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Just 26 years ago, the New Orleans SAE Alumni Association began a great Sigma Alpha Epsilon tradition that has matured into one of our annual signature events. The SAE World Series softball tournament, held annually in the Big Easy, brought players into the hot and humid Louisiana summer. In all, 16 all-SAE teams of actives and alumni competed in the event.
The 26th SAE World Series action began on Friday night as defending champs and top-seeded Southwest Texas Alums warmed up with a 43-2 whipping of the Nicholls State B team. The Nicholls B team looked more like a Z team, begging for a ten-run mercy rule, as they had no answer for the “Texas blitzkrieg attack.” Across the softball complex, last year’s runner-ups, the Southern Mississippi Alums, cruised to a 10-2 victory over the Nicholls State Alumni team. The West Florida Alums proved that being in their mid-30s was still young enough to compete. They destroyed the local New Orleans alumni team, the Rejects, 21-2. Meanwhile, John Voitier’s always-tough Christian Brothers Alums team smashed the local Tulane active chapter 16-1. In the next hour of play, the Cal State-San Marcos team, which had traveled across the country to participate, had arrived with only half their players because the rest of the team had gotten lost around San Diego. The half that that did make it to the tourney came with their girlfriends, but tournament rules state that eight are needed to play. The host committee decided that the long-dedicated drive should count for something and agreed to let the women play to complete the team. Coincidentally, the opponent was the Rejects II, another New Orleans alumni team. During the off-season, the Rejects II pulled the original SAE World Series (in 1986) MVP Kenneth de la Houssaye out of retirement in an attempt to bolster their lineup. The game started with the Rejects II jumping out to a 2-0 lead, but the girls got hot, the old men got cold and the San Marcos “half-girl team” prevailed 9-2. San Marcos players proved too much for 52-year-old de la Houssaye and the Rejects squad, as they flubbed it. The embarrassed Rejects squad continued to earn their name and live up to their reputation as they were the brunt of jokes for the rest of the tournament.
Tournament action continued Saturday as Steve Birk’s South Florida Alums team beat the Nicholls A team 8-4 after demolishing the LSU Alums 17-0 the night before. Geoff Harris’ Southwest Texas Alums repeat hopes got a serious test as they beat Tommy Laudig and his West Florida Alumni team 13-6 in a game that stayed tight until the end. The underdog Tulane Alums almost pulled off an eye-opening upset as they led after four innings but fell in the end 6-5 to the heavily favored Christian Brothers Alums. The girls from San Marcos tried to continue their upset magic, but the second-seeded Southern Miss Alums showed no mercy in placing hits directly at the girls to win 16-1. Later in the day, the South Florida Alums, competing in their 20th straight SAE World Series, proved that their age was an asset, as Steve Birk led them to a 19-2 thrashing of the second-seeded Southern Miss Alums. With a berth in the finals on the line, the South Florida Alums faced the Southwest Texas Alums looking to repeat as champs. The Florida squad jumped to a 4-0 lead after the first inning, but the Texas group matched the four runs in the second to tie the score at 4-4. The third inning was scoreless, but in the fourth, Adrian Castilleja’s three-run homer broke the game open to jump ahead 7-4. Southwest Texas Alums added four more runs in the fourth inning, cruising to an 11-4 victory and berth in the finals. The Southern Miss Alums fought their way through the consolation round with a 4-3 win over the Nicholls State Alums and with only a five-minute rest – then beat the Nicholls A team 1-0 to earn a chance at redemption against the South Florida Alums. With the 19-2 loss still on their minds from a few hours earlier, Southern Miss Alums team captain Josh Sutton led his squad as they eliminated Birk’s South Florida Alums team 9-6 and earned redemption. This third win in a row earned them a trip to the finals and created a repeat of last year’s tournament finals.
In the championship game, Adrian Castilleja, Scott Lowrey and Geoff Harris all contributed with key home runs to lead the Southwest Texas Alums over the Southern Miss Alums 18-8 in a game that was never in question. Scott Lowrey’s consistent hitting throughout the event earned him tournament MVP honors. This well-deserved Southwest Texas Alums championship was their third in a row and fifth overall. Team Captain Geoff Harris promises a fourth in 2012.
Later in the evening, everyone convened at the Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street in the historic French Quarter for a post-tournament social event. The Nicholls B team earned the tournament’s “Last Place Award,” which was a toilet trophy for the fifth straight year, and all three Nicholls teams once again earned the “Spirit Award” for unrivaled enthusiasm throughout the event. Hundreds of members competed in the brotherhood competition and look forward to convening in New Orleans in 2012 for the 27th annual event. Visit www.saeworldseries.com for photos and complete information on future World Series.
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