I will start out by writing about the 2003 ISA Winter Nationals in beautiful Winter Haven, Florida. This was without a doubt the best one I’ve ever attended, and I have been to all of them.. Fourteen teams were entered and all of them were very good. Doc’s/Easton proved to be the best in this one, and will be a contender all season long. Doc and round Rick along with manager Sterling Ibrohm have put together a potent team. This ball club has probably the best over-all defense in the game, and they also have a very good offense and enough power to play in both unlimited and 12 homerun tournaments. The big plus for this team will be the Easton Synergy bat, it will be the equalizer when they play against Smith or Hague I promise. I said last year that the mergers would make these A teams better. Add the Miken or the Synergy to these teams and they become AA teams. When they play on baseball fields they will be able to compete with the big boys for sure. What I see if you don’t have the better bats you won’t compete. Like it or not this game has to be played on baseball fields, long bases and every team playing at the Major level has to have the best bats or you won’t have a chance. There will be a lot of Miken sponsored teams as well as Easton teams and they will dominate. I will not knock the other bat manufacturers, but they will have to bring their bats up to the level of those two or it’s going to be a long season for their teams. This weekend the A teams were hitting the ball through the infield so hard that the infielders, who by the way were playing 30′ out on the grass, could only make a play if it was right at them. You ask why so many runs were scored in a 12 run limited homerun tournament and I’ll tell you why. The ball was just coming too fast off the bats to make the plays. That’s enough of that issue for now. Resmondo Sod’s pick-up team finished 2nd. in this one as Albert Davis led the attack with 18 homeruns. Dal Beggs, Billo Harvery and the rest of the team played well. Third place went to Team AH/Perkins/TPS, who played very well. I look for this team to play very good all season long. Fourth place went to a very good A team out of Tallahassee, Fla. SCI/Miken. This will be a tough ball club playing as an A team this year. T&R Stucco/Easton who merged with Suncoast this season, will be a force. They have a very good squad and those Easton bats will help this bunch a lot. They scored a lot of runs in this one, but ran out of gas at the end. I look for this team to be very strong down the road. Bay/CreativeStucco/TPS is another very good A team who had a good run in this one, but also ran out of gas. Remember they came out of the snow to play here. Gulf Coast/Easton is ready to compete with some of the A teams in the country. This bunch has some good young talent and will score a lot of runs using the Easton bat. They will only get better playing against these better teams. US Vinyl/Miken will be a team to reckon with down the road. They didn’t play well here this weekend, but have a lot of veterans and some good young players. I’m sure they will get it going. They will be very competitive all season long. They will have to shore up a little on the defensive side and I’m sure they will do that. Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS didn’t play well here, but have a very strong A team again. I know they would like to win one National this year for their beloved former sponsor NC Ryals. Berardi’s is another very good A team, who believe me will put some runs on the board in 2003. They have a good offensive team and can catch it well. I look for them to be a contender every weekend. They need to play up more to get better. Team Action/Demarini, who wants to play at the B level will be very strong and should win some tournaments in 2003. Another pick-up team in this tournament was Resmondo/Pierce Construction who had Wallace, Helmer and Brown, who tore it up pretty good. This bunch scored a lot of runs for a team made up of all players from the NY area who have been in a lot of snow all winter. They got to play five games this weekend getting a lot of swings. Fat Back’s out of Georgia, another pick-up team with big Randall Boone on it also played well this weekend, as they beat some good teams. Overall this was a very good winter tournament. It doesn’t get any better than this. There were 14 good teams who were very competitive. Most of the teams were swinging Mikens or Synergys. It sure made for a lot of runs scored and a lot of infielders and pitchers trying to get out of the way of these rocket balls flying by. The bats were good and the ball was good. Chet, Don and the ISA staff ran another very good tournament. I will end this report by saying that I’m sure there will be a lot of crying about the bats and the balls, but I would bet that if nobody does anything about them, there’s no sense of complaining. It seems every year over the last few years somebody has a better bat than the rest. In the 2000 season they complained about the Worth bats, in 2001 they complained about the Louisville bat, and in 2002 they complained about the Easton bat and now 2003 is here and they’re going to complain not only about the Easton bat, but the Miken bat also. All I can say is the equipment is good, no doubt about it and playing with these bats and rocket balls on 300′ fields is a total “no brainer”. Everybody worries about a pitcher getting hit, and rightly so, but on the short bases I’m here to tell you that an infielder is going to get hurt also. Witnessing this weekend’s play with the crazy high scoring games, very little defense that it seems to me that the softball people who direct this game better take a serious look at what they’re getting into. I’m looking forward to the start of the 2003 season. My Top 15 will be coming out next week.