Amy Hall and Jeff Hiser win the Championships
in the Chesapeake Open!
As all tournament directors do, I hope to build up our annual event
based on the preceding year’s success. But this year, going into the
4th Annual Chesapeake Open, I was concerned. The signup cut-off date was
3 weeks ahead of the event. It came and went with only 4 “open public”
signups, and 38 cardholders. During the next week, a few more sanctioned
apps came in the mail, but still not the quantity I was hoping for. Then…
the phone starting ringing. Many of our cardholding pitchers waited until
the last minute to say “can I get in?” Pat and I had scrambled
eggs. Trying desperately to get a mailing out with pitching times, we had
to juggle and rearrange. Class pitching times were sent out, but the phone
kept ringing. Another 10 wanted in. Could we fit them in with the time table
already set? It was a challenge, but we adjusted some 6 man classes to 8,
and some 8 man classes to 10. With no lights on these courts, keeping to
the timetable would be critical.
At the end of all the juggling,
66 sanctioned pitchers signed up (ending up with 2 no-shows, 64 pitchers
total). The response from the VaHPA was exactly as hoped for, growth year-over-year.
The Open-Public flights Friday night had 22 pitchers, and the Opens on Sunday
had 12. 98 pitchers overall!
In the Friday evening Open-Public
flights, three classes were held. When signing up, Randy Elswick and son
Mike Elswick requested to pitch in different classes. Randy ended up in
a three way play off with Kenny Stewart, the Chesapeake P+R “front
man” for the event, and Rubin Byrum. Kenny Stewart has pitched every
year in the Open classes, and this year, as part of the playoff for first
place, he personally experienced the need for lighting on the courts. Visibility
was getting low, and there was just enough daylight left to squeak in the
last several shoes.
At the end of Friday’s pitching, three
first place winners were awarded – Randy Elswick (7-2), Chuck Lake
(7-0) and Ike Rose (5-0). They would return on Sunday to compete for the
Saturday’s classes were completely sanctioned
cardholders. Ray Haverset from Connecticut took the honors of the furthest
travel to the event. He was followed very closely by Ron Taylor, President
and RD for the South Carolina Horseshoe Pitchers Association, and his family.
‘A’ Class had eight people. Barbara Taylor, SC, made
her name known in VA, pitching against some tough competition. Coming in
a final 5th place, she made the locals fight for it, beating Renee Cowan
in a 60 shoe game 40 to 33. Amy Hall took 1st place, Renee Cowan came
in 2nd, and Ricky Hall came in 3rd.
In B Class, Lenwood Conner Jr
took the first place spot uncontested, with a record of 7-0, and an overall
57.69% for the day. Wayne Sturtz, with a 50% for the day came in 2nd, and
Jerry Colyer with an over 49.67%, came in third.
At noontime on
Saturday, pitching was halted briefly for opening ceremonies. Kenny Stewart
presided, welcoming everyone, and introducing the organizers and representatives
of the City - from the City of Chesapeake, Councilwoman Patricia Willis,
and from the Chesapeake Parks & Recreation Department, Director Bobby
Clifton. They were both pleased to attend another annual event, and expressed
their appreciation for the Club, the venue, and the opportunity it presents
to the residents in the immediate area. Both the City and the Parks&Rec
Department are committed to assist as much as they can to continue the growth
of the sport in their park. The sponsors of the event were recognized and
thanked for their support – The City of Chesapeake, the Chesapeake
P+R Dept, King Custom, and Farmer’s Insurance - Robert Olds. The sponsors’
assistance is vital to the success of the event. Having completed all the
introductions, Patricia & Bobby pitched the ceremonial two-shoes-each,
and were presented with a commemorative glass candy jar, designed and crafted
by King Custom. With that, the tournament resumed.
When we were first
setting up the pitching schedule, keeping daylight and TIME in mind, we
had some tough decisions to make. To fit all of the classes in, ‘A’
Class was the only one allowed 40 points, unlimited shoes. All other classes
were assigned 30 points-40 shoes. Even at that, at 6:30 that evening, with
4 rounds still to play (with no lights) in C class, their limit was changed
to 20 points -30 shoes. With 10 pitchers in the class, it would be a close
call to finish before dark. As it turned out, that was a good decision,
because we had to have a play off. Tonya Hix and Don Masters fought it out,
with dusk falling. Tonya took first place in a very close game against Don.
