What had potential to be the most well played tournament to date, JAL XI was incredibly sloppy.
Only three players were rookies to the league, and for the most part every team's roster was the same as it was in the previous JAL X. It seemed as though most everyone was going to be experienced and have good chemistry with their teammates this time around, two factors that people thought would vault the quality of play in JAL XI to the best the league has seen in a single tournament.
Mother nature disagreed. Hours before the start of the tournament heavy snowfall rolled through Castle Rock, leaving a glossy white layer of snow over Apple Park. By tournament time the snowfall had died down and the snow on the field turned to slush. After just a few games Apple Park was a glossy brown layer of mud. Oh, and the temperature was a chilling 37 degrees.
There was slipping and sliding, frozen fingers and teeth chatter, but the tournament rolled on under the spotlights, which were pretty cool.
Okay now let's get to the good stuff...
In the opening game of the tournament the defending champion Rapids squared off against the Fog. Within the first few minutes of the game Jacob Rahn ripped a 3-run homer on reigning MVP Ty Johnson, which set the tone for the Fog's unexpected title run as they went on to win 6-3.
The Rapids never recovered, finishing 1-2 and missing the postseason... The whole 'No team has ever won back-to-back titles' thing carries on.
Silver Lake also limped their way through JAL XI, and walked away from the tournament with an 0-3 record. Poor Cathy Woodruff (Team's Owner), her team is now the only one left in the league to have never won a WWCD Cup.
The four playoff teams were easy to determine with the Lynx, Bison, Fog, and Cobras each finishing 2-1.
In the semifinals the top seeded Lynx beat the #4 seeded Bison convincingly 3-0, and the #2 Fog came from behind 0-3 to knock off the #3 Cobras.
In the WWCD Cup it was the #1 and #2 seeded teams facing off, which has only happened in 4 out of 11 JAL tournaments.
The WWCD Cup was a scoreless defensive game until Jacob Rahn crushed (And I mean CRUSHED) and 3-run homer on Toutle's star pitcher Jordan Halverson. After that, Jacob worked into a grove at pitcher, and closed out the game strong, winning 3-0.
After the final out Jacob and Darren ran toward eachother in celebration, each trying to throw the other to the ground for a 'mud bath.' Within seconds both players were spending their momement of glory not jumping and cheering, but aggressively wrestling on their hands and knees, almost at war with eachother.... Only the Fog guys, only the Fog. But that is why we love this team.
Tournament awards will be announced tomorrow.