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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — They won their respective titles in tournaments held on their home turf over the Labor Day weekend. Now, Japan’s Yokota Warriors, the Osan Mustangs of South Korea and Okinawa’s American Legion get to face each other in the 12th Kadena Klassic slated for this weekend.

“It should be a good tournament. It’s the strongest field we’ve had in three or four years,” said Jason Vandenberg of 18th Services fitness and sports, the event’s proponent since its 1995 inception.

Of the 21 teams entered, four men’s squads and two women’s come from off-island. And Vandenberg said from all he’s heard from those teams’ respective coaches, “all the teams coming from off-island will be at 100 percent, so it should be a lot of fun.”

If so, Osan, Yokota and American Legion could be the men’s teams to beat:

¶ Coached by Sammy Kurk, the Mustangs will have in tow a slew of sluggers, including Robert Goddard, Gary Lafon, former American Legion slugger Dexter High and Tony Piccoli, who helped Osan beat Heat 3N2 17-7 in the POW-MIA Memorial tournament at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

¶ Yokota will be powered by Kenny Wade, Keith Serrano and Dan Davis, who combined for 11 home runs and 22 RBIs as the Warriors pounded Fu Sheng, Taiwan’s national team, 22-0 and 22-8 in a two-game final in the Kanto Kup, also on Labor Day at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

¶ American Legion also needed two games. It secured the title in the 20th Typhoon Classic by winning 29-6 over Club Red in the “if necessary” game after losing the first game 22-14. The Typhoon Classic finished at Torii Station, Okinawa, on Sept. 19 due to rain and duty commitments.

Strengthening Legion will be returning All-Air Force sluggers Chadd Malin, Jim Flagg and Kurt Tom. They missed the Typhoon Classic while helping lead Air Force to its third straight title in the All-Armed Forces tournament in Florida.

On the women’s side, all eyes will be on the Kadena Falcons women’s team, which has won five titles in the six tournaments in which they’ve played this season, including the July 4th weekend Yard Busters tournament at Kadena and the rain-delayed Typhoon Classic on Sept. 6. Yokota’s women won the Kanto Kup, while Camp Humphreys of Korea finished second at POW-MIA.

Kadena will bring to the table three current or former All-Air Force players: second baseman Katherine Braun, pitcher Twyla Sears and outfielder Shannon Thomas.

One new dimension to the tournament will include the stealing rule the Amateur Softball Association adopted for men in 2004 and women in 2005 but has used rarely in Pacificwide open tournaments. Vandenberg said he plans to allow stealing in the double-elimination playoffs.

“It will be a first for us. We’re trying to make it a bit multidimensional and give the lesser teams a chance in the double-elimination,” Vandenberg said.

Round-robin play is to beginat 5:30 p.m. Friday, with the playoffs starting Saturday night. The women’s championship is to be played Sunday afternoon with the men’s possibly bleeding over into Monday, Vandenberg said. The schedule will be adjusted, he said, should bad weather intervene.

12th Kadena Klassic interservice softball tournamentDates—Oct. 6-9, 2006.

Site — FourDiamonds Softball Complex, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.

Format — Single round-robin, 15 men’s teams divided into three pools, six women’s teams in one pool, first two days. All teams eligible for double-elimination playoffs, starting Saturday night and concluding Sunday evening for women and Monday for men.

Rules — 2006 Amateur Softball Association rules, banned equipment list in effect, modified to include stealing in double-elimination playoffs, and “8-plus-1” home run limit per team per game throughout (if one team reaches eight home runs, the other may hit a ninth, then the first team is permitted two more home runs to reach 10 and so on).

Schedule of events — Skills competition, home run derby, baserunning, team throwing relay and barbeque icebreaker at 6:30 p.m. Round-robin games 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. for women and 10 a.m. for men Saturday, concluding at 5 p.m. Coaches meeting to set up playoff brackets at 5 p.m. Double-elimination playoffs begin at 6 p.m., one game for women and three games for men on Saturday, and continue from 9 a.m. Sunday until conclusion for women. Men’s championship game date and time to be determined.

Awards — Most Valuable Player, 11-player all-tournament teams, team and individual trophies and medals for top three teams, skills competitions first and second place.

Participating teams — Men: Sasebo Naval Base Pirates, Yokota Air Base Warriors, Japan; Osan Air Base Mustangs, Camp Humphreys Bulldogs, South Korea; Camp Schwab, Kadena Air Base Falcons, Naval Forces Okinawa, American Legion, CLB, Torii Army Knights, Club Red, Shoguns, Benchwarmers, Fat Kids, Guzzlers, Okinawa. Women: Camp Humphreys Bulldogs, South Korea; Yokota Warriors, Japan; Kadena Air Base Falcons, Yard Busters, Vixens, Typhoons, Okinawa.

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