Slapaho slays ‘Goliath’ at STX State Finals of WORTH Lone Star Shootout Series

LEAGUE CITY – David would have been considered a heavy favorite over Goliath in their Biblical battle, compared to the odds Slapaho was facing in the Men’s C Division of the WORTH Lone Star Shootout State Championship Series South Texas State Finals.

But the results were just the same.

The WORTH Lone Star Shootout State Championship Series is the most popular adult slowpitch event in Texas. Qualifiers are held throughout the Lone Star State, leading up to the State Finals. This year, for the first time ever, two separate State Finals were held – one in North Texas and one in South Texas. The first place teams in each division at those events will meet Aug. 22 to determine the winner of the coveted Super Bowl-style state champion rings.

South Texas champions were determined at the STX State Finals, held July 4-5 and July 11-12 at Big League Dreams in League City, although any qualified team was allowed to enter regardless of their hometown.

Twenty-two teams were entered in the Men’s C Division, which included all the top teams from South Texas plus a couple of good ones from Louisiana. Slapaho, from nearby Dickinson, could hardly have been considered one of those top teams.

Heading into the State Finals, the scrappy bunch had a sub-par 11-17 record on the season. If anything, manager Jonathan Rodriguez probably deserved a medal for keeping the team together as long as he had. Losing was taking its toll, and with no solid sponsorship behind the team, players were begin¬ning to defect to other teams. Rodriguez tried combining his remaining troops with another upstart C team, but was turned down due to lack of interest. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to be a part of Slapaho anymore. On the day prior to the State Finals, Rodriguez had to add three players from D teams just to have enough to fill out a lineup card.

If those factors weren’t enough, Slapaho had a tough draw as their first opponent was the SA Hitmen/DPS/Worth from San Antonio, who had finished runnerup to Color Station at the North Texas Shootout State Finals just two weeks earlier. But Slapaho set the tone for the weekend by posting a 13-1 spanking on the SA Hitmen. Next, Slapaho snuck by Fidelity Medical from Spring (13-12), before scoring another huge upset by defeating their hometown rivals Bud Crew from Dickinson (16-7).

That win put Slapaho in the King Seat game against the LA Strokers from Lafayette, La., who had already defeated Slapaho earlier in the 2009 season. But the team with the politically incorrect name continued surprising everyone by scoring a 12-1 win over the LA Strokers to advance to the championship.

The LA Strokers dropped to the loser’s bracket and knocked off Texas Rampage (8-7) to get another shot at Slapaho. Despite Slapaho’s success on the weekend, a double-dipping by the LA Strokers did not seem too far-fetched. The championship game was close throughout, but Slapaho held on for a 12-10 win to capture the crown with a perfect 5-0 record.

The LA Strokers, who are somehow classified as a Men’s D team in their home state of Louisiana, settled for the STX State Runnerup trophy in the Men’s C Division. Texas Rampage from Houston was almost as much of a Cinderella story as Slapaho, before the clock finally struck midnight on them and they finished third with a 5-2 record. Bud Crew came in fourth place, while Elite Softball from Dickinson and Olmito Heat from the Rio Grande Valley tied for fifth, and Straight Shot from Conroe and AYS from Houston tied for seventh. The rest of the top 10 consisted of Fidelity Medical from Spring, Lackland Warhawks from San Antonio, West Coastal from Houston, and SA Hitmen from San Antonio all tied for ninth place.

Pitcher Mike Christianson, who has been with Slapaho since the team was founded in 2007 and stuck with Rodriguez through the good times and bad, was named Most Valuable Player of the Men’s C Division. His pitching made a huge differ-ence for Slapaho during the tournament. Eloy Cornejo of the LA Strokers was named the Gold Glove winner. The rest of the All-State team consisted of Ryan Vanlandingham, Albert Trevino, Jr., Jared Rodriguez and Jonathan Rodriguez, of Slapaho; Jonathan Doucet, Kyle Broussard and Woody Goodly, of the LA Strokers; Terald Robinson, Carl Randle and Lewis Manning, of Texas Rampage; and Steven Diaz and Gilbert Villarreal, of Bud Crew.

