Last weekend turned out to be an all around memorable few days for John Scimone. The Flash softball team’s hard hitting right fielder not only saw himself featured in a photo in a Chicago Tribune article on the 16-inch game, but he won the Most Valuable Player award following his team’s championship win at the 37th Forest Park Invitational “No Gloves Nationals” tournament.
Flash came out pounding the ball, lighting up Sage’s veteran pitcher Tom “Bomber” Horn for eight straight hits to start the game. The first seven batters scored and Flash batted 12 men in the top of the first to take an 8-0 lead. Sage never remotely threatened after that, as Flash built an 11-0 lead before John Westermayers deep sac fly made it 11-1 in the fourth. It was, several observers agreed, one of the more anti-climactic title games in Forest Park Invitational history.
Flash took the tried and true route of winning the winner’s bracket, beating March Manufacturing 13-4 Friday, Iowa’s Stover 7-3 Saturday evening, and Sage 11-6 Saturday night. Sunday afternoon they crushed Binge 14-2 to claim the bracket and sit back and rest.
Sage had beaten the Rebels 16-3 on Friday, and the Bucketheads 9-4 Saturday evening. But the loss to Flash meant that Sage had to play pretty much continuously from 12:30 Sudnay until their 6:30 p.m. rematch with Flash in the title game. Sage responded, eliminating the two-time defending Miller 45s 11-9 in their first Sunday game and forcing them to accept sixth place. Stover fell next, 21-5, then Binge by a 14-2 score in the loser’s bracket final.
But Sage could contend with neither the deliveries of Flash pitcher Jeff Hernandez nor the Flash defense. And on offense Flash had two players battling it out for MVP honors in the title game. Former Forest Park MVP Keith Filkins went head to head with Scimone in the championship game. Filkins had 11 hits in 19 at bats with 10 RBI and six runs scored. Scimone finished with a torrid .824 average, with eight runs batted in and nine scored. He had two doubles, a triple and two homers among his 14 hits.
For Scimone, it was a sweet turn around from a season that looked shaky three weeks earlier, when his brother, Nino Scimone went down with a season ending knee injury.
“This win is as much his as anyone’s,” said John Scimone.
Nino Scimone, grinning as he stood watching the celebration along the third base line, admitted it was a bit bittersweet, but mostly sweet.
“Those are my guys,” he said, glancing at his teammates.
The younger Scimone laughed as he recalled his family’s reaction to John’s image in the Trib.
“My family’s ecstatic.” he said with a laugh. “They got copies all over the house.”
Sage’s John Westermayer was as much a force for his team as Scimone was for Flash throughout the tournament, and would have been a leading MVP candidate had his team won the title, along with left fielder Randy Russ. Westermayer drove in 17 runs and scored eight times with a double, triple and homer among his ten hits. Russ was 14 for 19 for a .737 average, with six RBI and five runs.
Iowa’s Stover softball, which still struggles with the no glove game, had its most successful FPI ever. Led by the hitting of Joe Coppola and Ben Happel, they won twice each in the winner’s and loser’s bracket, posting a 4-2 mark, good for fourth place. Coppola hit only .455, but drove in nine runs and scored 12 times. Happel, amazingly, had only five hits in 22 at bats, but four of them were extra bases, good for 10 RBI and 5 runs scored.
Steel Gold’s Jason Renard won the batting title with an .850 average.
For those wanting more, the ASA Major 16-inch Nationals will be held over the Labor Day weekend in Mount Prospect, another pretty special softball complex just off an expressway. This time, though, the gloves will be on.