Finally, the wait was over. After qualifying last June at the 2012 Piedmont Plus Senior Games, and again in September of 2012 at the North Carolina Senior Games the day had arrived. July 18th, time to head to Cleveland, Ohio, where the 2013 National Senior games were being held.15 players, 3 coaches, the WannaBees 60+ team (they were also competing in their age group)various family and friends started the 10 hour trek to Cleveland.
After arriving at our hotel and getting settled in, plans for sightseeing and also a practice at the softball complex was arranged early the next morning everyone went to the Cleveland Convention Center and completed the registration process and received their credentials which were to be used for entrance in all areas where games were being played. Sightseeing, practice, and the coaches/captains filled the remainder of the day.
Our first game was scheduled for 8 am the next morning. The weather that had been so nice and sunny the day before, had changed overnight and the morning brought rain and overcast skies. After arriving at the ball field we were told that the game times were being rescheduled and would not start until at least noon. What followed was more rain, heavy at times, and another delay of the games. After what seemed like an eternity, the games finally began. The first opponent was CT Senior Moments 60’s. Both teams started slowly, in part to the long delays and the wet conditions. Finally in the third inning the bats for the Wannabees awoke. With the score tied at 2, the Bee’s scored in every inning to win going away by the score of 22-2.
Game two was set for two short hours later. The opponent was Grey Power of Canada. They were one of the early favorites and featured players from Canada and also New York and surrounding states. This game stayed close from the beginning with Grey Power holding a 6-0 advantage heading into the bottom of the 4th .The Bees finally managed to put some runs on the board by scoring 4.Then again in the 6th adding 5 more to take a 9-6 lead. Grey Power struck in the top of the 7th and scored 4 to take a 10-9 lead. After the first 2 batters in the bottom of the 7th made outs, the Bees managed to get the next 5 batters on base and with the 5th batter getting a hit, the winning run crossed the plate. This was one of our biggest hits in the tournament and proved to be critical in getting us in position to win in the medal rounds.
Day 2 of the tournament, and our third game was set to start at 3 pm. The game was against The Jazz from New Mexico. Once again we were faced with the prospect of playing on wet, muddy fields as it continued to be a steady rain all morning. The game started out well for the Bees as we led early and appeared to be on the way to an easy win. Our luck changed in the late innings as we lost an early 9-4 lead and eventually lost the game as well 12-11 in the last inning.
Next up on the schedule, the Silver Buckeye Spirits from Ohio. The Bee’s lit it up at the plate and made this appear to be a win 18-0. The next (fifth) opponent was a team from Michigan, The Jolico Seniors. They were one of the pre-tournament favorites and played like it. The game stayed close but the Bee’s ended up on the short end of a 11-8 score.
As day three of games started we were once again faced with the prospect of rain and the weather did not disappoint. Showers off and on and conditions were not very good for playing ball. At this point another loss would put us out of the tournament. Fortunately the next game was against our game one opponent from Connecticut and we were able to repeat a solid performance winning 17-2.
By winning game we were in the Gold Medal game against The El Paso Senior Moments. We were guaranteed a medal! As the game began it was obvious that the women would not be satisfied with a silver medal, and the effort and quality of play bore this out. This was the best all round game that the team played and the results was a 17-12 victory, and a GOLD MEDAL! In sports there’s an adage that it is not how your start, but how you finish, and on this soggy July day we finished the tournament strong.
The team returned home the next day and it seemed like the trip was quite a bit shorter as everyone still had their heads in the clouds from the night before. This was a total team effort and without the player’s commitment, our fan’s support, and the help of great managers (Robbie Jackson, Jim Morgan &Terry Woody) it is almost certain that the Wannabees could not have accomplished such a great achievement.