2023 Southwest Championships Tournament Winners

55AAA Champions - Top Gun Storm

We started out with a core group of (7) Top Gun Storm players from 2022. We added (8) new players to our roster for 2023. After a few practices & tournaments to start 2023, it was evident that we acquired some great talent. When we entered the Southwest Championships Tournament in Vegas, I was optimistic about our chances. On Day 1, we won the first two seeding games that resulted in the #1 seed and acquiring a bye on Day 2. After winning both games on Day 2, it was evident that we were the team to beat, but entering Sunday's game vs Boise Idaho brought some concerns as this was a team we were not familiar with. On Sunday, we ended up beating Boise Idaho to enter the Championship Game later that afternoon. We ended up playing Venom in the 1st game of the Championship Game, a well-rounded team and very good at both offensive & defense. Venom won Game 1 of the Championship Game which lead to a 2nd game. Top Gun Storm ended up beating Venom in the 2nd game 21-20 to win the Southwest Championship Tournament.


65AAA Champions - Top Gun Stealth

Top Gun Stealth 65AAA went 1-1 in seeding Tuesday morning to give us the #9 seed. Our first bracket game Tuesday afternoon, we got the #8 seed Scrap Iron Heavy Metal who we had already beat in the seeding round. We beat them 15-6 sending us to Wednesday afternoon. We then faced the #16 seed Utah Coyotes who had knocked out the #1 seed Family. Beating the Coyotes by 9 to continue Thursday morning. We met our goal to make it to Thursday! First game on Thursday vs. #4 seed Arizona Old School. Trailing in the bottom of the open our #5 batter Joel Hawk was up to bat and hit a home run dead center to tie the game. With 2 outs and runners at 1st and 3rd #8 batter Orie Mann hit a walk off hit to deep right center. We won our next game beating the #3 seed Sin City Mob to go to the championship. In the championship game after a 2 hour delay Sin City Mob beat us 17-13 sending us to the "if" game. Our manager Leigh VanderStoep decided to change things up by putting in Rich Pratt to pitch who other teams had not seen previously. With the team refocused and great pitching by Rich we go on to win it all with a score of 19-6. ATP go to Charles Pickett, Richard Pratt, Dave Bradford, Orie Mann and Keith Berson.

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2016

Presidents Award Winners

John Spadea

Player of the Year Honorees

75+ Classics – Dave Duarte
75+ Gold – Rico Coronado
70+ Gold – Mike McCasey
65+ Gold – John Woolsey

60+ Elite – Paul Lederman
55+ Gold – Ron Chenier
50+ Gold – Chuck Yeager
50+ Rookies – Sergio Vargas


Hall of Fame Inductees

Steve Vin Curek

Steve Vin Curek is perhaps one of the most consistent players to play in Top Gun Senior Softball association. His consistency in both the field and at the plate is what sets him apart from other players and therefore why he is in the Top Gun HOF. He has been a major contributor to all of the teams he has played with within Top Gun. He numerous All Tournament selections and being a member of World Championships teams including the Top Gun Elite 60 team that won the Triple Grand Slam of SSUSA is definitely his shining moment in his Top Gun softball career of which is not concluded. Therefore this is why he was selected for induction into the Top Gun Senior Softball association Hall of Fame class of 2016.

Bob Kapeller

Bob is a student of the game, a mentor, and an excellent player. Always trying to improve his game and help others do the same with theirs. Bob has also contributed to the success of his teams which has earned him 19 championship rings and 9 all-tournament/MVP awards. Bob inspired and is one of the organizers of the annual Wounded Warriors Project Benefit senior softball tournament which honors the wounded veterans of the military actions following the events of September 11, 2001 plus those members of our armed forces (both past and present) for their service, dedication, and sacrifices for our country. This event has raised over $7,500 after its first two tournaments. For his time and effort in organizing this event, Bob received a Certificate of Recognition Award from California Legislature Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez, 67th Assembly District for outstanding volunteer service to the community and to America’s veterans. His sudden passing touched all who knew him very deeply. He passed away on November 22, 2016 and on December 4, 2016 was posthumously inducted into the TopGun Hall of Fame.

