MIZUNO LAUNCHES EXPLOSIVE FRENZY 2™ FASTPITCH BAT SERIES
Softball Today • August 2009
Bats Swung by 2009 NCAA and NJCAA National Champions
Norcross, GA (June 26, 2009) – Mizuno, one of the leading fastpitch bat manufacturers in the world, is scheduled to launch the new and improved Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch Bat Series on July 1st. The Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch is more balanced with faster and more consistent swing speeds than any other bat on the market. The Washington Huskies and Yavapai Roughriders swung the Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bats en route to the 2009 NCAA and NJCAA National Titles. The Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bats are uniquely made with Black Onyx Carbon™, a state of the art carbon fiber. This carbon fiber is made in Japan, and is the same material used in the Boeing ‘Dreamliner’ 787 jets. Black Onyx Carbon™ provides maximum distance, ultimate control, and superior durability. The Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch is made from stronger materials for more consistent wall thickness for the most durable Mizuno bat ever. Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bats utilize Mizuno’s Techfire Technology®, which is a unique three-tiered layer of materials that maximizes performance through an enlarged sweet spot area. The outer layer consists of Black Onyx Carbon™, with the middle layer comprised of a carbon fiber piping, and the inner most layer made of a carbon glass piping. These tri-axial composites increase the sweet spot of the Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch resulting in stronger and more desired performance. Another advanced technology in the Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch is Anti-Shock Construction™. Mizuno’s research and development team created this innovative technology, which
is designed to reduce vibration on all “miss-hits.” To control stiffness of the Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bat from top to bottom, Mizuno’s research team added additional Black Onyx Carbon™ “flags” to the bat. There are about twice as many “flags” on each Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bat, giving 38% less vibration than previous models. All Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bats are tested for quality control prior to becoming available for purchase. Using X-ray scanning technology, Mizuno inspects each Frenzy 2™ bat for cracks, wrinkles, and pipe separations in the carbon “flags” to ensure the quality and durability of the bats, along with the desired performance.
“The Frenzy 2 bat line offers the most advanced fastpitch bats ever produced and they will quickly become the bat of choice for any player at any level looking for maximum distance, superior feel and ultimate performance, in a great looking bat,” said Dick Grapenthin, Vice President and General Manager of Diamond Sports, Mizuno USA. “The Frenzy 2 is upgraded from the barrel to the handle from the popular and successful Frenzy. We are confident that this new bat will be another top seller for Mizuno.”
The Buzz about the Mizuno Frenzy 2™: “The Frenzy 2 helped our offense peak at the right time to propel us to a National Championship. We used the bats in the Super Regionals at Georgia Tech where our offense began to explode and the Frenzy 2 helped us break several offensive records at the 2009 Women’s College World Series.” Heather Tarr-Head Coach of the Washington Huskies, 2009 NCAA Champions
Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch bats will be available in two different Fastpitch styles, the Fastpitch (-8) model, and a (-10) model. The (-8) model is available in two sizes (34 inches, 33”) and the (-10) model is available in five sizes (34 inches, 33”, 32”, 31”, 30”). The Frenzy 2™ collection of bats join the Frenzy, Wrath, Wrath 2, Techfire Envy, Techfire Crush, Techfire Crush 2, Techfire Rage, and the Finch Signature Series giving Mizuno its most powerful arsenal of softball bats ever. The Frenzy 2™ Fastpitch model bats will be available on July 1st, 2009. The suggested retail price for the bats is $249.99.
Mizuno USA, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mizuno Corporation, one of the largest specialty sporting goods manufacturers in the world. Mizuno USA, Inc. manufacturers and distributes golf, baseball, softball, running, track & field, and volleyball equipment, apparel, and footwear for North America. Mizuno USA, Inc. is based in Norcross, Georgia.
