This fastpitch softball season is already the longest in Miller Toyota history, and there's more to come.
Miller completes Cottonwood Travel League play tonight, but the season that started in January with a three-week tour of New Zealand could last another six weeks. After a tournament in California this weekend, Miller will join the other top local teams in exhibition tripleheaders Tuesday and Wednesday at the Cottonwood Complex against a team from Auckland, New Zealand.After that, the Toyotans go to the ISC World Tournament in Decatur, Ill. Then comes a four-team regional qualifier with Page Brake, IET and a Colorado team, with the winner advancing to the ASA Major Nationals in September in Bloomington, Ill. "The season has kind of dragged on," admits manager Butch Latey.
In a reversal of last summer, Miller swept the league season series from Page - but barely survived Wednesday. With one out in the sixth inning, Page's Lynn Jackson was thrown out at home on the back end of a double steal and a double play was called for Jackson's interfering with the catcher. Page's protests resulted in the umpires' halting the game - just another chapter in the Miller-Page rivalry.
IET, meanwhile, broke into the Miller-Page axis by finishing 23-5, well ahead of Page's 19-9 mark. IET's Rich Connolly was 19-5 with a 1.43 ERA, Tony Kairuna led the league in homers (nine) and RBI (31) and Nate Ellington won the batting title with a .423 average. Bud Bailey Const. won the league's Division II title at 14-14, counting games against Division I teams.
In slowpitch softball, the Utah Players will have an even busier September. Utah's only Class A team will play in the USSSA nationals in Virginia, the ASA Super Nationals in Oklahoma City and the NSA World Series in Dallas. "It's kind of like all the boxing titles available," pitcher Lee Guest says of slowpitch's classifications.
The most prestigious tourney will be the Super Nationals, with major teams like Steele's of Ohio and Howard's of North Carolina entered. The Players, who've added this year to the group that's played together since the early 1980s, placed third behind two national powers in the recent Pioneer Days tournament.
The hottest team at any level is Class B's M & M Distributing of Salt Lake the Pioneer Days marked the team's sixth straight tourney win.