Bob Kapeller

Dave Seitz joined the Top Gun Senior Softball association in 2001. In his first season with the Top Gun II team they won the 2001 Master World Championship in the 50 AA division. He was selected MVP during that tournament and won many more all tournament awards. He said he was very fortunate to have played on so many championship teams within his over 15 years in the Top Gun association. In 2004 he once again was member of the 2004 Master World 50 Major division championship team. As a middle infielder he turned 13 double plays during that tournament for which he said was one of his two greatest teams in all of the years he played tournament softball. He has also served the Top Gun association as a manager, board member as Vice President. During his tenure as manager with 55, 60 teams his team won 5 major ring level tournaments with Senior Softball. His selection into the Top Gun HOF in 2016 was as a player but he reminded everyone during his HOF speech he got there because of so many others that helped him along the way.


2017

Presidents Award Winners

Matt Kraemer

Player of the Year Honorees

75+ Gold – Ralph Bartlett
70+ Gold – Mark Rudich
65+ Mavericks – Don Ludwig
65+ Olde Dawgs – Bill Brantly
60+ Elite – Dan Nunnelee

55+ Gold – Mark Aumann
55+ Hornets – Jeff Blankman
50+ Gold – Roger Knoblock
50+ Diamonds – Kevin Porter


Hall of Fame Inductees

Don Ludwig

Don Ludwig is considered one of the best pitchers ever to play in the Top Gun Senior Softball. He pitched on two Master World championship team in 2001 and 2004. He has been on many all tournament team selections. However he is a fierce competitor, but never one to put himself above the team as displayed in a Spring World Tournament in Mesquite. He pulled himself due to the fact that he felt he would hurt the team’s chances of winning the tournament by either pitching or hitting. That gesture was felt by the entire team and was noted after the team had won that tournament. That is the ultimate competitor and with that attitude he was very successful on all Top Gun teams for over 15 years and thus his selection as a HOF player that any team would want pitching for them. He was also a really great hitter as well and when he did not pitch played other positions with skill and ability that never hurt his team’s chances to win. His HOF resume is more than just wins but is a testament to the player he is on every Top Gun team he played for.

Dave Duarte

Dave Duarte is what is referred to as a five tool player. His skill and talent are respected by his fellow teammates and opponents alike. This type of player will always deliver plays that other players are not even going to attempt. His hitting is so consistent that you might as well just fill in the score sheet before every game for him even before he comes to bat. These type of players are a team’s dream to have because he just shows up and then shows up when it really counts. His HOF selection was an easy choice and one well deserved.

Bill Poe

Bill Poe is a quiet, not flashy but steady player in the field and at bat. What makes him special is the fact that he is not flashy but the type of player that you know will make the right play and deliver at the bat when it counts the most. Consistent and very admired teammate who never seeks recognition. He always contributes to his team in positive ways and can always be counted on’ These qualities and his numerous all tournament awards and championships are what makes him HOF worthy.


2018

Presidents Award Winners

Mike Cannon

Player of the Year Honorees

Top Gun 50 – Rob Katashima
Top Gun Hornets – Charles Bilyeu
Top Gun Thunder – Al Underwood
Top Gun Elite – Mark Purdy

Top Gun 65 Mavericks – Don Ludwig
Top Gun Olde Dawg – Gary Nieman
Top Gun 6 Bits 75 – Frank Sperling
Top Gun Diamonds 80 – Mike Wiemer


Hall of Fame Inductees

Rick Pratt

Rich Pratt is so deserving on so many levels of his HOF induction. He has served the Top Gun association as a board member, manager of a Triple Grand Slam team and other championship teams and as a player on those same championship teams. He has meant so much to Top Gun softball in the fact that he has brought so many players into the association that are still playing. He has been a big contributor to the association as a board member and shows unwavering support everything Top Gun softball. As a player he has to be one of the best outfielders especially running down balls that most outfielders would not even sniff at much less catch. He became a very polished hitter and one that can be counted on when the game needed a big moment. He has been a great manager/coach of a Triple Grand Slam team and has had huge success with his teams. He is really what is know as a triple threat and the association is grateful he has stayed with Top Gun softball and was so honored with his well deserved HOF induction in 2018.

