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Local softball squad Spirits West wins world and national tournaments in Arizona

Triple crown softball champion from Spirits West included: Front row: Steve Cox, Dave Kelley, Brian Parker, Jamie Barnett, Scott Finch, Johnny Musotto, Scott Leggett. Back Row: Howard Hebb, Dave Lohr, Joe Durso, Ric Kehoe, Mike Dill, Travis White, Desmond Dailey, Tuttie Braitsch, Dave Stagierwald, Stephen Rothgeb, Jay Sigler and Bobby Ross.
Triple crown softball champion from Spirits West included: Front row: Steve Cox, Dave Kelley, Brian Parker, Jamie Barnett, Scott Finch, Johnny Musotto, Scott Leggett. Back Row: Howard Hebb, Dave Lohr, Joe Durso, Ric Kehoe, Mike Dill, Travis White, Desmond Dailey, Tuttie Braitsch, Dave Stagierwald, Stephen Rothgeb, Jay Sigler and Bobby Ross. (Photo courtesy of Howard Hebb)

There was no Triple Crown in Thoroughbread Racing this year, but there was on a softball field in Arizona.

The Spirits West team, representing Maryland and dotted with about a half-dozen players from the Arbutus/Catonsville area, captured the 40-and-over Major World slo-pitch tournament in late September.

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Playing under the name LB/Spirits West/SMC, they defeated LCB/Prestige Softball (CA), 33-28, in the championship game.

Spirits West owner Ric Kehoe, a Lansdowne High graduate, was coach of the squad that also won a regional tournament in Carroll County featuring teams from the East Coast in the first leg of its journey to Arizona.

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In the second leg of the title tour, they won the U.S. national title game against West Coast squads.

Spirit’s defeated LCB/Prestige Softball (CA) 37-35, to win that crown and advance to the world tournament.

Kehoe noted that middle infielder Dave Kelley was the team MVP throughout the tournament.

“He’s MVP for a reason, he was and will always be the best player in the ball park, period,” Kehoe wrote.

First baseman Kehoe and Travis White provided clutch hits all over the field.

“Look up teammate in the dictionary and his (White) picture will be there,” Kehoe noted. “He made only a few outs all weekend and played hard every game, clutch hitter, locked and ready and plays all year.”

The coach also praised his pitcher.

“Dave Staigerwal pitches with the best and I would not trade him for anyone,” said Kehoe, who appreciated the soft tosser’s hitting as well.

Central outfielder Bobby Ross and left fielder Joe Durso made Staigerwal’s job easier.

Kehoe noted Ross is the “best middle and fastest outfielders in the game and one of the best hitters.”

On Durso: “One of the best tracking left fielders around and can hit as well as anyone. Always there when needed, best teammate you could ask for.”

As for the rest of the team, he wrote: “the other 13 guys are all-tournament as well.”

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They included: Steve Cox, Brian Parker, Jamie Barnett, Scott Finch, Johnny Musotto, Scott Leggett, Howard Hebb, Dave Lohr, Mike Dill, Desmond Dailey and Tuttie Braitsch, Stephen Rothgeb and Jay Sigler.

Kehoe had several of his players tune up over the summer by winning the over-40 Wooden Bat League at the VFW in Ellicott City, but this tournament takes the cake.

“What we did out in Arizona, I believe, was the first time a team from Maryland won the Triple Crown,” he noted. “This was not some backyard tournament that someone can claim, ‘You didn’t play anyone,’ we beat the best.”

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