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Pacific Parents Are New Champs at Softball Tourney

Aug 30, 2021 12:22PM ● By Mb News Staff
A summertime tradition in Manhattan Beach was rekindled on Sunday, as the 15th running of the Parents' Softball Classic took place all day out at the Marine Sports Complex. 

The annual charity softball tournament, usually set for early June, was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers worried that it might be challenging to recruit parents as players during the summer months leading into an event rescheduled for late August.

But Sunday's high attendance, including 100 players on 9 teams and nearly equal numbers of family members, friends and pups showed how much the treasured community event was missed.

Perfect weather graced the event, with mild temps and occasional clouds. Barbecues ran all day, grilling (donated) Manhattan Meats bacon burgers and hot dogs, while the snack stand offering beverages and kid-friendly treats was constantly busy. Music played all day, while kids cheered on their dads (and moms) in the stands for stretches of time, then ran out to play in open, unused portions of the grassy fields.

The event is a fundraiser for the MBX Foundation, with funds largely supporting the needs of the Mira Costa softball team. This year, the Classic raised a record amount in donations by players, over $16,000, before the first pitch. Additional revenue came from the snack stand and other efforts.

DigMB was among the event's three sponsors. Dave Fratello, the local real estate broker, was tournament director, so he also brought on as sponsors MB Confidential and his Edge Real Estate Agency

The event was supported by volunteers with the Mira Costa softball team and boosters, among others, and both new MCHS principal Karina Gerger and vice principal Jennifer Huynh attended. Huynh provided some photos for this post.

Hard-Fought Games

And then there were the games. 

Local parents group together in teams for the tournament, affiliated based on the school attended by their youngest child.

Teams represented Grand View, Pacific, Pennekamp, American Martyrs, Robinson, MBMS and Mira Costa High School. One more team, known as the Founders, included longtime veterans of the tournament who continue to play after their kids have aged out of the district. (Tournament founder Ross Kay leads the team.)

All teams played four games on the three little league fields at the complex, then the top 4 teams moved into semifinal matchups. 

There was one big break from tradition: Meadows elementary, which has often brought two squads, was unable to gather a team, though the school had won 5 consecutive tournaments, including the June 2019 event, the last one played. 

Instead it was upstart Pacific elementary that brought two teams this year, nicknamed "Pacific - LeBron" and "Pacific - Durant," in a nod to the 2021 NBA all-star teams.

While the capable Durant squad faced a buzzsaw and lost against two playoff teams early (Pennekamp and MBMS), the LeBron team plowed through its schedule, racking up a 4-0 record while giving up just 7 runs in pool play. Pacific - LeBron eked out 1-run wins against the beach schools first (Robinson, then Grand View) before pasting MBMS with an 8-1 defeat. 

That MBMS team included veterans of the 5-time champion Meadows team, and the early expectation was that the Waves would make their way to the final. That defeat during pool play at the hands of Pacific - LeBron was a warning that the winds might be changing. 

Pennekamp came up big in the tournament, posting a 3-1 record only days after informing tournament organizers that the school was unlikely to field a team. The school community rallied, big-time, and not only brought a talented squad, but perhaps the day's largest sustained crowds of fans, sometimes chanting, "PK all the way!"

Robinson allowed the second-fewest runs of the tourney, just 13 over 4 games, squeaking into the playoffs as one of three teams with a 2-2 record. (The tournament uses a defensive measure, runs-against, as a tie-breaker.)

It was a fun day for the also-rans: Martyrs (2-2), Pacific-Durant (2-2), the high-scoring Founders (1-3), Grand View (1-3) and Mira Costa (0-4), but there would be no playoffs for them. 

Pacific - LeBron handled Robinson 7-3 in one semifinal, while Pennekamp fought hard before falling 5-4 to MBMS, setting up a rematch in the final between MBMS and Pacific - LeBron.

In a game that often features low scoring, the final between the two best teams of the tourney went largely as expected. Most of the first 5 innings moved quickly with few base runners. But a line drive to left field by Pacific - LeBron was uncharacteristically dropped, and MBMS allowed 2 runs to score. 

That was all it took, as the Waves were shut out in their final at-bat, handing the trophy to Pacific with its 2-0 win.

After the games, Pacific players were abuzz. Many were new to the tournament, but more importantly, perhaps, many are new to the school, with kindergartners and 1st-graders. Having tasted tournament victory, they're looking ahead to try to create their own dynasty now.

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