Top Five: Softball dominates national tourney

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Editor’s note: We’re out of the pool and out on the field for No. 2 in my picks for the best local gay sports stories of the year. The athletes behind the Hotlanta Softball League cleaned up at the national championships last October, bringing home the gold like no other gay sports organization in the city.

When the Hotlanta Softball League (HSL) ended its 26th season in August, 10 teams packed their bags and traveled to Phoenix for the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance World Series. They were attempting to become the first Atlanta teams since 2004 to win a World Series title, competing among 185 teams from 30 cities at the event.

HSL teams took three of the eight division titles at the World Series. On the men’s side, Atlanta winners included the Atlanta Venom, which won the A division title, and the Wet Demons, which won the D division title, in a Southern sweep of the Open Division. The Orlando Force (B) and Memphis Heat (C) won the other titles.

On the women’s side, Atlanta Riptide won the A division to claim its first title, while Gamma Lite took third place in the D division. Other Women’s Division winners included Phoenix the Other Team (B), Seattle NW Connection (C) and Seattle Lunachix (D).

“You always have hopes of winning your division, but you never know because there are so many competitive teams,” said Rick McCracken, HSL’s open commissioner and a Venom player. “I was very surprised, excited and a bit nervous — it was everything rolled into one.”

“I had faith that we would do well,” said Nina Cole, the Riptide’s coach and a member of the Atlanta Heat that won back-to-back titles beginning in 1997. “If we played like we normally play, there shouldn’t be a reason why we wouldn’t win. But you never know from one day to the next at the World Series.”

But HSL didn’t just travel out of town for national competition. In May, the league hosted nearly 30 teams for its annual tournament, the Hotlanta Softball Challenge. In addition to six local teams, the event also attracted participants from California, Texas, New York, Florida and Alabama.


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