Mt. Healthy, Oh.—Justin Dixon batted .631, and pitcher John Lindquist held all six of his team’s opponents to single digit scoring, to lead Team Fear/Roosters to a six-game sweep of the 85th Annual Schuetzenfest USSSA “E” National Qualifier July 21-22 at Kolping Park.
Team Fear/Roosters knocked off the nation’s number one team – Line Drive/New Gen – 9-7 in the championship game to complete the sweep of the monster 32-team field. Previously the Roosters had disposed of Stampede/Accurate/McKinley’s/NCHGuns 10-5, No Excuses 7-2, Hey Days/Team Diesel 11-2, Big Frickin’ Roosters 12-8, and Noles 13-1.
The champions outscored their opponents by a combined 55-25 margin.
The win over Line Drive/New Gen halted an eight-game trek through the losers’ bracket by the Northern Kentucky team, which had lost their first game of the tournament to MWPD/Advocare.
Team Fear/Roosters returned to Columbus with $500 cash and a paid berth to the USSSA “E” World Tournament.
Defense, pitching, and the overall play of tournament MVP Justin Dixon helped carry the winners to the title, said player-manager Shannon Long.
“Defense was the key,” said Long. “If there were a defensive MVP, it would have been our shortstop, Mikey Noffsinger. He’s just a young kid. It’s his first year of softball. He was a running back at Ohio Dominican University. He has incredible range and a cannon. He’s also the fastest guy in the ball park. His speed is what he’s about.”
Brad Gray, Dixon and Cody Simms also stood out on defense, said Long.
“Brad was our 3rd baseman, and he didn’t have an error all weekend,” said Long. “Dustin played out of position all weekend. He’s normally an infielder, and he played left and right field all weekend and only had two errors. Cody is our fastest outfielder and our best outfielder. He made up for a lot of ground that the other guys couldn’t make up for in left-center.”
Dixon also led Team Fear/Roosters in hitting with a .631 mark en route to MVP honors.
“He hit extremely well all weekend,” said Long. “He also had a lot of timely hitting and he played out of position all weekend. He’s normally our 2nd baseman, but he played right field all day Saturday and left all day Sunday.”
Mikey Noffsinger and Brad Leach chipped in with a .521 and .520 weekend, respectively.
“Brad’s our catcher and he hit extremely well,” said Long.
Josh Thompson broke out of a tournament-long slump late Sunday with two hits in the championship game to pull his average up to .277.
“If he were a little heavier, he might have batted his weight,” said Long.
Pitcher John Lindquist held all six of his team’s victims to eight runs or less, and gave up an average of only four runs per game.
“He pitched strikes all weekend. That’s what he does. And we just go get ‘em,” said Long.
Team Fear/Roosters used a three-run 5th and a five-run 6th to erase an early deficit to Stampede and pull out a 10-5 victory in game one. Mikey Noffsinger tripled in two runs and scored on a base hit by Brad Leach in the 5th. A two-run single by Shannon Long and a two-run double by Justin Dixon were the big blows in the 6th.
Carl Hicks was perfect in three trips to the plate to pace the offense.
Team Fear brushed aside No Excuses 7-2 in game two, breaking a 2-2 tie with two runs in the bottom of the 2nd, then tacking on a run in the 3rd and two in the 5th. Brad Gray had an rbi single to put his team ahead for good at 3-2 in the 2nd, then scored on Justin Dixon’s rbi double. Carl Hicks doubled in another run in the 3rd, then Brad Leach had an rbi single and Hicks a sac fly in the 5th. Pitcher John Lindquist held No Excuses scoreless over the final five innings.
Leach collected three hits, and Mike Noffsinger added two for the winners.
Next Roosters jumped out to an 8-0 lead with five runs in the 1st and three in the 2nd and never looked back in an 11-2 rout of Hey Days. Cody Simms’ two-run double capped off the 1st. The 2nd featured an rbi double by Carl Hicks. Mikey Noffsinger closed out the scoring with a three-run, inside-the-park home run in the 6th. For the second straight game, pitcher John Lindquist shut down his team’s opponent over the last five innings.
Eric Jennings and Justin Dixon banged out three hits apiece.
