Rob Potter | Democrat
Members of the Fitness Factory team and some of their youngest fans pose for a photo after the team won the annual White Sulphur Springs Fire Department Softball Tournament on Sunday afternoon at Gary A. Bradley Memorial Field at the White Sulphur Springs Firemen’s Park. In the front row, from left to right, are Alex Salazar, Lily Balmer, Morgan VanKeuren, Aaron Dinkel, Edwin “Flaco” Rodriguez, Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Fuller. In the back row, from left to right, are Xavier Cardona, Dan Gallo, Lamont Frink, JoJo VanKeuren, Mike Mann, Corey VanKeuren, Julian Dawson, Keith Shaddock, Dez Williams, Tim “Chopper” Ackermann, Mike Weiner, Shane Conner and Lewis Conner.
Fitness Factory prevails at the WSSFD Softball Tournament
By Rob Potter
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS Despite the rain over the weekend, the annual White Sulphur Springs Fire Department Softball Tournament took place with 14 teams vying for the championship trophy.
With so many teams competing in the tourney, two fields were used. Sixteen games were played at Gary A. Bradley Memorial Field at the White Sulphur Springs Firemen’s Park and 11 games were played at the Max Eronimous Swan Lake Firefighters Field.
Fitness Factory of Monticello won the double-elimination tournament by defeating Ronny’s Ringers of Wayne County, Pa., 7-4, in the championship game on Sunday afternoon.
Fitness Factory reached the title game by topping Stone Arch Inn in the winner’s bracket final. Ronny’s Ringers came out of the loser’s bracket and defeated Matthew’s On Main, 11-4, and Stone Arch Inn, 12-7, in consecutive games to earn the right to meet Fitness Factory in the championship contest.
Because Fitness Factory was the only remaining undefeated team in the tournament, Ronny’s Ringers needed to defeat Fitness Factory in the championship game and in the subsequent “if” game in order to take home the first place trophy.
Ronny’s Ringers got off to a good start in the title tilt. The team took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Pete Steffen scored on a a single by Nicky Abbott.
Fitness Factory evened the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the third. Alex Salazar was the first batter of the frame and he belted a home run over the center field fence to tie the game.
Ronny’s Ringers took a 2-1 advantage in the top of the fourth. Drew Bondl led off with an infield single and moved to second base on a fly ball out. Kyle Rizzi then hit a double off the center field fence, which allowed Bondl to score the go-ahead run.
But Fitness Factory pitcher JoJo VanKeuren got the next two batters out to prevent Ronny’s Ringers from adding to its lead.
Fitness Factory regained the advantage on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Mike Mann blasted a two-run home run over the right field fence to put Fitness Factory ahead, 3-2.
Fitness Factory extended its lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth. Shane Conner and Keith Shaddock, who reached base by hitting consecutive singles, both crossed home plate when Dan Gallo ripped a triple to deep right field.
A determined Ronny’s Ringers team answered by scoring twice in the top of the sixth to cut the Fitness Factory lead to a single run at 5-4. Bondl scored on a double by Justin Collins and Collins scored on a double by Rizzi.
Fitness Factory added two big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Corey VanKeuren led off with an infield hit. Following a strikeout, Dez Williams doubled to right field to put two runners on base. VanKeuren and Williams both crossed the plate moments later when Salazar singled.
With a 7-4 lead, JoJo VanKeuren calmly set down the Ronny’s Ringers batters in order in the top of the seventh. He got some help from his defense in recording those three outs, especially from Gallo, who made an excellent diving catch in the outfield for the first out of the frame.
At the postgame awards ceremony, WSSFD member Matt DeWitt presented the first, second and third place trophies to Fitness Factory, Ronny’s Ringers and Stone Arch Inn, respectively.
DeWitt also presented the Most Valuable Player award to Justin Collins of Ronny’s Ringers. Collins had a .625 batting average (15 for 24) in the tournament. He hit six home runs, four doubles and a triple and had 19 RBIs.
“I want to thank all of the teams for coming out to play,” DeWitt said as players from several teams stood under the concessions pavilion adjacent to Gary A. Bradley Memorial Field. “You guys are what makes this tournament so great every year.”
Mike Black, who is also a WSSFD member, echoed DeWitt’s sentiments.
“We had 14 teams playing here this weekend,” Black said. “There was one Fire Department team, Neversink, and except for Fat Boys, Fitness Factory and Ratner, all of the other teams were from the Sullivan County Beer League.
“We had some rain, but it was so great that we were able to get all the games in,” Black added.
The 14 teams which played in the tournament are: Darder Stone Works, Davis Excavating, Fat Boys, Fitness Factory, Hotel Clair, Kohler Lumber, Manor House of Furniture and Appliances, Matthew’s On Main, Neversink Fire Department, North Branch, Ratner & Sons, Ronny’s Ringers, Stone Arch Inn and Team Schiff.