ASA Super Qualifier College Station, Texas – April 20th & 21st, 2002
Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corps/TPS
They do big things in Texas, and in this tournament scoring runs by the bunch is just what Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corps/TPS did on route to this ASA Qualifier’s Championship, now making it two for two in 2002. Long Haul was led by MVP Jimmy Powers. Jimmy is truly amazing continuing to be one of the best hitters in the game and surely has been a great pick-up for the Long Haul squad. This looked to be a whole team effort as everybody contributed in their line-up. They played some of the games on fields with the wind blowing out. They also played some games with the wind blowing in. They did not hit that many home runs in these conditions. This tournament was played on 300′ fields using a .40 core Worth gray dot ball. The conditions definitely helped with the high scores with the wind blowing out. It also contributed to a couple of low ! scoring games due to the wind blowing straight in, but it made no difference to the Long Haul bunch. Finishing in second place was a very, very good Class A team, Mountain Top/Advanced/TPS. This ball club will contend all season long and are capable of winning a NIT at the Super level. This bunch has a lot of talent who can play the game. This is another great merger that just made this team very competitive and able to compete with anybody. Getting the third spot was another good team Budweiser/Absolute/Team Experts/Worth. They came up short in a tough game against Mountain Top/Advanced/TPS. Make no mistake about it the Budweiser team is very good and will be knocking on the door all season. Finishing in fourth place was another one of those good A teams, Doc’s/Mizuno who also have some very good players. Sterling’s boys always find a way to win when it counts. We’ll see what happens this year. I have said all season long that there are about 20 solid teams who can play every weekend and we wouldn’t know who would be the winner. If these 20 teams got together on a small baseball field with backed up bases, it sure would be a lot of fun watching. You can call these teams whatever you want AA, Major, A, I don’t care. To me there’s three super teams and the rest are A teams, just my opinion!
I would like to see this for one weekend; Budweiser, Chase, Team Mizuno, K&G, Twin States, Mountain Top/Advanced, Pov’s, WW Gay/Aubrey’s, Florida Heat/Joe Blacks, Doc’s, New, Smokes, Mid-South, Suncoast, C&M/Tommy Currid, Creative, O&S, Hudson/Taco Mac and more. This would make for one of a hell tournament. I know there are some of the teams I listed that may not be able to win , but they will be very competitive with anybody. Anything can happen and will happen playing in these conditions on baseball fields. One weekend without the Big 3, and let’s see what this would look like.
Jason Kendrick’s 8th Annual Easton/Reebok Softball Classic April 20 & 21, 2002
This is one of the better tournaments I have ever attended in one of the best softball complexes I have ever seen, Freedom Park Valdosta, Georgia. This is a eight field complex and it is just beautiful. There were 76 teams entered in all the divisions, which were Open, Class B, Class C & Class D. I enjoyed watching the lower classes play for a change. I did watch a little of the Open Class but I really did want to see the B,C & D teams play. There were some great games played by some very good teams. Here is how it went; the Class B winner was T&R Stucco/Worth out of Polk County, Fla.. This is a very good B team who could very well win a couple of championships this season. T&R was led by MVP Mike Pratt. Mike hit it very good all weekend long and made some great defensive plays. JC Battista, who filled in for T&R this weekend was a big factor also, as he hit it and played his usual good defense. This was really a total team effort in their win. I expect to see T&R win a couple of more tournaments before playing in the Nationals. Good Luck T&R Stucco/Worth. Second place went to another very good B team, All Star/Mizuno who played very well all weekend. Other B teams who played well were the Georgia Hitmen, Herring Plumbing, Prebble Rich, Cherokee Banks & a team called Langdale Builders who looks like it has some very good softball players. The Class C winner went to Uniflora/Nike, a real nice C team who played some very nice softball this weekend. Uniflora was led by MVP Kevin Hamilton who just hit the daylights out of it and played good defense in this tournament. This C Division was a very competitive tournament with some really good softball teams. Second place went to another very good C team South East Carriers. This bunch scraped all weekend to get the second spot. Other good C teams who gave a very good showing were Taco Mac, Team Horsemen, Acti-Flex, Kent, SGM Wigpoppers, Russell Paint/Mizuno & Yard Dawgs. The Class D Division was another competitive bunch who battled all weekend long. The winner was a team called TCS out of Douglas, Georgia who had to win the “if” game to claim the Championship. This ball club was led by two brothers who were named Co- MVP’s, Adam & Ben Vickers. They both hit it and caught it for TCS. Finishing in second place was another very good D team, Brew Dawgs who gave TCS all they wanted in this battle. I watched the “if” game and it was a dandy. A good job by all the Class B,C & D teams. I really enjoyed watching your teams play this weekend. The Open Division was won by a very good pick-up team called Southern Pride. Most of the players were from the F! la., Georgia area and some from other places. MVP was Chris Chambliss who smacked 35 homeruns and only made about 5 outs in over 50 ab’s. Brian Henderson hit 29 homeruns. this was also a total team effort from everybody in their win. K&G Sports/Phonemasters/TPS went undefeated in five games but had to leave to catch their flights early Sunday made by changes from Delta Airlines. Hudson’s/Taco Mac team played very good this weekend and also C&M Sporting Goods/Tommy Currid/Worth, Team Action. O&S/Easton also played extremely well for coming out of the north for their first tournament of the season. They will be a good team down the road. Big League Softball team played good for a few games, but ran out of gas. They had Jeff Hall, Brett Helmer, Greg Harding, John McCraw, Scott Brown, Gino Burdick and other good players. Nellie’s All Stars played extremely well but didn’t get all the good calls and didn’t drink enough, ha! Smoka Red, I apologize for not getting over to the tent because it was too much work keeping up with all of it. K&G will be in the hunt in any tournament they play in. They are a very good team. They have some very tough outs in their lineup and can catch it, believe me. I like to get Carl going and some of the players, but this team is for real make no mistake about it.
I would like to take the time to say what a great place for these teams to play. Freedom Park is without a doubt one of the best parks in the country. I can’t say enough about what kind of a man Jason Kendrick is. He is a First Class guy who really cares about the game of softball, but most importantly about people. He is a great family man and that means a lot to me. His wife Missy is truly a very nice woman who has the same good qualities as Jason and who is also all about family.
Thank You very much Jason, Missy & Nate and all the tournament staff for their hospitality shown this past weekend to my wife Joan and myself. We really enjoyed being there.
ISA “A” NIT – Winter Haven, Florida – APRIL 13th & 14th, 2002
Team Mizuno wins the ISA “A” NIT
Team Mizuno has been playing since January when they captured their first Championship of the 2002 season in St. Augustine, Fla. The Mizuno boys went on to win two more Winter National Championships, the ISA and the NSA. By playing these winter tournaments it got them ready to play when the bell sounded to start the 2002 NIT’s. Team Mizuno started their season in Daytona Beach, Fla. finishing in the top four and then went on to Sanford and took second place. This ball club finally got to play a tournament without one of the big three, but had three more of the best A teams in the country, Twin States/Worth, Pov’s/TPS and WW Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS to contend with and came out on top. Rick Gosser has put together one of the best defensive teams ever, if not the best. He has built this team with ex-baseball players, some who have pro-baseball experience and ! is letting these players learn to play the game of softball. He has got some Latin layers who can flat out play the game and are getting better and better every time they play. Having veteran players like J.C. Battista, Roy Eppley, Scott Alley mixed in with future Big Time players like Danny Seguie, brother of Baltimore Oriole player David Segui and young Jesus Merejo and also good hitting and big time shortstop Wayne Busby. This has the makings of some World Championships. We will see in time!!! When Team Mizuno gets the services of Greg Harding I believe they will be very hard to beat. Finishing in second place this weekend was W.W. Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS who also has the talent to play with any of these very good A teams. They may need one more big homerun hitter, which would make them more competitive. The merger between W.W. Gay and Aubrey’s has made them a strong A team. They have some veteran players mixed in with some good young talent that will only get better as the season rolls on. This ball club will surprise some people that’s for sure. Getting the third place spot was another one of these very good A teams Twin States/Worth, who came together through a merger when two good A teams L&L Painting and Mississippi/Worth became one to form this very good team. Make no mistake this is a very good A team who will be there every weekend. They have some veterans and very good young players that can play, and their management has been here before. Look for this team to be in the hunt and win some World Tournaments. Fourth place went to the boys from the north country, Pov’s/TPS out of Minnesota. This bunch came out of the snow and brought their bats with them ready to hit and that is just what they did, but ran out of gas early. This being their first time out scoring a lot of runs early and not being in softball shape yet caught up with ! them. This will be a very, very good A team and will contend all season long. They have some very good players and can flat out hit it. Watch out down the road, they will have to catch it to be able to win. I have said that the A Division is the best it has ever been. Well believe me it’s just that. Take these four teams that played here this weekend, add Budweiser, Chase, Mountain Top, Creative, Doc’s, New, Mid South, K&G, and about ten others, put them all together in a tournament on a baseball field 320′ down the line, 350′ in the gaps, 375′ to center with 85-90′ bases and I’m not sure who would win. I guarantee there would be great defensive plays made, some great hitting and most of all great games worth watching. We will get it on soon I promise!!
