Teams from all over Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas got together to beat the heat and play under a full moon in the 5th annual Midnight Madness tourna¬ment hosted by Sneaky Cleats 99 from East Texas. The tournament, held at Lear Park in Longview, Texas on July 15th and 16th, hosted teams in age groups from 8-U to 14-U with the 8-U group being divided into coach pitch and modified pitch. “We do this tournament every year to raise money for the team. We use the funds to participate in national tournaments. This year we are trav¬eling to Bellevue, Nebraska to partici¬pate in the Cat Osterman Experience,” said head coach Cody Cisco. The action began on Friday night with pool play. In each age division, the teams got to play 2 or 3 pool games to get warmed-up and ready for bracket play the next night.
In addition to the regular softball games Friday night, the teams got to participate in pajama relay races and an around-the-horn competition. Usually, the players who win get a tournament t-shirt as a prize and this year was no exception. The pajama relays were a real hit with the teams, even the moms got involved in the competition. “We try to keep the tournament fun,” said Cisco, “we want the girls to have a good time and for it to be a positive experience.”
Saturday night began with bracket play and all of the girls were rested and ready for a long night of softball. There was good competition in each age group leading to lots of hits, great defensive plays and close games. Traveling the farthest to compete in the tournament was the Wylie Rockers from Abilene, Texas. They competed in the 8-U Coach pitch division. After watching them play, it was apparent why their team traveled 7 hours to play. “They were a pretty good little team”, said the umpire offi-ciating the game, “their 3rd baseman had the glove of an adult and could throw a straight shot to 1st base. Their second baseman was pretty good player, too.” The night went pretty well for the Rockers and around 3 AM was awarded the first place trophy after beating the Bomb Squad from Carthage, Texas, 13-5.
The 8-U Modified Pitch allowed teams to utilize their pitchers and using the coaches only when the pitcher threw ball four. After losing to Bad Company ’02 from Queen City, Texas earlier in the evening, Texas Swat from Sulphur Springs came back to beat Bad Company 9-5 in the championship game. In the 10-U age division, Bad Attitude, from Nacogdoches, dominated the winner’s bracket all the way to the end, winning the championship game 9-2 against the Marshall Madness from Marshall, Texas.
On the other side of the complex, the older girls were swinging bats and making plays in some exciting and competitive games. The 14-U games were dominated by the hot bats of the Louisiana Storm 97 from Bossier City. Throughout the weekend, they boasted high scoring games (in one game they scored 20 runs) and finished first in the tournament by beating the Razorbabez from Texarkana, Arkansas, 8-3.
The final game of the night (or morning) was the 12-U championship being played by the Foreman Fury from Arkansas and Sneaky Cleats 99 from Marshall, Texas. Earlier in the evening, Sneaky Cleats 99 had sent Foreman Fury to the losers bracket with an early loss of 3-0. Foreman Fury came battling back through the losers bracket to end up facing Sneaky Cleats 99 again, this time they were looking for the win. Unfortunately for them, they will again be denied. The Cleats got an early lead with quick bats and solid defense. They kept up the momentum throughout the entire game, winning in the end with a score of 9-2. Coach Cody Cisco was able to catch the end of their champi¬onship game. He said, “What makes it interesting for us, is that our coaches are all busy running the tournament so the parents of the girls had to coach the team. The girls seem to like it. It makes it fun for them.” And that was the theme for the whole tournament: Fun!
So, if your team is looking for a fun and competitive tournament that beats the heat of hot southern summers, then check out the Sneaky Cleats 99 Midnight Madness tournament for next year. It promises to be fun and competitive for teams of all ages.
By Cate Deramus
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!