2005 Busch/Pepsi Classic

The Long Haul Trucking sponsored teams hauled away all the hardware in this great Busch Classic. The Men’s Upper Division was won by Long Haul/Miken. The Women’s Division was won by Long Haul/Enough Said/Easton. I ranked the Miken boys #10 in the start of the season. This bunch just got off to a very bad start. I’m here to tell you now they’ve got it going the last few weekends, and they will be reckoned with the rest of the way. This is one very talented team that can base hit it, hit for power and can flat out pick it. This bunch will be a force in the Class A Worlds, I guarantee. It was a total team effort on route to the Championship. The Miken boys beat a very, very good Aubrey’s/Resmondo/TPS team who finished in second place in this one. This is the best Aubrey’s team ever, that have a lot of talent. I will not make any excuses for Aubrey’s, but the team didn’t get to their hotel until 5:30 AM Saturday morning because of travel complications. They then played Sports Center/Worth early Sat. morning who played a perfect game and won it in the bottom of the seventh. The TPS boys battled back through the blistering heat to play the Championship game, but fell a little short. Make no mistake, this is one powerful A team. Third place went to another very good A team, Berardi’s/TPS. This team will be a threat in the Class A Worlds for sure. This is a very talented team who has a lot of veteran players who know how to win. Fourth place went to another talented A team, Barnes Logging/Worth. This bunch sometimes has a bad outing and loses a tough game that they should win. I look for this bunch to be reckoned with at the A Worlds. I would like to tell you about an A team from Locust Grove, Oklahoma called Native American. This team is made up of Cherokee Indians and is the first native american team to play in the Busch Classic. Their manager told me we chose to play in the upper division to get some experience. I can tell you they gave a great effort, but were over classed in this one. I like to see teams play up once awhile, so they get a chance to see what it takes to play with the big boys. This was a very good upper division, as there were six very good A teams, and any one of the six could of won this one, I guarantee you. Great job by all the teams.

The Middle Division was a very strong field of 22 teams. This division was led by a very good Jean Shoppe/Worth team, who just didn’t get it done. Team Arkansas, who by the way is a very good B team and can be a real force in the B Worlds, won this very good B Division. This is a good defensive team who can flat out catch it and base hit the hell out of it. Nice job guys, you earned it that’s for sure. Good luck the rest of the year. Second place went to a team called .Bone Crushers, who just played a great tournament. This is also a very nice B team who will be tough in the B Worlds. Good job boys and good luck down the road. Third place went to the Cyclones another good B team, who also played very good this weekend. Good job fellas and good luck the rest of the way. Fourth place goes to LTB/Olivers, who played very well this weekend battling all the way through. Good job guys!

The Lower Division was a 60 team battle, calling it the Monster Division, and it sure was. There were a few teams who played 9 -10 games through the blistering heat coming out of the loser’s bracket. This division was an all out war to the finish. First place went to Hemphill Construction. Good job boys and good luck the rest of the season. Second place went to Minor Threat, who played a lot of games to get second. Good job guys. Third place went to Hot Springs Cards. Good effort boys! Fourth place goes to Meadows Construction. Way to go guys!

The Women’s Division was a 22 field of teams, with the two best teams in the country entered. This tournament was made up of A,B & C teams. The competition was very good, I guarantee you. One of the lower class teams knocked out the #2 team in the country, Kinder Sharks. Long Haul/Enough Said/Easton were just too good for all comers. This is one of the best women teams ever assembled, I guarantee you. Most of the girls are from the panhandle area of Florida, and one is the best player in the state of Iowa. This team in one game hit 8 homeruns by 8 different girls on a 300′ field. Believe me, that is unbelievable by ladies. The thing that surprises me the most is how well these girls play defense. These ladies can flatout pick it. I can also tell you they sure as hell can hit it, that’s for sure. Saturday night Long Haul and the Kinder Sharks got it on in the winner’s bracket final, and Long Haul was just too much for the Sharks. There was a huge crowd around the field watching this titanic battle between the two best teams in the nation. I want to tell you, if you get a chance get out and see this Long Haul/Enough Said/Easton team play, you will love it. Great job by all the ladies teams in this great tournament.

I want to write a little about the Busch-Pepsi Tournament, which is one hell of an event. Clint Albright and his lovely wife Marla are two of the nicest people I have ever met in this great game. This was my first time of experiencing this outstanding tournament. I just have not been able to make it to this one because I’ve attended the Pif for years and I have played and managed in a lot of other fourth of July tournaments. I can only say this Busch-Pepsi Classic ranks right up there with the mighty Smoky and the Great Dudley I guarantee you. This is one hell of a softball tournament. This tournament is run by none like I’ve ever seen, with over 125 teams entered, and I can honestly say there were no problems at all to speak of. The umpiring was as good as I’ve seen at any tournament over the years. This was a very good umpired tournament. I stayed at the host hotel, the beautiful Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I would like to thank Donna Blecher for being a great host. I would recommend that if you are ever in Little Rock stay at the Wyndham Hotel. The City of Sherwood Arkansas should be very proud of Darren and his staff at Sherwood Park. This is one of the most beautiful softball complexes I have ever seen. The setting is a lot like the Smoky with the main field sitting down in the valley, and the fans watching from the top of the hill. The fields are kept in great shape and the facilities are kept very clean. The concessions were as good as it gets. The chicken was the best I’ve ever had. The tournament t-shirts were excellent, and of course the great WSL Trailer was there with all the softball equipment and apparel you would want. I can’t say enough about Clint and Marla and how they run this magnificent tournament. This is how and why this tournament is very successful year after year. Clint and Marla promote this the same way that Joe Huff does at the Smoky, Warren Bellm at the Dudley, Dave LaMarre at the Twitty and Charlie and the boys up at the Pif do. I will say if more directors would promote as they do their tournaments could be as good and successful as these are, and the game could get back on top. I will end this Busch-Pepsi Classic report by saying I hope I get invited back to this prestigious tournament next year. I thoroughly enjoyed myself this weekend and had one of the best times I’ve ever had in my years of covering Big Time softball. It was truly a great July 4th with a whole lot of fireworks at the Busch-Pepsi Classic. Once again thank you Clint and Marla for a wonderful time, keep in touch.