Paul Lederman

Paul Lederman is the type of player that any manager or teammate wants on his team. He is so talented that it is a bonus to be his teammate. Not only is he skilled but his quiet demeanor hides the competitive nature he possesses. He is a five tool player. He is fast and can play numerous positions both infield and outfield. He can hit for high average and with power. He throwing arm is strong and very accurate and his baserunning skill is downright off the charts. His knowledge of the game and how he uses that knowledge makes him a player that a manager and teammates can count on with the game on the line whether he playing defense or hitting. Probably one of the most coveted player in Top Gun in the last 10 years. An easy choice to be part of the Top Gun HOF class of 2018.

Ed Balinger

Ed Balinger has been a mainstay in Top Gun softball for so long as a player and manager. He has contributed to the associations success and growth due to his ability to recruit players and put together teams that compete at the highest level no matter what age group and division. As a player he is the phrase “Steady Eddy”. This is the type of player you always want on your team someone who shows up and then shows up on the field. As a player he was smooth in the field as well as at the bat. As a manager, with his wife Doreen he exhibited those same qualities. He is the type of manager and player that you as a player wanted to play for and with. His selection into the Top Gun HOF was well overdue and most deserving for all he has done for Top Gun Senior Softball association.


2019

Presidents Award Winners

Jeff Crispell

Player of the Year Honorees

Top Gun Diamonds 50 – Chris Catalano
Top Gun Thunder 60 – Joel Hawk
Top Gun Elite 60 – Steve Grassbaugh
Top Gun Mavericks 65 – Jim Teeter

Top Gun Olde Dawgs 70 – Lee Messenger
Top Gun Patriots 70 – Al Treadwell
Top Gun Six Bits 75 – Claude Hatton
Top Gun Gold 80 – Gary Adams/Gene Adams


2020

Presidents Award Winners

Rick Fisher

Player of the Year Honorees

Top Gun Diamonds 50 – Mike Amonette
Top Gun Growlers 55 – Thomas Beck
Top Gun Phantoms 55 – Jeff Blakeman
Top Gun Lightning 60 – Mario Aguinaga
Top Gun Elite 65 – Vince Skandunas

Top Gun Olde Dawgs 70 – Gary Nieman
Top Gun Patriots 70 – Ron DeVincenzo
Top Gun Six Bits 75 – Claude Hatton
Top Gun Gold 80 – Gene Adams
Top Gun Diamonds 80 – Frank Sperling


Hall of Fame Inductees

Scott Wolters

Scott began his Top Gun Senior Softball career in 2010. He has played on Top Gun teams in the 55’s, 60’s and now in the 65’s Division. He is not only a great infielder but is an even better person and teammate. Scott has earned many All-Tournament awards for his outstanding defensive play and hitting. Scott had the winning hit in the 2015 Masters Championship which ultimately resulted in securing the coveted Triple Crown for the team. Scott has one of the best releases known as a second baseman in turning a double play along with the uncanny ability to play all over his side of the infield. He is a true asset and ambassador for Top Gun Senior Softball. Scott Wolters is highly deserving of his induction into the Top Gun Hall of Fame.

Jesus Godoy

Jesus’s love for baseball began when he was just a boy in Cuba. As he got older, his passion became slow-pitch softball. For 15 years he had the pleasure to play for a great team, Top Gun. His team has played and won countless tournaments throughout the American Southwest. What makes Top Gun such a great team is not just the wins, the individual awards or tournament awards, but the bond of the teammates. Without the dedication of the coaches and players like: Bob Pucci, Red Simmons, Don McCage, Billy Poe, Dave Duarte, John Fisher and Tony Lavarone, none of this would have been possible.