Softball Today • August 2009
“The Frenzy bat really helped me have an outstanding offensive year with Team USA. It is such an explosive and balanced bat, and it gave me extra confidence at the plate.” Natasha Watley-Team USA Superstar
“The Mizuno Frenzy and Frenzy 2 bats have been outstanding for our team the past two years. In two years we were able to hit 159 homeruns, with 86 coming this season, including the National Championship winner. The players loved the Frenzy! It has great pop, and a big sweet spot which helped our team to a .411 team batting average this season.” Stacy Iveson-Head Coach for the Yavapai Roughriders, 2009 NJCAA Champions
• Advantage: One piece 100% composite construction, sweetspot extending 5.4L technology, and Balanced loading make this the perfect bat for players looking to maximize their hitting consistency but not give up the traditional feel of a Worth composite bat • 5.4L- Multilayer design that extends the length of the sweetspot 2” toward the endcap • EIP RAV- Technologically advanced manufacturing processes & Worth’s proprietary high strength, high elongation epoxy system ensures the highest quality composite bats available • 1.20 BPF multilayer core- Multilayer composite core designed to provide exceptional rebound and maximum durability • Flex- Handle stiffness and barrel flexibility optimized to provide maximum batted ball speed • Balanced- Balanced weight distribution for maximum bat control and consistency • 100% Composite- Barrel is made solely from composite materials • Pro Pebble Grip- Thin and textured grip for maximum bat control and durability • Approved by USSSA, NSA, ISF and all other associations using 1.20 BPF standard • One year warranty • Length/Weight: 34”/30oz, 34”/29oz, 34”/28oz, 34”/27oz, 34”/26oz • MSRP: $299.95 SBT54R
Softball Today • August 2009
• Advantage: One piece 100% composite construction, sweetspot extending 5.4L technology, and Resmondo loading make this the perfect bat for players looking to maximize their hitting power but not give up the traditional feel of a Worth composite bat • 5.4L- Multilayer design that extends the length of the sweetspot 2” toward the endcap • EIP RAV- Technologically advanced manufacturing processes & Worth’s proprietary high strength, high elongation epoxy system ensures the highest quality composite bats available • 1.20 BPF multilayer core- Multilayer composite core designed to provide exceptional rebound and maximum durability • Flex- Handle stiffness and barrel flexibility optimized to provide maximum batted ball speed • Resmondo- Maximum end load for maximum power • 100% Composite- Barrel is made solely from composite materials • Pro Pebble Grip- Thin and textured grip for maximum bat control and durability • Approved by USSSA, NSA, ISF and all other associations using 1.20 BPF standard • One year warranty • Length/Weight: 34”/30oz, 34”/29oz, 34”/28oz, 34”/27oz, 34”/26oz • MSRP: $299.95
Toxic Titan • Advantage: One piece 100% composite construction and Balanced loading make this bat perfect for players looking for the traditional performance and feel of a 100% composite Worth bat • EIP RAV composite technology- Advanced manufacturing processes & Worth’s proprietary high strength, high elongation epoxy system ensures the highest quality composite bats available • Flex- Handle stiffness and barrel flexibility optimized to provide maximum batted ball speed • Balanced- Balanced weight distribution for maximum bat control and consistency • 100% Composite- Barrel is made solely from composite materials • Pro Pebble Grip- Thin and textured grip for maximum bat control and durability • Approved by ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISF, and other associations • One year warranty • Length/Weight: 34”/30oz, 34”/28oz, 34”/27oz, 34”/26oz. • MSRP: $299.95
Mutant • Advantage: Hybrid construction, sweetspot extending 5.4L technology, and Jeff hall loading make this the perfect bat for players looking to optimize hitting power/consistency and for an exceptional feel • 5.4L- Multilayer design that extends the length of the sweetspot 2” toward the endcap • EIP RAV- Technologically advanced manufacturing processes & Worth’s proprietary high strength, high elongation epoxy system ensures the highest quality composite bats available • 1.20 BPF multilayer core- Multilayer composite core designed to provide exceptional rebound and maximum durability • Flex- Handle stiffness and barrel flexibility optimized to provide maximum batted ball speed • Jeff Hall- 0.5oz. End load designed for bat control and power • 100% Composite- Barrel is made solely from composite materials • Hybrid- Dissimilar materials combined to deliver bats with optimal performance and exceptional feel • HD Heavy Duty Frame- Aluminized fiberglass reinforced heavy duty handle • Silencer- Maximum sting and vibration reduction for better feel • Approved by USSSA, NSA, ISF and all other associations using 1.20 BPF standard • One year warranty • Length/Weight: 34”/30.5oz, 34”/28.5oz, 34”/27.5oz, 34”/26.5oz • MSRP: $299.95
• Advantage: Hybrid construction, sweetspot extending 5.4L technology and Resmondo loading make this the perfect bat for players looking to maximize hitting power and for an exceptional feel • 5.4L- Multilayer design that extends the length of the sweetspot 2” toward the endcap • EIP RAV- Technologically advanced manufacturing processes & Worth’s proprietary high strength, high elongation epoxy system ensures the highest quality composite bats available • 1.20 BPF multilayer core- Multilayer composite core designed to provide exceptional rebound and maximum durability • Flex- Handle stiffness and barrel flexibility optimized to provide maximum batted ball speed • Resmondo- Maximum end load for maximum power • 100% Composite- Barrel is made solely from composite materials • Hybrid- Dissimilar materials combined to deliver bats with optimal performance and exceptional feel • HD Heavy Duty Frame- Aluminized fiberglass reinforced heavy duty handle • Silencer Grip- Maximum sting and vibration reduction for better feel • Approved by USSSA, NSA, ISF and all other associations using 1.20 BPF standard • One year warranty • Length/Weight: 34”/30oz, 34”/29oz, 34”/28oz, 34”/27oz, 34”/26oz • MSRP: $299.95
Softball Today • August 2009
Feature Softball Today • August 2009
“Our girls were totally stunned when we found out that we had won the Softball Today Magazine National Contest,” said Blue Jays 12U co- manager Joe Contreras. “To win 12 high end Easton bats for the entire team is unbelievable. It is difficult, especially now days, for the parents of these inner city girls to come up with $200 or $300 dollars to buy their kids a high quality bat.” The 12U Blue Jays based out of Covina Hills are just weeks away from starting a new season at Covina Park “I will tell you this, after our girls heard the news that they had won 12 Easton bats they have been walking around here with much more excitement then ever seen before.” said Contreras. “The girls are so excited that they can hardly wait to swing their Easton bats in a real game and to have such a great product from an exceptional company such as Easton has truly giving our players extra confidence they can succeed on the field.” Said Contreras As far as the contest itself everyone on the team bought subscriptions to Softball Today and we had some parents that really ran with this great idea. The Blue Jay’s sold over 100 subscriptions making them this year’s National Contest winners. .
