It’s time for Big Time Softball to get rolling again

The 2002 season will be the most exciting and competitive year in history. This 2002 season will bring this great game to a different level for a number of reasons. Here are just a few to mention;
1. The new World Softball League has taken this great game to a new level on the playing field, all of their tournaments will be played on baseball fields with a minimum of 80′ bases and in some cases the maximum of 90′ bases, which no doubt changes the whole complexion of the game of softball. We all know that games have been played in stadiums in the World Series’, but now playing in these conditions with the longer bases will make this game a more competitive situation. Longer bases will stop big innings, give more double plays, and more great defensive plays made by infielders who are backed up, which turns into less runs scored that will allow the good Class ! A & AA teams who usually have good defensive teams to be able to be competitive. I believe the difference between the games that were played in the stadiums with 70′ bases and now the games being played with the longer bases will make for a more exciting game and show the defensive abilities of these great softball players.
2. The homerun will still be there, but a lot less will be hit. Like I said we’ll see the best of the players.
3. With the mergers that took place during the off season the A Division has become an unbelievable field of teams this year. I believe the competition in the A Division will be fierce in all associations. I have seen a bunch of the teams early this year and I can honestly say the Class A Worlds in 2002 in all the associations will be the best ever.
4. For the AA teams we don’t have a whole lot in my opinion, and there will be no more than 3 or 4 competitive teams. I will go on! record stating that there are a bunch of A teams that can compete with anyone of the AA’s and win as much as they might lose. I personally felt that when the USSSA had given up the AA program I felt the other associations should of followed suit. The reason for that is if we are to have AA Worlds in the associations that kept them, then they would need a bunch of A teams to be able to play their Worlds. I felt with the mergers and the USSSA dropping the AA, this was the year to go with the 3 Super teams and the rest sanctioned Class A in all associations, but remember that’s my opinion. I also felt that this was the year that the Major Player List should of been dropped and let all the A teams play with what they bring. I think in the A Division with the mergers making the teams stronger the associations would of moved their homerun limit in Class A to 16 homeruns on the 300′ complexes and unlimited on the baseball fields, which would of made f! or some very competitive softball in the A Division. I still believe that even with today’s rules you will find that if 15 A teams showed up at a tournament every weekend, there’s a good chance there would be a different winner each time, that’s how good this division is now.

Here’s a look at in my opinion of how the top 3 stack up for 2002.

First defending champions, Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS looks to me to be the best of the three. With the return of the majority of their players they still have the best talent. The question will be are they hungry enough to do what they did last year. They lost two very good players in Jason Kendrick and Robbin Higgonbotham, who were both great defensively with Jason being the better of the two offensively. Jason was a big part of that Long Haul machine not only on the field, but also off the field as a teammate and friend. Stepping in to fill Jason’s shoes is a player who has been there before, who can play both sides of the ball. I’m sure Long Haul won’t miss a beat in centerfield. This guy’s name is Brad Styles who is one of the best. I think the big question will be in left field! . There’s no question that Robin is the best defensive left fielder in the game of softball and I believe that Scott King has the defensive skills to step in and do the job, and also they have a very good player in Chad Durcek, who also is a very good young player who will need some experience at the big time level. I also believe that manager Gary Jost who ran the ship last year will be able to put this club together and have a shot at repeating as the best team again. Dan Smith/Backman/Menosse/Easton is back again and much improved. Dan has opened up and gone out and spent a lot of money trying to improve his ball club after a disastrous 2001 season. Wholesale changes were made to try and shore up some of the holes that were there last year and I believe he’s done that. With the acquisitions of shortstop Demond Thomas, outfielder Larry Carter, infielder David Hood, pitcher Sean Dubose and young pitcher Scott Brown along with the addition of two excel! lent defensive outfielders Jason Kendrick and Robin Higginbotham should shore up the defense. The big question for 2002 will be where to play all these new additions and to be able to get everybody on the field. I still think they will have to find a way to get people to catch the ball on the right side of the diamond. If that can’t be done then I think they’ll be in the same shape they were in last year. One other question will be the homerun production as two of the most frequent homerun hitters are gone, Carol Rose and Wendall Rickard. I also believe they made a big mistake letting one of the better softball people in the game, veteran Jackie Hayes go. Hague/Resmondo/Walser/Worth will be looking to improve their team in 2002. This ball club also made wholesale changes as they brought in veterans Carl Rose, Dewayne Frizzel, Todd Volkers, Dal Beggs and young outfielder Chaun Demars. In my opinion they are very much improved an! d will be a threat all season long. With the addition of Volkers over the middle it should shore their defense up and give them a big lift in the offensive category. The big question will be is that Carl Rose needs to come back and have the big year he’s had in the past and is still capable of having. I also believe Paul Brannon has to finish strong in the World’s offensively. Randy Kortokrax has to come in ready to play. I think Chaun will give Hague a much needed lift in the power department, and Dewayne Frizzel needs to continue to do what he’s done forever and that’s hit. I believe Hague has a very strong offensive team this season and could very well be at the top again.