USSSA NIT in Seattle, Washington – July 18 & 19, 2003
Perkins Roofing won this USSSA NIT and now there’s one berth left to begot. The Last Chance Tournament in Sterling Heights, Michigan will set the bracket for the teams who won the USSSA NIT berths for the season. I can tell you it’s been a battle in the USSSA NIT’s this season, and there have been some great NIT’s this year. Perkins Roofing, who hasn’t done much this season gets the win here in Seattle having to beat some mighty fine teams on route to the Championship. Congratulations to Perkins Roofing on winning this NIT. Second place went to KC Drywall from out west and Budweisier/Worth who has been struggling most of the year got third place in this one. Fourth place went to TPS Northwest, another good A team out of the western part of the country. I want to take some time and write about the 2003 season in Big Time softball. First of all I’ll start with the USSSA, who this season had put together a travel expense system that would help bring out more teams to their NIT’s. I for one believe this is a very good system to use to help bring out more lower class teams to participate in these NIT’s. I hope the USSSA can find a way in 2004 to keep this system in place because I think it’s very good for the game, but remember this is only my opinion. I think this system gives teams a chance at winning some money to help them get to a World Tournament, that even if they didn’t play in it and earn money they wouldn’t be able to go. I’m looking forward to the 2003 Super World Series in Florida and would like to say good luck to all the teams who battled to reach this great tournament all season long. Hope to see you all there.
Now the NSA has had another good season in Big Time softball. There’s nobody who has given more to their organization and the game than Jim Kimmel. I can tell you it has been very difficult for all the associations to get teams to attend all these tournaments because of the number of events being held. It is my opinion that if the associations don’t make a move and cut back the amount of NIT’s they hold, then Big Time softball is in trouble. The math is very simple, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the sponsors of the teams that are playing today cannot afford to play all these tournaments, it is totally impossible. You look at the associations and the NIT’s today, you’ll find that most of the teams will play approxiamately 10 NIT’s a year and between 3-5 World Tournaments combined in all associations. I propose that the NIT’s in each association being the USSSA, the NSA and the ASA cut down to five NIT’s each. Each can have their World Tournament along with the ISA and WSL World Tournaments. Fifteen NIT’s and five World Championships are plenty of tournaments for these Class A and Super teams to play in. I believe if there were 15 tournaments, 5 in each association along with five World Tournaments, that each tournament would be filled with 16-20 teams in each event instead of 5, 8 and 10 team tournaments that most of the NIT’s are drawing today. There’s no reason that the Big 3, USSSA, NSA & ASA, can’t settle on five tournaments each and make these great events for everybody, not just a few like it is today. Like it or not, the Dudley and the Smoky are the two elite tournaments in the U.S .who draw 32 teams year after year. Obviously they’re doing the right things to get these teams back every year. Little Rock and College Station have proven to be great tournaments because of the C,D,B and Women’s events hooked together with them. I can tell you that this is how Big Time softball must go to keep it a-float. This is only my opinion remember.
Now in the ASA I can tell you that they have a lot of teams who still attend their events all over the country in all classes and in big numbers too. I personally attended some of these events this season, and it was great to see all the participating teams at all levels. This my friends is the grassroots of softball in rural America. John Daniels and his WSL Association joined together this season with some of the oldest and biggest ASA softball tournaments in the world. I’ll give you an example of some of these tournaments that John and his WSL Association joined forces with this season; Bismark, North Dakota with D,C,B & Women’s. This has been an ASA event for years and John was asked by their organization to join forces and be an ASA/WSL event in 2003. This tournament drew 397 teams. Greg Huchinson and John Daniels joined together in this ASA College Station, Texas event which drew 219 teams. John also joined forces with Doc Barr and Rhonda’s Speak Easy in Sioux City, Iowa that drew 86 teams. John ventured in partners with another ASA event held in Big Lake, Minnesota that also drew 90 teams. John was also asked to join forces in another ASA tournament in Bloomington, Minnesota that drew another 100 teams. John ventured out to places like Doltham, Alabama; Waterloo, Iowa; Cleveland, Tennesse; Houston, Texas and Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and these tournaments drew another 500 teams total. Overall John and the WSL combining with these great ASA events drew well over 2,000 teams in these venues for 2003. The climax of all this season will end for John in Panama City Beach, Fla. on Sept. 27-29, 2003 with their World Championships in all divisions. This event will start off with a huge golf tournament on Thursday. Make your plans to attend and play this beautiful golf course in Panama Beach. For information email me or John. Friday the tournaments will start in Classes D,C, A & B and Women’s Divisions and also the Super end of the tournament will begin on Friday with 14 teams entered, 11 of which are in the Top 15 in the country. This fabulous event will all end with an awards banquet Sunday at the host hotel, the beautiful Edgewater Resort. You won’t want to miss this event. I guarantee you will see the most unbelievable trophys presented to all Division Champions that you’ll have ever seen. Don’t forget the tryout camp, which gets underway Friday morning open to all ages of players from youth to seniors. I urge all softball players to attend who want to get seen and learn hitting & fielding techniques and other parts of the game from some of the top players in the world who will be instructing. Some of the great managers, coaches and sponsors will be on hand at this tryout camp. This camp will be at the ballfields where the tournament is being held. The cost for this event is only $20, and very well worth it. There’ll be an exhibition game played between the tryout team and some of the old time legends on Friday night. Remember don’t miss this spectacular event in Panama City Beach, Flrida.
Now for the ISA let’s not forget that Chet and his staff will run as usual their very good Super World Tournament in Anderson, S.C. in September. This is always been a very good event and I’m sure the 2003 will be as good as ever. Good luck to all the teams who enter this event.
ASA Smoky Mountain Classic – July 11-13, 2003
Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt/Miken pretty much rolled through this great tournament as they went 6-0 on route to the championship. They were on their way to run ruling every team, but stalled in their game against Alesium. The Resmondo boys had a chance to put them away in the 4th, 5th & 6th innings, but could not get it done. Alesium took advantage of it and clawed their way back into it and the game was tied at 39-39 going to the bottom of the 7th and Hague scored to win the game. It was not as close as it looked. Todd Martin, who has been struggling a little this year especially in the power numbers because of a bad back, finally got it going. Todd was 30-33 with 19 homeruns to almost double his homeruns for the season. Todd had 21 going into the tournament and came out with 40, and was chosen the tournament’s MVP. Howie Krause who also had a great tournament, was chasing Todd for MVP honors as he went 26-30 with 17 homeruns. I can tell you it was a total team effort in this win. The Resmondo team this past two weekends have really put it all together and have made it two wins in a row in ASA Supers. Some people want to say it’s just the bats, but I know one thing for sure that the other plastic bat being used in the game by some very good softball teams are not lacking anything. The facts are that some of the players are just not getting it done, and I think maybe that they ought to think more about their game than about what their opponents are swinging. I also know that the great hitters in the game like Jeff Hall and Brett Helmer’s numbers are as good as they always have been, not true about some of the other players who just aren’t hitting it. John McCraw has been using the other bat and has been killing it all season long, and he’s up among the leaders. I over heard some players this weekend making statements saying “how the hell is US Vinyl beating some of us top teams”. I’m going to tell you why and this is my own opinion, “the US Vinyl team has some of the best talent in the game right now, and I don’t care what bat they swing, this team has gotten better and better each week they play. When this club picked up shortstop Dennis Shrum it’s made this team a contender to win against the two elite teams anytime they play. This young man has played seven years of minor league baseball, and as high as AAA. I’m here to tell you he wouldn’t of played at that level if he couldn’t play the game, believe me. This young man is as good as it gets on the defensive side of the game in softball today and he is learning to hit it fast, and is definitely an impact player in softball today. This team also has more ex-minor league baseball players who know how to play. RJ Howerton is the “Real Deal” believe me. It doesn’t make any difference what this young man swings. Like it or not this kid has all the tools. Ronnie James has proven through the years he can hit the ball, “Big Jeff Ott” has also. Twinkie Jones has been a great hitter with some very good softball teams over the years, Brandon Murray is one of the best young pitchers in the game and can flat out hit it, young JD Genter is a very good player and is fast becoming a very good hitter, Bob Waldyke has been one of the game’s superior players and been playing longer than 99% of the players on the two big teams. Bob could play very well back in the 80’s and can flat-out still play well into his 40’s. Jamal Herrin is playing his first year at big time softball and is learning his game, just like other players this young have experienced over the years. He will be a good one. Kelly Hartman is also learning and can hit it as far as anybody who plays the game today. Veteran Ray Coward is the leader of this very good softball team along with Gregg Schulte who helped make this bunch a winner. John McCraw who was released from Resmondo a week ago, has brought just what it will take for this team to win a World, and I’m here to tell you that both Resmondo and Smith better be on their game or they could get beat, and believe me this is a very good softball team not just because of the bat they swing, but because they do have a lot of talent. I will end this part of the report with this, the Resmondo team has some of the best players whoever played at this level and also have some other talented players, and believe me they don’t have to use the plastic bats to win. They are swinging the bat that their sponsor gave them Miken when the association they play in allows it to be used. It’s no different than last year. These teams swing what the associations allow them to play with. Last year the #1 team in the country came out with their new plastic bat and won one World championship early and everybody started crying, that bat’s illegal, get it out! You know what? That team won one World Championship using that bat. I don’t believe it was the bat that didn’t allow them to win any more World’s, it was simply the players did not hit and get the job done period. I sat and watched this tournament all weekend long. I saw the two so-called hot bats being used, and I can tell you that balls were being hit equally as far off of both bats. I will also tell you the leading homerun hitter in this tournament was using the Synergy. All I’ve got to say is that they can cry and whine about the bats, but as long as the associations allow these bats to be played with, stop whining and play the game! I said in the start of the season, that it would be very difficult for some of the teams to compete against these bats, and that has been proven. If these teams are going to cry and whine, then the only solution I can see to the problem is that everybody swing the same bat and see what happens, that’s all I have to say about the bats”.
