Springfield team turned into a regional surprise

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Looks can sometimes definitely be deceiving.

The Springfield (Mo.) Slashers were less then impressive when they played a doubleheader against the Craftsman Union Capahas in Cape Girardeau on June 23, losing 5-2 and 9-1.

And last weekend, when the National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional got under way at Capaha Field, I didn't think the Slashers looked all that hot even though they won both their games.

But the Slashers more than proved their legitimacy this weekend, first routing the Southern Illinois Merchants 8-2 Friday night and then stunning the tournament favorite and host Capahas 3-2 Saturday afternoon to wrap up the championship.

So the Slashers -- and not the Capahas -- earn the tournament's automatic bid to the NBC World Series that begins next weekend in Wichita, Kan. And, because there are a limited number of at-large berths available, Capahas manager Jess Bolen is doubtful that his squad will extend its string of consecutive World Series appearances that stands at 16.

Judging by the pained look on Bolen's face just moments after Saturday's loss, he didn't seem all that enthused about a possible World Series berth anyway. The expression was caused primarily by an offense that produced just 24 hits in four tournament games and failed to come through in numerous clutch situations Saturday.

While on the surface the Capahas have had another strong season with a 25-8 record heading into today's final home game of the regular season, a 2 p.m. contest against Evansville (Ind.), it's no secret that Bolen doesn't believe this team has reached its full potential.

And that was only punctuated Saturday as the Capahas were eliminated from a tournament they have usually dominated in recent years.

* Another big area baseball event -- the six-team American Legion District 14 Tournament -- begins Monday in Sikeston.

While perennial Legion power Dunklin County, which rolled through the regular season without a district loss, is a strong tournament favorite, things should be plenty interesting because second-seeded Sikeston and third-seeded Cape Girardeau Ford & Sons have both been solid while No. 4 Jackson and No. 5 Chaffee have proven to be dangerous. No. 6 Stoddard County rounds out the field.

The district winner advances to the zone tournament Aug. 1-3 in Cape Girardeau, with Ford & Sons serving as host. That means the Cape squad automatically earns a berth in the zone meet.

* And yet another major area tournament will be held Friday through Sunday in Chaffee as the Heartland Babe Ruth Softball League hosts the Babe Ruth Midwest Plains Regional Tournament for 14-and-under and 12-and-under squads.

Five teams from Missouri, Colorado and Kansas will compete in the 14-and-under division while six teams from Missouri, Colorado, Kansas and Minnesota will participate in the 12-and-under division. Winners earn berths in next month's Babe Ruth World Series.

Local Heartland teams recently captured state titles in the 12-and-under, 14-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. The 16-and-under regional tournament is being held this weekend in Kennett, Mo.

* Well, Tiger Woods finally proved he is human after all, courtesy of his 10-over-par round of 81 at the British Open Saturday that left him a whopping 11 strokes off the pace.

I don't think I'm going out on a limb by saying that not even a golfer as brilliant as Woods will be able to dig himself out of that mess as his incredible run of success in major tournaments is about to end.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: