The two giants of softball over the last few years have been battling for the #1 ranking in all of softball. Last year these two teams were virtually deadlocked, in this reporter’s eyes as I had ranked them at the end of last season both #1. Well the 2001 season is off and rolling, and Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS has taken off ahead of the pack after winning their first tournament of the season two weeks ago and then came to Texas with one thing in mind, and that was to gain the #1 ranking over all, and that is just what they did. Long Haul rolled through this NSA tournament by run-ruling Dan Smith/Backman/Menosee/Easton twice on the way to the championship. Long Haul won the winners bracket finals by beating Dan Smith 30-8, and then waited for Dan Smith to fight it’s way back through the loser’s bracket, and sure enough the two giants had to get it on again. Long Haul, who played extremely well throughout the tournament was determined to not let Dan Smith get back in and went on to a 34-13 win and the #1 ranking was finally alone at the top belonging to Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS. This tournament with the extreme wind conditions made for some good competitive games. The problem for some of the teams seemed to be not only the wind, but the grueling marathon of having to play 5, with some teams having to play 6 games on Saturday. It sure is a tough grind early in the season. Over all I felt this was a great tournament for it gave everybody a chance to play a lot of games, instead of some of the teams playing only 2 and out. Now let’s turn to the team that finished 3rd. in this great field of teams and that was a very very strong AA team, Budweiser/Summerlin/1-Travel/Master Graphics/Easton. I can tell you that this team is the real thing, being they have a very potent offensive attack and a pretty good defensive team. They have an outstanding young shortstop by the name of Kevin Johnson, another one of a long list of great players from that big old state of Texas. Keep an eye out on this boy, he’s a little green yet, but when he gets some more experience I think he has the chance to be one of the very best. Budweiser who scored the most runs in the tournament helped a little by playing their pool games on a wind blown field and then had to come off the field to play Long Haul and got beat. and then met the #3 team ranked in the country Hague/Resmondo/Specialty Tank/TPS coming up with a big win , sending Hague out of the tournament and earned a shot at reaching the finals, if they could beat Dan Smith in the loser’s bracket final, but came out flat and finished 3rd. Getting the 4th spot in this tournament was a team whom I knew would probably be a pretty good team, but I didn’t know exactly who they had on their roster, because I never received theirs. I do know this, if Sterling Ibrom had anything to do with it I knew he would put together a very good competitive AA team, and that’s exactly what he did with BEP/KCS/JDS/TPS. This team will be in the hunt every weekend they play. Another outstanding team, who I admit I didn’t know all that well, other than the fact that they had one of the great hitters in this game, 50 yr. old Billy Blake and another very good player his son Bubba Blake. I can tell you this, this team has a lot of good players who can play this game and they belong in the Top 15 they’re that good in my eyes. Speaking of Billy Blake in the Hague game, in which Strike Zone/Worth upset the big boys and all Billy did was go 5-5 with 5 hrs. and one big one with 2 outs and down 3 runs in the game was bust one dead through the wind about 350 ft. What an amazing player this man has been. While on this subject of players, Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS has picked up the former Georgia University College Baseball Player of the year, Brian Rainwater. and I want to tell you this, that this young man is destined to be a Big Time player when he gains the experience that is needed to play at this level. Believe me he has all the tools , he can hit it, catch it, throw it and boy can he ever run. He will be a good one and will definitely improve this ball team,
no question about it.
As usual Mr. Jim Kimmel has stepped up again with the help of Sterling, George and Jamey, owners of the Panther Park, Pasadena Park did a terrific job. The boys are working hard to improve their park and I’m sure they will succeed. I want to thank all of them with their hospitality to me all weekend and wish them good luck in their endeavors. I also want to say to Jim and Eddie what a tremendous job their umpiring staff did in this tournament. They truly are professionals. To all the teams who participated you should be proud to have people like Jim Kimmel putting on these type of tournaments and striving to promote Big Time softball, Great Job by All.
Dan Smith / Easton – 13
Long Haul / TPS – 34
Long Haul Wins NSA Pasadena Texas
All Tournament Team
Home Run Champion – Hank Garris with 17
MVP – John Mello
CONGRATULATIONS LONG HAUL/TAYLOR BROS/SHEN CORP/TPS on winning this NSA NIT.