By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
Some of the future players, led by versatile Valencia Gibson and Jeffery Gibson, took the spotlight on Saturday night as the New Providence Softball Association hosted its All-Star Classic.
And in a show of appreciation to their performances in the past, the league selected four former players and named the respective All-Star teams in their honour. The honourees - Neressa Seymour, Senator Jennifer Dotson, Leslie 'Truck' Johnson and Gary Wright - were introduced in between the two games.
They also helped Bahamas Softball Federation's president Ted Miller and former treasurer Ali Culmer present the championship rings from the 2016 season to the Johnson's Lady Truckers and the C&S Hitmen.
League president Henry Dean said throughout the course of the rest of the season, they will honour a number of players and executives, including immediate past president Godfrey 'Gully' Burnside, for their contribution to the growth and development of the sport over the years.
While the Jennifer Dotson team, managed by Hyacinth Farrington, pulled off an 11-4 rout over the Neressa Seymour team, managed by Stephen 'Bishop' Beneby, in the ladies' opener, the Leslie Johnson's All-Stars, managed by Hall of Fame pitcher Richard 'the Lion-Heart' Johnson, outlasted the Gary Wright All-Stars 12-5 in the late men's feature contest.
Reminiscent of the old days when their two teams clashed in the battle of the titans, both Johnson and Wright said they enjoyed the rivalry that they experienced back in the 1980-90s with the perennial kingpins Budweiser Eagles and T-Bird Flyers respectively.
"I had a lot of fun and I did a lot of winning too," said Johnson, who started in 1972 and retired in the 90s. "I always liked to play ball and I started out taking plenty beating, but in the end I was a winner."
During the time, Johnson helped the Eagles win 13 titles as he either caught for pitchers like Richard Johnson, Clifford 'Butch' Scavalla, Harold Whyte, Philip Skeets and Shad Rolle, or he played first base in the NPSA as well with the Heineken St Bernard's in the Nassau Baseball Association against the St Pauli Girl Barons.
Wright got started in the coaching of Ali Culmer in 1979 and ended up in 2000 under Godfrey Burnside with the T-Bird Flyers. He noted that if it wasn't for Budweiser, his T-Bird's team would have easily won a couple more titles.
"They won 13 championships, but eight of nine of them came against our T-Bird team. That's the difference between winning and losing," said Wright, an outstanding outfielder. "The difference was so small, but the end product that was our one title didn't count when you consider that we played them seven straight.
"That could have been us winning at least six or seven more titles, but they got the better of us. They were that much better than we were."
And so were the respective All-Star teams.
Leslie Johnson All-Stars 12, Gary Wright All-Stars 5: BTC's Jeffery Gibson, playing left field, was a perfect 2-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored in securing the MVP for the men's encounter that finished early Sunday morning. Teran Wood was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Olando McPhee was also 2-for-2 with a RBI and two runs scored to help the winners.
Rudy Fox was 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored in a losing effort.
Eugene Pratt went the distance on the mound for the win and David Nathan suffered the loss in his start through the first four innings.
The Leslie Johnson stars came up with three runs in the second, five in the third, three in the fourth and one in the fifth. The Gary Wright stars were held to just one run in the first, two in the second, on in the third and another in the fifth.
Jennifer Dotson All-Stars 11, Neressa Seymour All-Stars 4: Valencia Gibson, in performing double duties, spun a four-hitter with no earned runs in two innings to secure the win on the mound in the ladies' opener.
Gibson also left her mark on the offensive attack as she went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs batted in (RBI) and as many runs scored to walk away with the MVP award.
Mia Turner was 2-for-4 with two RBI, Sophia Cartwright 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored and Sari Albury 2-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored in the win.
The Dotson All-Stars scored one run in the first, three in the second, one in the third, one in the fourth, four in the fifth and another in the seventh to seal the deal. The Seymour All-Stars could only muster on run in the first, two in the second and their last one in the seventh.
Denisha Woodside went 1-for-3 and Sheena Taylor was 1-for-2 in a losing effort.