The highest division at the South Texas State Finals was Men’s B. Texas Miken from Houston went undefeated through four games to win the crown and, since there were no B teams in North Texas this year, sponsor Brian Lawson’s team automati¬cally captured the state championship.

Texas Miken posted consecutive wins over Meridian from Houston (10-6), Team Crush from Spring (15-3) and FNS/DPS from San Antonio (14-14) to advance to the championship game, where they beat FNS/DPS in another close one (14-12) to claim the crown.

Manager Felix Santos of FNS/DPS has worked hard all season to find the right chemistry on his club, and seemed to come up with the right formula in the runnerup finish at the State Finals. Meridian from Houston, winner of the League City B/C N.I.T., came in third place, while Team Crush finished fourth. Corbell from Pearland and the Fighting Cocks from Houston were among the pre-tourney favorites, but both struggled and finished tied for fifth.

Pitcher Rodney Fail of Texas Miken was named Most Valuable Player of the division, while Richard “Flaco” Salazar, Jr. of FNS/DPS was the Gold Glove winner. Other members of the All-State team were Steve Hall, George Escobar, Chris Potts and Mark Dennis, of Texas Miken; Will O’Neal, Tuck Hinton and Cornelius Williams, of FNS/DPS; Mark Cerny, Vic Broussard and Jeff Januse, of Meridian; and Steve Neal and Cesar Barrera, of Team Crush.

Texas Threat from Houston has been one of the most consis¬tent D teams of the season in South Texas. Eight times the team has won at least four games in a tournament. Among the highlights were a first place finish in the Astros In Action Tournament and runnerup finishes at both the Budweiser Softball Festival and Crawfish Classic.

Texas Threat proved that consistency again at the Lone Star Shootout South Texas State Finals by going 6-0 to win the championship. Manager Jessie Gonzales’ team defeated H-Town Boyz from Houston (9-0), Tejas Softball Club from San Marcos (15-10), Craftmasters from Katy (16-1), La Fuerza from Garciasville in the Valley (16-12) and Texas Drillers from Channelview (14-12) to advance to the championship game.

Following the loss, Texas Drillers dropped to the loser’s bracket and snuck past Just Enuff from LaGrange (14-13) to get another shot at Texas Threat. In an exciting title bout, Texas Threat came up with clutch hits at the end and walked away with a 10-9 championship win to cap a perfect 6-0 weekend.

Manager Kenneth Hamilton’s Texas Drillers team, who came on strong late in the season after a slow start, settled for second place with a 6-2 record. Just Enuff was a late assembling team, playing just one tournament before the State Finals, but showed up when it counted and came in third with a 6-2 slate. La Fuerza has been the best D team in the Valley all year and represented at the State Finals to finish fourth with a 5-2 mark. LED Bulldogs from Spring and Craftmasters tied for fifth place; Low Lifes II from Spring and Third Coast from Texas City tied for seventh place; and Cobra Kai from Tomball, TKO from San Antonio, Dirt Monkeys from Houston and Injured Reserve from San Antonio all tied for ninth place in the 48-team bracket.

Jose Molina of Texas Threat was named Most Valuable Player of the division. The All-State team consisted of Pete Chavez, Javier Rodriguez, Jason Juarez and Chris Lopez, of Texas Threat; Charles Hagan, Chad Whitacre, Donald Davis and Bryan Statum, of Texas Drillers; Cesar Pena, of La Fuerza; and Chris Goodman and Zach Berry, of Just Enuff.

In the Men’s E Division, Los Clavos from Uvalde finished the year the same way it started – on top. Way back in January, Los Clavos won first place at the South Texas Winter World, which was also held at Big League Dreams in League City. The team had a solid regular season and came full circle by winning first place at the Lone Star Shootout South Texas State Finals.

Los Clavos opened the tournament with an 11-1 victory over Manny’s Electric from Harlingen, and followed that with wins over Texas Scorpions from Houston (12-2), Texas Trouble from Dallas (16-3), Rehab from Seguin (13-2) and So Tex Mulisha from Alice (12-0) to advance to the championship game, where they beat snuck past Texas Scorpions in a re-match (13-12) to win the crown with a perfect 6-0 record.

