2002 Dudley/Budweiser Major NIT

Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton wins the prestigious USSSA Dudley/Budweiser NIT in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. If anybody thinks that Backman/Easton is not back and ready to become the #1 team in the land better have other thoughts. I can tell you that if this week’s play is an indicator, this team has become a team that is hungry and wanting to be the best in the game. The changes they have made in the off season are starting to pay dividends, and that is what they needed to get the ship up-right. Jason Kendrick is the catalyst in the charge for this team to move up the ladder and try to become the #1 team. He isn’t the only one, shortstop Demond Thomas, middle infielder David Hood, all-star left fielder Robbin Higginbotham who is beginning to hit it now and if he continues will be the biggest addition this team added. I don’t want to forget Larry Carter, who can be a big plus for any team, and of course their young pitcher Scott Brown whom I believe if left on the mound most every game with a little rest here and there is the biggest asset for this team. This young man can hit it and also glove it. To finish this part of the story let’s not leave out the main stays Helmer, Hall, Joerling, Nevitt, McCraw and Rosado the utility man, and that makes up for a hell of a ball club. Manager Jim Wessel was brought over to try and change this team around and get it on the winning way, and that my friends is happening in 2002. The Backman boys were led this weekend by “big” additional hitter Dewayne Nevitt ( This weekends MVP), who wore it out all weekend long and contributed 12 homeruns in his assault on the tournament and their two wins over the #1 team in the land. This was also a total team effort as I believe this ball team was very hungry and played extremely hard to prove to the Long Haul boys and to the rest of the softball world that they are here and ready to claim the #1 spot. I know there will be some people out there who will disagree with me and believe that Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton should move to #1 in the rankings this week, but this reporter will not make that move at this time. I will tell you that at the Smoky Mountain Classic when the three “Giants” of the game collide again is when I will make a change at the top of the heap if warranted.

I have been an advocate that the big three or four when they had it should play in the same tournaments as much as possible to give the softball fans and softball teams a chance to play or watch the best teams in the world go at it, I know this is impossible because of the amount of NIT’s out there. I would hope that the minds of softball would realize that this has to go. We don’t need more NIT’s we need less, so that financially the teams that want to play can afford to go to tournaments like the Dudley or the Smoky or any other good tournaments. People that say “big time” softball is dead, don’t know what they’re talking about, this game is at it’s best. We may not have as many teams participating at each event, and the only reason for that is that there’s too many events going on to make that possible. I’ll say it one more time, “Super NIT’s, 5 USSSA’s, 5 ASA’s, 5 NSA/World’s and 5 World Series, let the Major teams who are declared Major automatically have berths to the four World’s and the WSL have their final four by the point system. I will tell you if that was in place you would get between 12 and 16 of the top teams in the nation to your NIT’s those 15 weekends set-up, and the Smoky and the Dudley will still get the same amount of teams they always get, but maybe more of the better teams could afford to come if there were less tournaments”. Enough of that let me get back to the Dudley reporting.

The Long Haul boys finished 2nd. in this one, and they played extremely well this weekend, but the better team won this weekend taking nothing away from the Long Haul team because they gave an effort to try and win as much as anybody. I’m sure the Long Haul coaches, sponsors and players will be looking forward to playing when they all come together for the Great Smoky Mtn. Classic. Finishing in 3rd place was Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth team, who believe me from it’s sponsors to the players have given everything they’ve got every weekend and are very close to capturing one of these tournaments when the big three are entered. Make no mistake they have good players and are giving 100% in trying to get to the top. They deserve to win one and I believe they are very close to winning one of these tournaments, Don’t count them out. I will state that these three Super teams are very close in talent and that is great to see for when they get together we the fans get to see some great softball playing and that’s what it’s all about. I need not say too much about the A division for we know there! ‘s about 15 of them who can get at it every weekend, and that is worth watching as well. I want to tell you it was Great to see a B team from Minnesota who can flat out play and have some great young players who put on one of the best displays this weekend at the Dudley like the likes never seen before. Saturday they played against the #1 team in the nation with a good hometown crowd cheering them on, they almost pulled off the biggest upset that would of ever been at the Dudley, but fell short losing a thriller 45-43. That didn’t stop this upstart bunch from Minnesota who began to climb back through the Loser’s Bracket and on the way took out another Major team, Twin States/Worth sent them to the house and then the bubble burst as they had to play another one of the giants, Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth and there was nothing left in the tank when the Mt. Crew/Mizuno boys were run-ruled and their tournament came to an end. Boy do they deserve a big hand for a Great job!!!

I want to congratulate Warren Bellm, who gave a courageous effort to play this Dudley after torrential rain hit the City of Minnesota Friday morning and Central Park became unplayable. Warren and his staff found a way to get the other complexes ready to go and complete one of the great tournaments in the world. Setting the politics aside, Warren Bellm, Gerry Turnberg are great people for the game of softball. If everybody would treat the game the way these two do, Major softball would be a lot better off. You’re both a Class Act!!

Don’t let the politics in this game take it away from you, Do it your way, that’s my motto!!