WAYLAND – Deep Purple, a team of 14 senior softball players from three leagues across Eastern Massachusetts, won the 65 AAA tournament at the 2022 Senior Softball USA (SSUSA) World Championships held in Las Vegas in September.
Two Natick residents were on the team.
Over 660 teams competed in age brackets from 50 to 90 years old. To win the tournament, Deep Purple competed against 28 teams, going undefeated in seven games.
The Deep Purple players come from a close-knit community of softball-loving seniors who enjoy competing in three New England leagues: Eastern Massachusetts Senior Softball (EMASS) with 450 players, Rhode Island Senior Softball League (RISSL) with 200 players, and Cape Cod Senior Softball League (CCSSL) with 300 players. Unlike the mostly western teams in the Las Vegas tournament, eastern teams have only half a year to play outdoors. Deep Purple overcame that weather disadvantage with the best team chemistry.
Team Chemistry Makes a Big Difference
When a senior softball team wins a highly competitive tournament, you will hear every player tell you how much fun it was to win. Was it fun because they won? Sure, but more likely, they won because they had fun together. That is the gist of good team chemistry and Deep Purple’s clear advantage this year.
Team chemistry is an intangible attribute that captures the dynamic interactions among teammates. How they play together, how they get along on and off the field, how they respect one another, and how they win (or lose) in a sportsman-like manner. If there is friction among players, it saps energy from having fun and that can adversely affect winning teamwork.
Every player on the Deep Purple team has solid skills but there are no big home-run hitters and no big-name players who have won prior national championships. They win on balanced contributions from across the team. The team chemistry is so palpable, the players’ spouses see it in every tournament.
“These guys sure have fun together. They act 30 years younger when they are out on the field,” said one spouse. “And they feel 10 years older an hour or two after they play,” said another.
Each Player Has a Story
Almost every senior softball player must work through the pains and challenges of their aging bodies. Deep Purple is no exception.
Larry Fegan manages the team and is a six-year pancreatic cancer survivor. The pitcher has a replaced hip and the shortstop has two knee replacements. The catcher had stents put in a few months ago after recent heart events. The second baseman and midfielder both need pinch runners for knee pain. The third baseman has recovered from an aggressive prostate cancer. Despite progressing old-man memory loss, they all remember the details of that incredible third-inning situation three years ago, or when Joe Blow made the best play of their life, or when any ump has made a questionable call.
“This team has fun together on and off the field,” said Fegan. “Everyone on our roster delivered big hits or big defensive plays in multiple games.”
Returning home after an exhausting week at the World Championship, most of the players were back on the fields competing in their local league playoff games the next day. The fun of competing as a senior never stops and playing through pain is a small price for the joy of playing a team sport with your buddies.
Deep Purple’s roster includes Larry Fegan, Manager (Natick), Bill Bertrand (Natick), Mike Carroll (Northboro), Joe Debreu (Attleboro), Brian Faria (Dartmouth), Mike Faria (Falmouth), Wayne Fernandez (Fairhaven), Chris Flynn (Mansfield), George Hamilton (Middleboro), Rob Hust (Norwich), Walker Royce (Boxboro), Steve Sullo (Acushnet), Allen Souza (New Bedford), and Bill Thorne (South Weymouth).
In full transparency, above is a press release that was submitted to SOURCE media.