The 2006 season is right around the corner. The holiday season is over now, and it’s time to start looking at the upcoming season. I believe that 2006 is the start of “Big Time” softball getting back to where it belongs. This year it looks like there will be about ten very competitive teams. I think there will be 4 or 5 major teams depending on how the major list is made. These are the following teams that I believe should be major; Resmondo, Bell Corp, Team Worth, Team Combat and Benfield. I think the very good A teams will be Aubrey’s, Northwest Pipe, Jean Shoppe, Team Arkansas/Barnes Logging, McNair Sports, Laser Vision, Tacoma Dodge, K&C/Lockdown/Easton, Long Haul/Miken and about 10 others, who I don’t know their roster names yet. I think with the new softball conference in USSSA will be a giant step in the right direction getting the game back on top. I like this conference idea, as I think this will get some other teams interested in moving up to play the program. I would like to see some of the better B teams play in these tournaments to get more experience at the next level. I will write a little about some of the Top 15 teams for 2006.
Resmondo will be the # 1 team in my pre-season rankings. This year’s edition of Resmondo will have a few changes. Jeff Wallace will be player-manager this year. The returning players are Wallace, Bumgardner, Purcell, Krause, Baker, Striebel, Kendrick and Rainwater. The new players are Dal Beggs, Todd Martin, Jimmy Devine and Bryan King. Gone are Hall, Dedonatis, Glidewell, Turner and Rosado. I believe if Todd Martin is ready to play and hits like he has in the past, this will make this team better than last year. Dal Beggs is very close defensively to Dedonatis and is a better hitter than Jr., Dal also has a lot more power. I think the key player will be Bryan King. This guy can flat-out pick it and will be a great defensive move in the 6th and 7th innings, and that my friends is what every great team has to have to win. What makes this such a very good team is the great defense in their outfield. They are the best three defensively and the best three offensively in the game, we will see.
Bell Corp is right up there with Resmondo. I will rank them # 2 in my pre-season picks. This team is a lot like Resmondo, with some very good players. The Bell team in 2006 will have Helmer, Cocco, Joerling, Brown, Baker, Hughes and Nastally. The new players are Dedonatis, Rulli, Bisbee and Kirby. I think the only difference in Bell than Resmondo is the offense. Resmondo has much more power 1-11, and Resmondo has the game’s best pitcher in Andy Purcell. I think on the 300′ fields Bell may come out on top, but on the bigger fields Resmondo will win, we will see.
Team Worth/Stucco/Doc’s is my # 3 pre-season ranked team. Team Worth looks to be very strong with the addition of Jeff Hall over there, raising them up a notch. I thought that they would keep Randall Dykes and JD Genter, but not to be and that might hurt them. I know with JC Phelps, Jeff Hall, Mattox and Goulash they will have four legitimate homerun hitters who can hit with any of them. I think they will be solid on defense, and believe they will have to get a lot of hitting from the bottom of their order. I’m positive this will be a very competitive team, we will see.
Team Combat is my # 4 pre-season ranked team. I believe with the changes that Combat made for 2006, will make this team a contender every weekend. Johnny McCraw and RJ Howerton will be the guys who must lead this bunch. They have picked up some very good players in Briggs, Hartman, Casey, Wilhelm, Glidewell, Dykes, Wilson, Rosado, Guess, Holcomb and Higgenbotham. I think this team has a chance to give anybody a run for their money, we will see.
Benfield/Reece/AM Las Vegas/Shade/Easton is my # 5 pre-season ranked team. I believe this team will come together after a few tournaments, with all the changes it will take time. I know losing Rulli, BJ Fulk, Lavorico and others is a big loss for them. I am sure that Rooster and Randy and the gang have picked up some good players. I look for this team to move up during the season. Returning players are Crine, O’Hara, Wegman, Hamermeihl, Justice, Hartwick, Hatfield, Webber and Messina are a good nucleus. New players are Matt King, May, JD Genter and Buteaux, which should make them fine.
Aubrey’s will be my pre-season # 6 team. This will be a very good A team. Rocky has made some changes that I believe will make them a better team than last year. Returning from last year are Jarman, Martin, Johnson, Santiago, Dutch, Cowart and Thomas. New players are Derrick Oliver, Lorring, Mclean, Filby, Clint, Hillard, Allen and Bare. I think it will take a few tournaments to get it together, but this should be a contending team.
Northwest Pipe is my # 7 team in my pre-season rankings. Larry always puts a good team together, and I am sure this 2006 edition will be good. I know this, if it’s anything like last year’s team they will be very good. This bunch has some very good players who know how to win, we will see.
KC/Lockdown/Easton is my # 8 team in my pre-season rankings. I don’t know all their players, but I know some and they will be a very good A team. They should be a contender at Class A at most tournaments, we will see.
Long Haul/Miken is my # 9 team in my pre-season rankings. This bunch knows how to win and are always there at the end. This team has a lot of talent at every position. They can hit and hit for power. I know they have picked up a couple of new players, and I heard they can play, we will see.
Jean Shoppe/Worth is my # 10 team in my pre-season rankings. This team will make some noise, I guarantee you. They have picked up two very good players in pitcher Mucciarelli, and AH catcher Shawn Ballard. Mooch will be reckoned with in USSSA, I guarantee you. Ballard is the next Bigtime homerun hitter in the game. This young man can flat-out hit it and hit it a long way believe me. I look for the Shoppe boys to have a very good year. I know they will take their lumps, but they will beat some of the best, we will see.
Team Arkansas/Barnes Logging is my # 11 team in my pre-season rankings. Team Arkansas was a very good B team last year. Barnes Logging had a very good A team. With these two merging, I look for this team to be very competitive. Both teams had good players, and now they put the best of each together. They will be good, we will see.
McNair Sports is my # 12 team in my pre-season rankings. Cobbie Harrison is managing this new team and I know Cobbie will put together a very competitive team. Cobbie is one of the best managers in the history of this game, believe me. I watched Cobbie take a team that nobody thought could win, and win two of the four Grand Slam events, with one being the USSSA Worlds. This guy knows how to get the best out of his players, believe me. We will see what he brings to the table this season.
I will give you the rest of my Top 15 & Honorable mentions as soon as I get all the rosters in. I’m looking forward to the upcoming season and I know a lot of you are too. Please send your rosters and your schedules as soon as possible. I will not post anybody in the Top 15 or Honorable mentions unless you send a roster to me first. Remember that when you send your roster please give us the name you want posted for your team and also the city and state you’re from, along with your contact person.