They may not be heavy, but they certainly are a group of heavy hitters as the Nor Cal Heavy Hitters hit big and won big as they are this year’s 2009 Softball Today/Easton Sports National Contest winners. “We were excited about winning 12 Easton Sports bats. When I heard that we had won this national contest I couldn’t believe it,” said Heavy Hitters coach Melvin Thomas. “I got the call from the Softball Today
The 12U Blue Jays from Covina Hills, CA. are the 2009 Softball Today/Easton Sports National Contest winners.
Magazine and the guy said he was the publisher of Softball Today and then he asked me if I was sitting down and then he said we were this years 2009 National contest winners and I thought someone was playing a joke.” When the Heavy Hitters team got together for their next practice coach Thomas broke the exciting news to his players. “These guys were jumping around like a bunch of elementary school kids, they were excited and I think they were in a
bit in shock.” Like many teams across the nation the Heavy Hitters have a few players that bring bats to each game and the rest of the players share the bats. “It will be fantastic for each player to have their own bat to swing for the season.” said Thomas. Each player on the team went around and sold subscription to Softball Today and when the final tally was counted the Nor Cal Heavy Hitters were the 2009 winners.
ASA Softball Today • August 2009
“The opportunity to wear the USA uniform and be on ESPN showcasing the sport of slow pitch softball was simply just a dream come true," said Team USA Border Battle first baseman Rusty Bumgardner.–www.softball.org By Lance Madden OKLAHOMA CITY, OK.—Inside of the Marriott Hotel in Oklahoma City, a financial adviser in his 40s sits down and turns the television onto ESPN hoping to catch a USA women’s fast pitch softball game. He doesn’t plan on watching a men’s slow pitch softball game, of all things, but something holds his attention when it comes on. The USA men’s slow pitch team is about to go up against Canada in the first-ever ASA Border Battle at the mecca of all softball complexes—ASA Hall of Fame Stadium— just a few miles away. The game’s different rules and strategies flashes across the screen, and the financial adviser leans in, intrigued. Soon he will become one of the many new slow pitch fans the game will gain on this mid-July day. On the field, Steve Shortland gathers his team together in a huddle, and in unison, the players chant “One, two, three, U-S-A,” which actually took some practice to get down pat. But by game time, the chant is music to Shortland’s ears. When
Shortland was contacted in November 2008 and asked to be the head coach of the USA men’s slow pitch team, he agreed, but he had two conditions that were to be met. First, he wanted to make sure he had players to fill every position on the field—he couldn’t have 15 catchers, for example. His second, and most important, condition was for Team USA be comprised of 15 men who understood the responsibility of representing their nation. Character meant as much as skill. Shortland is retired from the United States Air Force, where he served 23 years, so naturally he’s big on representation. He collected 18 pins from various branches of United States service, and asked his players and two assistant coaches, Randy Raper—who is on active duty with the US Air Force—and Pat Dalsanders—a manager of Air Traffic Instructional Services for Raytheon—if they would honor America by wearing an Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force pin in their caps during the game against Canada. “We were honoring the guys who allow us the
freedom to play the game,” says outfielder Brian Wegman, who donned an Army pin. “That was our tribute back to the troops.” Representing America was nearly as important as the game itself, because it was the first of its kind. The closest to anything like this year’s Border Battle was back in 1989, when slow pitch softball was mentioned as having the potential of being an Olympic sport. But even then, there was no true USA team, only USA East and USA West. For years, slow pitch softball has been perceived as what Shortland calls a picnic sport: Anyone with any abilities can play, from age 5 to 85. In fact, Shortland got his first taste of slow pitch competition when he was 18, right before he went off to college. A friend of his lived in an apartment complex in Overland Park, Kan. On a Sunday afternoon, the apartment complex’s slow pitch softball team played against another complex’s team on an open field. From that point, Shortland was hooked, though he says it’s a misnomer that the game isn’t a “real sport.”