Now, one more issue before getting back to the tournament, and that is hitting the middle. I’ve been playing softball and watching this game since 1963, a lot more than the average person including the players. I have never seen any stop signs through the middle of the diamond put up. “Big Time” softball like it or not, is a professional game. Big money is spent at all levels. The players are very, very competitive and are paid by the sponsors to win. Remember there is no return on the sponsor’s money spent, only prestige to win. These sponsors ask the players to do their job, just like the man who goes to work 9-5 in the office, he must produce or he’s out of a job. If anybody thinks that these players would purposely try to hurt another player, or a sponsor would put a bounty on an opposing player, hasn’t got a clue of what’s going on in the game of softball. I have watched all season long on my board people bashing players who hit up the middle. I am sick and tired of hearing it and reading it, therefore beginning next week I will allow no bashing of any player on this board about anything to harm the integrity of the game of softball. or the player. I’m going to write about a player who played this game at the highest level there was, and I want to say he was one of the great hitters the game has ever known, God rest his soul. Dirk Androff could hit it as far as anybody whoever played and could handle the bat as well as anyone too. I’m here to tell you that Dirk hit many a pitcher up the middle in his day, not only with the bases loaded or nobody on, and they were all unlimited homerun tournaments, and there are a lot of pitchers who will attest to what I’m saying who wore the labels of Dudley, Steele’s, Star, Worth or any other .50 core ball that bashed upon their bodies. Just ask Ricky Huggins, Greg Canaday, Doug Byrnes, Butch Ovens and Stump Stanley. They will tell you how those .50 cores rocketed off their bodies. They have been bashing Jeff Wallace and Todd Martin, two of the nicest guys in the game of softball, and I guarantee you that this statement will come from their peers they play with and against. When you see Jeff, ask him about his first experience in big time softball with Steele’s when a .50 core rocketed off the bat of Dirk Androff and left the Dudley label on his chest for two weeks. I’ll end this part of the report by saying, yes it is dangerous and the equipment is very good, but the game has not changed from 1963-2003, the middle is open, it’s part of the game and it will always be part of the game. The competitive players who get paid to play this game will do what it takes to win, and I’ll guarantee you there not out to intentionally hurt anybody, Get A Clue!! The game hasn’t changed, just the players and the equipment have gotten better. The associations instituted the homerun rules thinking that this was the answer to making the game more competitive. What has happened is the homerun rule has increased hitting the middle on the 300′ fields is exactly a no brainier. The associations need to sit down and talk to the players, whom are the ones who know what the game is all about, not some director or head of an association who couldn’t play a lick and doesn’t have a clue what it’s all about at the professional level of this game, yet they’re the ones making the decisions on how this game should be played. The facts are let the people who know and play the game have a say on how it’s played, that’s another no brainier. Let the people who are making decisions now go out and pitch to the best players in the world and I guarantee you they won’t be making decisions anymore, let’s get back to the tournament.
Second place went to US Vinyl/ Miken who have been playing very well the last couple of weekends finishing second in Arkansas and now finishing second in the Smoky’s. Third place went to Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton who just haven’t played well the last few weeks. Talking to some of the players and sponsors they told me they are just not hitting the ball right now and hopefully they will get it going before the World’s start. I have seen the same thing happen to this team a couple of years ago when another plastic bat came out and the players were thinking more about their opponent’s bat than their own game. They better focus on their own game and not worry about what the other teams are swinging and start playing their game. They are a lot better than they have been playing the last couple of weekends and it doesn’t matter what bat they swing, and they do have a very, very good one. I over heard one of their guys say, “They didn’t beat us, the bat did.” I don’t think so, I think their bat beat them when the boys didn’t hit it like they are capable of. Everybody knows you’ve got to hit when it counts and stop making excuses like “the bat beat us”. Last week they scored 5 runs and 13 runs you can’t win with that. This week they lost one game by one run. I think it’s all about hitting and catching the ball and if you can’t get that done you don’t deserve to win. It’s only my opinion, but I believe the Dan Smith team is a lot better than what they have showed the last few weeks and I believe they need to stop crying about their opponents bat and play their game, and I think they will find themselves back in the race. Fourth place, went to Alesium/Chase Reece/Shade Restaraunt/Easton who played extremely well this weekend as usual and showed the character of what kind of team they are when they could have got run ruled in three different innings in the game against Resmondo and just came up short by a run. Remember the Alesium boys swing that other plastic bat and they’re sure doing a very good job with it. Once again, this is the number one tourney in the USA simply because of the very talented teams who participate in this great event. This tournament is better than the Worlds because of the competition involved. If this tournament was played on bigger fields I am not sure who might have won. Speaking of talented teams I will go on record saying that I missed the boat on a couple of teams that showed me they have some very good players and can play with any of the A teams in the country and compete against the big boys. These teams are Sports Den and McNair Sports. These two belong in the Top 15 and will be. I apologize to both of them for not doing my job knowing how good they were. My mistake boys. There also were some other good softball teams who played great this weekend and upset some teams. I will once again say what a terrific job Joe Huff and his Maryville Parks and Rec. Dept. along with his staff of the Smoky did running this tremendous event. Joe runs a first class tournament along with his fine assistant Chris, and I can tell you talking with sponsors, players, coaches and fans that all of the teams agree that this is the best tournament in the world and they prove that by coming back year after year. Talk about coming back, Joe has told me that there will be a Smoky tournament in 2004 no matter what happens. I personally hope that the people from the ASA for which Joe has been a part of for 24 years will stay with Joe in the Smoky Mountain Classic in 2004. I believe this is a historic tournament along with four others Little Rock, College Station, Sanford and the Twitty, which the major teams should support and I believe the ASA can keep the Super Division and their World Tournament in 2004 with the help of Joe Huff, Clint Albright, Tom Farnsworth, Greg Hutchinson and Dave LaMarbre could make this happen. This great tournament is the oldest association going in softball, and I would also give my time to work with these people to keep this best event in Big Time Softball an on-going yearly event.
ASA WSL Super, Little Rock, Arkansas – July 4 – 6, 2003
Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt/Miken rolled through this ASA Super in a big way! The Miken boys played a total of 18 innings on route to the championship. When this team gets to swing their Miken bats they are very hard to beat. Taking nothing away from other bats that are used by other teams in this tournament. The Resmondo squad were hitting it and scoring a lot of runs all weekend long. MVP JC Phelps was tearing it up again. Resmondo might be just getting tuned up for the Mighty Smoky’s in which they will also be swinging their Miken bats. It should be interesting. The second place team in this event who were also swinging Miken’s was US Vinyl who has played extremely well in unlimited home run tournaments. The Miken boys who have won four tournaments using their bat also played well in last weeks Limited home run tournament. This team has improved each time they go to play, Ray and Steve have made the changes to both help on the defensive side and the offensive side. John McGraw who was released after this tournament was picked up by US Vinyl and should shore up their outfield problems and give them just what they needed a left fielder and another power hitter. This team will be a force in the Super Worlds I guarantee it. They may win one and probably knock someone out in the tournament. The Hague team looks like they are coming together and were just a little short at the Dudley, watch out for this bunch, especially when they use the Miken Ultra II. We will see this weekend at the Smoky’s. Third place went to Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton who struggled on the offense this week but make no mistake it won’t happen to often. The battle between Backman and Resmondo is beginning to heat up and should continue this weekend at the mighty Smoky. Their will be no time to rest for any of the top team in the country as they will all be battling for the top spot this weekend. Fourth place went to another one of those teams, the boys of the Budweiser/Sunnyvale/Fairweather/Worth, who when they step on the field you’d better be ready to play or you will find yourself in the losers bracket. This bunch has a lot of talent and Greg and his partners are always trying to improve their team. I look for this bunch to be a force at the Smoky again like last year when they were the runner ups. I would have liked to have been at the Little Rock tournament this year but of course I was in Canada but I am told that it was a great weekend and that as always Clint and his wife were great host again for the awesome 4th of July tournament. I was also told that the lower division was a great success and the teams had a great time. I have said in the past both the PIF and the Little Rock are great events and their are enough for both teams to be successful.
THE PIF – Fleurimont Quebec, Canada – July 4-6th, 2003
I have been to many PIF tournaments throughout the years, not only as the Old Scout but with teams as a manager, with Jerome and as a fan. I also have been at the old field as well as the new field and I thought I had seen it all, but this 2003 PIF was the biggest and most spectacular event I have ever seen in the game of softball. The softball was very good, the fireworks were gigantic and spectacular but the main attraction a production called the “The Movie Show” which was a video of movies being shown and the songs to the movies being sung by live singers, dancers and lighting performance that I have never seen before, including the many times that I have spent in Las Vegas. I guarantee that you wouldn’t mind spending Forty Dollars to see this show along with the entertainment for the children all weekend long that was provided free from the Pif organization. This is what makes the PIF tournament more than just softball, it is a total festival atmosphere from start to finish. Alesium/Chase/Reece/Shade Restaraunt /Easton was the class of the field , but let me tell you it was not an easy road to the championship. The Easton boys got a big scare in their first game of the tournament as they found themselves trailing by 5 going to the bottom of the seventh. But this experienced team began to hit it and Alex Lavorico ended it with a walk off three run homer. Alex also won the homerun derby Saturday night winning $1,000.00 for his efforts and also was named the tournaments MVP. The Alesium boys struggled hitting again this weekend, but managed to score enough to win the winners bracket and wait to see who would come out to meet them in the finals. Life Scan/ Vacances/ Air Transat whom lost their first game of the tournament and then got it together and began to roll as they won eight in a row to get back to meet the Alesium boys in the finals. Life Scan/Vacances/Air Transat played a great game but ran out of gas and had to settle for second place, but got $5,000.00 travel expense money and a berth to the WSL World’s in Panama City Beach, FL in September. I have said it before and I will say it again, the Canadian teams are getting better and better each year, and believe me they can compete against the A teams from the United States. I don’t say they will win yet, but they will be competitive and my beliefs is that these teams need a little more pop and they will begin to win against these American teams. Third place went to a very good A-B team called Manitoba Legends who came a long way from Winnipeg to play in this one and gave it one hell of a run, but also ran out of gas at the end losing to the Air Transat boys settling for third place. This bunch also beat some other very good teams in their run for third. I am looking forward for this bunch to come to Panama City to play in the A-B World tournament. This team plays very good defense and can slap the ball around and are looking to pick up one more power hitter to go with their squad, and I am sure that they will. Fourth place, went to another very good Quebec team called Pro Cam International. This team and Life Scan/Vacances/Air Transat, another Quebec team have a fierce rivalry going on. When these two meet it is an all out war, and sure enough in their game one of the star players from Life Scan Air Transat Jacque Miller was ejected, but they managed to get the win without him and then went to play the Manitoba team thinking that Jacque could play, but the ruling was he had to set out this game as well and therefore Air Transat boys played the full game without the services of Jacque and again came out the winner in that game, but the Manitoba boys gave it their all. Other teams who did a great job in this tournament are Binbrook Brewers, Beach Walk Family Fitness, Orioles, Lloyd’s Softball, Lebaron/Easton, Monty’s World, National Gold/ DeMarini made up this great 2003 PIF tournament. The tournament was very competitive because the Canadian Association allows the use of Miken and Senergy bats, and the .44 core .375 trump ball was perfect for this years tournament. You may ask why the scores were low and here is why. Even with the use of those bats and the good ball the temperatures were in the high 80’s with very high humidity even at night which helped keep the scores down, because the ball was not flying very well. I do believe if the temps were lower their would have been a lot more runs scored in this tournament. I also want to state that it was a pretty typical PIF tournament with the winds blowing straight in during the day so that also helped keep the scores down. Another thing that helped keep the scores down especially from the American teams who were not used to having a mat at home plate, and that my friends definitely made a difference, naturally the Canadian teams play using the mat. I also overheard an umpire say, no problems umpiring behind the dish in this tournament there will definitely be no arguing in this tournament about balls and strikes. Here’s another thing that helped keep scores down, 80′ bases were used and that is perfect, you get lot’s of double plays and it lets infielders make plays that no way could they make using 65-70 foot bases. Do the math, with the good balls and the good plastic bats the ball gets through the infield too fast and very few double plays are made at all. It’s that simple. I can’t say enough about the 2003 PIF. The PIF staff, Charlie, Claude, Regis, Pierre, Richard and the rest of the folks there did an outstanding job to make this not only a great weekend of softball, but an unbelievable weekend of family fun. Fun for the kids, mothers, fathers, grandparents to be able to watch great softball and have First Class entertainment. There is no question in my mind, this was the best PIF tournament ever. The weather was spectacular, the fireworks were unbelievable and that’s all I will say about this great tournament. I will take nothing away from any other Fourth of July Softball tournament, but if you want a weekend of great softball, entertainment and partying, then there is not a better place to spend the Fourth than the PIF. I would suggest that next year all of you good A and B teams who want to play good competitive softball make your plans to come to the PIF. You won’t regret it I promise! The PIF staff has told me it will be bigger and better in 2004. My wife and I would personally like to thank the PIF staff for a great and exciting weekend of softball and entertainment.