NSA NIT – Plano, Texas – April 7th, 2002
Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton wins this NSA NIT by going undefeated in this rain shortened tournament. Lonnie and Jim did all they could to get this one in, but mother nature would not have any of it. Pool play was stopped before all rounds could be played and they moved into the double elimination and could only get the Winners Bracket completed. Dan Smith won the Winner’s bracket final and the rains came again and the tournament was history. Jason Kendrick was MVP as he was 20-23-4. Jeff Hall, Brett Helmer, Larry Carter and Shane Dubois were also big for the Smith boys. Budweiser/Absolute/Team Experts/Worth finished in second place after going 3-0 in the pool play and getting the #1 seed in the double elimination play. The Budweiser team got going by winning their first two games in the double elimination and then Dan Smith, who also won their first two games got it on what would be the Championship game. Dan Smith came out on top winning a 21-16 game to capture the Championship. Budweiser was led by the cough drop brothers, Jerrold and Jeff Smith along with veteran John Meyers who is getting better with age, as he always could hit it good. Greg Huchinson told me “he thinks his club will be a better team than last years, and is looking to win some tournaments this season. We will be competitive against the Long Haul’s, Dan Smith’s and Hague Resmondo’s all season long”. Finishing in third place was a very good A team, Mountain Top/Advance/TPS who played extremely well all weekend. This is another merger that will pay off as they will be a contender in the A World’s and could also win a Super NIT this season along with about four other great A teams in the country. Fourth place goes to Turn Two an up and coming A team, who played very well this weekend. There are some very good A & B players from Texas and Oklahoma who can play. Greg told me that teams like Team Dallas and Storm from Oklahoma are good A teams and will get better. Good job by all!!
ASA SUPER NIT Sanford, Florida – April 7th, 2002
Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth swept through this small but well played tournament by going 5-0 on route to the Championship. The important thing for Hague/Resmondo was to get the points for winning the tournament and some games in to get ready for their next tournament when they will get to play the Dan Smith boys. Last year Hague/Resmondo and Dan Smith had one of the most fiercest rivalries ever, with some of the players changing places, this rivalry should get even better. Hague/Resmondo was led by MVP Dal Beggs, who is bigger and stronger than he has ever been and it is definitely paying off for him. “Big” Paul Brannon led the tournament in the homerun department with five, which was a good number considering the wind was blowing in all weekend long. Wind or no wind Paul can hit it!! Todd Volkers also hit it very good as he continues to show why he’s one of the best in the game. Team Mizuno who continues play well needs to step up their hitting as they finished in second place. This is one of the better defensive teams you will see this season. They are very strong in the infield and outfield. This week the conditions were perfect for this ball club, but they just didn’t hit. Getting third place was a good B team T&R Stucco, who has played very well on the big fields and has held their own against the good A teams. This bunch will be a contender in the B Worlds this season. All Pro Collision, Midstate Mizuno and the Sea Dogs gave a good effort. It is nice to see them come out to play. I would like to say it was a pleasure to work with Tom Farnsworth, Tony Galloway and Jim Shaeffer and the entire Orlando ASA Staff who did a great job running this tournament. There should have been more good A & B teams entered in this field of teams. I know the Rose Tournament had a lot of the good A & B teams playing there, but we must work on playing on different weekends next season so that both tournaments can be a success. There is no better park to play in than this Historic Sanford Stadium, that is home to the ASA World Series. Big Time softball should always be played in places like this. This was a good tournament, surely to be better next year.
The Rose City Classic – April 7th, 2002
Twin States/Worth went 5-0 to win “The Rose City”. Keep an eye on this bunch because they will be a solid contender to win some Class A World’s this season. With this merger between L&L Painting and Mississippi Worth came together I knew it would be a very strong team. I spoke to Bubba Tatum just after the merger and he said “Gordie don’t rank us too high, let us play together and see if we deserve to be a Top 15 team”. I can tell you they are and will be all season long. Finishing in second place was C&M/Team Ball/Worth a pretty good A team from players out of the pan handle in Florida. Third place went to Langdale, a team I’m not too familiar with, but apparently is a pretty good team. Fourth spot went to Florida Heat/Nave Plumbing/Joe Black/Worth, who manager Roger Taber told me “our team played very good for this early in the season with some of the players coming from the north. I feel we’ll just keep getting better as we play more”. WW Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS finished in the fifth spot this time and they have played fairly well this season.
USSSA Cajun Classic Carencro, LA – May 25 & 26th, 2002
Twin States/Worth Wins the Cajun
I have said that there are a lot of great A teams since all the mergers took place this past winter. I will say no more on that issue. Twin States/Worth wins and becomes the fourth team to earn a berth to Mickey Mouse World and the 2002 USSSA World Series. Twin States did this by going 5-0, winning games against Team Texas/Ambers, LA Bag/Legend/TPS, Suncoast/Nike, Hague/Resmondo/Worth and Budweiser/Absolute/Team Experts/Worth on route to the Cajun Championship. Bubba and Pat put together this merger and got veteran Jackie Hayes to coach the defense, who by the way is one of the best at doing this in the history of the game. I know everyone wants to say that Twin States is a Major or AA team, but there are a lot of teams who are just like Twin States, and that my friends is great for our game. Whoever thinks that Big Time Softball is dead better take another look, what’s really happening is that with all the mergers these teams are much better and are much more competitive and that’s the bottom line. Twin States was led by MVP pitcher Eddie Hicks and a total team effort. As I said in last week’s report this team was coming, and they sure proved it this weekend. Congratulations on your win!! Budweiser/Absolute/Team Experts/Worth took second place in this one and played extremely well this weekend and maybe now will start to make a run up the ladder. They certainly have the talent to do just that. Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth who finished third in this one, and for the second consecutive year did not fare very well in the Cajun, as last year they were beaten by Budweiser. The Hague boys just didn’t adjust enough to overcome the USSSA homerun rule. Making no excuses they also played Sunday without two of their better players Scott Streibel, who had to leave to go home and Todd Volkers who got hurt, and they played the price. There’s no doubt that the homerun rule can effect some of the games that the A teams play against the big three. I can only say that if the big boys don’t make adjustments then there will be more upsets like this past weekend, but believe me these A teams are not afraid to step on the fields rather it be baseball or 300′ fields with the homerun rule, because these teams are getting better and better and these are the real facts. I also feel there has to be a lot of adjustments made when teams have been playing on baseball fields with 90′ bases, it is definitely a different game, but the bottom line is teams know what the rules are before they play. If you don’t like it, don’t play it. Fourth place went to Team Mizuno, who has played very well all season, and fourth place is a very good finish in this tournament for this bunch. Once again Louisiana State Director Robert Boudreaux and the Pelican Park staff ran another great tournament. This continues to be one of the best tournaments in the country year after year.
WSL/NSA NIT – Richmond, Indiana – May 18th & 19th, 2002
Long Haul/Taylor Brothers/Shen Corp/TPS wins in Richmond
Richmond, Indiana was the site for the third WSL tournament of the season and all three of the Super Teams were entered. There were more than the three big boys that’s for sure. Teams like Chase, K&G, Midsouth and Team AH who were making their first appearance in the WSL made it a good one by upsetting Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton. Strange things happen some times, not taking anything away from Team AH. The only bad thing at this tournament this weekend was the weather. It was very cold which made for a tough weekend on the players. The Long Haul boys had to battle back through the losers bracket in this one, as they had lost the winners bracket championship game to Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton. Long Haul had to look at playing their old nemesis Hauge/Resmondo/Worth, whom they had beat early on in the tournament. Sure enough they met up with each other in the losers bracket finals and Long Haul won this one and set sail to try and double dip Chase, and that’s exactly what they did to capture the Championship. Long Haul was led by MVP Scott King and the rest of the team. Chase, who has a very good team battled all weekend long and finished second and collected the two thousand dollar travel expense prize. Chase’s third baseman, Jeff Lanning broke his wrist sliding into second base will be out for six weeks. My friends, this is a first class kid and one hell of a ball player. Get well soon big boy, your a big part of this very good ball club. Third place went to Hague/Resmondo/Worth, who will have to step it up a little in the upcoming weeks if they want to keep up with Long Haul. Make no mistake, these three teams Long Haul, Hague/Resmondo and Dan Smith will battle every time they meet, but I can tell you on these baseball fields the other teams are coming and they will win games against the big three, and the more they play on the big fields the more confidence they get that they can play with the big boys. It happened this week Team AH wins, Chase Wins. Last week K&G won against the big boy,and the competition is getting better and that is what this game is all about, leveling the playing field. I would like to say a special thank you to Allen Brady for his efforts in holding this tournament at the Richmond Roosters Stadium. I am sorry that I missed this tournament, but things didn’t work out for me.
Good luck to Al and his Richmond Rooster’s baseball team.
Euless Texas USSA NIT – May 18th & 19th
Hooters/Mizuno continues to play very well as they win this first ever NIT in Euless, Texas and become the third team to earn a berth to Mickey Mouse World, in the USSSA World Series. Hooter’s is another one of those great A teams in the country. Hooters was led by MVP Brent Wilhelm and a host of other good players from this Mizuno powerhouse team. This bunch will be there every weekend battling for a championship. They have a mix of veteran players and very good young ones who can play this game well. The Mizuno management has definitely chose the right teams to represent and sponsor for the 2002 season. They have a bunch of very good teams throughout the country at every level which is great for the game. Second place went to another very good team Twin States/Worth. This bunch is on the move up in the rankings. They have a lot of talent and will continue to get better as the season goes on. This team lost some games early to some teams whom they shouldn’t have lost too, but are starting to get it going and will definitely be a contender each weekend. Third place, goes to Budweiser/Absolute/Team Expert/Worth who has played good, but has yet to get it all together. There is no question they have a lot of very good players but need to step it up to rise up in the rankings. I am sure Hutch will get them going. as they have way too much talent not to be winning more games. Fourth place went to Mountain Top/TPS who played very well early on in the season but have dropped a bit in the last couple of weeks. They are way too good to be losing some of the games, and I believe they will pick it up and get back on track. I would like to say to Texas Red “I don’t know who got this tournament going but I figure you must have been a big part of it, and I will say whoever you guys are you deserve a big hand for getting it done. I like to see people promoting Big Time Softball no matter what organization or where it’s played. Good job, Texas.
Kettering, Maryland USSSA NIT – May 11th & 12th
This USSSA tournament ended up being played in Baltimore, Maryland and was won by Chase/Reece/Rooster/Easton who became the second team to win it’s berth to “Mickey Mouse World”, and the 2002 USSSA World Series. Chase didn’t have much opposition, but RPM/TPS out of California came all the way to take second place. This group always finds a way to get to the USSSA Worlds year after year. Chase was led by MVP Jeff Lanning and the rest of the Chase gang. I remember talking to Chuck Caviness in the winter and I said, “You know what Chuck, Kettering would be a good place to get your berth, and he agreed and the rest is history. Great job Rooster’s keep up the good work.
