John Daniels told me last year when he came back into bigtime softball all he wanted to do is win. In the 2008 season it did not happen. John decided after the 2008 season he would come back in 2009 with a much better team with his man he calls coach, Gary Jost. The 2009 season got under way in Kissimme, Fla. and the Long Haul/Phonemasters/Miken team played pretty good in this double NIT event. The Long Haul squad even beat pre-favorite #1 Resmondo.
The next couple of NIT’s were not very good for the Long Haul team, being run-ruled a few times during those tournaments. The mighty Budweiser Dudley USSSA Nit was this past weekend and guess what? The Long Haul boys put it all together and won this prestigious tournament. I have seen a number of Dudley Nit’s over the years, but this was one of the better ones. This tournament was very competitive and I believe the reason for that was the ball used in this NIT. I know for sure this ball was perfect for 300′ fields. It was a little softer than the one they’ve been using all year and that made a big difference. The homeruns that were hit were hit by homerun hitters. In the daytime you had to really hit it to get it to fly. The ball flew a whole lot better after dark. I want to tell you all the Long Haul team has as much power as Resmondo and Smith. This Long Haul team has the best seven young players to come into the game since Wegman, Kirby and Connell.. Genter, Blackburn, McCollum, Thiede, Rhines, King and Isenhower are the next super stars of bigtime softball, I guarantee you. The ten players I’ve named can flat out play the game both offensively, defensively and they all can hit for power. These guys are the future of bigtime softball. I must give John, Gary, Teddy & Jeff Davis a lot of credit for putting together this great team. I know when you put these seven very good young players with veterans like Hall, Phelps, Messina, Buck and Robbins, it spells win. I also believe that when the players who are getting toward the end of their careers leave the game knowing that there is a new breed of players who can flat out play the game. I also believe when the new era of players take over bigtime softball we are going to see teams who have 12 players who can play great D, hit, hit for power & run. It will be a much better game when time comes.
Congratulations to the Long Haul team on one hell of a win. I believe this win was not only good for the Long Haul team, but also for the game of softball, the Dudley and the USSSA Conference. I believe that it shows that you can put a great team together and win for a lot less money than the two big teams spend and still be able to win. Yes there are very good young players that can play bigtime softball. I can tell you all there are more of these type of players out there, and I say go find them and bigtime softball will get a whole lot better.
Dan Smith/Menosse/Combat got the runner-up spot in this one. The Smith boys finally beat Resmondo. It’s been a longtime. The Smith team played without super star Brett Helmer who tore his bicep muscle before the tournament. I have not heard how bad it is, but if he needs surgery he could miss up to a year. The Smith team just could not hold off Long Haul and had to settle for second place. This team is still not hitting when it counts and now are not catching it when it counts. I believe they will have to pick it up if they want to win the rest of the way. Congratulations on your weekend and good luck on your next one.
Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth finally had a weekend when they did not get it done. The sod boys had a chance to win the game against Long Haul in the winners bracket final, but Resmondo was one run away from run-ruling Long Haul with a runner on second and Wallace at the plate, but he did not get it done and Long Haul came back and won the game. The sod boys got back to play Dan Smith in the losers bracket final, but could not get it done in this one either, and were sent to the house for the first time in six tournaments. Congratulations on your run and good luck in your next one.
T&R Stucco/Elite/Worth showed why they are ranked the #4 team in the world. I can’t believe that anybody would think this team doesn’t deserve a lot of credit for what it has accomplished in 2009. The Stucco boys have beat all comers from class A, B or any other teams other than the three super teams. The Stucco boys gave Dan Smith all they wanted in their game. I still believe that T&R is the team to beat in the Class A Worlds, but they will have to beat Taylor Made, Jean Shoppe, GTL, Bud Light or Wood Law to win that. Congratulations on your great weekend at the Dudley and good luck on your next weekend.
I once again would like to commend Warren Bellm on another great Dudley. I really like the tournament this year. I think the ball made a whole lot of difference. I also want to commend the grounds crew at central on the job they do keeping the fields in perfect condition for this tournament. They deserve a lot of credit. The umpires I thought were excellent and did a great job. Congratulations to the whole Minnesota USSSA staff on a great job done. Good luck in the future.