I will do a story on the Great Little Rock 4th of July event which is also a spectacular softball event as soon as I receive more information.
USSSA NIT CINCINNATI, OHIO – JUNE 27 & 28th
Mountain Top/TPS continues to dominate on 300′ fields. The Toppers rolled through this NIT to the Championship. The TPS boys have made it four wins in USSSA NIT’s on 300′ fields. This team has proved to be one of the “Best Class A” teams in a long time. This ball club has everything you would want at this level. They have great defense, excellent base hitters and enough pop to keep you honest. The real fact is they have players on that team that know how to win. John Recor has built a very good softball team, along with Dennis Chumley this bunch has a lot of class, when they win and when they lose. As John Mellow once said to me ” all players should learn that you win with class and you lose with class, and the rest will take care of itself”. Good luck to the TPS boys the rest of the way. Second place went to US Vinyl/Miken, who you have to give a lot of credit for doing as good a job as they did, simply because they are a Major team playing on 300′ fields, swinging a different bat because they can’t use their own, certainly makes it that much harder to win in these conditions. This bunch can hit with any team, and have proven that throughout the season, having won a lot of games on the circuit this year. This team has got better as the year has gone on, especially on defense. I also know they are trying to add one more good defensive player who can also hit. This team will be a force when they can use their bat in unlimited homerun tournaments. Good job Ray and the gang in this one. Third place went to Northwest Pipe/Easton, who are a very solid Class A team. I will tell you now, this team will be a contender in the Class A Worlds, and could upset any team in the Major Worlds. Larry Q has done a good job putting this bunch together and I’m sure he will have his boys ready for the Worlds. Good job boys and good luck the rest of the year. Fourth place goes to Doc’s/Easton. This team is playing very well now and also will be a tough team to compete against in the Class A Worlds. This team can win against the big boys also at any time. They have the talent to do just that. I look for this team to win a World or two in their class. They might upset one of the big boys in the Super Worlds. I did not make this tournament this weekend, but I would of liked to because it is one hell of a nice place to watch a softball tournament and Jim Wessel does a great job hosting this tournament. I have been there before. I’m sure all the teams enjoyed the weekend at Jim’s park.
WSL/ASA BIG LAKE, MINNESOTA – JUNE 27 & 28TH
Big Lake, Minnesota was the setting for this ASA/WSL event. Long Haul/Miken was the winner of the tournament, but did not accept the berth to the Major WSL Worlds in Panama Beach, Fla. Pov’s/TPS finished in 2nd. and will accept the WSL berth. At this time I do not know if either the Miken team or Pov’s will accept a bid to the ASA Super in Sanford, Fla. I’m sure we’ll know later on that. I know this was a great weekend for the ASA/WSL, as the three tournaments that were ran this weekend, Bismarck, North Dakota, who had 397 teams entered in Class B,C,D & Womens, along with a Senior Division. This tournament has been around for quite a few years. It is called the Sam McQuaid and is truly an unbelievable event. This year the people running this event got together with John Daniels and his WSL Association bringing the Fox Sports Net TV people to film this event for a show later on. Also this weekend there were 84 teams in Big Lake, Minn. in the Open Class B,C, & D. The last one was an NSA/WSL event called the Texas Shootout Finals. Ninety five teams were entered in this B,C & D Event. I don’t think softball is totally dead around the country. These people who run these events of this nature truly must be very hard workers to get these kind of numbers in NIT’s. I think a fine example was the one in Big Lake where normally a week before the tournament they’ll know just how many teams they will get, but this year four weeks before the tournament they knew they were going to go well past the numbers they have had in the past. I believe this is happening because of the work and promotions from all the Tournament Directors of these tournaments and the promotion from the WSL office and the promotions from people like Pat Sullivan and the WSL staff who are putting in hour after hour of hard work to make this happen. Congratulations to all the winners and the participating almost 600 teams who were a part of this ASA/WSL huge weekend.
Dudley USSSA NIT, Brooklyn Center, MN – June 20-22, 2003
The mighty Dudley stood up to its billing as one of the top tournaments in the country, thats for sure. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton also stood up as the undisputed number one team in the land, as it steam rolled through this one to the championship. The Easton boys were relentless on offense and played extremely well defensively in this win. The offense was again led by Jeff Hall who week after week continues to hit it. Hank Garris, Brett Helmer also contributed to the offense. Jason Kendrick had his best tournament of the year and local boy Scott Brown had a very good tournament for the Easton boys. This bunch is proving to be the best in 2003 and have now made it two in a row at the mighty Dudley. This is where they took off last year on route to becoming the number one team in the country. This weekend they did it without the services of short stop Demound Thomas who was injured earlier on in the tournament and was replaced by Ed Rosado who played extremely well filling in. Another good job by the Backman squad. Congratulations on the win. Finishing in second place was Alesium/Chase/Reese/Easton who are proving to be a very good team on both baseball fields and 300 foot fields. Manager Gary Jost has this team playing great softball and are capable of beating anyone in the country, any weekend. This team has great defense and can best hit it with the best of them. They may lack one more power hitter when they get into the world tournaments in the big stadium, we will see. The boys from Las Vegas beat Resmondo in a very tough ball game by the score of 50-47 to send the Resmondo team home. Alesium then had the task of trying to beat the number one team in the country twice but fell short in the first game of the championship and settled for second place. Great job Alesium. Third place went to Resmondo/Hague who had been struggling against both Dan Smith and Alesium as they seemed to come up short in most of the games against these two teams. So far this season the Resmondo boys have lost four games to Backman, and three games to Alesium. I think the Resmondo boys are playing good games against both of those teams but just seem to fall short and don’t get it done early on in this season. Resmondo has not used a set line up this season due to injuries to pitcher Andy Purcell, and short stop Dal Beggs has proven costly. I believe it has been very difficult for the management of the Resmondo team to get a set line up because of the amount of very good players on the team, and I am sure they are trying to figure it out. Resmondo boys played very good this weekend as they lost a very tough game with rival Backman as they had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh but came up short, they also lost a very close one to Alesium. This team will have to pick it up and start winning or it will be a long season, they have the talent but are not getting it done when it counts. Fourth place went to Doc’s/Easton who is starting to get it going lately. this team is very solid on defense and base hit when they need to. This weekend they got a stellar performance out of Dean Semmon who was 26 for 28. I believe this team will be there in the A worlds and could win some national championships. Good job sterling and Doc. Fifth place goes to very nice a-b team out of Seattle, Washington who is sponsored by a woman, Lonnie Henderson, the ex-wife of former major league baseball star Dave Henderson. This young lady is a joy to watch as her team plays in Major level softball. This weekend was especially nice as her and her team got the berth to Mickey Mouse World in Orlando, Florida for the 2003 USSSA World Championship. This young team has some very good players and can score some runs and should be very competative in the class A worlds. Once again I would like to say what a class tournament the Dudley is and what a great job Warne Belem does running this great event. The weather was perfect the city had the fields in great shape and Gary Turnberg who is the USSSA director did another great job running this Minnesota USSSA tournament. I really enjoyed going to the Dudley and watching this great tournament, once again great job by all the teams and especially Kevitt Easton, the old boys played extremely well and just came up a little short of winning the berth. For you people who don’t know they have some of the old Spectrum players and Long Haul players. See you next week,
ASA/WSL SUPER QUALIFIER SIOUX CITY, IOWA – June 13, 14, & 15th
Rural America was the setting for this ASA/WSL softball tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, and I’m here to tell you it was a perfect place to host a tournament. The baseball stadium that Doc Bar secured to play this great event in is just what “Big Time” softball is all about. There is no way that good softball players who can play this game wouldn’t want to play in these conditions. The park was very big 335′,390′, 410′, and they used a very good ball with the wind was blowing in a little, which kept the ball from flying out consistently. The teams who played were very good A teams. Doc’s/Easton, Pov’s/TPS, Ts’13, VIC/Mizuno were the four teams who participated in this Round Robin double elimination tournament. Doc’s/Easton came up the winner in this one, as Doc’s Wayne Busby and Craig Upton led the offensive attack. This was a pretty good team effort for the Doc’s boys rolling through this event on route to the championship.Second place went to Pov’s/TPS who battled all weekend long, they came up a little bit short in the Championship game. Geno Burdick led the tournament in homerun with six. “Big” Wes Campbell just wore it out as he showed why he is one of the best hitters in big time softball. Wes hit a monster homerun to the opposite field over the 390′ mark that easily went at least 430′. You might ask why teams were only scoring 1 or 2 runs a game sometimes? Well I can tell you that sometimes the A players get caught up in wanting to hit homeruns on these big fields, and that my friends is not going to happen. When teams play on fields this big with 90′ bases there are not going to be a lot of homeruns here, even by the best homerun hitters in the world. All I can say is good base hitters have to use the whole field, that is what Doc’s did, and that is why they won the Championship. VIC/Mizuno from Illinois is a nice A/B type team who will compete very well at their level, this team represents what softball should be. This team doesn’t have a big budget, they come to play and like this weekend, they drove 8 hours each way to compete in this ASA/WSL event.What that tells me is that these players want to play the game and don’t careabout how much money or what it takes to get to a tournament, they are determined to play the game. They are a nice bunch of guys. Good luck the rest of the season. Fourth place went to T’13 who also had a very good A/B type team who can compete with a lot of goodA teams in the country. It was nice to see you guys competing at this tournament. Good luck to you guys also. The class D, C, B, and Women’s Division was a great tournament. Rhonda’s Speak Easy Bar and Restaurant hosted this ASA/WSL event. Rhonda has run this tournament for some years in Sioux City, Iowa. I found Rhonda to be one hell of a nice woman, who worked herself to a frazzle running this event. I’d like to take the time to say thank you to Rhonda and the staff at the ball park for some of the nicest people I have met in the game of softball, and hopefully we can get it all together again in 2004 in Sioux City, Iowa. To all the teams who participated in this Sioux City, Iowa Tournament at all levels. The ASA and the WSL want to thank you for coming to this great tournament. In the open division the MVP was Greg Jones who played great defense and hit it very well all weekend for the Doc’s club. This young man can play center field with the best of them. All I can say is a lot of players like Greg are beginning to fill the rosters of big time softball teams. Players like Jamal Herrin, Brian Rainwater, and Bobby Hughes are making up the outfields of “Big Time” softball today, and believe me they can go get ’em, all of them. Once again, great job Rhonda and Doc for running this event.