ASA Twitty Classic – May 11th & 12th, 2002
The ASA Twitty was played in beautiful Hendersonville, Tennessee. Dan Smith/Backman/Mennose/Easton was the winner of this prestigious tournament. The Smith boys had to do this the hard way by coming through the losers bracket and double dipping a very good K&G/Sports/TPS. K&G had beat Dan Smith early in this tournament and went on to win the winners bracket championship, but came up a little short in the “if” game against Smith. K&G was down 27 -7 in the if game but managed to get back to tie the game at 29-29 going into the top of the seventh. Dan Smith scored six and K&G came up empty in the bottom of the seventh and Dan Smith had the Championship. Dan Smith was led by MVP Brett Helmer and home run leader Jeff Hall. Third place went to WW Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS who has been playing very well the last few tournaments. Dan Smith is off to a very good start in 2002, as they have won all three events that they have played in this season. They will be looking to move into the number one ranking if they can win in Richmond, Indiana next week.
The Twitty Class A Winner was Mid South /TPS/ who beat back a very good Twin States/ Worth Team to win this thirty-six team event. This was a tough tournament to win and would have been a lot harder if Mid South, Twin States and Creative Stucco played up where they should have in the open bracket, it would have been much better for the other thirty three teams. There is no question these three teams I named belong playing in the open bracket. That is another issue. These three teams are very good A teams and can play with all the other good A teams in the country. I know there were some other good teams in the A division, but not any that can compete weekend and week out with teams like these three, but remember this is only my opinion. Berardi’s who probably would have won this tournament if the other three were not playing finished fourth in this one. Who knows. Good luck to all the teams in 2002. As usual, another great job done by the Hendersonville Parks and Recreation and Dave LeMarbre.
WSL/NSA Spring Classic – Spartanburg, S.C. – May 4th & 5th, 2002
Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton Wins
I think the Dan Smith boys wanted to start the 2002 season letting Long Haul know they were not about to roll over this season. People will say “it was only a “one pitch” tournament and they had a one hour time limit for their game”. The bottom line is that it was fair for both teams and Dan Smith won their first meeting between two of the Giants of Big Time Softball. The amazing thing is that it took an incredible 8 run rally by Long Haul in the bottom of the 6th inning and with the time already ran out to win their game against Hague Resmondo to even get to play Dan Smith. These “3 Giants” are very close. Dan Smith was led by MVP “Big” Scott Brown, the young pitcher who can hit it with the best of them and will prove to be a big part of this team in 2002. I know it’s hard to judge a team in a one pitch game, so I won’t do that. I can tell you that this 2002 Dan Smith team is a lot better than last year’s team, with the pick-ups of players like Demond Thomas, Larry Carter, Scott Brown, Shane Dubose, David Hood, Robin Higgenbotham and of course one of the games best all around players Jason Kendrick would make any team better. This is going to be a great season in Big Time Softball. The merger with some of the best A teams getting together and Dan Smith and Hague Resmondo both having better teams will definitely make for great competition and a fun game to watch. Because of the bad weather the WSL and NSA staff had to make some hard decisions on how to get this tournament in and I totally agree that they did it right. Jim Kimmel and David Lancaster got it done, and that is what it’s all about, trying to make things work, and that is what they did. I said this format of playing travel expenses to the four highest finishing teams, other than the big 3 was a great idea, and I believe it has been awesome so far. Holland/Terry’s/Mizuno, a very good A team out of North Carolina finished in second place and picked up the $2,000 prize money. They earned it by playing extremely well all weekend. Felts, another good A team also played very well and earned the $1,500 they picked up. Both Audio Jungsion and Smokes picked up $750 each for their very good efforts in this tournament. The Felts sponsor had this to say “Gordie I’ve been in this game as a sponsor since 1967 and have never had anyone give me any expense money, this is absolutely awesome and is worth it for A teams to come out and play for a chance to earn travel expense money”. Another quote from the Jonesboro personnel “our team didn’t know if we would like playing on baseball fields with 90′ bases, but I can tell you now that we loved it and are thinking about going to Richmond, Indiana in two weeks. The good thing is we had a chance to compete and play a full game against one of the best teams in the world Dan Smith, but 90′ might be a little too much Gordie, but I understand on some of these nice fields they wouldn’t want you on their good grass”. The order of finish in the tournament itself was like this; Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton, 2nd. place went to Holland/Terry’s/Mizuno, 3rd. place was Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS and 4th went to the Felts team. I have to say that the WSL/NSA has been very exciting in their first two events and it’s only going to get better. Don’t miss the next stop in Richmond, Indiana. I would like to say that David Lancaster ran a First Class tournament. The ball fields were excellent. David and his staff did a great job of getting the fields ready after all the rain. The City of Spartanburg was a great host for this “Big Time” softball tournament with good hotels, good restaurants and good people.
I would like to say a special thank you David from myself and my wife Joan for a great weekend, you are a “Class Act” and I’m glad you took the time over a year ago to call me and ask me about you putting on a tournament in Spartanburg, S.C. All I can say David is that the “rest is history, Great Job”!!!!
USSSA NIT Cocoa, Florida – May 4th & 5th, 2002
Team MIZUNO Wins the USSSA NIT
What more can I say about the Class A teams in the country. This is truly worth coming out to watch. I would of liked to have seen this tournament, but as you know I have pushed hard for the World Softball League and had an obligation to be there , and had to miss this great one. That does not mean it’s the only game in town. This USSSA Nit had one of the best field of teams you will see this year. Nine great evenly matched teams of which anyone of the 9 could of won. I am an avid supporter of playing these tournaments on baseball fields and that is what they played on this weekend in Cocoa. The problem was that these fields were a little bit too big. They couldn’t use the stadium because of the Rodeo going on, so they had to use the outside fields. The one field is not too bad, pretty big like the stadium, but the other field was monstrous, but fair for both teams that had to play on them. But play they did, and the team I’ve been talking about all season long, that being Team Mizuno wins the first USSSA berth to Mickey Mouse World in 2002. I’ve said this team can flat out play defense, and believe me it doesn’t get any better than this. Put this team on a baseball field and they can compete with anybody. The Mizuno bats are beginning to heat up and this bunch will get better on the offensive side of the game as the season progresses. USA Mizuno Sports has stepped out in their sponsorships this year and now have a whole bunch of good teams playing around the country. It is good to see another one of the big manufacturers going full board in the sport. Team Mizuno was led by MVP Roy Eppley and all tournament team members, JC Battista, Greg Neal, Augie Nunen, Jesus Merejo and Defensive Player of the tournament Brian Milstead. Mizuno had to earn this championship by coming back through the loser’s bracket and double-dipping a very good Hooters/Mizuno team. Hooters, who finished 2nd. here hasn’t played as much as the teams entered in this one, but make no mistake about it they are very good and they will contend all season long. I didn’t have them ranked for I knew nothing about this year’s team and did not know which players were playing from last years team, but I had an idea they would be good and they answered that this weekend. The third place finisher was Budweiser/Absolute/Team Expert/Worth who played very good, but just came up short again. Fourth place went to another very good A team, a team who has played just about everybody this season and has proven they can play with anybody was Florida Heat/Nave/Joe Black’s/Worth.
USSSA NIT Cincinnati, Ohio – June 29 – 30, 2002
Beautiful Eggelston Park was the place for this USSSA NIT.
The winner was Florida Heat/Nave Plumbing/Joe Black’s/Worth a team I ranked up in the top of the heap early this season and have kept them there because I felt they had one of the better A teams in the world, and they have definitely proven it right. This ball club has been playing extremely well all season. Roger Tabor has put together a bunch of veteran players who can play and do what it takes to win at this level. When Roger added veteran pitcher Pat Wayne I knew it would pay dividends and make them a very strong team, and that’s exactly what happened. Florida Heat was led by MVP Joe Povenski who went 19-20 and led the tournament with 7 homeruns. They also got great outfield play from Jeff Young and a great effort from veteran Bob Woldyk, Brian Arnold, Butch Smith and the rest of the Florida Heat ball club. Great job guys, you deserve a lot of credit. Keep up the good work. Finishing in second place was Creative Stucco/Easton, another one of those very good A teams who will be a tough team down the stretch. I can say don’t take this team too lightly, they will jump up and bite you in a hurry. They are better than their record shows. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton gets the third place finish in this one as they battled along with all the other teams in the 90+ temps. all weekend long. The fourth place spot went to Perkins/Watanabe/TPS who always seems to play very well in these Super NIT’s.
I would like to say once again as usual another great job by Jim Wessel and his staff at Eggelston Park running this USSSA event. This is a great place to hold a tournament with the great shade trees and very good hospitality and is certainly the best place to watch softball in the country. Great job to Jim and his wife.
ASA Super Louisville, Kentucky – June 22 – 23, 2002
Louisville, Kentucky was the setting for this ASA Grand Slam Tournament originally scheduled for Lexington, Kentucky, but was moved to Louisville due to other circumstances. Phonemasters/K&G Sports/TPS won this very good tournament that had six very good teams entered and the battle was on. K&G, has begun to put things together and now are proving they belong up at the top of the rankings. I think this bunch thought they should of been ranked higher, but it this reporter’s eyes were not playing good enough to warrant that. This team has started to play very well these last few weeks, and I can tell you they are back and will be very tough to beat down the stretch. The K&G boys had to push a little harder in this one as the second place team, Lighthouse/Worth have been showing they can play with any of the big dogs in Class A this season. K&G had to come back through to beat this Lighthouse team to win this one. I didn’t get a lot of information on this tournament so I won’t write a whole lot about it. I believe Raymond Moscow will report on it also.