In game four Team Fear erupted for seven runs in the top of the 1st, but didn’t score again until the 7th, when they used a five-run outburst to break a 7-7 tie and pull out an eventual 12-8 victory over Big Frickin’ Roosters. Mikey Noffsinger doubled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 7th. Eric Jennings followed with a two-run triple, then Brad Gray added a two-run double to open up a five-run lead. Big Frickin’ Roosters answered with a lone run in the bottom of the inning to make the final 12-8.
Gray and Ross Fredrix each went 3-for-4. John Lindquist shined on the mound again, holding Big Frickin’ Roosters to a single run after the 2nd.
That lifted Team Fear into the winners’ bracket finals, where they blew open a 1-1 contest with six in the 2nd and six in the 3rd to brush aside Noles 13-1 in five. Cody Simms’ rbi single put his team on top to stay at 2-1 in the 2nd. Later in the inning Bo Adair contributed a big two-run single. A two-run Justin Dixon single, a two-run triple by Brad Leach, and an rbi double by Carl Hicks accounted for five of their team’s six runs in the 3rd.
Adair and Simms shared four hits. Lindquist tossed a one-hitter, yielding only a single run to Noles in the top of the 1st.
Noles fell again in the losers’ bracket finals to a red-hot LineDrive/NewGen club, losing 7-6 to become LineDrive’s eighth straight victim.
LineDrive drew first blood in the finals, and held a 1-0 lead for two and half innings until Team Fear broke the game open with seven in the 3rd and two in the 4th. A two-run Justin Dixon double put his club ahead for good at 2-1 in the 3rd. Rbi doubles by Brad Leach and Carl Hicks and an rbi triple by Ross Fredrix helped open up a 7-1 lead. The 4th was highlighted by an rbi double by Cody Simms and a Josh Thompson rbi single. LineDrive didn’t score again until the 7th, when they threw up six runs to cut the lead down to two. But it was too little, too late, as the Roosters prevailed 9-7.
Mikey Noffsinger, Johnny Lindquist, Simms and Thompson combined for eight hits to pace the champions.
Getting past Big Frickin’ Roosters in game four was “huge,” said Team Fear manager Shannon Long.
“They were the team that worried me the most. They had beaten Glotfelty Tire, a team that had three or four players from a ‘D’ team last year, and run-ruled them. So I thought ‘these dudes are legit,’” said Long.
“But I was really surprised by their hitting,” continued Long. “We put up seven runs and they answered with five. They sprayed the ball anywhere they wanted and beat up our four-man a lot. But they got away from hitting the holes and put the ball in the air, and with our outfield of Cody Simms and Josh Thompson – they’re extra fast – and 40-year old Bo Adair, who reads and tracks the ball very well, we just tracked down everything. If they had stuck with hitting the holes through the infield, instead of hitting more fly balls, they would probably have beaten us. But they started putting balls in the air.”
Was it satisfying to wrap up the title with a win over LineDrive – the top-ranked USSSA “E” team in the nation – in the finals?
“We came out a little flat,” recalled Long. “We had been sitting for six hours. Then we started hitting and they were pretty much done. We took the wind out of their sails. Also it was their eighth game in a row, and we capitalized on that. We just had a lot of base hits. They didn’t make many errors. And our defense held together.”
Was Long worried when LineDrive closed the gap down to two in the top of the 7th?
“We could have gotten out of the 7th right off the bat if our 2nd baseman wouldn’t have tried to be Brandon Phillips,” said Long. “He tried to flip the ball with his glove instead of with his hand, and our shortstop bobbled it and couldn’t get a grasp on it. And after that, they just started hitting the holes in the infield. They hit the six-hole hard and they went up the middle.
“But if our 2nd baseman hadn’t tried to showboat, we would have been done a long time ago,” said Long.
“Besides,” said Long of LineDrive, “we weren’t worried, because they’re from Kentucky. And nobody any good at anything comes from Kentucky.
“I was impressed with their eight-game win streak,” admitted Long.
For final standings and tournament game scores, please paste the following url into your browser: http://www.usssa.com/sports/Tournament3.asp?TournamentID=873631