USSSA NIT MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 13- 15th
I won’t write much about this tournament simply because I wasn’t there. I have talked to a few people from some of the teams that did participate, and they all pretty much say the same thing, the balls were hot, the bats are obviously good, and the fields are small (300′). The ball used was a .40 core, .525 compressed, which obviously is too much for these great teams and a 300′ fence. More than likely the compression of that ball was probably more like 600. The bats I won’t even talk about but what about 18 teams, 2 fields, and rocket balls. Do you think it might lead up to 100 runs a game, 3 hr. games or even 4hr. games? It doesn’t make sense. I’m sure when you went to this tournament you must have had a clue that with these balls, those small fields, and of course the hot bats, that the games would take 3 and 4 hours. All I can say is figure the math. You would have played until Monday morning in these conditions, therefore, obviously you would have missed your flights, pretty simple, it doesn’t work. You can holler and scream about playing on baseball fields, but I guarantee you that with good balls and good bats, you will have no more than 1 1/2 hr . games, 30 run games, and everybody will make it to their flights on time on Sunday, I promise you. This crazy stuff of teams missing flights, having to forfeit games has been going on forever on these 300′ fields. Back in the day with 300′ fences, 50 core. balls, we had the same results as today. You people that bash softball being played on baseball fields aren’t paying the bills that it costs sponsors to get players home on Monday morning, hotel rooms for Sunday night, meal money for the players, not to speak about players not getting to work on Monday morning, because games ran 3 hours or more and tournament directors don’t have the sense to spend more money and get more fields so these things don’t happen. Figure it out boys, it’s not that hard. Oh, by the way Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros./Sunbelt won this event even though there were some forfeits involved on route to the championship. Mountain Top/TPS took second place in this one, but were the only undefeated team up until the forfeits. Congratulations to Northwest Pipe/TPS for getting the berth to Disneyworld. Great job Larry. Q. Fourth place went to another very good team Benfield Electric/Worth who had beaten Resmondo earlier on in the tournament. That’s all I have for this tournament. Special note: I have had all I am going to take of the bashing on my message board about Don DeDonatis Sr. or Don Jr. I will ban anybody who posts anything about either of these people, I promise. You won’t get back on. I don’t personally know Don Jr. that well, but I find this young man to be a perfect gentlemen, and I know he is one hell of a softball player. This young man wants to play softball and has nothing to do with what his father does or doesn’t do in softball. I have said enough about this issue. I hope to see all of you at the Mighty Dudley in beautiful Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
NSA/WSL Super, AA, A NIT – Columbus, Ohio – June 7th & 8th,2003
I will bet you that Jeff Hague, Greg Powers and all his staff are glad there are no more Super tournaments in Columbus this season. Talk about rain, for two weeks that’s all it did. But Jeff and the gang that got both the USSSA the week before and this week’s NIT in despite all the bad weather. Great effort Jeff!! It takes people like you guys to keep “Big Time” softball rolling Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt ran through this one having to beat Alesium/Chase/Shade Rest./Easton two times, once in the winner’s bracket and the in the final game of the Championship. The Resmondo boys played their best ball of the season, as they hit it, played great defense and hit a lot of homeruns. Jimmy Devine led the attack, as he hit it great and did a good job pitching. Jimmy was named the tournament’s MVP for his effort. “Big” JC Phelps is back like he was three years ago, was named the Offensive Player of the tourney. I believe this was a total team effort in this win for Resmondo. Second place went to Alesium/Chase/Reece’s/Shade Rest./Easton, who had to put down the composite bats this week, because they were banned by the NSA on their Easton Synergy bats. The Easton boys used the Easton Connection bat this week, and like the Hague boys the past few weeks, who also had their bats banned, had to get used to using the Connection. I know it makes a lot of difference for a lot of the players when they don’t have the composite in their hands. They cannot hit the long ball with consistency and the ball doesn’t come off the bat as fast as the composite’s obviously. That my friends makes for a lot of outs on the 90′ bases and even on the 70′ bases, it’s a different game. Take a look at the offensive #’s when the teams use composite bats, and when they go back to the aluminum, it’s not even close. I think the banning of bats will hurt the Class A or AA teams a lot. I hope it doesn’t make the game go back to a two team domination in Big Time softball. Remember last year we had five different winners in five different tournaments. We have also seen AA & A teams win NIT’s and beat the Super teams last year. I can tell you it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the equipment has done to the game. The fact of the matter is, if all the competitive teams were swinging the hot composite bats, it would be a pretty equal game for all. Back to the NSA/WSL tourney in Columbus; third place went to a very good A team, B&J Loggers, who I underestimated, but they can play with any of the AA, A teams out there. This team has some very good young players and some older guys who can play and know how to win. B&J Loggers gave Alesium all they wanted in the loser’s bracket final game, dropping a 15-14 game to Alesium. I look for this team to make a lot of noise down the stretch, and they could easily win a World Title or two in their class. Great Job boys, look to see you down the road. My mistake for not ranking you in the Top 15. Another good A team Bay’s/Stucco/Easton played well all weekend long capturing fourth place. This bunch has a very competitive A team, and are capable of upsetting anybody in any game if you don’t play well. Overall this was a pretty good tournament. The tourney ran smooth even with all the bad weather. Games were on time and finished early letting the teams get out of town by 2:00 in the afternoon. That’s how tournaments should be run. Jim Kimmel did another good job running this event. Congratulations to Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt for winning the tournament and to B & J Loggers for getting the berth to Panama City, Fla. and the $5,000 travel money.
Great job boys!!
USSSA NIT – Concord, California – June 7th & 8th, 2003
Concord, California was the sight for the Mike Davis Memorial Tournament that Dan Smith has hosted for some time. Dan and his staff have ran this special event and have always done a great job putting it on. I didn’t get much information on this one, but I know Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton won the tournament. The Easton boys were led by MVP, Jeff Hall who hit a whopping .955 O/B and had 8 homeruns to go with it. The man can flat-out hit it. From what I was told this was a good team effort for the #!1 team in the country. The # 1 & #2 teams will be both entered in the USSSA Dudley in Minnesota in two weeks. Hopefully these two will square off and break their season records against each other of 2 & 2. Second place went to Budweiser/Sunnyvale/Fairweather/Worth. The Bud boys by finishing 2nd. get the trip to Disney World for the USSSA Championship. Budweiser will also be traveling to the Dudley Tournament. If anyone wants to write more about this tournament, please email the story and I’ll print it.
WSL/ASA – Beaumont, Texas – May 31 – June 1, 2003
Hot, humid Beaumont, Texas was the setting for this WSL/ASA Super B,C,D & Women’s Qualifier. US Vinyl/Z-Wear/Anaconda/Miken won it’s 2nd. WSL Tournament of the year as they rolled through this event. Fourteen teams battled through the hot and humid weekend to try an earn berths for both the ASA and the WSL World Tournaments, along with 16 women’s teams and 30 some C & D teams. In the Open Division the US/Vinyl Miken Boys were just too much for the rest of the field. US Vinyl was led by “Big RJ Howerton” who has become one of the top hitters in the game. Make no mistake RJ can flat out hit the ball, not only homeruns, but base hits and hits it very hard. I don’t care what bat he swings, he is a “pure hitter”. This week the Miken boys were hitting it very good on the 325′ fields all the way around. Their shortstop Dennis Shrum can flat-out pick it and has made this team much better on defense, also adding to the offense. “Big” Jeff Ott is coming back slowly from his injured shoulder that he hurt back 2 or 3 weeks ago and will be getting a little help through the month of June, as the Miken boys will not be playing until the Little Rock tournament July 4th weekend. Jeff should be back at full strength by then. Congratulations on the win to the Miken team!! Second place went to a Class A team out of Houston, Texas called Meridian Softball, who doesn’t get out of Texas very much, but believe me can play with any of the A teams in the country. They picked up the berth to the WSL World Tournament this weekend and will get a $5,000 check for travel expenses in Panama City. This bunch hits it very good, has enough pop and plays very good defense to be a strong contender for an A National Championship this year. Congratulations, and I’m looking forward to seeing you down the road. Third place went to Absolute/BEP, who battled back through the loser’s bracket after getting beat by US Vinyl early on and were able to win a few games before losing the WSL berth and a $5,000 game against Meridian. The Texas boys played hard all the way through, squeaking out a win against Capital/Miken Sat. night when Kenny Scobee hit a walk-off 3 run homer to win that game and get them to Sunday. Good job boys!! Fourth spot went to a very good B team out of Texas called Sporting Wood who gave everybody they played this weekend a very tough time, and looked to me to be a very competitive B team. The Maverick’s, the Gambler’s, Capital/Miken, Pain Killer’s, Right On and Team 8/Miken gave a good effort in this very good tournament. The automatic ASA Super Berth went to Absolute/BEP because Meridian chose to take the Class A berth for the ASA. I want to say a very god job done by the ASA Texas umpires, and also to my friend Frank Neal and his whole staff who did a very good job running this tournament, because without guys like Frank you don’t get these very good tournaments.
