
Two local squads in 22-team field
By Brooke Milam
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Decatur's Mac Kent said when he and some friends formed a 40-and-over slow pitch softball team for this summer, they already knew that the ultimate prize would be up for grabs not far from home.
He and his teammates had noticed months ago on the Internet that Decatur's Wilson Morgan Softball Complex would host the 2007 Amateur Softball Association Men's Masters 40 & Over Slow-Pitch National Championship, which began Friday night, followed by a full day of games Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. The finals are scheduled for Sunday at noon.
Decatur locals will have two teams of their own to cheer on. Kent's Patterson Trim team and Jones Fence.
"It makes a big difference when you have somebody there to watch you," Kent said.
Kent said the members of his team have loads of experience. Several players were members of the 1991 and '92 Spirit of America winning teams.
Several members of Jones Fence have played in national tournaments during the years, but the group specially formed for this event.
"Some of us had played together at some time or another in different age groups, but we've not all played together before," Dean Roberts of Jones Fence said.
"It being held in Decatur, that was the purpose of us all getting together. We'd like to make a good showing, but it's a national tournament, and it's not going to be just like going out there for a little pick-up tournament. People have come from all over to play in this."
The field includes teams from 14 states, five of them being Alabama-based teams — two from Decatur, and one each from Smiths Station, Birmingham and Arab. Also in the mix are teams from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, California and Oregon.
Kent said part of the fun of the tournament is getting to know the other teams participating.
"It's neat just to get to talk to the different people and hear the different ways people talk," Kent said.
But amid tents, picnics and socializing, Decatur Parks and Recreation coordinator Kelly Varnell said some high quality slow-pitch softball will be played.
"It's a prestigious tournament," Varnell said.
"For these teams, this is what would be expected to be the best of the best as far as 40-and-over for ASA. This is the highest level of competition for that division."
This is the first time that Wilson Morgan has hosted the ASA national tournament for the 40-and-over division, but Varnell said the facility has a proud tradition of hosting such events dating back to 1987. In addition to national tournaments, the complex also hosts a variety of other tournaments throughout the spring, summer and fall months.
"We've hosted, I'd say, over 25 tournaments like this on the national level," Varnell said.
"At least one a year and sometimes more."
Last year's 40-and-over Nationals was in Albany, Ga. Varnell said Wilson Morgan put in a winning bid for the championship in 2005 to host this year.
The defending champions, Team Worth 40 of Fort Pierce, Fla., is back, as is last year's runner-up Giant Steel of Lake Grove, N.Y.
"From everything I've seen so far — talking with the coaches and handling the registration — this is definitely going to be a good tournament to host," Varnell said. "It sounds like it's going to be a very strong field from what I've been hearing."
Softball at a glance
What: ASA Menís Masters 40 & Over Slow Pitch National Tournament.
Who: The field includes 22 teams representing 14 states, including two Decatur-based teams.
Where: Wilson Morgan Softball Complex.
When: Friday through Sunday.
Cost: Adult daily pass $7; Adult tournament pass $15; Youth daily pass $5; Youth tournament pass $10.
The locals at the nationals
Patterson Trim and Jones fence are Decatur-based teams competing in the 2007 ASA Men's Masters 40 & Over Slow-Pitch National Championship. Members of the teams are as follows:
Patterson Trim: Mac Kent, Darryl Patterson, Jim Rohr, Jimmy Crow, Jeff Chambers, Terry Chambers, Al Long, Jeff Reedus, Mark Hammon, Al Mayers, Johnny Cartee and Ted Holland.
Jones Fence: Dean Roberts, Ricky Roberts, John Wells, J.J. Traynom, Frank McClellan, Rusty Shedd, Wayne Wascavage, Chris Stanford, Jeff Smallwood, Dennis Stephenson, Allen Brown, Mike Murphy, Drew Hutchison, Terry Downs and Gerald Taylor.
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