KELSO -- A champion was crowned at the 20th annual Kelso Klassic Fastpitch Softball Tournament despite rain delays, late-night games and a forfeit by a championship finalist.
"The rain was a big factor over the weekend with the late hours and that hurt attendance somewhat," said assistant tournament director Rick Heuring, of the frequently weather-hampered tournament. "It's never nice to have your prime games played at four o'clock in the morning."
The Bloomington Stix of Bloomington, Ill., the top-ranked team in the state of Illinois according to a recent Web poll, defeated the T-Town KC's of Teutopolis, Ill., 5-2, for the championship on Sunday at Kelso City Park.
Forty-two-year-old Bobby Ginger, a three-time ASA All-American and a member of the 1991 USA National team, went five innings for the win.
Adam Folkard, an 18-year-old Australian pitching phenom, pitched two scoreless innings for the save.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning, Bloomington's designated hitter Brent Vinson drilled a home run over the centerfield fence for the game winner.
But Bloomington's proper opponent should have been Brandt's Softball of Springfield, Ill.
Brandt's, a 3-1 winner over Bloomington in an earlier winners' bracket semifinal, chose to forfeit and leave early for the long trip home rather than wait to play the delayed championship contest late Sunday evening.
"Unfortunately, they (Brandt's) couldn't finish the tournament and I would have liked to have seen them play again, but I understand the circumstances," said assistant tournament director Rick Heuring. "It was unfortunate that it worked out that way, but it was something we had no control over.
"Bloomington was probably the best team on paper, but Brandt's gave them all they wanted when they met earlier."
Brandt's was awarded the second-place trophy. T-Town was third and the Memphis Posse finished fourth.
Local participants, the Kelso Connection (2-2) and Kelso Fastpitch (0-3), failed to break the string of outside champions. No Kelso representative has won the Klassic since Kohlfield Distributing in 1997.
Said Heuring, "Obviously, it would help our crowd and keep interest up to the end if we had a local team playing for the championship. I'd like to see two Kelso teams in the championship game. That would be a difficult thing to achieve, but not impossible. The competition is pretty stiff, but that's what the tournament is all about."
The two Kelso teams played before capacity crowds in Friday night's tournament openers.
Presented individual awards were Bloomington's Folkard and T-Town's Terry Mette, the losing pitcher in the title game. Folkard was named the tournament's most valuable pitcher and Mette, the most valuable player.