USSSA NIT Columbus, Ohio – May 31-June 1, 2003
I am not going to say much about this tournament in Columbus, because obviously I wasn’t there, but I know the whole staff, Jeff Hague, Greg Powers and everyone involved did a terrific job keeping the tournament going with all the bad weather this past weekend. Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton rolled through this one undefeated, and won for the second time this season. The Easton boys were led by MVP Shane Dubois, and the Offensive player of the tournament was “Big Brett Helmer”. The tournament had to be played using one pitch and a 45 min. time limit, but was fair for eveybody considering the bad weather they had to contend with. Second place went to Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt/Miken who dropped a close one to Watanabe/K&G Sport/TPS in the early goings, but battled back to get to the Championship game and loss to their arch rival Backman/Easton. These two giants are 2-2 against each other this season. Third place went to Alyssium/Chase/Reece/Rooster/Easton who had beaten Backman twice and Resmondo once two weeks ago, came up short this week. These three teams, along with US Vinyl, Budweiser, Mountain Top and a few others will battle everytime they’re all in the same tournament together. I think the Smoky Mountain Classic, the Dudley and Little Rock will all test these teams when they all come together in these tournaments. Maybe someone who was at this tournament can send me a story on this one if they have more information. I didn’t have time to do a story on the Cajun Classic last week, but Congratulations to Mountain Top/TPS who is the team to beat on the 300′ fields in a limited homerun tournament. They have ripped off three wins so far. I also want to say congratulations to Budweiser/Fairweather/Sunnyvale/Worth for winning the ASA in Seattle last week.
I’m looking forward to seeing the Bud Boys at the Smoky’s.
Good job to all the teams who played in both the Cajun and Seattle last week.
NSA Major AA A NIT – Spartanburg, South Carolina – May 16-18, 2003
Spartanburg, South Carolina was the setting for this NSA Major AA- A NIT. Alesium /Chase /Reece/ Roosters/Easton went through this one undefeated to get their NSA berth and a trip back to Spartanburg, SC for the NSA World Championship. The Alesium boys were hitting and catching everything, and just flat out were the best team in the tournament this past weekend. Make no mistake about it, this bunch can win against anyone of the teams anytime, this is not your average AA team. This team has a lot of young very talented players and some veterans who know how to win, when you combine this with manager Gary Jost running the ball club you have the makings of a world championship team. Alesium was led by veteran Keith “Kebo” Brockman, who has not played at the top level in the last couple of seasons, but it looks to me like he hasn’t missed a beat as Keith’s first 8 at bats produced 7 dingers. Kebo was named the tournaments MVP but as Keith said “when receiving this award, this goes out to the whole team as this was a total team effort and I agree the whole ball club had a great weekend”. Congratulations to the Alesium ball club. I look for this team to win a lot more NIT’s this season along with some National Championships. This is a very talented softball team and will prove so down the road.
Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton finished second in this one as they battled back through the losers bracket to gain this spot. The Smith Boys had lost to Alesium in the semi’s, but managed to battle back and win a big game against Resmondo/Hague/Taylor Bros/Sunbelt to get back to the championship game and see if they could revenge their earlier loss to Alesium, but came up short as Alesium recorded their second victory of the weekend over the very strong Backman team. Third place in this one went to Resmondo who had to play this one without using their Miken bats, which were banned during the week. The Resmondo squad swung a little of everything, but most of the time the boys were swinging some used Synergy bats that they apparently found somewhere around Spartanburg. I did notice some PST’s being used, some Louisville Slugger’s and some Miken Velocity’s , but anyway they got through the tournament and as of this story I am not sure what bats they will be swinging in their next tournament. Stay tuned.
Fourth place in this tournament was picked up by a brand new A team called Buckeye/ Easton out of Virginia who was managed by Tim “Tiny” Taylor who has put together a very nice squad and played extremely well in this tournament. Tim’s boys beat some awful good teams this weekend and looked to me to be a very competitive A team the rest of the year. Holland’s /Used Car’s/Terry’s/Easton also played extremely well along with Benfield Electric/Worth. Aubrey’s/TPS also played well in this tournament along with a couple of local teams made this a very competitive tournament.
I would like to say what a great job David Lancaster and Jim Kimmel along with the entire staff of Duncan Park, who worked their butts off keeping the fields playable as the rain drops continued to fall all weekend, they managed to get this excellent tournament off. The Duncan Park ground crew and their management made a great move when they purchased the tarp to cover the infield, and I can tell you that without it this tournament would of been a washout. Looking forward to coming back to Spartanburg for the NSA 2003 World Championship. This should be a great event, as David will work very hard getting this one together. Don’t Miss It!!!
ASA/WSL Qualifier – College Station, Texas – May 3rd & 4th, 2003
College Station, Texas was the site for this ASA/WSL Super, Class B, C & B women’s & co-ed tournament. This tournament hosted 219 teams. I will tell you that the softball numbers are down these days, but not in Texas. Greg Huchinson put together one of the most amazing events in softball today. To have this many teams and be able to have it run like a clock is truly unbelievable. Greg and his staff worked around the clock getting this tournament in, and it all went off on schedule. I don’t know Greg all that well, but have talked to him many times and he has invited me to his tournament for quite a few years, but this is the first time I attended, and it was everything he told me it would be and more. Greg hooked up with John Daniels and the WSL, and berths were given to teams both from the ASA and the WSL. They say they do things big in Texas, and believe me that is a fact, Great Job Greg and John, and to all the teams who made this the BEST NIT in the country. US Vinyl/Z-Wear/Anaconda Sports/Miken dominated in this one as they went undefeated and picked up an automatic berth to the ASA Worlds in Sanford, Fla. in Sept. The Miken boys were led by MVP, RJ Howerton who can flat out hit it. This young man is fast becoming one of the top players in the country. RJ went 21-21 with 6 homeruns, and believe me it doesn’t get any better than this, especially on big baseball fields. Veterans Ray Cowart and Bob Woldyk, Twinky Jones and two newcomers to big time softball, Jamal Heron and shortstop Dennis Shrum, who played a lot of pro baseball can pick it with the best in softball and is a very good hitter. He will make this team even better. Like I said “if this bunch catches it, they can and will beat anybody”. Congratulations to Steve and the gang on this win. Vinyl had to play this one without big Jeff Ott, who tore his rotor cuff in Daytona last week. I don’t know how long he’ll be out. Second place went to a very good team out of Houston, Texas called Capitol/Miken/DBG. I have seen this team play before this year, but this team has much more talent this year. This bunch has a whole team full of very good athletes who can play this game, both offensively and defensively. Capitol/Miken was led by former NFL football player, Ray Butler who hit it all weekend and caught everything that was sent his way in left field. Andres Newhouse, the nephew of former Dallas Cowboy Robert Newhouse also hit it and played great defense, and this young man has all the tools to play with anybody in the game today. He can go get it, and has a lot of power. I like the way this team plays, they can hit it, hit for power, they can catch it and they can run. This team doesn’t quit no matter what the score is. This team can play on baseball fields and will be a force at the WSL World Tournament in Panama Beach, Fla. the end of Sept. Keep a watch on this bunch, they can play that’s for sure. Great job guys! Third place went to Budweiser/Fairweather/Sunnyvale/Worth who ran into a buzz saw this weekend when they played Capital/Miken who got the best of Bud twice. The Bud boys are a very good team who should get it going soon. They need to play some more to get this team to come together and become a great team. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and with the addition of Tim Cocco should help them reach their goals. Fourth place was Mountain Top/USA Cash/TPS. This is a very good A team who have proved to be a much better team when they play on 300′ fields with a homerun limit. I believe they have the talent to play on baseball fields, but it’s very hard to compete when other teams are using the Miken and the Synergy, and that’s the facts. I’m not sure it won’t beat them on the 300′ fields also, we will see. Make no mistake this is one hell of a good team who can play. Overall this was a good open tournament, 12 good teams, a very good ball and big fields. The ball used was a .44 core 375 compression Trump, the same ball we used in Sanford, Fla. in the ASA Qualifier. This ball is only good when we play on big fields, with 370′ gaps or more and 400′ in center. This ball is perfect for those size fields. When we play on baseball fields with small gaps and short centerfields we have to use a lesser ball or it becomes a homerun derby and 50 or 60 runs are scored and 3 hour games are the norm. This is not needed. We are close to getting softball on TV doing live telecasts or showing complete games on taped delay. There’s no way we can show 60 run games nor 3 hour games, as TV will not buy it nor will the sponsors. Twenty or twenty five run games with some great defensive plays made, and some homeruns hit, games being done in an hour and a half or so, then we will have the best game in town. Just think about it. Once again great job Greg and your staff. It was a pleasure to be a part of it.
I want to say a special thank you to a First Class guy Lonnie, who did a great job keeping up with the stats with Taz and posting all the scores on our website this weekend, and most of all a Big Thank You to the 219 teams who made this a spectacular event.
