If you tried to find a parking space at Palmetto Bay Park over the last few days, you were probably lucky if you found one.
Parking spaces were indeed at a premium as Palmetto Bay, with its six softball fields, served as the host venue for 44 softball teams, 26 from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and 18 more from outside the area, for the annual Slamfest Softball Tournament.
There were 86 games played over a three-day period, but this year’s tournament celebrated a special number – 25. The 25th Annual Slamfest Tourney, with Pinecrest Physical Therapy serving as this year’s title sponsor, has blossomed into the premier softball tournament in the state and one of the top tournaments in the nation.
Who won this week? Nobody and everybody.
There were no brackets, just four guaranteed games for each participating team which included defending state champions St. Pete Admiral Farragut (3A) and Plantation American Heritage (6A). Palm Beach Gardens, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cooper City, Coral Reef and Palmetto were among the other big name programs playing.
At the center of the tournament’s success has been long-time Gulliver Prep head coach Mark Schusterman. As if he hasn’t been busy enough serving as the school’s long-time athletic director and leading the softball program to six state titles including four in a row along the way (2010-13), Schusterman was the brainchild of the event first starting it up in 1995.
“Amazing,” Schusterman said. “When we started this thing, we had just eight local teams and played out of Indian Hammocks Park. Now look a this, all these teams, this big facility. It’s been quite a journey and something I’ve really enjoyed watching grow.”
“For many many years, we’ve participated in this and love to come down here every year,” said American Heritage head coach Marty Cooper, who just reached career win No. 600 a few weeks ago. “This has developed into a real nice grouping of teams from throughout the state and it gives us a chance to play teams that we never used to get a chance to play during the regular season. Mark does such a good job of scheduling that you’re not playing teams in your own district or teams that you normally see all season long and turned in to a really nice event.”
Schusterman’s players rewarded him by winning three of their four games over the weekend, including a 12-1 mercy rule rout of Moore Haven, a Class 2A state finalist a year ago, in a Saturday afternoon contest.
“I’m very proud of this,” said Schusterman. “Early on I started bringing my teams to a lot of out-of-town tournaments and when I did that, I started building up relationships with a lot of those coaches and they in turn started coming to South Florida to play in this tournament.
“We’ve had teams from outside the state and even one from California one year so I’ve been really fortunate to have seen this grow this way but I certainly didn’t do it by myself either. It came through the efforts of a lot of people and hopefully we can keep it going. “We’ve had teams from outside the state and even one from California one year so I’ve been really fortunate to have seen this grow this way but I certainly didn’t do it by myself either. It came through the efforts of a lot of people and hopefully we can keep it going. I also can’t thank the city of Palmetto Bay enough. It’s been a great partnership and none of this happens without their cooperation.”
Schusterman said “hopefully” because this May will mark the end of the road for his long and successful career as an administrator and coach at Gulliver as he is retiring.
“Building a house up in Georgia just north of Atlanta and heading off into the sunset,” Schusterman said with a smile. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss a lot of this but I’m confident we’ve got some things in order that will be able to keep this tournament going because it’s a great thing.”
▪ Belen 16, Seacrest 5: WP - Roger Cainzos; Andres Bello - 2 IP, 0 R, 3K; Esteban Rodriguez 4-4, HR 3 RBI; Robert Curbelo 2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI; Ryan Bertran 2-2, 2B, HR, 2 RBI; Gabe DeZendegui 2-2, 2 3B, 2 RBI; Armando Albert 2-3, 2B, 3R, 3 SB; BEL: 5-3).
▪ Riviera Prep 9, Somerset 1: Eric Fernandez 3 IP, 1 H, 4 K, 0 R; Luis Angarita 4 IP, 5 H, 8 K; Ennio Mandella 2-3, 2 RBI; Faris Abusad 2B, 2 RBI; RP: 5-2.
▪ Doral 3, Pace 1: WP- Mario Garcia 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 11 K, 2 BB; SV - Luis Espinal; Gaby Gutierrez 2-4, HR, RBI; Matthew Corpas 1-2; Ronny Medina 1-3, 2B; Nicolas Pitelli 1-2.
▪ Hialeah-Miami Lakes 3, Northwestern 0 (25-11, 25-10, 25-15): Tomas DiCotanzo 8 kills; Erick Murillo 16 digs, 9 aces; Alain Martinez 3 kills, 15 assists; Ricardo Mascaro 5 kills; HML: 10-0.
Jungle Queen Tournament at Belen
▪ Southwest 2, Belen 1 (23-25, 29-27, 15-13); Belen 2, Columbus 2-0 (26-24, 25-19); Belen 2, Park Vista 1 (25-21, 25-22); BEL: 8-1.
▪ Mater Academy 32, Reagan 0: Melanie Chiquillo 133 passing yards, 2 TD Passes, 56 rushing yards, 1 TD rushing, 1 INT return TD; Karla Vargas 105 receiving yards. 1 TD, 1 EP rushing, 6 flag pulls, 2 sacks; Daniela Ortega 1 TD receiving, 1 EP receiving; MA: 2-2.
▪ Krop 40, American 6: Lindsey Weingard 4 TD passes, 1 TD Run; Kirra Magana 3 TD Receptions, 2 INT; Destiny Francois 1 TD Reception, 1 XPT; Brianna Knowles 1 XPT, 1 INT; Mai-Lisa Atis TD run; KROP: 3-0.
▪ Carrollton 7, Gulliver Prep 0: Jimena Menendez 8-5; Anais Leichtling 8-4; Julietta Menendez 8-0; CAR: 5-1.