Although slow pitch softball, including the most remedial and unorganized levels, arguably has more participants than any other recreational sport in the nation, it has never been respected or watched before on the same level as its fast pitch counterpart. But in an effort to reach out to more viewers, the Border Battle was broadcast by ESPN, marking the first time slow pitch was televised on the network since Sept. 7, 1979, the day Sports Center made its premiere. The television experiment seemed to work. In today’s game, which turns out to be just 96 minutes long, there is a sense of national pride, tons of offense and a vicious comeback. Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, Canada leads 16-8, thanks to four early home runs. Shortland pulls his
team aside and tells his players to relax—the same thing he told them when he had a brief team huddle the inning before. “They were fired up, and I think they were overplaying,” Shortland says. “I think they got caught up in the lights and the glitz of the television broadcast, and I think the pressure got turned on a little bit” Team USA has only used two of its allowed 10 home runs—any over 10 is marked an out—going into its fourth inning. But in this inning, USA’s batters blast seven pitches off of Brian Higginbotham over the fence to spark a 17-run inning. The “U-S-A” chants work their way from the team’s huddles to the crowd. Losson White takes over in the pitching circle for Andy Purcell for the final two innings,
allowing just three Canadian runs—all long balls, including one from Higginbotham, who goes 4-for4 offensively, with three homers. Canada tabs 27 total hits while USA rakes in 37 of its own en route to a 30-23 victory. After signing autographs for a couple of hours, Team USA heads back to the Marriott. As the players make their way through the lobby, the financial adviser looks up and notices who these men are. He pulls Wegman aside and asks to chat for a little bit. Wegman, USA’s youngest player, learns that this man is one of slow pitch softball’s newest enthusiasts. The Border Battle experiment has worked. “He was just one of many fans we gained that day,” Wegman says.
USA slow pitch softball’s ‘dream team’ staged an amazing rally, fighting back from an eight run deficit to defeat the Canadians 30-23.
Softball Today • August 2009
Team Canada exploded out of the gate and jumped out to a 16-8 lead by the end of the fourth inning before it slowly eroded away. The Canadians offense produced 27 hits during their inaugural Border Battle against the USA squad.
Softball Today • August 2009
In just two years, the Coors Light Boneyard Blast has quickly become one of the largest and most entertaining slow pitch events in the nation.
By Anthony Bronson RENO, NV—As it’s third year running, the popularity of the Coors Light Boneyard Blast has gone through the roof. It has become one of the largest events on the slow pitch circuit and has sold out in all three years that the event has taken place. The all-night event, which took place at Golden Eagle Regional Park, was host to one hundred twenty four teams from the west, including Alaska and over three hundred teams from across the nation. Even though many were there to enjoy the events surrounding the Boneyard Blast, many teams were participated in the event as a last chance at making it to world competition. In the USSSA, the men’s D division ticket to
world competition was up for grabs. The men’s E division prize was a trip to the ASA National and WSL National competition. And the coed division also competed for their chance to punch their ticket to the ASA Nationals and WSL Nationals. In the men’s D division, the FDI Sparks enjoyed winning their trip to the USSSA World competition, but they are not strangers to success. “This season, we have participated in 8 tournaments and have taken home the championship in 3 of them,” said FDI Sparks team manager Justin Norris. “We have one simple philosophy—we like winning and having a good time doing it.” Because the team has been together so long, winning comes as second nature so having a good time is what the team focuses on. “Most of us grew up together playing baseball from little league all the way through high school ball,” Norris said. The FDI Sparks wasted no time in achieving immediate success while putting on a great show for the sold out event. “Lucas Delong hit some crucial homeruns in all of the right times,” Norris explained. “Our pitcher, Mike Lee, made some huge plays up the middle along with Matt Williams at third base and Chad Bartek at shortstop. Our defense and team speed is the key to our team’s success.” And when it came to the undefeated game, the speed of this team took Aftermath, their opposition, by storm. “After the second inning we were up 12-0 so we kind of cruised thru the rest of the game,” said Norris. “Every inning Aftermath chipped away at us and, in the bottom of the seventh, they were down 2 runs, but our defense stiffened up and shut them down for a final score 12-11.” “The championship game was a back and forth battle, until the bottom of the sixth inning,” Norris continued. “Going into the inning, we were down 3
The tournament was a national qualifier and was nationally televised and was broadcasted on the Internet. With over 150 teams participating, the event sold out for the third year in a row. After taking their opposition out back for a beating in the championship game, the Bases Loaded Sparks had punched their ticket to world competition. “All games are a challenge and everything seems to click for us on both days,” Rovetti commented. “We plan on going on to play in the
Worlds in ASA, USSSA, and NSA.” “Thanks to the City of Reno for the use of such an awesome facility,” Rovetti finished. “We will be back for Worlds and next years Boneyard Blast.”