I would like to take the time to say what a great job Ray and Dawn do promoting Big Time softball down in the Kentucky area. “Big Time” softball owes both of them a big thank you for their hard work and dedication to this great game. Great job Ray & Dawn!!!
USSSA Dudley Budweiser NIT – Brooklyn Center, Minnesota – June 21-23, 2002
Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton wins the prestigious USSSA Dudley/Budweiser NIT in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. If anybody thinks that Backman/Easton is not back and ready to become the #1 team in the land better have other thoughts. I can tell you that if this week’s play is an indicator, this team has become a team that is hungry and wanting to be the best in the game. The changes they have made in the off season are starting to pay dividends, and that is what they needed to get the ship up-right. Jason Kendrick is the catalyst in the charge for this team to move up the ladder and try to become the #1 team. He isn’t the only one, shortstop Demond Thomas, middle infielder David Hood, all-star left fielder Robbin Higginbotham who is beginning to hit it now and if he continues will be the biggest addition this team added. I don’t want to forget Larry Carter, who can be a big plus for any team, and of course their young pitcher Scott Brown whom I believe if left on the mound most every game with a little rest here and there is the biggest asset for this team. This young man can hit it and also glove it. To finish this part of the story let’s not leave out the main stays Helmer, Hall, Joerling, Nevitt, McCraw and Rosado the utility man, and that makes up for a hell of a ball club. Manager Jim Wessel was brought over to try and change this team around and get it on the winning way, and that my friends is happening in 2002. The Backman boys were led this weekend by “big” additional hitter Dewayne Nevitt ( This weekends MVP), who wore it out all weekend long and contributed 12 homeruns in his assault on the tournament and their two wins over the #1 team in the land. This was also a total team effort as I believe this ball team was very hungry and played extremely hard to prove to the Long Haul boys and to the rest of the softball world that they are here and ready to claim the #1 spot. I know there will be some people out there who will disagree with me and believe that Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton should move to #1 in the rankings this week, but this reporter will not make that move at this time. I will tell you that at the Smoky Mountain Classic when the three “Giants” of the game collide again is when I will make a change at the top of the heap if warranted.
I have been an advocate that the big three or four when they had it should play in the same tournaments as much as possible to give the softball fans and softball teams a chance to play or watch the best teams in the world go at it, I know this is impossible because of the amount of NIT’s out there. I would hope that the minds of softball would realize that this has to go. We don’t need more NIT’s we need less, so that financially the teams that want to play can afford to go to tournaments like the Dudley or the Smoky or any other good tournaments. People that say “big time” softball is dead, don’t know what they’re talking about, this game is at it’s best. We may not have as many teams participating at each event, and the only reason for that is that there’s too many events going on to make that possible. I’ll say it one more time, “Super NIT’s, 5 USSSA’s, 5 ASA’s, 5 NSA/World’s and 5 World Series, let the Major teams who are declared Major automatically have berths to the four World’s and the WSL have their final four by the point system. I will tell you if that was in place you would get between 12 and 16 of the top teams in the nation to your NIT’s those 15 weekends set-up, and the Smoky and the Dudley will still get the same amount of teams they always get, but maybe more of the better teams could afford to come if there were less tournaments”. Enough of that let me get back to the Dudley reporting.
The Long Haul boys finished 2nd. in this one, and they played extremely well this weekend, but the better team won this weekend taking nothing away from the Long Haul team because they gave an effort to try and win as much as anybody. I’m sure the Long Haul coaches, sponsors and players will be looking forward to playing when they all come together for the Great Smoky Mtn. Classic. Finishing in 3rd place was Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth team, who believe me from it’s sponsors to the players have given everything they’ve got every weekend and are very close to capturing one of these tournaments when the big three are entered. Make no mistake they have good players and are giving 100% in trying to get to the top. They deserve to win one and I believe they are very close to winning one of these tournaments, Don’t count them out. I will state that these three Super teams are very close in talent and that is great to see for when they get together we the fans get to see some great softball playing and that’s what it’s all about. I need not say too much about the A division for we know there! ‘s about 15 of them who can get at it every weekend, and that is worth watching as well. I want to tell you it was Great to see a B team from Minnesota who can flat out play and have some great young players who put on one of the best displays this weekend at the Dudley like the likes never seen before. Saturday they played against the #1 team in the nation with a good hometown crowd cheering them on, they almost pulled off the biggest upset that would of ever been at the Dudley, but fell short losing a thriller 45-43. That didn’t stop this upstart bunch from Minnesota who began to climb back through the Loser’s Bracket and on the way took out another Major team, Twin States/Worth sent them to the house and then the bubble burst as they had to play another one of the giants, Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth and there was nothing left in the tank when the Mt. Crew/Mizuno boys were run-ruled and their tournament came to an end. Boy do they deserve a big hand for a Great job!!!
I want to congratulate Warren Bellm, who gave a courageous effort to play this Dudley after torrential rain hit the City of Minnesota Friday morning and Central Park became unplayable. Warren and his staff found a way to get the other complexes ready to go and complete one of the great tournaments in the world. Setting the politics aside, Warren Bellm, Gerry Turnberg are great people for the game of softball. If everybody would treat the game the way these two do, Major softball would be a lot better off. You’re both a Class Act!!
Don’t let the politics in this game take it away from you, Do it your way, that’s my motto!!
Milwaukee, Wisconsin “USSSA” NIT – June 15 & 16th, 2002
Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS finally gets it’s berth to Disney World to try and repeat it’s chances at another Grand Slam. I don’t believe anybody thought they would not get it, because of their scheduling this season this was their first USSSA event. The Long Haul boys played extremely well playing in this homerun controlled tournament. They used very good base hitting and hit their homeruns in timely fashion. They did what you have to do, and that is adjust in the USSSA events. One of the managers of a very good team told me “the reason Long Haul is so good is that players like Wallace, Bumgardner, Martin and the rest of that team can base hit it when they want to and they’re not selfish players, they do what it takes to win and that’s why they’re the best at this time”. Brian King, the valuable utility infielder for Long Haul was the tournament’s MVP. Brian, who doesn’t play all that much is always ready when called on and can flat out play this game. He is without a doubt a big piece of the Long Haul machine, this week filling in for the injured Johnny Mello. Randall Boone was named Offensive Player of the tournament going 18-19. This tournament came at the right time as most of the teams will have to play the same format next weekend at the Dudley.
Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton who lost to a very good A team, Mountain Top/TPS early in the tournament came charging back through the loser’s bracket to claim 2nd. place. This team is still a threat to win as the season rolls on. Third place went to Mountain Top/Advanced/TPS who has had an up and down
season so far in 2002, but have a lot of talent. When Mountain Top and Advanced Roofing made their merger and got it together I knew they would be a very strong team and very competitive every weekend. This team has a mix of young and veteran players who know how to win and could very well win one or two National Titles. Fourth place finish went to another very good A team, Florida Heat/Joe Black’s/Worth who has played extremely well all season long. I believe this bunch will be a contender in the Class A Worlds this year. I
just can’t say enough about the A teams this year. It is a joy to go out and watch these good A teams play, or AA teams as some people like to call it. I talked to a bunch of the managers and players and they told me this was a very good tournament. I believe this because Pudge and Roger always run their Milwaukee tournament First Class. I was glad to see the USSSA bring it back to Milwaukee in 2002. See you all at the Dudley.
ASA Super – Cincinnati, Ohio – June 15 & 16th, 2002
Phonemasters/K&G Sports/SchwinngTPS finally put it together this weekend and won this ASA Super. The K&G boys are a very good team, and have proven that they can play with anybody. They have at times not played very good and lost to some teams they shouldn’t have, but as they say that’s why they play the game. Winning this one may get them on the right track, and if so watch out!! This team has a lot of talented players and can flat-out hit it. We will see! Second place went to Perkins/Watanabe/TPS who always seem to have a very good team year in and year out. They don’t have a big budget, but play a lot around home and always make it to 3 or 4 big tournaments. Dave is one of the real good sponsors and is a great guy and has been a big part of Big Time softball for years. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton have played very well all season, but couldn’t get it going this weekend. This club will be in the running most tournaments, believe me. EMR/Worth, another team you don’t hear much about are a good team and very competitive when they do enter these better tournaments took fourth place in this tournament. Congratulations to Danny Saylor for getting this great tournament back on track. There were a great field of teams entered this weekend and maybe this will get this tournament back at the top.
“NSA” Class “AA/A” Chattanooga, TN. – June 15 & 16th, 2002
The NSA ran the prestigious Pic O Dixie Tournament down in beautiful Chattanooga this weekend. TWIN STATES/WORTH, who were beaten by Lighthouse Baptist in their first game battled back through the Loser’s Bracket to win this great tournament. This is the 35th year of the Grand Old Pic O Dixie. Believe me most of the best players in the world over the past 35 years have participated in this tournament. Lighthouse Baptist/Worth finished in 2nd place and played very good all weekend long. Third place went to C&M/Worth,
a nice little A team who put on a good showing this weekend. Fourth place went to Cherokee/Brick/Bank Oil/All Star/Mizuno who I saw play earlier this year and is also a very good team. Congratulations to everybody who played at the Pic O Dixie and to the NSA for adding this tournament to their list of other great tournaments that they run.
ISA Class “AA/ A” Pasadena, Texas – June 15 & 16th, 2002
A good contingent of Texas teams showed up to play in this ISA event, but mother nature put a stop to this one early. Budweiser/Absolute/Summerlin/Worth and Turn Two were undefeated in the Winner’s Bracket were declared the co-winners.
