Houston Heat wins division championship in specially scheduled national softball tournament in Waxahachie benefitting ATO

First row (left to right): Cody Jarboe 3B, Tyler Sigue 5th Man, Felipe Gallegos 2B, Kyle Canales IF-OF and Frank Medina P.
Second row (left to right): Erik Holland C, Fabian Garcia 3B, Matt Valdez CF, Palani Avila DH, Ryan Myers LF, Jerome Vitello SS, Dylan Hay OF, Blake Ellisor 1B.

The Houston Heat, HPD’s softball team that is earning a national reputation for winning games against the highest-ranked teams, was crowned division champions in the first-ever Keepers of the Peace national tournament in Waxahachie.

A national tournament in Waxahachie?

Yes, you can believe that under the unique circumstances posed by the coronavirus pandemic and you can also now take to the bank that it benefitted the Assist the Officer Foundation.

There is a lot of story to tell here and the Badge & Gun will turn it over to Senior Police Officer Frank Medina to fill us in. Medina, a Narcotics officer, doubles as the pitcher, leader and all-tournament member of the Houston Heat. The Heat, it must be noted, ranks as one of the few police softball teams in the nation made up entirely of officer/players from one department.

Medina said the Heat is composed of both veteran and even rookie officers. “We got two guys with approximately two years on the department. It helps us to balance out the team with veterans and rookies – kind of like championship teams like the Houston Astros.”

“The Police Softball World Series is usually held every year in Las Vegas,” Medina explained. “This year it got cancelled because of the virus. We were hoping for some alternative since so many officers had already arranged time off and made their reservations.”

The members of this police softball subculture stick together and stay resourceful. Retired San Antonio Police Sgt. Trini Trinidad got with Medina and volunteered to use his connections to develop an alternative tournament.

The newly opened Waxahachie Sports Complex proved to be the perfect venue. As a result, 31 teams from the four corners of the nation as well as the Midwest anted up entry fees to participate in the Oct. 7-9 event.

The tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Fabian Garcia of the Houston Heat

“Trini made sure that the proceeds, after expenses, would be divided between ATO and a police-backed San Antonio non-profit known as Shield for Kids,” Medina explained. He said that Shield raises funds to help underprivileged children.

Medina said the amount of the net proceeds was in the process of being tabulated after expenses were paid.

“Trini took the reins and really came through with a good plan and a great benefit to Assist the Officer and Shield for Kids,” the pitcher/Narc said.

Now let’s get down to how well the Heat did in this, only its third year of existence. All told, the team played seven games in three days. They were placed in the lower of two divisions. Medina explained that in the annual Las Vegas tournament there are four separate divisions based on rankings and team performances. There were only enough teams in this tourney to have two divisions. The Heat was placed in the lower division alongside teams ranked much higher nationally.

The results:

  • Game 1: Heat 18, Stanislaus (California and Arizona officers) 16.
  • Game 2: New York Hounds 37, Heat 21
  • Game 3: Heat 19, Necessary Force (New York) 2.
  • Game 4: Heat 16, MO5O 8
  • Game 5: Heat 22, Detroit PSC 19
  • Game 6: Heat 25, Minnesota Norsemen 15
  • Game 7: Heat 18, Norsemen 13.

Medina credited “a great defense” for getting the job done, an effort that resulted in him and Heat Fifth Man Tyler Sigue (Southeast CST) being named to the all-tournament team.

But the big news maker was Heat Third Baseman Fabian Garcia. Tournament officials named him Most Valuable Player!

The team was presented a championship plaque and each member was awarded a special bat to commemorate the victory.

That is not all the winners’ benefits. Medina said a uniform company will provide the Heat with a new set of jerseys in time for the 2021 softball season. He predicted that the Heat would opt for a lighter shade of uniform, either silver or white, to be more comfortable during the hottest months of the season.

Next year, the Heat’s fourth in its young history, will begin with a higher national ranking and competition in a higher division.