Softball: Southland’s Bada Bing claims national title
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media September 21, 2012 8:20PM
Mokena's Dave Gath, player/manager for for ASA national champs Bada Bing, take a cut during league action in Tinley Park. | Jeff Vorva~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:36AM
There was a time in June when the south suburban-based Bada Bing/Marquette Bank slowpitch softball team was in a huge skid.
The first three letters in the word Bada summed it up pretty well.
The team finished 2-6 during a three-tournament stretch. Injuries started to deplete the roster, and a few healthy guys were mumbling about finding a new team.
But on Sept. 2, on a field at Harmondon Park in Sioux Falls, S.D., Bada Bing received plenty of bling after winning the Amateur Softball Association E/Rec National Championship.
After a wild celebration on the field, the team was awarded plaques, a banner and championship pullovers.
Just a few months before that joyful event, the manager/first baseman of the team, Dave Gath, of Mokena, was wondering if he should even put the paperwork in to try to qualify for nationals. After a couple of tournaments in Itasca and one in Carol Stream found the team struggling, Gath’s team was going south and South Dakota didn’t seem like a possibility.
“It’s like a 162-game season in Major League Baseball,” he said. “You go through the highs and lows. We went 2-6 in consecutive tournaments and wondered if it was worth it to make a commitment and have everyone go out to Sioux Falls when we weren’t even good enough to win a tournament locally. We had our doubts.”
But the injuries healed and no one defected, so the team got its act together and eventually rolled in the nationals. And the June swoon was long forgotten.
Thanks in part to the crafty pitching of Brinder Nijjar, of Justice, the team opened the national tournament with a pair of 9-1 wins. Marc Albano, of Alsip, made three diving catches in right field to help preserve a 6-5 victory Denucci’s Bar from Minnesota.
Three games later, Bada Bing’s offense put together its best showing of the tournament with a convincing 21-10 victory over Sport About Softball from Grand Rapids, Mich., in the title game.
“We were pretty happy with that win because they basically combined a couple of the best teams from their area,” Gath said. “It was like facing an All-Star team.”
Worth’s Mike LaRusso, a former St. Norbert College baseball player, went 15-for-17 in the final day of competition, according to Gath.
Other members of the roster who made the trip include Alsip’s Adam Chrzanowski and Matt Zintak, Orland Park’s Mike Marshall and David Kamradt, Oak Forest’s Mike Klimson and Sean Klimson, Oak Lawn’s Brian Grote, Romeoville’s Gary Martin, Elgin’s Brandon Bauer and Chicago’s Will Hicks.
The team was named Bada Bing from the television show “The Sopranos” because Gath said he has a resemblance to the lead character Tony Soprano, who owned a nightclub with the same name. The team was formed in 2003 but in recent years, Gath said, Grote has been recruiting several friends from the Robert Morris baseball team, a moved that helped turn the team into a national contender.
Bada Bing owned a 30-6 mark in league play in early September and a 14-8 record in tournament play. The team is still playing in a fall league in Tinley Park.
Members of the team who have played most of the season but didn’t make the nationals trip include Midlothian’s Nick Miller, Justice’s Alex Nijjar and Dave Klimson.