WSL/NSA Tournament Columbus, Ohio – June 7, 8, & 9th, 2002
Columbus, Ohio was the setting for this, the fourth leg of the World Softball League NSA event. The weather was beautiful, good fields and very good teams. Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS came out the winner in this one as they squeaked out a one run win in the Winner’s bracket Championship game and then did it again in the first game of the Championship winning by one run. Long Haul played seven games in this one, three in the pool play and four in the double elimination. The TPS boys were led by the excellent pitching and defensive play of MVP Andy Purcell and a total team effort to win this one. Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth battled their butts off all weekend, but once again came up a little short. Big Randy Kortokrax led the Ohio based team hitting 19 homeruns to lead the tournament. Well the two Giants had their “Titanic Battle” this weekend with some unbelievable games played by some very good A softball teams this weekend.&! Mid South/TPS came out on top finishing in third place getting the much needed points as they tried to earn enough points to make it to Las Vegas to the World Softball’s Final Four. They also picked up the $2,000 traveling expense check for finishing in third. This ball club is for real, they are as good as any of the great A teams, or like some people want to call the AA teams. The facts are there are about ten to twelve teams just like Mid South/TPS who can flat out play. Chase/Reeces/Roosters/Easton is one, as they finished in fourth place and picked up the $1,500 traveling money. The story in this tournament was the great play by all the A teams. Central Paving/TPS played extremely well and proved they could play with the good A teams on the baseball fields with 90′ bases. Like I’ve said before I will not rank teams who want to play tournaments on 300′ fields and hit .47 core balls. It doesn’t prove a thing. When! n these good teams play on baseball fields and use 90′ bases these games are unbelievable, and it brings out all the good talent these good A teams have. That my friends is what happened here this weekend, there were some great games played by these teams. Teams like Central Paving/TPS, Hooters/Mizuno, K&G/Phonemasters/TPS, Creative Stucco/Easton, Chase/Reee/Roosters/Easton, Team AH/TPS, Smokes/Mizuno, Jonesboro/TPS, Maroadi’s/Frank-n-stein and a bunch of good B teams who also played very good all weekend and made for a very good tournament. The World Softball League has given teams the chance to play in some very interesting, exciting, fast-paced, great defense and some unbelievable softball in the four events so far. The Pif in Fleurimont, Quebec Canada on July 4th weekend the WSL will explode into the biggest softball event in the World. The Pif Directors are expecting the crowds to be the largest ever and that could be well over 20,000 people both on Friday and Saturday night just like the old days when the best players played there, and I mean people like Bruce Meade, Craig Elliott, Jim Fuller and many more of the Super starts of “Big Time Softball” will make this an extraordinary event in 2002. There’s no doubt that there will be some of the great players in the world entered in this tournament this year, and it’s a shame that some of the boys will not get an opportunity due to other commitments. Fox Sport Net and the WSL along with our neighbors from the north hosting this spectacular event before huge crowds will be an excellent venue for TV coverage. Good Luck to all the American and Canadian teams that have entered. I want to thank Jeff Hague for hosting myself and my webmaster this weekend in Columbus. We both enjoyed ourselves. With Jeff Hague being involved with the WSL it doesn’t get any better than that. The effort and great job he did putting this tournament together in Columbus, Ohio was truly a great show.
Jeff you are a ‘First Class’ man and Big Time softball is in good hands when people like you are involved.
Once again Jeff Thank you for a GREAT weekend.
ISA “A/AA” NIT in Fairfax Virginia – June 8-9th, 2002
Taylors Softball out of Maryland captured the ISA A/AA NIT in Fairfax, VA on June 8-9 defeating R+R Trim/Tailgaters/Worth 29-28 in the winners bracket final and beating T.J.Lite (MD) 33-14 in the championship game. My Plumbers (VA) finished 4th. Leading the way were Co-MVP’s Craig Battiste (11-13, 1HR), George Brauer (13-15, 2 HR’s) and Dave Gwinn (14-15, 8 HR’s). They have accepted the berth to the ISA Major World Series in Easley, S.C.
Thanks Dave Gwinn for the info on this tournament.
The ‘PIF’ Conference Meeting – June 3rd, 2002
I was invited to attend the “Pif” press conference Monday in Sherbrooke, Quebec Canada and was so impressed with what I saw there. John Daniels had attended the first press conference and had me go to this one. First of all there were close to 80 people attending the conference including TV stations, radio and all newspaper sports writers from Montreal and their local papers. I spoke on behalf of the WSL about what we’ve accomplished so far with the first three tournaments, and told them all that the WSL/NSA are looking forward to coming to the “Pif” to be part of one of the greatest tournaments held in softball. The outpour of support from the Canadian people was astonishing to see during this press conference. They were so organized and professional in everything they did in covering every aspect of the tournament from the beginning stages to the present. They told me if the weather stays on their side they expect this to be an enormous event with the coverage they have had on the tournament. The staff has been working non-stop to make this a spectacular event. I can tell you teams that are attending you will not regret being a part of the WSL and “The Pif” and Fox Sports. Fireworks are planned for both Friday and Saturday night that are spectacular and the bands will be entertaining under their huge tent after the fireworks.
This is not just a softball tournament, but an “EVENT”.
ASA Super Qualifier – Beaumont, Texas – June 1st & 2nd, 2002
Budweiser/Summerlin/Worth wins the ASA Super Qualifier. The “Bud boys” are starting to heat up as they capture the Championship in Beaumont this weekend. Bud was led by MVP Kevin Johnson, a very talented young shortstop out of Texas. He can flat-out play this game. Kevin is getting better and better every weekend and is proving to be one of the very best. Bud got a scare from Meridian early on in this tournament but squeaked out a one run win on route to the Championship. Doc’s/Mizuno finished in 2nd. place as Sterling Ibrom and the boys played extremely well all weekend. Doc’s is beginning to put it together and this bunch is looking to get it going and try to win another National Championship just like they have in the past few years playing under other sponsorships. Third place went to Top Dog/Sports11.com and fourth went to Medic-Aide. I would like to congratulate Frank Neal on a great effort in running this tournament! for the first time in Beaumont and I’m sure this will be a successful tournament in the future.
MVP – Kevin Johnson
The Billy Bowlegs Tournament – Fort Walton Beach, Fla. – June 1st & 2nd, 2002
W.W. Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS was the winner in this old prestigious tournament this past weekend, as they beat back a bunch of very good teams to capture the Championship. WW Gay/Aubrey’s has been playing extremely well the last few tournaments and has proven to be right up there as one of the best A teams in the country. This bunch will be a contender the rest of the way and could win a National. Second place went to another very good A team, Suncoast/Nike who also played very good this weekend and has been playing well too the last few tournaments.
NSA Michigan City, Indiana – July 26-28, 2002
The Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse Easton Express is rolling through big time softball, and this reporter don’t see it stopping in the near future. The way this team is playing it would not surprise me to see them roll through the worlds. This team is getting it done offensively and playing extremely well on defense. Every weekend somebody steps up and takes the leadership roll. This week it was veteran Todd Joerling, who was named MVP who led the Backman boys. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton is 8-2 on the year with one more NIT to play which is this weekend in Sterling Heights, Michigan. There is no question that Jerry, Dan, Eddie, and the rest of the management went out and got the players needed to take this team to another level. This team came together in a hurrry after getting off slow in their first couple of events. They got it going and are on track that’s for sure. Finishing in second place was Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth who played very good this weekend. The Hague/Resmondo team will be a team to reckon with in the upcoming World Tournaments. Remember the Hague/Resmondo boys finished in second place in all four World Tournaments last year. They are certainly knocking on the door. Third place went to Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS who has fallen on hard times the last few weeks. This ball club is not playing like the team that ruled softball the last few years. People have been asking me through email and verbally, Gordie what’s wrong with Long Haul? My answer is they’re just not hitting as a team not playing as a team and it sure is very difficult to try and turn it on. I believe that teams like Backman, Hague, New, Budweiser and a host of other very good teams playing in the 2002 season are just better teams and believe that they can play against anybody and win, that my friends is great for the game. Finishing in fourth place was New Construction who as I said in my last report from the Smoky’s “watch out for this gang swinging the Miken”. Remember they have some very good players even if they weren’t swinging the Miken they still have people that can hit it with anything. Roger’s teams have always been competitive and if you don’t play your game against them they will beat you period. Overall, I got reports that this was a good tournament as usual, Jim did his best to make that happen. The season has come down to one NIT left and that is next weekend the USSSA NIT Sterling Heights Michigan and that will end the 2002 qualifying events. Don’t forget next weekend also starts the first World Tournament as the ISA presents their AA World in Anderson, SC. Good luck to all the teams.
NSA Seattle, Washington – July 26-28th, 2002
Tacoma Dodge won this one and earned a trip to Minnesota to the NSA World Series August 23-26th. There were seven teams entered in this tournament. Red’s Worth came in second place and will probably make the trip to Minnesota. Sunnyvale/Easton finished in third place and in fourth a team called HITEST-Scurry who came from British Columbia, Canada to play in this event. TPS/Northwest finished in fifth place and Viking Sports and Dobbs/Fox filled up the field for this tournament. Congratulations to Tacoma Dodge.
July 19-21st, 2002
I want to apologize to all the Old Scout Fans and teams for not posting the Softball Report last week. I was very sick and had to pay a visit to the local hospital. I am doing ok now and am back in motion. I also apologize for not being in Michigan City, this past weekend and reporting the scores, but I was not healthy enough to be there. I will be reporting from God willing all the Super Worlds from Class A and AA World’s coming up. I did not get much information from the Texarkana USSSA Tournament. Dennis Chumley
did help by posting the scores and I thanked him for that. Congratulations to Mountain Top/Advance Cash/TPS for wining this tournament. I would also like to congratulate Metro Glass Wartom who finished in third place in this tournament and accepted the berth to Walt Disney World. Second place in this tournament went to Team AAA and fourth place went to Budweiser/Summerlin/Team Expert/Worth.
USSSA Seattle, Washington – July 19-21st, 2002
Team AH/TPS captured this tournament and earned a berth to Disney World and the USSSA World Series. I did not receive much information from this tournament. This is all I have to report.
