LEAGUE CITY, TX – According to National Program Director Bert Fun Frederick, the USSSA Hispanic World Tournament is a celebration of the Latino culture. It is held on the closest weekend to Dies y Seis de Septiembre, which is the day Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1810.
This year, 80 predominantly Hispanic teams from as far away as Ogden, Utah; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Los Angeles, California converged on the Big League Dreams complex in the Houston suburb of League City, Texas for the big event, which was held Sept. 11-13.
The largest division was Men’s Recreation, which featured a 55-team bracket. Jokers/GKI Travel from Ft. Worth, TX went undefeated through seven games to capture the World Championship. The Jokers opened with an 11-5 win over High Voltage from Corpus Christi, TX, and followed that with wins over Dream Team from Walnut, California (8-5), Texas Scorpions from Houston (13-10) and Aftermath from Houston (10-4) to advance to the semi-finals of the winner’s bracket. Next, the Jokers beat one of the pre-tournament favorites, American Gunite from El Monte, California (16-6) to advance to the king seat game, where they beat Team Mexicanos from San Antonio (13-6). That put the Jokers in the championship game against Park Bums from Sylmar, California. Jokers/GKI Travel settled the issue in five innings with an 18-8 run-rule championship win.
“This World Championship is the culmination of many years of hard work put in by these guys,” said Pete Puente, manager of Jokers/GKI Travel. “We are very proud to bring this honor back to North Texas.”
Henry Hernandez of Jokers/GKI Travel was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the division. Others Jokers named to the All-World Tournament team were Corie Waldrep, Luciano Castaneda, Edward Sanchez, Joseph Urrutia and Victor Guadalupe. Other players contributing to the championship effort were Robert Avalos, Andy Bass, Justin Cloud, Russell Graves, J.D. Handley, Mark Patino, David Rios, Michael Rios, David Salas and Eric Salas.
Second place in the Men’s Recreation division went to the Park Bums from Sylmar, California. After winning their first two games, the Park Bums were sent to the loser’s bracket by SoCal rival American Gunite (16-14). Park Bums and American Gunite play in the same league together at a Big League Dreams complex in Southern California. After dropping to the loser’s bracket, Park Bums reeled off consecutive wins over Bohika from Ft. Worth (23-8), Dirty Habits from Edinburg, Texas (20-3), Chicano Bulls from South El Monte, California (8-4), American Gunite in a re-match (17-11), Punisher Softball from Humble, Texas (7-0) and Team Mexicanos from San Antonio (14-3) to reach the championship game. Park Bums ran out of gas against Jokers/GKI Travel and settled for World Runnerup honors with a 9-2 record.
Sean Munoz of Park Bums was named Outstanding Defensive Player of the division. Teammates named to the All-World Tournament team were Fernando Calderon, George Garcia, Rene Rosete and Juan Carlos Sepulveda.
Team Mexicanos from San Antonio finished in third place with a 4-2 record; Punisher Softball from Humble, Texas came in fourth place at 5-2; Dream Team and American Gunite, a pair of Southern California teams, tied for fifth place; and the T-Baggers from Houston and Chicano Bulls from SoCal tied for seventh place. The rest of the Top 10 included Ruthless Ink/Los Curenos from Allen, Texas, Aftermath from Houston, LMB from Austin, Texas and Dirty Habits from Edinburg, Texas tied for ninth place.
Other players named to the All-World Tournament team were Hector Iruegas, Rudy Molina and John Brown of Team Mexicanos, and Mike Escamilla and Alfonso Garcia of Punisher Softball.
The most exciting finish of the weekend came in the Men’s Competitive division, which featured 13 teams. Rios Sports Bar/Pizzini Sports from Corpus Christi, Texas won their first three games to advance to the championship game undefeated, where they met Slapaho from nearby Dickinson, Texas who emerged from the loser’s bracket. Rios/Pizzini had narrowly defeated Slapaho (16-14) in the winner’s bracket finals. The championship game was another close game that went into extra innings, until Marcello Gonzales hit a solo walk-off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Rios/Pizzini a 16-15 victory.
Rios/Pizzini won the tournament with a 4-0 record, while Slapaho finished second at 4-2. Sandoval Trucking from San Benito, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley came in third place with a 4-2 record and Team Steel from Corpus Christi finished fourth at 3-2. Olmito Heat, also from the Rio Grande Valley, and MJ
Trucking from San Antonio tied for fifth place, while Zamora’s All-Out Sports and Mares/AYS/TI Sports – a pair of Houston teams – tied for seventh.
Paulie Maldonado of Rios/Pizzini was named winner of the Andy Lujan Most Valuable Player Award. Juan Renteria, also of Rios/Pizzini, was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Division, while Manuel Galvan of Slapaho was named the Outstanding Defensive Player.
Other players named the All-World Tournament team in the Men’s Competitive division were Doug Waindel, L.C. Watson, Lucio Govea, Jose Lopez and Marcello Gonzales, of Rios/Pizzini; J.T. Mark, Ryan Vanlandigham, Chris Jones and Rob Strickland, of Slapaho; Rick Pena, Lupe Garcia and John Rendan of Sandoval Trucking; and Roland Salazar, Leo Medina and Chon Guajardo, of Team Steel.
The were 12 teams in the Women’s Division, which included three Competitive teams and nine Recreation teams. When Competitive teams played Recreation teams head-to-head, the Competitive teams were required to spot their opponent five runs. Steel Unknowns from San Antonio went undefeated through four games to win the World Championship. The Alamo City team defeated Static from Austin, Texas (21-5), Too-Legit from Las Cruces, New Mexico (24-14) and Lady Oops from Houston (3-2) to reach the championship game, where they defeated Lady Oops again (12-1) to claim the crown. Team Toxic from Edinburg, Texas went 5-2 to finish in third place. They were the highest finishing Women’s Recreation team in the bracket. In their only other tournament of the year, the Women’s E team went 0-2 in a trip to the same Big League Dreams complex about a month prior to the Hispanic World. The team made vast improvements before their trip to Worlds. When presented with the third place trophy, Team Toxic manager Ory Flores was so overcome with joyous emotion, she broke down in tears.
Too-Legit finished fourth with a 2-2 record, while the Diamond Divas from McAllen, Texas and Fresh from Ogden, Utah tied for fifth place; and Static from and the San Antonio Aces tied for seventh place.
Jessica Sanchez of the Steel Unknowns was named Outstanding Offensive Player of the division, while Ashley Verver of Lady Oops was named the Outstanding Defensive Player. Other members of the All-World Tournament team were Bonnie Sosa, Santa Castro, Gina Perez and Hortencia Cabrera, of Steel Unknowns; Maria Trimm, Angela Aguilar, Yvonne Garcia and JonRhea Garcia, of Lady Oops; Adriana Carr, Cecilia Garcia and Vicky Moya, of Team Toxic; and Jessica Apodaca and Selina Portillo, of Too-Legit.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World's Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!