WSL/NSA NIT Super Qualifier – Ormond Beach, FL. – April 26th & 27th, 2003
Ormond Beach, Fla. was the site of this WSL/NSA Super Qualifier NIT. This four field baseball complex was a perfect place for a “Big Time” softball tournament. There were seven of the Top 15 teams in the country entered playing on these big fields, 328′, 380′, 400′. Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros./Miken ended up winning this controversial tournament. The controversial part of this tourney was the ball. The ball used to start the tournament was the .47 core .525 Trump that was perfect for these fields. The problems were one, we didn’t have enough here to complete the tournament. Two, we could not retrieve the balls out of the ponds and woods. Eddie Ray Cantrell got balls to complete the tournament from the Florida NSA Director who only had .47 core .525 Rawlings fast pitch balls and we had to use them. We started the 6 pm games on Sat. night using that ball beginning with the Hague/Alesium game and the ball flew pretty good for the Hague boys, as they had the highest scoring game by one team in the tournament beating Chase 43-9. The Hague squad hit 9 homeruns. In the Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton game against Sunbelt/Mizuno the ball didn’t fly as well as the Smith boys won 20-0. The 9:00 pm game in the winner’s bracket final Hague vs. Dan Smith got started when Hague’s lead off hitter Jeff Wallace stepped on one that looked like it was going out by 50′ but got caught at the 328′ mark and the tone was set. The players I think thought that the ball wasn’t going to fly and decided we better base hit it going back side and the middle. Demond Thomas hit a bullet off pitcher Andy Purcell’s leg and the middle was open. Todd Martin came up in the bottom of the inning and hit a line drive to the left of pitcher Shane Dubose, who was falling off the mound to the left trying to make a play, which then hit Shane’s glove and deflected off and hit him in the head. I don’t believe that any player would ever try to intentionally hurt anybody. The Smith boys took the lead, and then Hague came to bat and the ball began to fly a little, as they hit 5 homeruns and went on to win 19-7. There’s no question that the Rawlings ball was a softer ball than the Trump ball, but it went out as it did in the Hague/Chase game. Sunday with the warm temperatures and the wind blowing straight in from left, center and right center field with the only chance of homeruns being down the right field line. The only homerun hit to left field was hit by Hank Garris, which just dropped over the 328′ mark. Bryson Baker hit one foul about 20′ over the left field fence, and that was it for left field. What was amazing is that none of the other big homerun hitters in this game tried to hit it out of left field. It seemed to me they were trying to hit to center and some were trying to go backside. The conditions in this game were very bad for the hitters, and I don’t care what ball they used, other than a .50 core, there weren’t going to be many homeruns hit in this game period. I am sure some of the boys tried to adjust, but it was very hard to get base hits with 90′ bases, so we got a 10-7 game and a 6-3 game. I don’t care what teams played in these conditions on these sized fields with 90′ bases, with the wind blowing in the scores would of been the same or less. I read posts after posts about how Rich’s Superior and other teams would never score either 6 or 3 runs, but believe me they would not of done any better than these teams here did. Let me take you back a few years; at Space Coast Stadium in Cocoa, Fla. I witnessed one of the high power teams in the country, Bell Corp/Easton playing with a .50 core ball, using 65′ bases with the wind blowing straight in get beat by a little old B team 3-2 and 5-3, so don’t think conditions don’t come into play. I promise you that the players today are stronger and more athletic with playing on 90′ bases on big fields, using better equipment than the players from yesteryear. I will not take anything away from the great Rich’s Superior team and any other great teams, but it’s a whole different game playing on these big baseball fields using 90′ bases and that is just the facts. This game has come down to players being able to run, catch it, hit and hit for power. The days of 280 lb. outfielders are over, believe me. Baseball fields and 90′ bases is making this game come down to better athletes with teams only having the best big players who can hit the long ball and base hit it, with the only positions available being first base, catcher or AH for them, leaving the other players to be able to pick it and go get it in the outfield. Like it or not this is “Big Time softball in 2003” and beyond.
Now getting back to the tournament, there were some great games in this one. The Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros./Miken team won this battle of the two giants, and also the first battle of the two new bats in big time softball, the Miken and the Easton Synergy. MVP, Andy Purcell was a force for the Miken boys as he pitched and played great defense to lead his team to victory. Todd Martin also hit it good, but his titanic defensive play was a difference in this one, making great play after play. Bryson Baker, the dominative player from California has become one “awesome player”, who can flat out play this game. He has amazing power for a guy of his stature, and it this time is playing the best ball in the game. Bryson is gaining a lot of respect from his peers. This was the first NIT win for the Hague/Resmondo team since they became a Super team three years ago, and I’m sure it took a lot of pressure off of Travis and Jeff and the whole Resmondo staff. Dal Beggs also made some great plays all weekend long for the Hague boys. Congratulations to the Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros/Miken team on their big win. Second place went to Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton who played very good all weekend long in these conditions. Dan Smith was led by veteran pitcher, Shane Dubose, who is one gutsy player and a “First Class” guy and has been one of the top players in the game for years. Demond Thomas was the offensive leader for the Easton boys and played great defense until he got hurt in the first game of the championship and didn’t play the rest of the tournament. Brett Helmer was a big factor, as he base hit very good and contributed 7 homeruns to the Smith attack. Jason Kendrick and Robin Higginbotham made some unbelievable catches as they always do. Make no mistake about it, this team is very good and will be a force all season long. Dennis Rulli was a big pick-up for this team, as he shores up the middle in the Dan Smith infield. Great job guys and I’m looking forward to the next time in Spartanburg when the two giants meet again. Third place in this one and $5,000 travel expense money goes to Alesium/Chase/Reece/Rooster/Easton. This bunch will be reckoned with all season. The Easton boys have a host of very good players and will be a tough team to play against down the road. They have the talent to win another World with veteran manager Gary Jost at the helm. I’m sure the job will get done. In fourth place was US Vinyl/Z-Wear/Anaconda Sports/Miken. The Miken boys have declared that they will play as a Major team in the NSA this season, and also a Major team in the USSSA. I can’t speak about the ISA or ASA about this team at this point. This team will be a contender every weekend. They can hit it, and when they catch it they can beat anybody. SCI/Miken is a very good A team who are very competitive, and when they play their level they will be definitely a team to contend with in the World’s, also playing very good with the big boys. Vernon’s/Miken is just like SCI/Miken being the same type of team with a lot of talent, and they will also be a contender in their Worlds. Sunbelt/Mizuno is off to a slow start, but they will get it together and watch out when they do, they will win. The Big Donkey C team, who is a very good team at their level, was a treat to watch playing against the big boys. They gave it all they had and enjoyed playing against those big teams. The manager said to me after the game, “we got a chance to play against the best players in the world, playing our first time on baseball fields and 90′ bases. We learned how good these big teams really are especially defensively. They certainly are not just big guys hitting homeruns”.
I would like to say that the young man from Minnesota, Tony Van Heusen drove 30 hours one way to play with Big Donkey. I met this young man last year at the rookie try out camp in Las Vegas and he showed he had some talent. He is putting every effort he can to try to make it to his next level. He deserves a lot of credit, and even though he struggled a little bit this weekend on these big fields he has the talent to move up. The team For Kids Sake, who called me before the tournament to ask if they could play in this Daytona tournament told me they were a Class C team out of the Orlando area. I explained to them the format of the tournament and there were 7 of the top teams in the world entered and asked them are you sure you want to play, and they said they would. Let me tell you they were a pleasure to have here. They had a lot of fun playing and had an experience of a lifetime, but I’m sure those young kids will never forget playing against the best teams in the world. Thanks for coming boys. We’ll see you in Panama City Beach in Sept. Overall with the problems with the ball this was a very good tournament and it doesn’t get much better when you have seven of the top teams in the country. I want to say thank you to Eddie Ray Cantrell and his NSA staff for doing another great job running this tournament.
NSA Super Qualifier Plano, Texas – April 11 & 12, 2003
The first NSA Super Qualifier of the season was played in Plano, Texas this weekend, and the surprising winner was Quick Roofing out of Texas. This is not the Mountain Top/Quick team, this is a Class A team sponsored by Mr. Quick. I haven’t seen this bunch play, but Greg Huchinson told me they are a scrappy A team. Quick had beaten Budweiser/Sunnyvale/Worth on the baseball field playing with 90′ bases with the wind blowing straight in. This tournament also used 300′ fields and there were some higher scoring games on them. Quick Roofing had planned not to play in the NSA Super Worlds and elected to not play the Championship Finals against Budweiser/Worth. This ended up being very good for the Budweiser/Sunnyvale/Worth team as they had players who had to catch their flights. So Budweiser got the berth to the NSA World’s in Spartanburg, SC. Greg also told me the games were running so far behind that the first Championship game that was scheduled for 1:00PM Sunday would not of started until 5:30PM. He also told me he had enough players to play the championships if both teams agreed to play. It looks to me like Quick Roofing has a very competitive A team and I’m looking forward to seeing them down the road. Congratulations Quick Roofing. Greg stated that “he was very happy with his team and that Wendall Rickard hit it very well and shortstop Brian King played great defense too”. Third place in this tourney went to Absolute/BEP out of Texas. This is a very competitive A or AA team, which ever you want to call them. They have some veteran players who know how to play this game. They’ll be a contender all season. Fourth spot went to US Vinyl/Miken who slipped in this one, but still have a very good team. Don’t count this bunch out on the weekends. Sunbelt/Mizuno played their first tournament of the season and got off to a slow start, but I’m sure they’ll get their act together real soon. This team has some very talented players who’ve been there before. I’m sure they can’t wait to get to Daytona and see what happens there. This tournament looked to be very competitive.
Good job from the NSA staff.
Jason Kendrick’s ASA/WSL Tournament – April 11, 12 &13, 2003 – Valdosta, Georgia
Seventy nine teams came to beautiful Freedom Park in Valdosta, Georgia last weekend to compete in Class D, C, B, A and an Open Division, and believe me it was competitive. First of all I want to say what a tremendous job Jason, Nate and the entire Freedom Park staff did putting this tournament on. Nate and Jason went sleepless in Valdosta all weekend to make this one of the most successful tournaments in the world. They worked their butts off with Nate regisitering the teams and selling apparel and Jason running the tournament and also playing with his Big League team in the Open Division. Now for the tournament, it sure was a pleasure for me to watch all the levels of play they had, and I can tell you the D,C and B teams can flat out play the game, some better than others but very competitive. The D Championship was won by Tucker’s Softball team, who believe me can base hit and play solid defense. This bunch plays a lot of ASA tournaments and are a very close nit team. They have some talented ball players and beat a very, very good class D team called Newman’s, who finished second in this one and played extremely well all weekend long. Third place went to American Travel who also played well. The C Division Championship went to Avalon Screen, who can flat out play this game. They have a great hitting team, play terrific defense and have enough pop to make this bunch a Class C Natioonal Championship wherever they play in Class C this season. Great job guys, I really enjoyed watching you guys play. Second place goes to Synergy By Easton, who is another great team in Class C who also have some very talented players. The Easton boys looked to run out of gas as they had to battle back through the loser’s bracket and came up just a little short in the Championship Game. I look for this bunch to win a lot in 2003 and should win a National or two. Third place was Yard Dawgs who have a very good C team. They can hit and play defense and will be a contender in the Nationals. The Class B Division winner was Jean Shoppe, who were the Class of the B Division in this one. This club has some very good players and should do very well in the B Nationals. Second place went to Easton Rage, another good looking B team who had to battle back through and did a fine job getting back to the Championship. Team KFC finished third and look to me like a very good B team who will be a strong contender in the Nationals. The Open Division was won by Vernon’s/Miken who played a terrific tournament. This bunch scored 114 runs in 5 innings in one game. That was a record run production game in 5 innings, 114-98, pretty crazy. Jason Kendrick’s Big League All Star team who had Helmer, Hall, Thomas, Dubose, Jason and a host of other good players won the Winner’s bracket, but had to forfeit because players had to catch flights. Vernon’s/Miken and Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS ended up in the championship and Vernon’s won that. Congratulations Vernon’s. Overall this was a great weekend and next year you will get to see some of the action on Fox Sports Net who covered this tournament. I would like to commend every team who participated in this ASA/WSL event. Once again I would like to say unbelievable Jason and Nate, and also thank John Daniels and the WSL staff for helping make this a memorable event. I also would like to thank all the people who purchased raffle tickets on the four wheeler where the proceeds on it will be given in honor of the great Harold Nichol’s for helping in his granddaughter’s education fund.