After their second round loss to Los Clavos, the Texas Scorpions rallied for seven wins in the loser’s bracket before losing to Los Clavos again and took home the runnerup trophy with an 8-2 record. So Tex Mulisha made it all the way to the winner’s bracket finals undefeated before running out of gas and settling for third place with a 4-2 record. Buckwild from Houston finished fourth in the 34-team bracket, while Texas Trouble and Rehab tied for fifth, and Texas Gunline from Nacogdoches and the Blowholes from Tomball tied for seventh.. The rest of the top 10 incuded Slaughterhouse from Corpus Christi, El Barrio from Harlingen, Buc’s from Houston and Texas Jam/Striaght Up from San Antonio all tied for ninth place.
Rick Hernandez of Los Clavos was named the Most Valuable Player of the division, while James Zaruba of Texas Scorpions was the Gold Glove winner. The rest of the All-State team included Rick Banda, Frank Lozoya and Felix Tamez, of Los Clavos; Mark Zaruba, Rene Rosete and Alex Zozaya, of Texas Scorpions; David Escobar, Eric Kubala and Jason Chapa, of So Tex Mulisha; and Jamie Sanchez and Trent Llewellyn, of Buckwild.

The Women’s Division featured 19 teams in a combined C/D bracket. To account for the discrepancy, C teams had to spot D teams three runs per game when they met – a fact that would eventually factor into the outcome of the tournament.

GCP2 from LaPorte went undefeated through five games to win first place. GCP2 defeated J.F.F. from Houston (11-9), Lookouts from Deer Park (19-12), Reloaded from Spring (13-3) and Don’t Hate from Houston (12-0) to advance to the cham¬pionship game. Lookouts, a C team that GCP2 beat by seven runs – four without the three-run spot – returned to face GCP2 in the championship game. GCP2 came away with a 9-6 victory, which indicates the teams were about even without the three-run spot.

Lookouts came in second place with a 6-2 record, followed by Don’t Hate in third at 4-2, and Lady Top Dog from Beaumont in fourth, also at 4-2. Reloaded from Spring and Lady Blue Jays from San Antonio tied for fifth place; Crush from Austin and J.F.F. from Houston tied for seventh; and Lackland Lady Warhawks from San Antonio, Lady Cardinals from Houston; Steel Unknowns from San Antonio; and High Frequency from Houston all tied for ninth place.

Heather Miller, the player/coach of GCP2, was named the Most Valuable Player of the division, while Jamie Ross of the Lookouts was the Gold Glove winner. The rest of the All-State team consisted of Emmylou Cabrera, Jamie Jensen, Tammy Bush and Angel Turney, of GCP2; Mya McRae, Becky Zalesnik and Gina Perez, of the Lookouts; Heather Kicklighter, Ashley Scroggins and Tabatha Elliott, of Don’t Hate; and Gwen Scott and Gaby Rivera, of Lady Top Dog.

In the Co-ed Division, the Sluggers from Houston emerged victorious from the nine-team bracket. The Sluggers opened the tournament by defeating the Hacks from San Antonio (13-11) and Rejects from Texas City (10-8) in a pair of close, two-run wins. In the finals of the winner’s bracket, the Sluggers were trounced by Half-Cocked from Tyler (22-11). The Sluggers dropped to the loser’s bracket and snuck past the Big Nasties from Houston (16-15) to advance to the championship. Needing two wins over Half-Cocked, the Sluggers won the first game, 13-5, then completed the sweep with a 10-8 win in a time-shortened second game.

Half-Cocked settled for second place, while the Big Nasties came in third, and TNS from San Antonio finished fourth. The Rejects from Texas City and Voodoo Softball from San Antonio tied for fifth.

Zach Galliher of the Sluggers was named Most Valuable Player of the division, while Damon Scoggin of Half-Cocked was the Gold Glove winner. The rest of the All-State team consisted of Charles Rodriguez, Manuel Galvan and Heather Kicklighter, of the Sluggers; Ricky Brown, Tyrone Fields, Chris Brown and Courtney Phillips, of Half-Cocked; Doug Waindel, Laura Jolley and Thomas Melvin, of the Big Nasties; and Richard Burley and Michael Jenkins, of TNS.

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