COOPER CITY — It wouldn’t be a NASA softball tournament without encountering the obstacles of summertime elements.

The Seminole Tribe’s Recreation Department hosted this year’s annual competition that drew about 60 teams in men’s, women’s, co-ed and legends divisions from five Native American tribes.

Naha Jumper makes solid contact for the Hayla Boyz in a men’s division game. (Kevin Johnson)

Most of the games were played four fields at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City; a few were held on the Hollywood Reservation.

All the rain, thunder, lightning, mud, puddles and weather delays that accompanied the three-day tournament on the first three days in August didn’t rattle the Seminoles’ Hayla Boyz men’s team.

Hayla Boyz outfielder Ozzy Osceola charges the ball in a NASA men’s game. (Kevin Johnson)

They were determined to win in their own backyard in a division that featured 14 teams.

The Hayla Boyz, organized by Naha Jumper, outlasted powerful Sneaky Creek from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama to win the men’s championship at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City.

It was a long, hot, sweaty and dirty journey, but all worth it for the Hayla Boyz, which featured a blend of veterans, like Jumper whose experience in NASA extends decades, and an influx of younger newcomers.

As his Hayla Boyz teammates cheer him on, Greg Thomas sprints toward home plate in the NASA men’s softball championship Aug. 3 at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City. The Hayla Boyz captured the title against a team from Poarch Creek. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

“I’m very proud of my squad,” Jumper said. “They played their hearts out.”

The addition of a few players under age 20, such as Lucas Osceola and Ozzy Osceola in the outfield and Kenny Descheene at first base, provided a spark at the plate and in the field.

“I love their quickness and speed,” Jumper said.

Kevin Johnson (2) Above and at right, despite huge puddles and plenty of mud thanks to heavy rain, players played on at NASA, including these players who opted to go shoeless in a women’s adult division game at Brian Piccolo Park. Kevin Johnson (2) Above and at right, despite huge puddles and plenty of mud thanks to heavy rain, players played on at NASA, including these players who opted to go shoeless in a women’s adult division game at Brian Piccolo Park.
Kevin Johnson (2) Above and at right, despite huge puddles and plenty of mud thanks to heavy rain, players played on at NASA, including these players who opted to go shoeless in a women’s adult division game at Brian Piccolo Park.

Hayla Boyz also received solid defense from a number of players, including shortstop Catlen Tommie and second baseman Ray Yzaguirre, who combined to turn multiple double plays.

Championship Saturday was interrupted multiple times by inclement weather. Afternoon games finished in the evening.

“It was whoever could outlast each other. We kept hitting rain and lightning delays. Then there was like a monsoon when we were playing,” Jumper said.

The Hayla Boyz won their first three games against Southern Natives, Arrows and Sneaky Creek to reach the championship undefeated.

Layton Thomas sprints toward home plate on his way to scoring a run for the Hayla Boyz. (Kevin Johnson)

Coming out of the losers’ bracket in the double-elimination tournament, Sneaky Creek needed two wins against the Hayla Boyz to claim the title.

Sneaky Creek accomplished the first leg by rallying from a 4-0 deficit to win, 11-7, and force a winner-take-all showdown.

In the final, the score was tied 8-8 until the Hayla Boyz, who weren’t about to settle for the runner-up trophy, erupted for seven runs in the final inning to win, 15-8.

Hayla Boyz first baseman Kenny Descheene battles for position against Sneaky Creek while trying to catch the ball. (Kevin Johnson)

Jumper said his team and Sneaky Creek, who have met in previous NASA championships, have accumulated plenty of respect for each other throughout the years, and this year was no different.

“Before the game we’re buddies. During the game we’re enemies. At the end, we’re still friends,” he said.

Jumper praised Hollywood Recreation manager Joe Collins and all of the STOF Recreation Department for the work they did in tough conditions throughout the tournament.

“They did a good job,” he said.

The Hayla Boyz celebrate after winning the NASA championship in the men’s division Aug. 3 at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City. The players are, from left, Blevyns Jumper, Catlen Tommie, Jason Grasshopper, Layton Thomas, Leon Wilcox, Ozzy Osceola, Roger Neadeau, Lucas Osceola, Charlie Micco, Duke McCoy, Kenny Descheene, Greg Thomas, Marshall Tommie, Naha Jumper and Ray Yzaguirre. Also pictured is team scorekeeper Susan Davis. (Courtesy photo)

A few of the older Hayla Boyz did double-duty in the tournament.

They also had a successful run in the men’s legends division on the Mound Pounders team, also organized by Jumper, but came up one win short of a title and finished in second place behind L.A. Legends.

The long days took their toll on the team, which went 2-2.

“We kind of died in the last game. We only had 10 players; some could barely run,” Jumper said.

The Lady Seminoles celebrate after winning the NASA women’s legends championship at Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City. Standing, from left, Boogie Johns, Trish Osceola, Salina Dorgan, Dana Osceola, Laverne Thomas, Carla Gopher Rodriguez, Reina Micco, Bilie Tiger, Henrietta Welch, Susan Davis, Rita Gopher and Melissa DeMayo. Kneeling, from left, Wendi Riley and Charity Waller. (Courtesy photo Seminole Recreation)

In the women’s legends division, there was no stopping the Lady Seminoles, who overpowered opponents on their way to winning the championship with an undefeated record.

With just three teams in the division, the Lady Seminoles went 2-0 with both wins coming against C-Nation.

The Seminoles’ Mound Pounders proudly hold the runner-up trophy they earned for finishing second in the men’s legends division at the NASA tournament. The Mound Pounders are from left, Albert Arch, Jason Grasshopper, Duke McCoy, Stu Wildcat, Jay Liotta, Richie Kirkland, Milo Osceola, Roger Neadeau, Naha Jumper and Roy Garza. (Not pictured: Preston Baker). (Courtesy photo)
Rita Gopher delivers a pitch in the rain on the Hollywood Reservation for the champion Lady Seminoles in the legends division. (Kevin Johnson)
Lady Seminoles shortstop Carla Gopher Rodriguez makes a nifty backhanded catch during a NASA women’s legends game at Osceola Park in Hollywood. (Kevin Johnson )
Boogie Johns belts a base hit for the Lady Seminoles in a NASA women’s legends game at Osceola Park in Hollywood. (Kevin Johnson)
Lady Seminoles batter Billie Tiger gets ready to drive in a run with a single. (Kevin Johnson)
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