2006 USSSA Hall of Fame NIT

Bell Corp/Taylor Bros/Belcher/Easton is off and running in the 2006 season. The “Bell Boys” mowed down all comers in their path, on route to the first ever USSSA Conference Tournament Championship. The setting at Osceola County Stadium Complex was the perfect place to play a “Bigtime” softball tournament. The fields were big 330′, 390′ 410′. The only problem that I saw were the 70′ bases. I believe it’s a much better game using 80′ bases, but it’s just my opinion along with a lot of the players opinions too. The ball was perfect for these size fields. Some of the bats that were being used was the biggest talk of the weekend from a lot of the players. I can tell you it came even from players playing on the same team using these cheater bats. I will write more about it later in this report. I’m here to tell you the “Bell Boys” are a very good team. They are solid defensively in both the infield and outfield. They can base hit it when called for, and have enough power to keep the other teams honest on defense. I also believe this team has a lot of camaradie and the players will do what it takes to win. This all comes from the sponsors, manager, coaches and the players on and off the field. I know this, that by winning this one on the big fields, it will boost the players confidence and they will now know they can win in the big stadiums also. I don’t believe that the Bell squad will lose too many on the 300′ fields, and maybe not any. This team is built for the smaller fields, but sure showed that they can also play on the big fields. The “Bell Boys” were led by Vince Bisbee and new outfielder young Scott Kirby. This kid is going to be a good one. He has all the tools. Congratulations on winning the first one, and good luck on your next one.

Second place went to AM/Las Vegas/Benfield/Reece/Shade/Easton. This team came together a lot faster than I thought it would. Remember they lost three Bigtime players in BJ Fulk, Dennis Rulli and Alex Lavarico. I thought it would take awhile for their new players to fit in, but it sure didn’t. This is a team made up of some of the best young players in today’s game, and they are very athletic and know how to play the game. This is also a very closeknit team. I look for this bunch to beat the big boys a few times this season. Congratulations on a great weekend. Good luck in your next one.

Third place went to Aubrey’s/MIT/Worth, who just played awfully good, even though they were missing four very good players this weekend. This bunch played very good defense, and hit it well to win some great games. The “Aubrey Boys” gave AM Las Vegas their first loss of the season in a great game. I look for the Aubrey’s team to have a great season at the A level and maybe beat one of the major teams during the season. Great job boys, and good luck in your next one.

Fourth place went to Jean Shoppe/Team Mayhem/Worth, a team I said in an earlier report “to look out for that bunch”. I’m here to tell you, that this is one very good A team who will be a contender to win an A World later on, I guarantee you. This team has great defense, can base hit and has plenty of power to compete with anybody. Great job boys, and good luck in your next one.

The big story of the weekend was what happened to Resmondo/KME Softball? Well it was pretty simple, they were terrible. They did not catch it, they did not hit it, they did not give an effort, and they were not ready to play. I would think, that if you are supposed to be the best, then you would have a lot of pride and give 100%, and show we still are the team to beat. I’m here to tell you there was none of the above in this one. I think the question that should be asked, is this team getting too old? Remember there’s a whole lot of players who are getting up in age. The majority of these players have won a lot over the years. I know this, it is much harder to get motivated year after year when winning a lot. I believe it is going to take a big effort for this team to adjust and win on 300′ fields. I am not sure they can do that, and if they don’t it’s going to be a long season, we will see.

Specialty Tank/Stucco/K&G/ Worth looks like it has a pretty good team. Looking at this bunch this weekend, I think they are good defensively in the infield. Their outfielders are good, but will have to hit much better to have a chance to win. Jeff Hall looks like he is back from last year’s leg problem. JC Phelps is totally back and is without a doubt one of the top five hitters in the game. Tim Mattix can flat-out hit it and pick it too. BJ Fulk will have to step it up for this team to win. K&C/Lockdown/Graphic23/Easton is another one of those very good A teams. They will beat some of the better teams this season. They sure showed that in beating Resmondo in their game Saturday. Good luck the rest of the season. Team Worth will be competitive against the lower A teams. This is not a bad team and can get better, good luck. Suncoast/AH/RBK/Easton will also be competitive against the lower A teams. This team has some good players. Good luck boys. Northwest Pipe/Budlite/3N2/Easton just did not play well this weekend. I’m sure Larry will get this bunch going. Good luck boys. Pace/TPS just didn’t get it going this weekend, but should be competitive against the lower A teams.

I liked seeing Herrin/MIT/Leftfield Lounge/Easton playing. I left this team out of my Top 25, but they belong in there, and will be this week. This will be a good A team, I guarantee you. Good luck boys. I was glad to see these Class C teams playing in this one. I believe it is great for these lower teams who are from the areas to get into these NIT’s, as it gives them some experience and a chance to see the best players in the world play. It only costs the entry fee if you live in the area of the tournament. Good job H3 Sports/Pop Squad, Taylor Made Titans and BTA. Thanks guys for entering.

I want to tell you this conference program is just what softball needs. I think the competition will be furious all season. I wish they would play more on baseball fields, like they played on this weekend. I’m here to tell you that it’s a much better game with these teams and that talent. I want to comment on some of the bats being used this weekend. This will be the downfall of this great game if something isn’t done about these cheater bats. I myself cannot prove that players are using illegal bats. I know this, that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that some people who could not hit a homerun with any consistency on 300′ fields, but go into the stadiums and hit them out over the 400′ sign. All I have to say is we have a problem, and somebody better put a stop to it or we will not be playing softball at this level. There were players there this weekend who were hitting balls in the 400′ range, who I guarantee you without a cheater wouldn’t come within 50′ of hitting it out of the stadium. The best part of this is these players have never done it in their careers, and now they can hit it as far as some of the best homerun hitters to ever play this game. No I can’t change the world, and I don’t want too, but when your peers and your own teammates see this going on, somebody better stop it. This conference is a great idea. Don’t make a mistake and let this kill the last chance for “Bigtime Softball” to survive.

I talked with some of the players and sponsors who brought this problem up to me. I told them that it doesn’t make sense to know that they can’t win using legit bats because they’re going to get beat by the cheater bats anyway. I told them it costs a lot of money each weekend to go play, and it sure doesn’t make sense to know you don’t have much of a chance with these cheater bats being used. I know this, we don’t need scientists, engineers, doctors or anyone of that nature to tell us if the bats legal or illegal. What you need to do is know who can hit it 400′ or more and who can’t, and that is pretty simple, then get rid of the can’ts. Just my opinions. SAVE THE GAME!!!