Softball Today • August 2009
runs 11-14, then we erupted with a 20 run inning that just devastated team D12 and the final score was 31-14.” With a quick flash, FDI Sparks had punched their ticket to USSSA World competition and ended on one simple statement. “I predict we will keep playing together and having fun doing it, and hopefully keep winning.” While the FDI Sparks were celebrating their dominant performance in the D division, the coed, Bases Loaded Sparks, were just getting started. For a team that was the runner up in this event for its first two years, the Bases Loaded Sparks were out to take the championship in their division this year. “We placed 2nd in this for 2 years and our goal this year was to win it,” said Bases Loaded Sparks team manager Robert Rovetti. “We have participated in just 2 tournaments this year, but we have been fortunate enough to win both of them.” Even though the players come from many different areas such as Northern California and Nevada, they perform astoundingly. “Everyone contributed in a number of ways,” Rovetti said. “Wylie Pond and Brad Permenter handled the pitching duties and we were able to take this tournament. A great chemistry was there all weekend for Bases Loaded Sparks.” And that chemistry was apparent in the dominating run they had in the Boneyard Blast. “In the undefeated game, we had to split the team up because our other team, Team Sonoma, was playing in the E division at the tournament. It was a close game, but we managed to pull it out by a couple of runs.”
The all night play during the event is perhaps one of the most unique on the slow pitch circuit. Just like the softball fields, the city of Reno was open all night in the hosting of this event.
Easton Sports 2010 Line Features Stealth Tri-Zone and Synergy Tri-Zone Bats
First off, before our reviewers even began to swing the bat the comments were flying in regard to the sleek look of the bat. The bat colors are smooth with a combination of dark black and dark blue. Once we began the reviews, the players on deck and our fielders were yelling and fired up about hitting with another premium Easton bat. Our three power hitters on hand were the first three to review the bat. All three batters were hitting some serious bombs well over the 300 foot mark. “This baby has got some serious pop to it,” said one reviewer. “I can actually miss the large sweet spot and still hit for great distance, this bat is a keeper.” The Stealth’s performance actual improved as more and more reviewers began their second round of hitting. “I am a warning track hitter at best,” said another reviewer. “But this stick is going to add another 20-30 feet to my long shots.”
The Score: Line Drives 94 Distance 96 Feel/Sting 92 Sweet Spot 94 Sound 91 Durability 100
Softball Today • August 2009
Review: 2010 Easton Stealth Tri-Zone SCN15 Slow pitch Softball Bat
Easton Sports, the industry leader in bat technology, today unveiled its 2010 slow-pitch bat line – headlined by its new TriZone bat series. Offered in both one-piece (Synergy Tri-Zone) and two-piece (Stealth Tri-Zone) designs, the Tri-Zone features Easton’s innovative Tri-Zone Segmented Barrel Technology, designed to increase flexibility along the entire length of the barrel. The Synergy Tri-Zone and Stealth Tri-Zone both offer a 13.5-inch barrel. The line also includes a Brett Helmer signature series edition, which features a 12-inch barrel end-loaded for more power. “The Tri-Zone was designed specifically with the slow-pitch softballer in mind,” said Matt Arndt, senior vice president of Easton’s baseball/softball division. “You’re not going to find a higher performing 100-plus mile-per-hour bat on the market, especially one tailored so specifically to the slow-pitch game.” By manipulating the design along the length of the barrel and segmenting the bat inch by inch, Easton’s Tri-Zone Segmented Barrel Technology localizes the design of the bat from the taper to the end cap to increase flexibility and greatly enhance the hitting area of the bat. The Stealth Tri-Zone includes Easton’s patented ConneXion Design System (CXN), which creates a true two-piece design by isolating the handle from the barrel to eliminate vibration with an elastomeric rubber cushion between the two. The Synergy Tri-Zone offers the same game-changing performance as the Stealth, but uses a one-piece design and Easton’s Single System Technology. All of the Tri-Zone models feature an ultra-thin 29/32” tapered handle with Pro-Tack grip. Easton’s entire 2010 slow-pitch bat line is available now in all major sporting goods stores. Easton’s Tri-Zone bats are not approved for ASA play.
