Rob Potter | Democrat
The Fitness Factory team won all four of its games to earn the first place trophy at the Early Bird Tournament this weekend at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park in Mongaup Valley. In the front row, from left to right, are Des Gonzalez, Derwin Rivera, Alex Salazar, Morgan VanKeuren, Edwin Rodriguez and Shane Conner. Standing in the middle row, from left to right, are Doug VanKeuren, Xavier Cardona, Omar Rodriguez, Keith Shaddock, Jay Falasca and Denny Rivera. Standing in the back row, from left to right, are JoJo VanKeuren, Corey VanKeuren, Tim Ackermann, Julian Dawson, Dan Gallo and Dez Williams. Missing from photo are team members Aaron Dinkel, Mike Mann, Serafin Rodriguez and Mike Weiner.
Fitness Factory wins the 2011 Collins Park Early Bird Tourney
By Rob Potter
MONGAUP VALLEY The Fitness Factory softball team emerged as the champions of the 2011 Early Bird Tournament at Edward M. Collins Memorial Park.
But Fitness Factory and the 11 other teams in the tourney had to battle each other as well as a myriad of weather conditions in the event, which began on Friday night at Collins Park in Mongaup Valley. Due to the cold temperatures, rain, gusty winds, and field conditions, Saturday and Sunday games were held at both Collins Park and the Swan Lake Fire Department’s Max Eronimous Firefighters’ Field.
Late Sunday evening at Collins Park, Fitness Factory defeated the defending tournament champions, the Black Indians, 10-5, in the title game. If the Black Indians had prevailed and given Fitness Factory its first loss of the double-elimination tournament, the two teams would have played each again.
Fitness Factory, sponsored by The Fitness Factory Health Club in Monticello, went 4-0 in the tournament. Pitcher JoJo VanKeuren earned all four of those wins and was named the tournament MVP.
On Saturday morning, Fitness Factory topped Darder’s Stone Works, 9-5. On Sunday morning, Fitness Factory defeated Zubi’s Lawn Care of Matamoras, Pa. by the final score of 6-2 to reach the winner’s bracket final.
In the winner’s bracket final, Fitness Factory defeated the Black Indians, a team based in New York City whose members chose the team nio (Texas) Black Indians team from the Negro Leagues which played across the United States of America from the early to mid-1900s.
After the Black Indians edged Zubi’s Lawn Care, 12-11, in the loser’s bracket final on Sunday evening by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Fitness Factory and the Black Indians played again.
In the championship game, Fitness Factory jumped out to an early 5-0 lead. But the Black Indians quickly tied the score at 5-5.
Fitness Factory took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Shane Conner belted a two-run triple into the right field corner. Conner didn’t remain at third base for long however, because the next batter, Dan Gallo, tripled to center field.
Gallo then scored what turned out the final run of the game when Corey VanKeuren hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
“JoJo pitched four great games,” Fitness Factory Coach Edwin “Flaco” Rodriguez said. “We played good defense. On offense, everybody contributed and we got a lot of good hits.”
“Winning this tournament was a good way to start the season,” he added.
Rodriguez also praised the Black Indians for being “a good team.”
On their way to winning the 2010 Early Bird Tournament, the Black Indians defeated Fitness Factory, 28-27.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the tournament again,” Black Indians Player/Coach Rich Collado said. “Congratulations to Fitness Factory, they played very well. They got some key hits to win the game.”
During the awards ceremony, Tournament Director Dennis Dietrich thanked all of the teams, fans and volunteers for dealing with the weather conditions and making sure all of the scheduled games were played.
“We called in mutual aid from the Swan Lake and White Lake Fire Departments,” Dietrich said. “The tournament was a success.”
Members of the Swan Lake and White Lake Fire Departments helped the Smallwood-Mongaup Valley Fire Department, which owns and operates Collins Park, hold the tournament.
In addition to the previously mentioned teams, the eight other teams which participated in the tournament were Fat Boyz Deli of Monticello, Fort Apache of the Bronx, Homers of Port Jervis, Memphis Red Sox of New York City, Neversink, North Branch, Ratner of Liberty and Switch Inn of Middletown.