Marvin Chessons, with the highest overall percentage in the class –
41.73% - came in 3rd.
D Class was another 10 person class. No playoffs
were necessary, because Gene Webb had a great day pitching, ending with
9-0 and a 37.03%. Chuck Duymich came in 2nd with 7-2, and Ron Taylor (SC)
took 3rd with 6-3.
In E Class, Portsmouth’s “Iron Man”,
81 year old Cary Davis came in 1st with 7-0. He finished the day with a
33.78%. Great going Cary!! Jackie Earle (SC) came in 2nd with 6-1 at 29.06%,
and Robert Snowden came in 3rd with 5-2, 18.90%
Willie Cox and Thomas
Hix pitched it out for 1st place in F Class. In a very close game, Willie
won on the final two throws. Those two were so close, they finished the
day with 25.57% and 25.17% overall. Jack Miley took 3rd place in the class
with 6-2, 23.03%.
Our largest concern of the day was G Class. By
the end of their last round, we were faced with another playoff for first
place. Glenn Bouley and Kenny Robinson faced off as daylight quickly faded.
When the score was about 18-16, I had to borrow a flashlight to shine on
the receiving pin, to get the count as the shoes fell. A very tough night
of pitching. When it was done, the applause for the pitchers was hearty
and welcome. Glenn, the victor on the very last two shoes, said “It
was hard trying to find the pin, I’m glad there was at least a flashlight!”.
Glenn finished the day in 1st place with 7-1, 28.93%. Ken, 2nd, with 6-2,
19.29%, and Norma Venavage 3rd, 5-2, 18.06%.
H Class was seeded
with 50% newcomers from the Portsmouth Club. We were pleased to welcome
Ray Cotman, Allan Winn, and Don Drewery to the event. Shawn Dofermire took
first in the class, John Dunn took 2nd and Ray Cotman took 3rd.
Around 9:30 Saturday night, pitchers and organizers packed up for the day.
More open classes were scheduled for Sunday, with the Championship rounds
to follow. Well, Sunday morning brewed up quite a mess. Early morning thunder
showers left everything soaking, but by 11:00, the last two Open-Public
classes were underway.
Mike Elswick, not winning on Friday, had
resigned up for this set, and ended up coming in 1st in his class. Most
of the participants were new-comers, including Jeff Hiser, who finished
1st in the second class.
That set the stage for the Championship
Rounds. Five first place winners vied for the title. At the end of five
rounds, Jeff Hiser from Virginia Beach, pitching a flip shoe, had defeated
all of his opponents (5-0). The Chesapeake Club provided scorekeepers and
the games were recorded. Jeff averaged 46% during that Championship round.
The spot for runner up was not so clear. A three way win/loss tie existed,
so it had to be played off.
Michael Elswick, Chuck Lake and Ike Rose
all with 3-2 records were the contenders. Flipping a shoe each, Ike got
the bye in the first round. Michael beat Chuck 21 to 14. Then in the final
round of play Michael and Ike fought it out for 34 shoes in a very tight
game. For a while, it looked like a slam dunk for Ike, but he got stuck
at 20 points. All he needed was a single point to win the game, but he couldn’t
find it. While Ike was frozen in place, Michael got hot. He pitched 6 ringers
out of 12 shoes to make a stunning come-back, winning the game 23-20. What
a finish ! Great game guys!
The final standings in the Open Flights
were: Champion Jeff Hiser (7-0 @ 46%) Runner up Michael Elswick (5-2 @ 29.29%),
3rd place Ike Rose (4-3 @ 23.19%), 4th Chuck Lake (3-3 @ 25%), 5th Randy
Elswick (1-4 @ 25%)
Despite the late night pitching and the rain
delay on Sunday, the entire event was deemed a success by the pitchers and
the organizers. The Chesapeake Parks & Rec department has always supported
our sport and the club, this year, they’ve committed to several more
improvements to the facility, and are having open discussions about the
possibility of installing more courts. We thank them for their involvement
Looking forward to next year, my goal is to bring
in at least 100 NHPA sanctioned pitchers to this annual event. I’d
like to have enough participants to separate the A class into 30 and 40
foot pitchers. The Chesapeake Club members deserve a round of applause for
their help during the tournament. They were in attendance constantly, from
early morning till we closed each day, prepping the courts, running water
buckets, painting pins and taking score. Whatever was needed was quickly
taken care of. Thank you all.