Softball Today • August 2009
By Anthony Bronson
SPRING, TX. - No matter how you put it, the members of Low Lifes II have been hitting balls with sticks for years, even if they weren't always the same balls with the same sticks. Everything started in the halls of Conroe High School in Conroe, Texas. One of the most long-standing softball teams in the USSSA has experienced quite a roller coaster ride in their almost thirty years of existence. With longevity comes seasoning and with seasoning, comes a story as the Low Lifes II have a story to tell that is among the most unique around. “The Low Lifes softball team started with a core group of friends who grew up together and attended Conroe High School in the late 1970’s,” said Low Lifes II team manager Dave “Relfy” Relford. “The team started growing in the early 80’s and played most of the decade in and around the city of Houston as well as traveling to big tournaments all over the country.” As the team made stop-upon-stop in tournaments across the nation, they acquired many accolades, including countless tournament victories. At the top of their list of achievements lies a USSSA World Championship and a World Championship runner-up. After the team had hit the pinnacle of their performance in the late 1980's, the Low Lifes began to wind down on the softball scene and shift their focuses else where. However, where their focus began to fix came as quite of a shocker. “As the softball days of the original Low Lifes began to dwindle, their focus began to turn towards golf,” explained Relford. “In 1992, many from the team began building a golf course in Humble, Texas with modest hopes of replica golf holes from famous golf courses would capture peoples attention.” With their goal set, “TOUR 18, Americas Greatest 18” was born. They followed with a sister golf course in Dallas in 1995. Both golf courses were extremely popular and two of the busiest public golf courses in the country. “After the two TOUR 18 golf courses sold in 1999, the group built an 1100 acre residential development including the Augusta Pines Golf Club in Spring, TX just
south of the Woodlands,” Relford added. “The golf course has won many awards including hosting a PGA Champions Tour event for four years.” Always attached to their original roots in softball, fans could still see the occasional participation of Low Lifes in tournaments across their home state while their golf business was taking off. Since parts of the original Low Lifes team were running a business, the team was forced to pick up some new players. “This group would include some of the original Low Lifes group and some of the young high school aged yet to be named Low Lifes II group,” Relford Stated. “We often get asked about why we are called Low Lifes II and it is sometimes difficult to explain, but mostly it is because we are a second generation of guys trying to do what the first group of guys did.” “This new generation grew up and around the
property of our current sponsor Augusta Pines Golf Club,” Relford continued. “They even competed and placed 2nd in E Worlds as teenagers in Georgetown, TX.” The team has grown over the last few years building a young core of solid players including another second generation Low Lifes in Robert Brenner. This team is a close knit group of guys that hopes to be competitive for years to come. The team has certainly been competitive as they have taken home 4 championship victories this season including the Sammy Garza #99 Benefit back in April, the Crawfish Classic in May, the Lonestar Series Shootout in late June, and most recently, the Men's USSSA D NIT at P.J.'s Softball Park in Spring, Texas. “The most important win of the year came in mid-
The Low Lifes II are a revolutionized version of the former Low Lifes, which was a team put together in the 1970’s. They are composed of both seasoned veterans and aggressive go-getters.
July as we earned our Berth to Worlds in Michigan by winning the SuperChango Sports NIT,” Relford added. “We went undefeated through the winners bracket and met up with a local team in the Championship. We fell short in a 27-30 effort in a two and half hour marathon game using the 7-inning format, then came back and run ruled the next.” The win gave the newly thriving Low Lifes II a paid Berth to USSSA Worlds and $600 travel money. “Obviously, as with most well sponsored teams, our goal is to go to Worlds in Michigan and do well,” said Relford. “We went to D Worlds last year as the only representative out of South Texas just days after Hurricane Ike.” With previous World Tournament experience, championships under their belt in 2009, and a combination of seasoned athletes with new blood, the Low Lifes II are set to compete under the World's spotlight once again.
CARROLLTON, TX—It is common to find that a team who places first in a tournament has been together for months or even years, but the winners of the Texas D All Nighter, which was held at the McInnish Softball Complex, managed to pull it off while being together for only days. Texas Assault, out of Burleson, TX, came together for the purpose of playing in this tournament specifically. “Our team has not been together for a long period of time,” said Texas Assault team manager Nathan Uranga. “Our girlfriends play in the coed division and we caught wind of a men’s tournament happening as well so I called up some of my buddies and put a team together.” After being together as a team for only days, the team took the field for a late Friday night game that started at 10 p.m. “We played in the North Texas D Tournament a week later, where we started 2-0, and it got rained out before it could finish,” Uranga said. “Overall, this young team stands at 7-0.” With a team that is composed of friends who all play for different teams, their frozen roster could present a challenge for their original teams. Despite this minor setback, Texas Assault has played flawlessly in their short life. To take a bunch of guys who
have never played together before and stitch them seamlessly together is quite an impressive feat. “This team is always on the same page,” Uranga said. “We have twelve guys who are always working together with no one trying to be the all-star or stand out player.” Texas Assault breezed through the tournament facing light resistance through the first three games, defeating Bleacher Bums (Carrollton, TX) 23-3, Lone Star Amusements (Irving, TX) 22-9 and Sinister Softball (Euless, TX) 11-1. Going into the undefeated game, Texas Assault was set to dance with Tacabron (Euless, TX), who would put forth the most formidable challenge yet. “We knew that Tacabron was a good team who had won a lot of tournaments,” Uranga explained. “I told the guys to just go out there and have fun and to not worry about the score.” At 9 a.m. in the morning, with their minds on the fun they were having in the game, Texas Assault looked up in amazement at the end of the undefeated game to find themselves emerge as the winner 17-13 after a long, hard-fought battle. “In that game, our second baseman, Shane Goff, made a spectacular diving catch and turned a double play
to win the game for us,” said Uranga. “As soon as he turned that double play, the team morale went through the roof. The team was pumped up and, if it wasn’t for that play, we might not have came out on top.” Following their loss, Tacabron dropped to the loser’s bracket, where they faced Deception (Frisco, TX). Going down 4-11 early in the game, it looked at if Tacabron was down for the count before they rallied back to a 23-16 victory where Texas Assault would be waiting for them in the championship game. “We were lucky because we never had to make a trip to the loser’s bracket.” Uranga said. “This kept our team more rested and ready to play.” From this point on, the tournament took a strange turn, however. With Tacabron emerging from the loser’s bracket, they would have had to win both games against Texas Assault in order to win the championship. Strangely, the team forfeited and we won the tournament by default. “It was something that we didn’t expect because Tacabron was a team that almost beat us and was capable of winning,” Uranga said. Nonetheless, Texas Assault put on a dominant performance throughout the tournament in just a short amount of time.