ASA Super Albany, Georgia – July 19-21st, 2002
US Vinyl a very good A Team won this ASA Qualifier in the last ASA qualifying tournament of the year. I didn’t get much information from this tournament. Congratulations to USA Vinyl. Second place went to Aubrey’s/WW Gay/TPS who has played very well the past few weeks. Third place was Team Mizuno who has not played like they did earlier in the season. I think by not playing in the month of June it hurt this very good team. Fourth place went to Chase/Reece/ Rooster/Easton who has fallen on hard times the last couple of weekends. This team is too talented to play this way and will need to pick it up as they get ready for the World Tournaments.
ASA Super Smoky Mountain Classic – Maryville, Tennessee – July 11, 12 13th, 2002
Andy Beloli used to tell me Gordie, the smoke will always clear at the Smokey’s, and that’s exactly what happened”. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton did it the hard way by coming back through one of the toughest loser’s bracket this season, to win the “Mighty Smoky Mountain Classic”. The Backman gang showed why they belonged as the nations knew #1 team. The Backman boys beat back some very strong teams, namely the former #1 team Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS, and then double-dipped the very good Budweiser/Summerlin/Expert Travel/Worth team who has gotten better since the season rolls on. With the addition of “big” Wendall Rickard and some other very good pick-ups the Bud team is for real. The Backman boys battled back after losing to Budweiser in the winners bracket finals.
Backman was lead by MVP Brett Helmer and “Big” Dwayne Nevitt who had seventeen homeruns, also Jeff Hall who had another great tournament. Backman has been the better team this season as they have handled Long Haul fairly easy in 2002 and have proven to be the better team so far. I am sure the battle for the #1 spot is not over yet as there is a long way to go. Backman looks mighty good! Finishing in 2nd place Budweiser/Sumerlin/Worth who played some great softball in this prestigious tournament. Folks, I am here to tell you this is the toughest tournament to win even harder than the World tournaments. There are more better teams in this tournament. This is simply the best tournament because there are at least twenty five very good softball teams and none of the other NIT’s have a field of teams like this one. The Bud boys will be a team to reckon with down the stretch and will be a contender to win some AA maybe an ASA Major and will ! be very competitive in the three World Tournaments that they will be playing in. Budweiser will be playing the ASA Super the ISA Super and the USSSA Super. They will also be playing in the NSA AA in Plano, TX and the ASA Major in Jenson City, Tennessee. Greg and Frank have made some good changes to this team and it has paid off. Wendell has given them some very good power and the Cowart kid in Center field has made them much better team. Watch out! Bud was lead by Wendell Rickard who hit 17 homeruns and they got a total team effort. Great job Bud “this ones for you”. Third place went to Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shencorp/TPS who has not been playing very well this year.
I don’t think this years team is as hungry as they were in the past. Some of the players are not doing their jobs. I am sure the new players need to adjust and learn how to win. This is a lot different team from last years remember Jason and Higgy are gone and last year Long Haul picked up Mike McColeman at this time of the year and Mike got some very big hits for Long Haul against the other two big teams and won some games for Long Haul. I will tell you Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton has improved a lot over last years team and that might be why people are asking “What’s wrong with Long Haul”. I think Backman got better, Hague got better as well as Budweiser as well as many other teams and that has closed the gap of Long Hauls domination. I think at this time there is no dominating team and there will be battles on every weekend and that my friends makes for “great softball”. Fourth place went to New Construction who has had an up and down season but added another player the last couple of weeks. His name is Miken Ultra and I can tell you they will be very competitive the rest of the season swinging that bat like it or not. Roger has always been a threat with his teams over the years. Roger has won two ASA Majors and been very competitive in the World tournaments, this year will be no different.
Big Brian Goings who lead the Smokey’s tournament in homeruns this year at 19 and the whole team gave a good effort. Good show New! There were a lot of good teams in this great tournament who played extremely well but came up a little short, but believe me this was a very good tournament. Joe Huff and the parks and recreation department did an outstanding job getting the fields ready after some unbelievable rain hit the Sandy Springs park. Joe did not hesitate he made his decision and ran this event his way. I thought his idea of playing five inning games was one of the best moves in softball history. By making this decision the fans got to see some homeruns hit, some good softball and the games were over in one and half hour, not 3 -3 1/2 like some tournaments. Joe told me he personally asked fans if they liked this format! . They told him they loved it because they weren’t getting bored watching 3 hour games and a homerun derby. He also said they told him they enjoyed seeing some homeruns and loved the short games.
Joe, I personally would like to thank you for a great weekend and you are a first class guy.
The PIF Air Transat Holiday Classic WSL/NSA – Fleurimont Quebec, Canada – July 5, 6 & 7th, 2002
Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS is crowned the 27th Pif Departe Champion 2002 in one of the World’s most prestigious tournaments. Before I get into the tournament I want to tell you what this tournament is all about. The “Pif” is a happening, a festival, it’s an event with a huge gathering of people and a softball tournament. The people came out not just to watch softball, but to enjoy the festivities as well. Games for all the kids along with live entertainment for the adults, great food and drink, especially the poutine, french fries, cheese curds and gravy that their country is noted for, spectacular fireworks choreographed to music that you might only see in the NY Harbor on the 4th of July. The site of 10,000 balloons sailing into the blue yonder was an amazing wonder as the ball players and fans gazed into the sky as the sun was setting watching them rise above the mountains as if reaching out to touch someone. What a breathtaking! in moment!! Not taking anything away from the Dudley or the Great Smoky Mountain Classic that begins this coming Friday night there’s no question in my opinion and many others who were there I’m sure that this is the most spectacular tournament in the World. Our neighbors from the north should stand proud for what they accomplished with all their hard work and dedication. The staff at the Pif are the warmest and nicest hosts that you would ever want to meet. They are friendly, courteous, respectful, and truly care about people and about getting things done right to make this a very special event. The format used this year was a great idea by the committee, to have a Canadian team in the finals to keep the large crowd throughout Sunday. I totally believe that this was the right decision on Friday night to put in the homerun limit, which was the right move. The problem was that with the dimensions of the field in the middle being only! 340′ in the gaps & 340′ to center the ball was too strong for those fields. It was okay down the lines at 345′, but just too small in the middle on all fields. We have played four WSL/NSA tournaments up to this one, and the middle of the diamonds were mostly 360′ to 375′ in the gaps, and 400′ to center. Obviously using the same ball we have been using, a .44 core 525 lb. compressed, was just too good for these smaller fields that we played on this weekend, and that is why the homerun rule was put in to place.
This tournament consisted of USA teams, the Canadian teams and the Women’s Division. The USA Division was won by Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS. The Long Haul bunch got it going early on Friday night and rolled through this division. Long Haul seemed to do the right things it takes to win these homerun limited tournaments. They base hit it and got plenty of 3 run homeruns and a whole bunch of grand slams on route to the Championship. They were led by MVP of the tournament Rusty Bumgardner and got great support from the rest of the Long Haul ball club. They played extremely good defense that shut down their opponents, which makes it that much easier to win when they catch the ball. After winning the USA Division the Long Haul boys waited to see who would be their opponent from the Canadian Division. Before I get into what Canadian team got to the finals, let me tell you about the rest of the USA Division teams. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton, who played extremely well all weekend, upset Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth in a second round game and rolled to the winner’s bracket finals and tried to make it another upset, but came up short. Hague/Resmondo came charging out of the loser’s bracket and went on to get revenge on Chase and the right to meet Long Haul in the Championship in the US Division. Long Haul scored enough and often in the Championship game, and Hague settled for the 2nd. place in the US Division. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton ended up getting 3rd. place in the US Division and also collected the First Place $2,000 travel money. Fourth spot in the US Division was Mid South/TPS, who had a very tough opener Friday night playing against Long Haul, but showed what kind of team they are as they charged back through the loser’s bracket and got the 2nd. place prize travel money of $1,500. Rounding out the travel money National/De Marini & DJ/Mizuno collected! $750 each for their efforts in this WSL/NSA event. The other US teams who played were Laser Vision/TPS and the Canadian team that replaced Smokes who backed out last week Duro Vitres/Eperviers/Easton who are out of the Quebec area. Saturday night the Homerun Derby was one of the most exciting derbies at the Pif in years. Jeff Wallace, Rusty Bumgardner and Jimmy DeVine were all tied at 6 each after going through the 15 hitters that had entered. The playoff started with DeVine hitting first and it consisted of the best out of 5 swings. DeVine hit 3, Bumgardner hit 3 and Wallace won it by hitting four and collected $1,000 for his effort before a huge crowd before the fireworks. In the Canadian Division of this tournament the winner was a very good Canadian A team called Lloyd’s from London, Ontario who could play and be competitive against a lot of USA A & B teams. They have a lot of talented players who can play the game of softball! . I can tell you that the Canadian teams are getting better and better each year, and you could tell by watching that they’ve been working at their game. This was the first time that the Canadian teams were exposed to 90′ bases. They adapted very well on defense playing the game in these conditions. I give them a lot of credit for participating in this great tournament. This division was very competitive and the 2nd. place finisher was Pharm. Raymond Elias out of Montreal, Quebec who have big time players Jaque Millier and Luke Chevette, which helps make them very competitive. They battled extremely hard all weekend after losing their first game and came back to play against Lloyd’s in the Canadian Finals, which made for a Quebec/Ontario Championship game. Third place finisher was the Henchemen team, another fine Canadian A team from Ontario, who came up a little short, but got the 3rd. place finish. Fourth place went to Tlizen! Sports of Quebec.
In the Women’s Division Pennies/Gary Gray’s Body Work from Maryland repeat as “Pif Champions” as they beat The Athlete’s Foot to make it two in a row as “Pif Champions” in the Womens Division of this prestigious tournament. This very good women’s team, Pennies once again drove 12 hours each way to participate in this great Pif tournament. Pennies had to earn this win the hard way as the girls from Athlete’s Foot took Pennies to the “if” game before falling short and finished as runners-up in this one. It was sure nice to see 3 American women’s teams competing in this tournament, and I can only say whoever reads this report from Women softball teams in the US, should make plans on attending the 2003 Women’s tournament at the Pif. It keeps getting better year in and year out. In Saturday night’s Homerun Derby before a large crowd Cheryl Aldrich from the Athlete’s Foot team won this event. Congratulations to Cheryl. Here is a list of the! e rest of the women’s teams who also participated at this tournament; Phar.Marie-Claude LaPointe, Biermans, Express/LA Source Du Sport, Vacances Air Transat, Const. Alain Raiche & Corona. I myself watched some of the first game of the Championship and witnessed the walk-off homerun that enabled Athlete’s Foot to force an “if” game. I also got to see the end of the Championship game as Pennies celebrated with champagne bottles and great joy of winning for the second year in a row. Great job girls!!!
