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SSWC Northern Championship set for May 16-18

    

By Dennis Johnson, SSUSA C/L MN State Director 

 

The softball season “hits off early” for 2008 with 40-and-over men’s and women’s teams invited to square off in the Masters division of the SSWC (Senior Softball World Championships) Northern Championship Tournament, May 16-18 in Rochester, Minn. They will join teams in the men’s 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+, 70+ and 75+ senior divisions to round out the tournament field. This is the second year this event is being held at the McQuillan Softball Complex.

New to the Minnesota softball community will be the opportunity for 40-and-over teams to compete in a SSWC Regional “Ring Tournament.” Dennis J. Johnson, SSUSA (Senior Softball USA – the association that puts on the SSWC) Clubs & Leagues Minnesota State Director, said nationally the 40-and-over SSUSA Program has shown steady growth with a remarkable surge these past 15 months.

“It was inevitable that we needed to introduce this program in the state of Minnesota this year,” Johnson said. Attributing to the surge in growth for the 40-and-over SSUSA Masters division is the unique game being played that differs from a traditional game and the ability to use bats approved per the 1.20 bpf standard.

According to Johnson, the difference in the game played, sanctioned by SSUSA, is that games are kept close and usually are not decided until entering the later innings. Teams do not get blown out, ending games early, so teams are almost nearly guaranteed to play a full game, every game. This, along with the five-game guarantee, makes the tournament more enjoyable and worth paying that big entry fee. 

Teams are limited to five runs per inning until the seventh inning, which is unlimited for runs to be scored. Many of the SSUSA Official Rules are friendly to a “team game.” An example of this includes the use of bench players/subs to run bases as there is a liberal free substitution rule for base runners per inning.

A separate scoring plate for base runners coming home that is treated as a force-out, reducing the risk of injury that can occur in a traditional attempt for a tag at home-plate.

A larger strike zone has been approved for use in 2008, giving a pitcher a little more area to work with and the batter being forced to swing to put the ball into play.

And, of course, players have recognized that SSUSA has “gone to bat” for them, allowing the use of the 1.20 bat standard, bringing back many of their favorite bats to the game.

SSUSA officials expect “their game” to grow in Minnesota once the teams get a chance to experience one of their tournaments. A 40-and-over Masters Division State Championship Tournament is planned for August 2008.

According to Johnson, 40-and-over teams more than likely will be added to the tournament schedule for the SSWC Moondance Lumberjack Classic Qualifier to be held on June 28-29 in Walker, Minn.

The Northern Championship Tournament has a lot to offer – an early start to the season, a berth in the Tournament of Champions in January in Florida, an opportunity for a “Ring Tournament” right out of the “batters box,” a new approach to the game of softball that keeps your team in the contest and at the ball park and a return to using all of your favorite 1.20 standard bats. What more can a team, or an individual player, expect or ask for?

  The Northern Championships is a “Ring Tournament” with a 5-Game Guarantee, pool play into Double Elimination or 3-Game-Guarantee Elimination Brackets. SSWC reserves the right to combine divisions of three or fewer teams within one age level and / or skill level.

For more information, please visit our website at www.seniorsoftball.com or contact Dennis J. Johnson, SSUSA C/L MN State Director, (h) 218 889-2376, (c) 218 821-0577, or e-mail to dennisjohnson@means.net.

While visiting the website, obtain a copy of the 1.20 Approved Bats List containing most all of your favorites. Exceptions include the original Miken Ultra (gray color) and all Titanium bats. The entry fee is $450 with the payment to be received by the registration deadline, May 2.