ASA/WSL Super Qualifier – Sanford, Florida March 29 & 30th, 2003
US Vinyl/Community Access/Z-wear/Anaconda Sports/Wooster’s/Miken achieved two berths this weekend. One to the ASA Worlds and one to the WSL Worlds. What a way to do it, both in one weekend. US Vinyl beat Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros/Worth in the “if” game to win this one. The Miken boys won the Winner’s Bracket Finals by beating Hague/Resmondo 19-16 in the championship game. Hague made it back to the championship game after beating Doc’s/Easton 29-2. The first game of the championship saw Hague jump out to a 11-0 lead in the top of the first which extended their lead to 19-2 and that was the end, as they won that one 29-4. The “if” game started out slow for both teams. Hague/Resmondo/Worth took a 6-2 lead early, but US Vinyl/Miken came back to take a 7-6 lead and never looked back on route to a 16-13 win and the Championship. US Vinyl/Miken hit very good all weekend long. Kelly Hartman was named the tournament’s MVP. This was a total team effort. This bunch played solid defense and when the wind started blowing out to right field their right handed hitters adjusted. Big Brandon Murray hit two huge bombs to the opposite field, so did young outfielder Jamial Herrin This Miken team has some very good hitters and I will tell you they will be a very solid team all season long. I will say this, that yes the Miken bat is very good and it will help this team, but remember you still have to hit it and catch it to win and do the little things too, and that’s exactly what this team did. There’s no doubt that US Vinyl earned this win. The Hague team had a chance, but didn’t get it done. Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros/Worth played some very good ball, but did not get enough hitting to win in this one. Bryson Baker had an outstanding tournament as he clobbered 11 homeruns to lead the tournament and he also hit for a great average. Hague’s new right fielder, Brian Rainwater hit the daylights out of it, as he hit over 840 and contributed some power also hitting 4 homeruns. Brian showed why he was a big-time outfielder in college baseball, as he made some great plays in right field. This young man can to flat out hit and play this game. Hague will have to get some more offense from it’s veteran players or this will be a long season. I think it will take a little time for this team to come together with the new players over there and it will take some adjustments, but I’m sure it will all come together. The camaraderie looked good. I want to tell you JC Phelps and Howie Krause have worked very hard this off season taking off lots of pounds and are looking great, also Rusty Bumgardner has dropped 25 pounds and is much smaller in his upper body. Doc’s/Easton took third place in this one. They will be a very good team down the road. This is the best defensive team in big time softball. Doc’s will have to hit it much better to compete against the big boys, but I believe they have the talent to hit. They may need some more pop and I guarantee you they will be very strong at their level believe me. Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS will be as good as any A team out there. They played this weekend without two of their better players, who will make this bunch even better. The TPS boys played very good this weekend and got fourth place. I look for them to be competitive each week they play. Vernon’s/Miken is another one of those very good A teams who can play with anybody. They were missing two of their better hitters too this weekend. They hit it well and played good defense. Look for this bunch to be there every weekend they play. Bell Corp/Easton is the new Woody Bell team, and I can tell you they will be a very good B team and can play at the A level. They can hit and they have a very good pitcher in Shaggy. The Bell boys played some good ball this weekend and will be competitive on the big fields. I look for them to win a National title at their level. Welcome back Woody and Pat to the game. It’s great to have sponsors like you back in the game. National Synergy/Easton is another good B team who have a very good defensive team and some guys who can hit it. They will be good at the B level and are another team who can play at the A level on the big fields. They could win a National at their level. T&R Stucco/Easton struggled this weekend, but are a much better team than they showed. This bunch may need to pick up a couple of more good players and needs somebody to run the team, so that Troy and Lee can play and not be worrying about running the ball club. I think this team has a chance to be very competitive if they make the right moves. Look for this team to get better. I was asked why there were not more teams in this tournament. All I can say is it might of been too early for some of the northern teams to come down. Believe me, they should of taken the opportunity to come down and get some early play. This ball park in Sanford, Fla. is without a doubt the most perfect stadium to play big time softball in the country. This field is absolutely beautiful with dimensions being just right with 330′ down the lines, 370′ in the alleys and 385′ to center with a grass infield and dirt around the bases. It doesn’t get any better than this. I commend Tom Farnsworth and the ASA and WSL for putting the bases at 90′. Believe me it lets the A & AA teams compete. I will tell you the ball used was the right one for the size of the 375′ field, a 44 core Trump. The games ran no more than 1 1/2 hrs, with plenty of homeruns hit, but more importantly there were great defensive plays made both in the infield and outfield, with runners being thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles or trying to score on a base hit from second base. That my friends is what this game is all about. There were comments made from all the teams to me all weekend about how fun and great it was to be able to hit some homeruns, catch the ball in the infield, turn double plays instead of playing on 70′ bases and watching balls fly through the infield not being able to catch it. It sure makes for a much better game. It’s only going to get better boys in the WSL events. All I can say is “Catch the Action”.
The Upcoming Season – March 14, 2003
The boys of summer will kick off the “2003 Big Time Softball” season this coming weekend, the Far West Classic, a Class A USSSA event in Las Vegas. Also there’s an ISA Class AA, A event in Houston, Texas. These two events should have some very good teams entered. March 28, 29 & 30th is the opener for the first Super Tournament of 2003 being held at the Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium in Sanford, Fla. This is an ASA Qualifier and there’s a good field of teams entered. John Daniels and Fox Sport Net have reached an agreement to air eight weeks of WSL events from last season. The first show was on this past Saturday and the same show will air next weekend, which I’ll be posting the times later this week. The eight shows that will be aired are all the NSA/WSL events that were played last year and also the NSA, ASA, WSL World tournaments. I can tell you these shows were produced well and you won’t want to miss any of them. I also want to say to the critics who always have something to say about why the shows are so late and other derogatory comments that have been made on the message board, to keep those selfish uncalled for opinions to yourself. I personally have been involved in them along with John Daniels, Mike Woodly and a host of other hard working people putting these shows together. I looked at over 100 tapes to pick out material to use for these shows and I know Mike and John have done the same. It took at least one hundred hours of hard work to put eight shows together, and also many more hours in the studio taping these shows. The longest time was getting Fox to find air time so that the schedule could be put together. Also, we never once stated a definite time that these shows would be aired. We had hoped we could of got the work done and Fox could find the time earlier, but that didn’t work out. John worked very hard on trying to get sponsors to pay the very expensive costs of putting these shows on TV. There’s been nobody who has given more to promote our great game like John Daniels has. John has given a lot of his time of which is very valuable when you run a business like John does, and has also put his money into this program to try and make this game what it’s deserved, and that is TV and to promote our associations, sponsors, players and most of all our fans. I will tell you now, I will not let anybody bash or say anything bad about the TV shows on my website and if anybody does I will have you banned from the board forever. If you don’t have anything good to say about them, then go somewhere else on somebody else’s board. I will be posting the times of the future shows as soon as we get them on the message board. I will be posting all the tournaments from all the associations on the front page of the website as I have in the past each week. I will also be reporting from the tournaments each week that I attend. There will be some weekends I won’t be there and I would appreciate if you don’t see scores being posted, that somebody would post for me or leave a phone # that I can reach to get the scores. If anybody from any of the teams who are playing in tournaments when I’m not there who would like to write the information from the tournament and get it to me, I will post in my Softball Report. All you have to do is email me what you have. I will post my Top 15 and Honorable Mentions each week, remember it’s only My Opinion. I don’t need all the crap about the rankings on the message board. I will post the power rankings as I get them. I will post the On Base, Homerun and Homerun Frequency each week when I receive them. Teams who want to post their stats each week after the tournaments feel free to put them on the message board. I think that is great, because a lot of the fans and other teams like to see them before the official stats come out. I hope this season turns out to be like last year, where on 28 occasions throughout the season the big three were upset by AA or A teams. Also in 5 Super World Series’ we had five different winners. I’m here to tell you this game has gone to the next level playing on baseball fields and stadiums with longer bases. It has definitely made for a more competitive game of softball, and that’s the way it should be. I would like to welcome the Class B, C, D and women’s teams to the WSL 2003 season. There will be plenty of qualifying tournaments for your teams this season. You can find the schedule for these tournaments both on this site and the WSL site. The WSL and Fox Sport Net will be filming some of these tournaments during the season along with your World Tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla. in September. In my opinion it is about time that the B,C & D and the Women’s teams get some recognition too. It’s a long time coming, and John Daniels has made it happen. Make your plans to attend some of these tournaments, with the first one being in Valdosta, Georgia at the Jason Kendrick Tournament April 11-13th. I want to wish every team a healthy and successful season, and remember “to play a sport is to be a sport”. Good Luck everybody.