I would like to say a special thank you to JC, Regis, Richard, Mike, Andre and the rest of the staff of the Pif for great hospitality from the beginning last January when we first met at Air Transat in Montreal to the Press Conference in Sherbrooke and to the greatest tournament in the World “The Pif”. Thank You so much for everything you’ve done for me and my wife Joan. We will never forget our great friends from the north!
ASA Super – Little Rock, Arkansas – July 5,6 & 7th, 2002
Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton rolled through this ASA Qualifier in hot and humid Little Rock, Arkansas. The Backman boys are playing extremely well right now and will definitely be a top contender to win the might Smokey Mountain Classic this weekend. There were some good A teams in the field at this ASA event this past weekend. Backman had to beat some pretty good teams to beat this one. The Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton team was led by slick fielding short stop Demond Thomas who also contributed with his bat as he went 18- 18 for the weekend. Demond was a big pick up for this Easton team this year and has played sound defense and hit extremely well for the ball club this year. Make no mistake, this team is poised to make a run as the #1 team in the country. I am sure they will pull out all the stops to try to get the win at the Smokey’s this weekend and claim the #1 spot. Only time will tell! Finishing in 2nd place was Budweiser/Absolute/Sumerlin/Worth who is also starting to play very well as they come down the stretch getting ready for the Nationals. Budweiser will be looking to do well at the Smokey’s this weekend. The Bud team is lead by Derick Williams who had 18 homeruns as well as got some added pop from Big Wendell Rickard who contributed 17 homeruns this weekend. Budweiser had to battle back through the losers bracket as they lost to third place finisher Strike Zone/Worth early on in the tournament but Bud managed to come back through and beat Strike/Zone and go on to finish 2nd. Strike Zone another one of those good Texas teams who plays extremely well when entered into these Super tournaments. This team has made some changes and will be a tough opponent down the stretch as they look to win a National down the road. Fourth Place, went to Texan AAA another one of those good A teams in the country. Like I’ve said all year this A Division is totally amazing in 2002. Congratulations to Clint Albright who ran as usual another great ASA tournament in Little Rock. Clint has been one of the top tournament directors in the country for years and continues to run a class act in Little Rock. Great job!
ISA Class “A” Worlds – Winter Haven, Florida – August 24th & 25th, 2002
Florida Heat/Nave Plumbing/Joe Black’s/Worth put on one of the great performances by a Class A softball team in the history of the game by making this ISA World Tournament their 3rd. National Championship of 2002. Florida Heat has won the ISA AA World, the ISA A World and USSSA A World, UNBELIEVABLE!! The Florida Heat boys have a chance to win the ASA East Class A World’s this weekend, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they do. There’s not much more I can say about this bunch, they just are a very good team period!! These three championships this season rank right up with any accomplishment that any other team has ever done in this game. This was another total team effort and I’m sure that pitcher Pat Wayne was a big factor again. This is a very experienced team who knows how to win. Congratulations to Roger and the gang and Good Luck in Jacks this weekend!! Second place went to Smokes/ABS/Mizuno who has not played in a lot of big tournaments this season, but is definitely a very good team. Doc’s/Mizuno finished in third place but not to my surprise, because this bunch has always done well in post season play. Fourth place went to Team Mizuno who in my opinion played too much ball in the early part of the season, then took off the month of June and has not played good enough down the stretch to win one. This was another good field of teams that played in this one. Like I said call them A or AA teams, they are certainly all competitive against each other. Good job ISA for running this event.
NSA Men’ Major Worlds – Shakopee, MN – August 22nd – 25th, 2002
AA Team Mid South/Mizuno Wins the NSA World Championship. I am going to take a last shot at what I think makes the game of big time softball the most competitive game and trying to taking it to the next level. First we must try to bring the Class AA or A whatever you want to call them, to a level where they can become competitive with the three Super Teams. I would like to see and I am sure other people would like to see the A or AA teams win once in a while. This weekend that’s exactly what happened when Mid South/Mizuno became the first team to win a Men’s World Major Championship since 1995 when Hauge won the USSSA World’s in Daytona Beach, Florida. This game has changed since then the equipment is a lot better since 1995. The players are stronger, bigger and more athletic. The game is played on big baseball fields and is a lot different than when teams like Rich’s, Steeles, Bellcorp and all the other very good teams played. What makes the difference is the 90 ft bases, it’s that simple. The chance of it is very slim using 90 ft. bases, with runners on and a ground ball hit to the infield is usually an automatic double play. What happens then is it takes the big inning for the big teams and allows the A and AA teams to stay competitive. The USSSA using 70 ft. bases at Disney won’t let the A or AA teams have a chance to win in today’s game. The ASA has gone to 80 ft. bases and this will help give them a chance. The ISA had 80 ft. bases but used too hot a ball and gave no chance for an A or AA team to win. The NSA this weekend used a .47 core ball 525 compression and believe me if you missed it I guarantee you it wasn’t going out. It was a perfect ball, the ball was a trump and in my opinion the ball that should of be used on these baseball fields to level the playing field. It’s that simple. I believe if other associations would use this ball what happened this weekend when the Mizuno boys won could happen to anyone of ten other A or AA teams. The Mizuno boys played great defense and hit some timely homeruns winning a championship that certainly is good for the game. I have said level the playing field and this game will be bigger and better than it has ever been. When was the last time you’ve seen a Class A team or AA team whatever you want to call them, beat two Super Teams in a world tournament and win. My friends that is one hell of a feat in this day and time. That proves to me that if the right ball is used using 90 foot bases we will level the field even more. Mid South was lead by MVP Rod Cook and I’m here to tell you that this was a total team effort. The addition of John Glidewell was a big factor, this man can flat out play the game and can play with any of the three Super Teams. Midsouth has been a very competitive team this season and has played some exciting softball. When they picked up Ray Cowart, Chaun Demars and Ronnie James they became a contender to win and now it has happened. Congratulations to all the team and the sponsors for a great achievement. Well done Don and the gang. Haugue/ Resmondo/Walser/ Worth who has finished in second place in five out of the last six World Tournaments that they have played in, that is unbelievable. I said that this team would have a chance to win one and I still believe they might. Remember this Super Team is the only team who does not get financial help from the bat manufacturer. Long Haul and Backman get help. Travis and Jeff and their other sponsors pay the whole bill for everything. They deserve a World Champion. I wish them well. Third place went to Dan Smith/Menossee Easton who has played extremely well the whole season. The boys just went flat and couldn’t get it going this weekend. Their new bats were not a factor. I believe the difference in this past weekend was the ball being used didn’t come off like the .44 core used last week in the ISA World. The Trump that we used in the WSL I believe would have made this NSA tournament a home run derby. Believe me the right ball was used. Fourth place, went to Red’s/ J&J/Fairweather/Worth out of Seattle Washington who had a very good team put together for this one. They picked up Jerold Smith and he killed it all weekend. This team had some players who we don’t get to see much but can play the game. Calvin Macery, Billy Hudson, Billy had an unbelievable game against Long Haul. Billy hit two three run homeruns and a grand slam and also chipped in with a double, what a game. Big Shane McCoulough also played very good for Red’s and hit the hell out the ball. This would be a good softball team if this bunch was to stay together all season. I would like to say thank you very much to the Minnesota teams that being the Jazz, Kevitt and O&S Cattle who entered this tournament on a very short notice and all three teams gave a great effort. Thank you very much. Another nice job by Jim Kimmel in running a great tournament. The umpires were a first class outfit and are extremely good at what they do on the field. Eddie Cantrell you should be very proud on how you organize your umpires. I would like to say if the softball people would realize how much John Daniels has given to the game in trying to take this to the next level. You would be saying thank you to him. This man has dedicated his time and money to make our game a game people can be proud to be a part of. I was in Minnesota for 26 days working along side John trying to promote and get people out to this year’s NSA World Series. I went to the newspaper media, TV, and radio to promote this tournament. I spent two whole days at the PGA USA Open Golf Tournament handing out flyers hoping to attract people to this event. I know it has been difficult to draw fans out to the World Tournaments. The last time we had big crowds at a World Series was the USSSA in Daytona Beach, Florida. Since then none of the World’s has drawn very many fans. Look at Disney it is the class of fields for
Softball World Tournament, but no fans. This year the ISA had some good crowds at their tournaments. This week the NSA had some good crowds but not what should have been at this great event. I think what the problem is we need the money put into the game by sponsors, manufacturers should be used for promotions for the World Tournaments, and promoting the players and the product of the manufacturers and not promoting the associations. Let the associations promote themselves they make plenty of money from Class E, D, C and B teams all season long in their NIT’s and in their World Tournaments. I say it’s time to promote big time softball, the game, the players, and the product they use and take this game to the next level. Think about it, the game is bigger than the people who want to control it. It deserves better the sponsors, players, and manufacturers. Big time softball should have it’s own associations with it’s own rules not five associations and everyone using different rules. It doesn’t make sense. The game should be supported by the sponsors, the bat manufacturer’s, the ball manufactures, and outside interests period. Look at what the USSSA gave up the AA and that was the right thing to do. But the ISA, NSA, ASA kept it going. It doesn’t make sense the same teams who play at the NSA, ISA, ASA AA World’s will be the same teams that will play in the NSA, ISA and ASA World’s. Why make teams spend more money to play both tournaments? Just have one sponsors can’t afford to come to both. Like I said stop fighting they can’t afford it. Just like all the NIT’s they can’t afford that either. I have said cut the NIT’s to five each, five for the USSSA, 5 for the NSA and 5 for the ASA that’s it! Put them in the right areas so teams can drive or maybe cut down on air travel. This can be done very easily. All we need is to have a meeting with all the sponsors and let them have a say, let them have a voice, as well as the players having a say in the game. We don’t need to have one person calling the shots anymore. Remember the show is put on by the sponsors, the players and the manufacturers not the associations. Just my opinion.
