NSA Super NIT Columbus, OH

Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS played it’s 6th NIT of the year, and in none of them have they played better than they did this weekend on the big baseball field at the Pickenington High School, a suburb of Columbus.  Both ball diamonds, the high school field and the Junior High School field, were absolutely perfect for this tournament.  Long Haul started out Friday night hitting it and never stopped until the end when they captured the Championship by beating Hague/Resmondo/Specialty Tank/TPS in the first game of the Championship 26-19 in a hard fought game. Long Haul/TPS put on an explosive weekend on the baseball fields with the 90′ bases.  They were led by MVP Rusty Bumgardner, Hank Garris, Jeff Wallace, Todd Martin, Jason Kendricks, Brian King and the rest of the team, who  put on an “Awesome” display of power.  Garris led the Tournament with 14 homeruns, and there were a whole bunch of players with a dozen or so.  At one time Wallace had 8 consecutive hrs. in a row and then hit a single to snap his homerun streak. Bumgardner hit some long bombs and a lot of base hits to capture the MVP. Long Haul played excellent defense turning numerous double plays to end threats from their opponents.  That’s what happens playing on the longer bases.  Hague/Resmondo/TPS in their first three games of the tournament, came out slow and did not score very often, as they squeaked by their first three games in the pool play.  In their first game of the double elimination they came out flat against a very good Mercers/K&G/TPS and wound up losing, and the marathon was on for Hague.  But back they came as they fought their way to the first game of the Championship and surely ran out of gas, as that game was their ninth for the weekend.  Hague was led by Howie Krause, who was the Offensive Player of the Tournament, as he went 30-34-11.  Quite a weekend for Howie, who is without a doubt one of the best in the game.  He does it week in and week out.  Getting the third spot in this tournament was a very good ASA Major team, Mercers/K&G/TPS, who played very well all weekend, but were just over matched by the #1 team in the country.  This team has some excellent players, whom I believe if they played this kind of competition more often in the baseball field conditions could prove to be a contender and would be able to compete with many of the great teams out there.  They have a very good young player who will be headed up the ladder soon after watching him play, and also talking with veteran Monty McCory this weekend.   This young man definitely has all the tools to become a Super player, he can hit for average, he can blow it out anywhere in the park believe me, and his greatest asset is he can go get it in centerfield with the best of them, and he’s only 23 yrs. old.  His name is Rick Baker, remember that name! Finishing in  fourth was a nice A team, Creative Stucco/Easton, who also played very well this weekend. This is another team that needs to play better competition.  They also have some very good players.  As you all know by now I am an advocate of the game being played on these baseball fields with longer bases.  I know 90′ bases is a long way to run for some of the guys out there, but for the best interest of this game at the Major level we need to do just what was done this weekend.  What I see is that teams like Mercer’s and Creative Stucco and if some of the other better A & AA teams in the country would play in these conditions. When these good A & AA teams play in tournaments using .47 core balls on 300′ fields and score 40 & 50 runs, it doesn’t prove a thing.  Like this weekend, those good A teams were hitting legit .44 core 325 compressed ball, which obviously kept their run production down and only the real homerun hitters were getting their numbers. That is the way this game should be, only the “real” homerun hitters should be hitting homeruns on baseball fields and the rest should be using the whole field for base hitting.  When using 80′ or 90′ bases on baseball fields will become more competitive and the more they play the intimidation factor will fade, and those good players on those teams will begin to realize they can also play this game at that level. There are some very good players that play on these A & AA teams, who can play this game both offensively and defensively.  Hopefully the other associations will begin to realize at this level we don’t need homerun rules, we just need these good AA & A teams to play in these conditions. If this game goes this way, I feel better things will come for all.  I know there are critics who disagree and that’s fine, but if you can play this game there will be no problem playing it on baseball fields.  Were there complaints this weekend? Sure there were, mostly from the guys who are not physically in good enough shape to run 90′ bases and that’s understandable. There were a lot of players who can run them, and that is what would happen if this game goes totally to baseball fields. You would have to have players that are in better shape physically to stay at the top level of this game. You will always have the “big Bangers” on every team, whether  they can or cannot run, as long as they continue to do their job hitting.  I know players at the top level spend a lot of time hitting and taking ground balls, but they’ll have to start working on their legs if this game is to go where it belongs, and that my friends is where it was played this past weekend.  I would like to say that when I put the experimental tournament on this past winter in Daytona Beach,  Mr. Jim Kimmel took the time and effort to come down and witness this game being played in these conditions. He then took it to his superiors of the NSA and they decided to go ahead and play some NIT’s using these formats.  Jeff Hague also took an interest and a look at what Jim & I had talked about and proceeded to get an NSA Nit and boy was that a great move for the NSA in softball.  Jeff spent a lot of time and a lot of money putting this tournament on. Believe me boys this stuff doesn’t happen without people like Jeff Hague.  I totally commend Jeff and Chic Campbell, the baseball coach at Pickerington High School in getting these fields in tip top shape for this tournament.  It was a tremendous job done by Jim, Jeff, Chic and his staff who also did a great job with the concessions, and keeping the fields up all weekend.  It was totally a “First Class Tournament” from start to finish ran by “First Class People”.  I would like to thank Jim and Jeff for letting me be a part of this ‘Great Event’ and hope to be able to see this continue for years to come.

All Tournament Team:
Chris Chilton

Creative Stucco/Easton:
Tom Ellis, Tony SharkinsMercer’s/K&G/TPS: Monty
McCrory, Larry Wert, Rick Baker

Hague/Resmondo/Specialty Tank/TPS:
Howie Krause, Larry Carter, Wendall
Rickard, Scott Striebel,Albert Davis

Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS:
Jeff Wallace, Jason Kendricks, Brian
King, Todd Martin

Offensive Player: Howie Krause 30-34-11

Defensive Player: Demond Thomas

Homerun Champion: Hank Garris -14

MVP: Rusty Bumgardner

1. Long Haul/Taylor Bros/Shen Corp/TPS
2. Hague/Resmondo/Specialty Tank/TPS
3. Merser’s/K&G/TPS
4. Creative Stucco/Easton