Softball Today • August 2009
By Fred Myers
Texas Assault has played flawlessly in their short time together. To take a bunch of guys who have never played together before and stitch them seamlessly together is quite an impressive feat.
By Michael Lee
Softball Today • August 2009
EVERETT,WA—When team comedian, Tom Garden broke his arm in a hustle play at home plate during the first game of the USSSA Starbucks C&D NIT at Everett Softball Park, Casey’s Bailbonds/Castle Heating/Worth (Bonney Lake,WA) became determined to compensate with nothing less that a victory in the tournament. And when that first game resulted in a narrow 12-11 loss to Hiddenwave/Burton (Mount Vernon, WA), any lesser of a team would have had a strong onset of pessimism. “We came all the way through the loser's bracket, with heart, and determination to never give up,” said Casey’s Bailbonds team manager Wayne Kennedy. “We had a key element to our team break his arm on a crazy play at home plate, and I feel that inspired us to ‘do it for Tommy.’” And “doing it for Tommy” is just what they did for the rest of the tournament. After their early Saturday morning loss, Casey’s Bailbonds came back the very next game and took an 8-7 victory over CP Framing/Aldercrest/AO (Lynnwood, WA) with a walk-off double down the right field line, all while Garden was cracking jokes from the sidelines. Garden has been the epitome of the goal that
Kennedy set for this team when it was formed back in 2005. Since then, yes, the name has changed, but essentially the same crew has been swinging sticks for 4 years now. The main goal for our team was to assemble a great group of guys, not just great players,” Kennedy said. “We have done that are we are starting to play very well together at the right time of the year.” Having played in eleven NITs this year, Casey’s Bailbonds have enjoyed 2 tournament wins in both the Mizuno Oregon ‘C’ NIT and the Starbucks ‘C&D’ NIT, 2 runner-up finishes in the Puyallup Combat Men’s ‘A’ NIT and Raider Rumble ‘A’ NIT, and 2 third place finishes in the Mike Ford’s KOTNW ‘A’ NIT and Awards Service/AAR ‘C/D’ NIT. Their success can be attributed, in large part, to the past that the team has together. “We have many different combinations of past together,” Kennedy explained. “Most notably our 2005 Hara's team that finished 3rd at the ‘C’ Worlds in Atlanta.” With significant experience at the very top level of competition, Casey’s Bailbonds was able to triumph in their next 7 games after taking their initial loss in the tournament opener. En route to their tournament bout, they were victorious over CP Framing/Aldercrest/AO (Lynnwood, WA) 8-7, R.B.I. (Bothell,WA) 16-7, KTI/Cartel
Worth (Seattle, WA) 13-1, Doerflinger Software (Olympia, WA) 23-16, Hiddenwave/Burton (Mount Vernon, WA) 1917, and Nu-Ray Metals/Worth (Auburn, WA) 12-8. We have battled with Nu-Ray Metals/Worth many times throughout the year, and hadn't had a lot of success,” Kennedy mentioned. “We started off very slow, I believe it was 5-2 still in the 5th inning, but we mustered up some ammo and took a 12-2 lead. With Nu-Ray’s last bats in the 7th they put up 6, but fell short and we held in the 1st championship game.” “The 2nd championship game was nothing shy of domination,” Kennedy continued. We came out, put up 9 in the 1st inning and that set the tone. We were tired, had played 7 games already, in 85 degree heat, and we just simply battled. We ended up closing the game out 22-7 and winning the championship.” With a victory at just the right time in the year, Casey’s Bailbonds is headed toward state and world competition, where the hope to do very well. With state, nationals, and worlds left on our schedule, our goal is nothing shy of a championship at all 3 tournies,” he said. We feel that we have great chemistry, great ballplayers and great teammates to take each other to that level. My personal predictions would be that we win state, win nationals, and place nothing worse than top 3 at worlds.