ISA Worlds Easley, S.C. – August 16th – 18th, 2002
What goes around comes around. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton is starting to dominate the Men’s Super Division and in this reporter’s eyes has a chance to win the Grand Slam. The Backman boys are doing it all, hitting with power up and down their line up. This bunch is also playing great defense both in the infield and outfield. This ball club has become a team. Jeff Hall is the best player in the country right now. He has changed his attitude toward the team. He is doing it all playing great defense, hitting and hustling and has become a team leader. When people talk about the pick ups Backman made this season they talk about Jason Kendrick, Robin Higgenbotham, Demond Thomas and rightly so. But I think, the biggest pick up was the young kid from Minnesota, Scott Brown. Brown has been a great addition and hitting out of the #8 or #9 spot in their line up and has been a big part of their explosive line up. Demond Thomas is also a big part of why the Backman team has turned things around in 2002. He is the best short stop in the game at this time and is learning how to hit it and he will be a threat on offense hitting out of the #11 spot. Backman was led by MVP’s veterans Todd Joerling and Shane Dubose. Some people said before the season they don’t have a pitcher, but Shane has proven them wrong and has done a great job, and we all know how he can hit it. Backman rolled through this one and left no doubt to the Long Haul Team that if they are going to beat the Backman boys they will have to play a lot better than they have against them this season. Remember last year it was the other way around Long Haul dominating Dan Smith. Make no mistake Long Haul/ Taylor Bros/ Shen Corp/TPS is not playing up to their potential right now for whatever reason, but they have enough talent to make a run at the Backman express but will have to give more of an effort, and some of the leaders will have to pick it up or they will not have a chance. The way they are playing right now the Long Haul club is just not hitting as well and they are not making the plays. They need to give a better effort both offensively and defensively if they are to win. There is a long way to go with four more Worlds and maybe Gary can get it turned around, that remains to be seen. Third place went to the Budweiser/Summerlin/Team Expert/Worth who at times shows it can play with anybody and at other times don’t win against teams they are supposed to beat. This ball club should not play in AA or A tournaments. It plays a lot better in the open division. I know it is difficult to play in the tournaments that they would like to because of financial means, but hopefully they will find a way to do that. This team has some very good players who can flat out hit it. Jeff Smith can hit with the best believe me. There are others who also can hit it. Fourth place went to Hague/Resmondo/ Walser/Worth who has not played up to its standards this season. They have some very talented players who need to step it up a little if Hague/Resmondo is to play up to last years World Tournament play. Last year they finished second place in all four Worlds. W.W. Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS, Lighthouse Baptist/Easton, U.S. Vinyl and Taylor’s also gave a good effort in this one. The ISA had a beautiful place to play this World Tournament. This was a great ballpark to play in. The ball used was way too hot for this size field. Some of the games ran past the two hour mark and more, definitely not good for the game. The young man who was the Tournament Director did a great job keeping things running, and the grounds crew did an unbelievable job getting the field ready after all the rain. Great job by Don Stratton, who without a doubt is the right man for the ISA. Good Luck to all the teams in Minnesota next week in the NSA Worlds.
USSSA Class A World Shawnee, Kansas – August 16th – 19th, 2002
Florida Heat/Joe Blacks/Nave Plumbing/Worth boys just keep on proving how good this team is by winning the USSSA A Worlds. This ball club is playing great softball no matter who or where they play. They have a lot of veterans who flat out know how to win and that pitcher Pat Wayne they got knows how to get people out. He could pitch for any of the three Super teams and get it done, he is that good. Florida Heat beat some of the the very best A teams in the country on route to the Championship. They beat a very good Mountain Top team and also a very good Creative Stucco, and it was done from a total team effort. This was a great field of teams in this USSSA A World. I can tell you that all the A Worlds in all the associations will be filled with the best A teams in the country. I believe that all teams except the three Supers should be allowed to play in the Class A Worlds in all associations. That should include Twin States, Chase or any other A teams or any other AA teams, if that’s what you want to call them. It would be no cake walk for teams like Chase, Twin States and even Budweiser in homerun restricted tournaments. Let them play, all of the A & AA teams and you will have the most competitive World Tournaments you’ve ever had, period!! Second place went to Mountain Top/Advanced/USA Cash/TPS who is a class act team and have some very talented people who can play this game. I believe that this team should play in all the association world’s, they are very good and they can compete. They should forget the politics and think about the betterment of the game, period! Third place went to Creative Stucco/Easton who has some very good players and should have had a better season than the’ve had. They showed that they can play with all the good A teams in this one. Good Luck to all the A teams in wherever they play their next World Tournaments.
NSA “AA” Worlds Plano, Texas – August 9th – 11th, 2002
Chase/Reece/Roosters/Easton finally put it together as I thought they would do all season, but struggled most of the season, but won the “Big Prize”, the NSA AA Championship. The Chase boys have a lot of talent and this might not be their only championship this season. Chase was led by MVP Dennis Rulli, who hit and played extremely well on defense. Dennis has been one of the better infielders in “Big Time” softball for a lot of years. Chase picked up veteran Dale Sensenig, and he paid big dividends as he was a big factor in this win, as he hit it and played extremely well on defense. This ball club has some veterans who know how to win and some very good young players who can flat out play the game. Great job Chase!! Finishing in 2nd. place was Phonemasters/K&G/Sports/TPS who is another very good team who have struggled some this season and showed at times to be very good. The K&G boys battled to the finish. They won the first game of the Championship, but fell short in the “if” game. Third place went to Lighthouse Baptist/Sports/Schwing/TPS who played good all season and is a much better team than most people think. They can play with any of the AA or A teams in the country. They have some very talented players. Fourth place went to Mountain Top/Advance/USA Cash/TPS who no doubt are a Top 15 team and will be a contender every time out. They have some players who know how to win. I know they didn’t have all of their own players this weekend, but you have to play with what you have, and sometimes that’s not good enough and this week it wasn’t. Make no mistake they are a very good team. I will go on record saying that “this is the best field of teams in AA play this season. There were no weak sisters in this one, I guarantee you. I know if you could get the 17 teams in my Top 15 other than the three Supers, Backman/Dan Smith, Long Haul and Hague/Resmondo to play in whatever you want to call it AA or A, you would have one hell of a tournament. I am sure you could not pick the winner if they played ten weekends and I’ll bet there would be 8 or 9 different winners”.
I would like to say a special thank you to Lonnie for the great job he did running the NSA “AA” Worlds and for putting the scores and results of the tournament on Message Board all weekend long. This was a great one, it doesn’t get any better than this, some great games played by some great teams!! Good Luck to everyone this weekend in the ISA Super Worlds and the USSSA Class A World.
ISA “AA” Worlds, Anderson, SC – August 2nd – 4th, 2002
Florida Heat/Nave Plumbing/ Joe Black /Worth who I’ve said from early on in the season might win a National, well I say no more, they did it. Congratulations to Roger and the whole gang for winning this very good ISA AA World Championship. This ball club has veteran players who know how to win. Players like Brian Arnold, Butch Smith, Scott McDaniels & others who have won before. I believe when they picked up pitcher Pat Wayne this team came together and began to play some great softball. This weekend the management of Florida Heat picked up Chris Chambliss for this tournament and he paid dividends in his first tournament. Chris was playing with Suncoast/Nike before this tournament. Brian Arnold was named MVP in this one. Great job boys, watch out this team will be ready to win again. Second place went to a very good Twin States/Worth who had won the winners bracket and then lost the first game of the Championship and then the “if” game. Make no mistake this is a real good team and they will be knocking on the door every weekend they play. WW Gay/Aubrey’s/TPS who has played extremely well this last couple of months and who sent Florida Heat into the losers bracket in this one, battled back to finish in 3rd Place. Fourth Place went to another very good team New Construction who has played very good the last few weekends. Look for this ball club, they will be a contender every time out and could possibly win another national title. Chet and his ISA Staff once again put on another great ISA AA and there were a very good fields of teams entered in this one. I’m looking forward to going to the ISA Super World in S.C. and to the ISA Class A World coming up.
USSSA NIT Sterling Heights, Michigan – August 2nd – 4th, 2002
The #1 Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton and the #4 Mountain Top/Advance/USA Cash/TPS battled to a draw in the Last Chance NIT in Sterling Heights this past weekend. The big win in this one went to LDJ/Varsity who finished in 4th place and won the right to play in the USSSA World Series at Disney World. This was as usual a good tournament and softball fans got a chance to see who will get the last spot in the USSSA World Series. The Backman boys had to come through the Loser’s Bracket and got to play Mountain Top again. The Mountain Top crew had defeated Backman early on in the tournament. The Backman boys wasted no time and got revenge by winning the first game of the Championship, but that was all that was to be played because the 2 teams had agreed to be Co-Championship if Backman won the first one. The reason behind it all was stated that team wanted to catch their flights home, but obviously there were other reasons why this took place. LDJ/Varsity a good team from Michigan who doesn’t play much in the Super NIT’s played good enough in this one to win the berth. LDJ has always been a competitive team and Larry has always done a good job putting this team together. Congratulations to Larry and the team for winning your berth to the Mickey Mouse World.
Metro Glass/Waltham who got 3rd place is another very good A team from Michigan who also will be at Disney World. That is for the NIT’s in all associations for the 2002 season. Here it comes the World Tournaments!!!! Good luck to all the teams and have a safe trip to wherever you are going and return home to your families safe.
The Top 15 remains the same for now and will not change until the NSA AA tournament this weekend is over.