The New Season

2003 is here and we’re getting close to the start of the new season, and it looks like this will be as exciting as last year. Remember there were five different winners in the Super Division last year. It looks as if this could be the same way this year, as some of the rule changes that were made by the associations will make for more competitive tournaments for 2003. The NSA will be like last year using 80′ or 90′ bases. They have put in a 16 homerun limit and then one up. They will play on baseball fields and that is one of the big reasons why we had five winners last year. The ASA will use the same rules as last year. I will tell you that it doesn’t look good for the Super Division in the ASA in 2004. I hope that something can be done to save this historic Super level of play. I believe tournaments like the Great Smoky, the Twitty, Little Rock and the Cincinnati Shootout should stay ASA next year. I would suggest those tournaments and add two more to make six qualifiers in 2004 to make sure that we have an ASA World Championship. The USSSA has pretty much stayed the same. They will host 12 NIT’s in their great World Series at Disney. I was disappointed that they chose to play most of their NIT’s on 300′ fields. I believe myself that they made a mistake by not going to baseball fields. The Class A teams can compete playing in these conditions on baseball fields. With all the mergers that took place last year and this year with the A teams they have proven they can compete with the big boys on the bigger fields using longer bases. I hope in the future the USSSA will make this move. Their World Series is still the best and would be even better if they would move the bases back to 80′. The ISA is playing their World Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. I believe this will be a great place to play. If it’s anything like it was in the past in Greensboro this will be a great World Tournament. I hope that the best 8 teams in the country in 2003 will make the commitment and make plans to attend the 2003 ISA Great “8” World Series. Mason Mc Lane is running this tournament and knows what it takes to hold a great event, don’t miss it. The WSL will be back bigger and better than last year. This year the WSL will work with both the ASA and the NSA in the Super Division. The WSL will also run Class B, C, D and Women’s Divisions. They will host approximately 20 of these events and World Tournaments of each class. The winning teams in each division of these lower class NIT’s will receive $1,000 in travel money at the World Tournaments. In the Super Division the highest finishing AA, A teams will split up $5,000. The WSL will bring some of the top homerun hitters in the game to the Metro Dome in Minnesota to put on a homerun hitting exhibition two! times in 2003 before the Twins games. The President of the Twins organization stated to John Daniels “that in the 20 year history of the Metro Dome last year’s homerun hitting exhibition was the most exciting and best pre-game event in their history”. He invited the WSL to do two events this year. The WSL will be hosting it’s 2003 All Star game before the Minnesota Twins game in August at the Metro Dome. This will be the greatest event in the history of our game. The All Star players chosen by the fans will get an opportunity to play before thousands of fans and be watched by two Major League teams. I guarantee you will not want to miss this event. I will post the exact date as soon as we know. The WSL will also put on hitting clinics in the WSL cities that are hosting NIT’s this season. Some of the best hitters in the world will be there to give tips and show players how to become better hitters and players. The All Star voting will be the same as last year being able to vote again this year on your favorite player on the WSL website. I will tell you that the WSL World Championship last year in Las Vegas was very close to being the best of them all. The only thing it lacked was fans. It was certainly more than softball with the live music on Fremont St. the hotel casinos and night life adding in the Canadian/American All Star game and the WSL All Star game made it a truly “Great Event”. John is working on one of three sites for the 2003 World Tournament. The cities he is looking to go to is back to Las Vegas, Daytona Beach, Fla. or New Orleans, Louisiana. I will post as soon as he makes that decision. I believe that the WSL and Big Time softball is taking a giant step to becoming a weekly show on Fox or ESPN that will put this game to the next level. John Daniels has done an unbelievable job getting this great game on TV. He is very close to ! making this weekly show a reality. The manufacturers and sponsors need to get involved with John and take this game to where it belongs. The time has come to bury the hatchet and work together so our game can be part of television. If this game isn’t better than watching jump roping, pool and a lot of other shows that we see on TV than we are missing the boat. TV is ready to take this game and now is the time to support John and his endeavors or we are making a huge mistake. The game has got to the next level., let’s not let it get away.
Here is a look at some of the teams for 2003; Backman/Dan Smith/Menosse/Easton looks to be the #1 team starting off the 2003 season with the addition of Hank Garris, Randall Boone and slick-fielding, good hitting infielder Dennis Rulli. It looks like the Easton boys will be very hard to beat. I haven’t seen their schedule yet, but I’m sure they will play 5 or 6 USSSA events, 2 ASA and 3 NSA. Rumor has it they will not play any WSL events. Hague/Resmondo/Taylor Bros./Worth will be very close to the Easton team with the additions of Jeff Wallace, Rusty Bumgardner, Todd Martin, Mike Shenk coming over from the dis-banded Long Haul team may push them to the top this season. The Worth boys will be very strong defensively and young Brian Rainwater will get a chance to prove he can play with the big boys. Rumor has it that veteran JC Phelps is getting into shape and if he’s fit, he can hit with the best of them will also being playing with them. One of the top sponsors in the history of our game Wayne Williamson is coming back and will field a team in 2003. Sunbelt/Mizuno will have some veterans and some youngsters and will be very strong offensively. Players like Jimmy Powers, Derrick Oliver, Dennis Mendoza, John Mc raw, Tim Cocco and Scott King will give this team a lot of pop. Also good hitting, great fielding Bobby Hughes and a host of other good players will fill up this team. Veteran manager Joe Albert will try to take this team to the top. Reds/Budweiser/Summerlin/Sunnyvale/Worth looks to be another very strong team who have some very talented players. They will be led by the cough drop brothers, Jerold and Jeff Smith along with a very good player in Shane McCoullough. Look for this team to be a contender weekly. Chase/Reece/Roosters/Alesium/Easton is another very good team with Veteran manager Gary Jost, the former Long Haul skipper who knows how to win, along with their sponsors have put together a very good team. This team will have some very good hitters and talented defensive players. I think Gary will mold this bunch into a very good team in a short time. Look for them to be there every weekend. Doc’s/Gossers/Easton may be one of the top teams this season. They have a very solid defensive team and an excellent hitting team. They may need a little more power when they play up. Look for this team to be a contender weekly. They have some veterans who know how to win, we will see. Mountain Top/Advance/TPS looks to still be a very good Class A team. They have solid defense led by slick-fielding shortstop Don Dedonatis, Jr. This team will miss All Star John Glidewell, who has moved over to the Chase team. I am sure they will get somebody to replace John. I look for this team to be a t the top in the A Division again. Aubrey’s/Powerhouse/TPS who had a great season last year will be looking to win more championships this season. They will have most of last years team back, but will add a couple of players for 2003. Rocky and the boys will want to win for their great former sponsor NC Ryles, whom they lost this past year. Good Luck to those boys. I will continue to report on other teams in the next Softball Report.