Hall of Fame NIT

The 2009 Conference season got off to a rousing start in Kissimmee, Fla. at the winter home of the Houston Astros and where the USSSA’s home and Hall of Fame are located. The top three super teams in the game, six of the top Class A teams and a few of top B teams got it on, along with thirteen unranked teams made up the first conference’s tournaments of the season. The USSSA held a double event in their first NIT’s of the season. They played Thursday & Friday in the first one, and Saturday & Sunday in the second. I cannot tell you how much the teams liked this new format, but I personally liked it. I do think it would have been better if they had played this format later on, like in June instead of April. I know a lot of the players had not played yet and some of the northern guys had not hit very much or took infield and outfield practice. I believe overall the play was pretty good. Dan Smith/Menosse/Combat won both ends of this double event.

I would like to write a little about some of the troubles that happened this past weekend in these two tournaments and then I will write about the games. I have said for years that they use too strong of a ball and that somebody will end up getting killed or seriously injured. I can tell you all it happened this weekend. Dirty Sanchez got hit in the face. Dirty is a very good athlete who has very good reflexes and catches almost every ball that’s hit at him up the middle. This time Dirty could not defend himself, no chance. Dirty will have to go through surgery to repair his face. I know all the softball families will pray for his recovery. I know Dirty will recover and be back as one of the games very best pitchers. Good luck on a full recovery. Dirty was not the only pitcher hurt this weekend. There were two more hit, one may have a broken arm. I will say it again a .44 core 375 compression ball is good enough for the stadiums. The real homerun hitters will hit it out. The ones who should not, won’t and pitchers and infielders will be able to make plays. That my friends is how it should be period. This past weekend I seen balls hit that no infielder in the world could make a play, and I also seen pitchers literally diving out of the way to keep from getting hit. My friends that is not how the game should be played. I know this, it’s time for the people to be to wake up and use the right ball and let these great softball players play the game the way it should be played. The softball world knows how good the bats are, as good as they’ve ever been. The only way to slow the bats down is to use the right ball. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see what’s going on. STOP IT NOW before someone gets killed, enough said just do it. Now back to the games.

I know it’s very hard to judge how good these teams are when they are playing with rocks. I will try to breakdown how the teams looked to me. I had to leave for personal business so I did not see late Sat. night or Sunday games. I did get information from people who were there. I also was involved in a terrifying car accident Saturday on my way back to Daytona on I-4. Myself and 8 other people were taken to hospitals. We’ll all be alright down the road. I can tell you all, I know there is a God believe me. I am very lucky to be alive. I hit another car at high speed. I don’t know how I got out of this, but I did. For those of you who called me wishing me well, thank you.

Dan Smith is all and more about how good of a team they will be in 2009. I said that I thought this team has the best offense in the game, and I believe that. I know for sure they have the most power. The 2009 Smith team is better defensively, both in the infield and outfield. The Smith boys played this weekend without the services of Scott Nastally who hurt his ankle and did not play. Scott Brown did a terrific job pitching and also literally hit the hell out of it. He was named the tournaments’s MVP and he deserved it. Wegman, Helmer and the rest of the boys hit it very well all weekend. The Smith boys were in some very close games this past weekend, but managed to get it done and start off the 2009 season winning the first two NIT’s of the conference season. The Smith boys went 10-1 and that was a good way to start off the season. I believe Dan Smith will be a very tough team to beat in 2009, and may break the Resmondo record with only three losses in a season. Congratulations on a great weekend and good luck in your next one.

Long Haul/Phonemasters/Miken got off to a shaky start in the first NIT of the season, but came storming back to finish runner-up in the second NIT. Make no mistake this team will be a force down the road, they are solid. This is a very young team who have some very young talented players believe me. This team maybe the best overall defensive team of the three super teams, and also has some very good hitters who can hit it a long ways. The only suspect is their pitching, but that looked pretty good this weekend. I can only tell you, keep a close eye on this bunch. By September they maybe the best, we will see. Softball fans keep an eye on these young players, Blackburn, Genter, Isenhower, King, McCollum, Rhines & Thiede. These guys are going to be the next super stars of softball. Remember this team beat Dan Smith once and Resmondo twice this past weekend. Congratulations on a great weekend and good luck down the road.

Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth is in some trouble for sure. I have said that they might be too old and that some of the players are on the end of the line. I can tell you it sure looked that way this past weekend. I also have said that Resmondo needed to put some young blood in their lineup, and the only young player they brought in the past two years was Gregg Connell, who is a bigtime super player. The problem is that Martin is too hurt to play bigtime softball anymore. Krause and Bisbee can’t get it done, and Wallace is not hitting like he used to and Purcell does not get the people he needs to get out anymore., and all that adds up to losing. I told Travis a couple of years ago to start adding new blood. I gave him names like McCollum from Rope Club, Theige and Rowbo to pick up two years ago and he listened to other people, and I believe it will cost him dearly this season. I know it will be impossible to pick up any bigtime caliber players to help him this season. I do believe he needs to pick up three or four good young class A players who can play good D and give them time to learn to hit at bigtime. He needs to get rid of some of the over the hill game if he wants to win again in bigtime softball, we’ll see.

T&R Stucco/Worth played extremely well in this tournament and finished in third place in the first NIT. Troy has put together a very good team with Tiny and Jackie Hayes helping out running the show. This bunch will be a force in class A all season long. They can catch it and hit it pretty good. They have some good players and I know they have picked up another good one in veteran John Dutch. I still think they need to add one more power hitter and they will be solid. Congratulations on a great weekend and good luck down the road.

Woodlaw out of Texas is going to be a very good B team, although I know this bunch should be classified A, but I don’t classify the teams. This bunch has some veteran players like Jebby King and Dennis Shrum who can play the game. I look for this team to be very good this season. Good luck and congratulations on a great weekend.

Taylor Made/Mizuno is another one of those very good Class A teams, who will be battling for the top spot in Class A. Scotty has got some good talent who will just get better. They played 500 ball this weekend, but are much better than that. Good luck guys.

Johnny Blaze out of Las Vegas, Nevada is going to be a very good B team. This bunch can hit it and catch it very good. I like this team a lot and believe it will be a contender to win the Class B worlds. Good luck to you the rest of the season. I wish you well.

GTL/Stucco/Worth just didn’t play well in this one. This team is a lot better than what their record showed this weekend. I guarantee you they will play a whole lot better the rest of the season. Good luck down the road,

Congratulations to all the other teams who participated in these two conference tournaments and good luck the rest of the season. I must say it was another very good job done by the USSSA staff and wish them well all season long. To Donnie D, I know you feel bad about the players who got hurt this weekend, but you have to change the ball, it’s just too good. Infielders have no chance and pitchers will get hurt if you don’t change it, just my opinion.