SeaDogs salt away tourney win

In their second tournament of the year, the recently-formed Northwest SeaDogs Softball Club struck gold, winning their division of the Redmond Senior Softball Games.

When the senior Buckley league folded, it left the elder statesmen of the diamond running down other options. They hit a home run when they discovered a 12-team senior league in Federal Way.

The SeaDogs are a 50-plus AAA team in the Senior Softball USA rankings. The team – Don Blanchett, Brian Boyle, Jim Hellums, Claude Huguley, Ed Jarry, Tom Leavitt, Bill McCommack, Steve Neilsen, Rich Payne, Tom Ronk, Mark Snorteland, Nick Wansitler and Les Woodford – are mostly Plateau-area ballplayers who enjoy playing the game and having fun. Their friendship and camaraderie have extended beyond the softball diamond.

“This is our first year as a team and we are made up of players from a couple of different clubs from the old Buckley league, some old friends we have pulled out of retirement and some other guys we found along the way,” Neilsen said.

The team is self-sponsored from player fees and other contributions from players’ employers, families, friends and local business Bootlegger’s Bar and Grill stuck with the boys.

The Northwest SeaDogs plan to hang their latest hardware on their sponsor’s wall and sit around and tell the stories of how they came by it.

Ten teams were entered in division play at the Redmond Senior Softball Games.

The opening day was set up as a three-game round robin, with a team’s win/loss record and run differential providing seeding into Day 2’s double-elimination bracket.

There are a few rule changes, Neilsen noted; for example, in order to avoid ties, during the coin flip the team winning the toss has a choice of being the home team or taking a half-run bonus for being the visitors.

The SeaDogs’ opener against Team Pound was a close battle with the SeaDogs losing by a half-run. Game 2 was against Carninos, a team several of the SeaDogs played for the past couple of years and a former Buckley league entrant which also found Federal Way beckoning. The SeaDogs came out on top of the affair, 13-6.

Day 1 closed out against a 60s Major team, Ruth Realty. As a 60s team, Ruth Realty was supposed to get a five-run age differential, but Neilsen said, “We played them heads up with no runs and played our best game of the day, beating them 22-9 under the mercy rule.”

The victory helped earn them the division’s No. 1 seed into Day 2, where the SeaDogs faced Northwest Silvers. The SeaDogs came out hot, beating the Silvers 30-17, for a spot in the championship game where they would again face Ruth Realty, which had battled through the bracket to get to the finale.

This time, it was a hard-fought defensive struggle. After one inning the teams were scoreless. After two, the SeaDogs trailed by four and were down 5-1 after the third inning of play.

The team pulled within one, 7-6, by the fourth; trailed by two at the end of five, and managed to tie the score at nine in the sixth.

By the top of the seventh inning, Ruth was up by two, and with their half-run bonus, it meant the SeaDogs needed three.

“We started the inning with three straight singles to load the bases,” Neilsen said. “A sacrifice fly got us to within two and then a game-winning double plated our final two needed runs to win the game and the championship.”

Offensively and defensively the team clicked. Wansitler and Jarry were named co-MVP. Wansitler made one out in five games. Neilsen, Woodford and Boyle hit long home runs to aid the cause. As a team, the SeaDogs hit .656 for the weekend.