There’s a striking similarity to the upcoming Illinois Amateur Softball Association Class C Co-Ed tournament at Alton’s Gordon Moore Park. Familiarity breeds success.
Westco, a local team, won it in 2015.
Four years ago, Revolution reigned as the state softball power.
Now, Peel Wood Fired Pizza is trying to make it a third state championship in five years.
Different sponsors, but a comparable group of guys and gals. The area-based team is back for more success this weekend.
“A couple of players have retired but for the most part, it’s the same team,” said Travis Cook, manager of Peel Wood Fired Pizza in Edwardsville.
Cook, a 1998 East Alton-Wood River High graduate, can’t wait for this year’s 17-team tourney to open. It starts Friday night and concludes Saturday. The champ advances to the nationals, beginning Aug. 26 in St. Joseph, Mo.
Thus, slow-pitch softball comes to Alton in a big way for two days. Batter up.
“It’s always a good weekend,” Cook said of the quality competition. “If we don’t win state, we will be disappointed because the more you win, the more you expect it to happen.”
Derek Edwards and Luke Angelo could emerge as the leaders for Peel Wood Fired Pizza, which makes its tourney debut against LJW Tax Service at 6:30 p.m. Friday on Diamond No. 1. Tourney games will be played on four fields, with Diamond No. 3 cast as the main one.
Pre-tourney festivities are scheduled for 6:30 Friday night on that field. Games get going there and on two other diamonds at 7 p.m.
“We have a few new people, but I feel like every year we have a chance to win it,” Edwards said.
Ball Park Motors of Jacksonville may have something to say about that. Ball Park finished second to Westco last season and claimed state championships in 2013 and 2014.
Thus, it could develop into a two-team battle for the best in Illinois.
“Ball Park looks like our chief competition,” said Cook, a left fielder.
Ball Park has a 7 p.m. date with K&V Steel in its tourney opener. Other initial matchups include: Cat Daddy’s vs. Lethal Weapons, Streder Mechanical vs. Swing Company, Construction Nation vs. Cutting Edge, Miss-N-Hitters vs. Fourth Street Lanes, K&B Home Improvement vs. Chaos/Freestyle and I’d Hit It vs. Danville Lineoff. Four R’s Catering drew a bye and then tangles with the winner between Cat Daddy’s and Lethal Weapons.
Games continue at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. Friday, then play resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday. The championship contest is tentatively scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday.
Tournament director Dean Emerick sees a competitive class and Cook likes the way Emerick is attempting to bolster things.
“Dean is trying to do a lot of things to liven up the tournament,” Cook said.
Emerick has replaced his dad, Leroy, in coordinating events and points to the long history of softball excellence at Moore Park.
This year’s marks the 30th consecutive one for an ASA final in Alton. Leroy Emerick and Brad Cunningham of the Alton Recreation Department swung things into motion back in 1987 with the Men’s Major tournament. It drew 55 teams.
By 1989, Co-Ed started play and in 1998, there were three main ASA local slow-pitch tourneys. The 24-team National Co-Ed finals put a bright spotlight on softball at Moore Park.
And it has never departed, even if there are fewer teams participating now. Last year’s finals also welcomed 17 teams.
“We’ve had a total of 1,231 teams through the years and I’m guessing more than 16,000 players have played here,” Dean Emerick said of his extensive research. It’s estimated more than 725 Co-Ed teams have put their imprint on Moore Park fields.
It’s Leroy’s Legacy and Dean’s one to maintain. The Co-Ed finals are all about the competitors and the way they play the game.
Softball and Alton go hand-in-hand like a bat and a glove. And Moore Park has served as the hot corner for it all these years. You can reach out and almost touch those bases yourself.
• • •
The answer to the Aug. 5 trivia question is Marquette Catholic High School. Current Roxana head football coach Pat Keith played his prep football at Marquette. Keith is entering his eighth season as the head football coach for the Shells. They have made the playoffs the previous two seasons.
Congratulations to Mike Siemer, who answered correctly and wins a $10 voucher to Quality Buick GMC Cadillac, 1620 E. Homer Adams Parkway in Alton.
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