ISA Winter Nationals – FEBRUARY 1 & 2, 2003
I will start out by writing about the 2003 ISA Winter Nationals in beautiful Winter Haven, Florida. This was without a doubt the best one I’ve ever attended, and I have been to all of them.. Fourteen teams were entered and all of them were very good. Doc’s/Easton proved to be the best in this one, and will be a contender all season long. Doc and round Rick along with manager Sterling Ibrohm have put together a potent team. This ball club has probably the best over-all defense in the game, and they also have a very good offense and enough power to play in both unlimited and 12 homerun tournaments. The big plus for this team will be the Easton Synergy bat, it will be the equalizer when they play against Smith or Hague I promise. I said last year that the mergers would make these A teams better. Add the Miken or the Synergy to these teams and they become AA teams. When they play on baseball fields they will be able to compete with the big boys for sure. What I see if you don’t have the better bats you won’t compete. Like it or not this game has to be played on baseball fields, long bases and every team playing at the Major level has to have the best bats or you won’t have a chance. There will be a lot of Miken sponsored teams as well as Easton teams and they will dominate. I will not knock the other bat manufacturers, but they will have to bring their bats up to the level of those two or it’s going to be a long season for their teams. This weekend the A teams were hitting the ball through the infield so hard that the infielders, who by the way were playing 30′ out on the grass, could only make a play if it was right at them. You ask why so many runs were scored in a 12 run limited homerun tournament and I’ll tell you why. The ball was just coming too fast off the bats to make the plays. That’s enough of that issue for now. Resmondo Sod’s pick-up team finished 2nd. in this one as Albert Davis led the attack with 18 homeruns. Dal Beggs, Billo Harvery and the rest of the team played well. Third place went to Team AH/Perkins/TPS, who played very well. I look for this team to play very good all season long. Fourth place went to a very good A team out of Tallahassee, Fla. SCI/Miken. This will be a tough ball club playing as an A team this year. T&R Stucco/Easton who merged with Suncoast this season, will be a force. They have a very good squad and those Easton bats will help this bunch a lot. They scored a lot of runs in this one, but ran out of gas at the end. I look for this team to be very strong down the road. Bay/CreativeStucco/TPS is another very good A team who had a good run in this one, but also ran out of gas. Remember they came out of the snow to play here. Gulf Coast/Easton is ready to compete with some of the A teams in the country. This bunch has some good young talent and will score a lot of runs using the Easton bat. They will only get better playing against these better teams. US Vinyl/Miken will be a team to reckon with down the road. They didn’t play well here this weekend, but have a lot of veterans and some good young players. I’m sure they will get it going. They will be very competitive all season long. They will have to shore up a little on the defensive side and I’m sure they will do that. Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS didn’t play well here, but have a very strong A team again. I know they would like to win one National this year for their beloved former sponsor NC Ryals. Berardi’s is another very good A team, who believe me will put some runs on the board in 2003. They have a good offensive team and can catch it well. I look for them to be a contender every weekend. They need to play up more to get better. Team Action/Demarini, who wants to play at the B level will be very strong and should win some tournaments in 2003. Another pick-up team in this tournament was Resmondo/Pierce Construction who had Wallace, Helmer and Brown, who tore it up pretty good. This bunch scored a lot of runs for a team made up of all players from the NY area who have been in a lot of snow all winter. They got to play five games this weekend getting a lot of swings. Fat Back’s out of Georgia, another pick-up team with big Randall Boone on it also played well this weekend, as they beat some good teams. Overall this was a very good winter tournament. It doesn’t get any better than this. There were 14 good teams who were very competitive. Most of the teams were swinging Mikens or Synergys. It sure made for a lot of runs scored and a lot of infielders and pitchers trying to get out of the way of these rocket balls flying by. The bats were good and the ball was good. Chet, Don and the ISA staff ran another very good tournament. I will end this report by saying that I’m sure there will be a lot of crying about the bats and the balls, but I would bet that if nobody does anything about them, there’s no sense of complaining. It seems every year over the last few years somebody has a better bat than the rest. In the 2000 season they complained about the Worth bats, in 2001 they complained about the Louisville bat, and in 2002 they complained about the Easton bat and now 2003 is here and they’re going to complain not only about the Easton bat, but the Miken bat also. All I can say is the equipment is good, no doubt about it and playing with these bats and rocket balls on 300′ fields is a total “no brainer”. Everybody worries about a pitcher getting hit, and rightly so, but on the short bases I’m here to tell you that an infielder is going to get hurt also. Witnessing this weekend’s play with the crazy high scoring games, very little defense that it seems to me that the softball people who direct this game better take a serious look at what they’re getting into. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2003 season. My Top 15 will be coming out next week.
THE NEW SEASON
2003 is here and we’re getting close to the start of the new season, and it looks like this will be as exciting as last year. Remember there were five different winners in the Super Division last year. It looks as if this could be the same way this year, as some of the rule changes that were made by the associations will make for more competitive tournaments for 2003. The NSA will be like last year using 80′ or 90′ bases. They have put in a 16 homerun limit and then one up. They will play on baseball fields and that is one of the big reasons why we had five winners last year. The ASA will use the same rules as last year. I will tell you that it doesn’t look good for the Super Division in the ASA in 2004. I hope that something can be done to save this historic Super level of play. I believe tournaments like the Great Smoky, the Twitty, Little Rock and the Cincinnati Shootout should stay ASA next year. I would suggest those tournaments and add two more to make six qualifiers in 2004 to make sure that we have an ASA World Championship. The USSSA has pretty much stayed the same. They will host 12 NIT’s in their great World Series at Disney. I was disappointed that they chose to play most of their NIT’s on 300′ fields. I believe myself that they made a mistake by not going to baseball fields. The Class A teams can compete playing in these conditions on baseball fields. With all the mergers that took place last year and this year with the A teams they have proven they can compete with the big boys on the bigger fields using longer bases. I hope in the future the USSSA will make this move. Their World Series is still the best and would be even better if they would move the bases back to 80′. The ISA is playing their World Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. I believe this will be a great place to play. If it’s anything like it was in the past in Greensboro this will be a great World Tournament. I hope that the best 8 teams in the country in 2003 will make the commitment and make plans to attend the 2003 ISA Great “8” World Series. Mason Mc Lane is running this tournament and knows what it takes to hold a great event, don’t miss it. The WSL will be back bigger and better than last year. This year the WSL will work with both the ASA and the NSA in the Super Division. The WSL will also run Class B, C, D and Women’s Divisions. They will host approximately 20 of these events and World Tournaments of each class. The winning teams in each division of these lower class NIT’s will receive $1,000 in travel money at the World Tournaments. In the Super Division the highest finishing AA, A teams will split up $5,000. The WSL will bring some of the top homerun hitters in the game to the Metro Dome in Minnesota to put on a homerun hitting exhibition two! times in 2003 before the Twins games. The President of the Twins organization stated to John Daniels “that in the 20 year history of the Metro Dome last year’s homerun hitting exhibition was the most exciting and best pre-game event in their history”. He invited the WSL to do two events this year. The WSL will be hosting it’s 2003 All Star game before the Minnesota Twins game in August at the Metro Dome. This will be the greatest event in the history of our game. The All Star players chosen by the fans will get an opportunity to play before thousands of fans and be watched by two Major League teams. I guarantee you will not want to miss this event. I will post the exact date as soon as we know. The WSL will also put on hitting clinics in the WSL cities that are hosting NIT’s this season. Some of the best hitters in the world will be there to give tips and show players how to become better hitters and players. The All Star voting will be the same as last year being able to vote again this year on your favorite player on the WSL website. I will tell you that the WSL World Championship last year in Las Vegas was very close to being the best of them all. The only thing it lacked was fans. It was certainly more than softball with the live music on Fremont St. the hotel casinos and night life adding in the Canadian/American All Star game and the WSL All Star game made it a truly “Great Event”. John is working on one of three sites for the 2003 World Tournament. The cities he is looking to go to is back to Las Vegas, Daytona Beach, Fla. or New Orleans, Louisiana. I will post as soon as he makes that decision. I believe that the WSL and Big Time softball is taking a giant step to becoming a weekly show on Fox or ESPN that will put this game to the next level. John Daniels has done an unbelievable job getting this great game on TV. He is very close to ! making this weekly show a reality. The manufacturers and sponsors need to get involved with John and take this game to where it belongs. The time has come to bury the hatchet and work together so our game can be part of television. If this game isn’t better than watching jump roping, pool and a lot of other shows that we see on TV than we are missing the boat. TV is ready to take this game and now is the time to support John and his endeavors or we are making a huge mistake. The game has got to the next level., let’s not let it get away.
Here is a look at some of the teams for 2003; Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton looks to be the #1 team starting off the 2003 season with the addition of Hank Garris, Randall Boone and slick-fielding, good hitting infielder Dennis Rulli. It looks like the Easton boys will be very hard to beat. I haven’t seen their schedule yet, but I’m sure they will play 5 or 6 USSSA events, 2 ASA and 3 NSA. Rumor has it they will not play any WSL events. Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros./Worth will be very close to the Easton team with the additions of Jeff Wallace, Rusty Bumgardner, Todd Martin, Mike Shenk coming over from the dis-banded Long Haul team may push them to the top this season. The Worth boys will be very strong defensively and young Brian Rainwater will get a chance to prove he can play with the big boys. Rumor has it that veteran JC Phelps is getting into shape and if he’s fit, he can hit with the best of them will also being playing with them. One of the top sponsors in the history of our game Wayne Williamson is coming back and will field a team in 2003. Sunbelt/Mizuno will have some veterans and some youngsters and will be very strong offensively. Players like Jimmy Powers, Derrick Oliver, Dennis Mendoza, John Mc raw, Tim Cocco and Scott King will give this team a lot of pop. Also good hitting, great fielding Bobby Hughes and a host of other good players will fill up this team. Veteran manager Joe Albert will try to take this team to the top. Reds/Budweiser/Summerlin/Sunnyvale/Worth looks to be another very strong team who have some very talented players. They will be led by the cough drop brothers, Jerold and Jeff Smith along with a very good player in Shane McCoullough. Look for this team to be a contender weekly. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Alesium/Easton is another very good team with Veteran manager Gary Jost, the former Long Haul skipper who knows how to win, along with their sponsors have put together a very good team. This team will have some very good hitters and talented defensive players. I think Gary will mold this bunch into a very good team in a short time. Look for them to be there every weekend. Doc’s/Gossers/Easton may be one of the top teams this season. They have a very solid defensive team and an excellent hitting team. They may need a little more power when they play up. Look for this team to be a contender weekly. They have some veterans who know how to win, we will see. Mountain Top/Advance/TPS looks to still be a very good Class A team. They have solid defense led by slick-fielding shortstop Don Dedonatis, Jr. This team will miss All Star John Glidewell, who has moved over to the Chase team. I am sure they will get somebody to replace John. I look for this team to be a t the top in the A Division again. Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS who had a great season last year will be looking to win more championships this season. They will have most of last years team back, but will add a couple of players for 2003. Rocky and the boys will want to win for their great former sponsor NC Ryles, whom they lost this past year. Good Luck to those boys. I will continue to report on other teams in the next Softball Report.