home. Even our new women's team this year is made up of 6 of our coed women and friends we've made.” In the past, I have always said that one of the required elements to be a successful softball team is to have a strong support system to keep each other positive and moving forward. Having family playing on their team, it’s no wonder that Jim’s Pharmacy Softball has been improving all year. In the seven tournaments that the men’s team has participated in this year, they have placed third in three previous tournaments, including the NSA E State tournament, before winning the recent USSSA Last Chance E Qualifier, which was held at Federal Way Softball Park. They made a perfect 6-0 run towards their tournament victory, which included victories over Molen Orthodontics (Bonney Lake, WA) 10-6, Interstate Batteries (Olympia, WA) 18-8, Cheez The (Winlock, WA) 21-7 and Brother Dons/Catie’s Crea (Silverdale, WA) 12-2 on their way to the undefeated game where they would play Penninsula Subaru/Suzuki (Gig Harbor, WA). “The undefeated game between Jim's Pharmacy and Peninsula Subaru was what you would expect from 2 undefeated teams,” McBreen stated. “In a defensive and pitching dual, we were tied 4-4 going into the top of the 5th inning. Our 1st 5 batters got hits scoring 3 runs and we were able to get 1 more run to jump out to an 8-4 lead,” he continued. “We dug in and showed heart again, holding them to a 3 up and 3 down inning.” After a scoreless 6th inning by both teams, Jim’s Pharmacy was able to put up 3 more runs in the top of
the 7th with 2 outs. They held Peninsula Subaru to only 1 run to end the game with an impressive 115 win. “The key to the game was the bottom of our order,” McBreen said. “Our 7, 8 and 9 batters (Zack Marsh, Jeff Elder and All Star Leon Aldrich) went 9 for 12 in the game to keep us going when we needed them and were responsible for 50% of our runs.” Their victory in the undefeated game would bring them to face Killin Contractors (Everett, WA) in the championship game, where they would post a similar astonishing performance. “We played Killin Contractors who had lost their first game and battled through the loser's bracket to earn their way into the championship game,” McBreen explained. “Our All Star pitcher, Jeremy Weir, pitched an 8 hit, 1 earned run game in 7 innings. His great pitching was backed up by our solid defense and steady hitting, especially by our sponsor, Jeff Scribner, who was 4 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI.” With their continued improvement this season and a tournament victory under their belt, the team will no doubt be a success in USSSA State and Western Worlds Competition. “Our teams may not always be the most talented or the team to beat, but our teams always show up and are ready to play,” McBreen finished. “We play with heart and love for the game, but most importantly, we play true ‘team’ softball.” “Everyone is a valuable member of the team and family,” he added. “We win as a team and we lose as a team.”
By Dan Granger FEDERAL WAY, WA—If you have ever been in that position where a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister or any other family member did not like that you were watching the game on T.V. or hanging out with your friends, then you know that being in that situation is unpleasant. Fortunately, for Enumclaw, WA’s Jim’s Pharmacy Softball, this is not an issue and it is very likely that it will never become one. For years, family members of Jim’s Pharmacy Softball, the recent winners of the USSSA Last Chance E Qualifier, have cheered from the sidelines and got experience playing the game as well. “The core of the team has been together since 2000 and a few of the guys have known each other since high school, said Jim’s Pharmacy team manager Michael McBreen. “We've lost a few over the past few years and added a few and 4 of us have wives that play on our coed and women's team as well. That’s right, wives take part in this softball family and, when they say family, they mean family. “We have 4 married couples with a soon-tobe fifth in October,” started McBreen. “We have siblings and cousins that went to school together and a few work together.” “We take pride in the fact that our men's and coed rosters have stayed pretty much the same for almost 10 years,” McBreen continued. “We've lost a few and added a few throughout the years, but we have tried hard to keep those additions close to
Our reviewers were pumped up to review Louisville Slugger’s latest bat to hit the market. The Triton has a long barrel and a very generous sweet spot and these attributes were well received by our hitters. As we entered our second round of reviewing the bat, its performance increased greatly. The bat was well suited for our predominate group of base hitters. However, our long ball hitters were able to pull the ball for great distance. “Once you break this bat in it is very productive,” said one reviewer. “It doesn’t matter if you are trying hit base hits or you’re swinging for the long ball the ball absolutely jumps off this bat” “When you really get a hold of a pitch the bat produces a solid “Pop” sound and right then you know you hit the ball perfect,” said another reviewer. “Also, I absolutely love the grip on this bat because it was comfortable and yielded no sting or vibration.”
The Score: Line Drives 92 Distance 95 Feel/Sting 92 Sweet Spot 94 Sound 94 Durability 100
Softball Today • August 2009
Review: Louisville Triton SBXTA Slow Pitch Bat
Top level softball players love the new Triton™ bats from Louisville Slugger® TPS®. Initially drawn to the unique 3-piece look and bubble transition, slow pitch softball players who’ve stepped to the plate with a Triton have quickly learned that it has an extra stiff handle and a very large sweet spot. Triton is unique because it has a proprietary 3-X Composite design with three composite zones – barrel, handle, and Bubble Transition Zone – all made from 100 percent aerospace grade graphite. These three composite zones allow the barrel and handle to be designed and built as individual units. TPS then brings them together with the revolutionary BT Zone (Bubble Transition Zone) that unites the barrel and handle into a more advanced 1-piece bat. “Triton’s BT Zone links the barrel to the handle, optimizing their relationship,” said Louisville Slugger product developer James Sass. That makes a stiffer and stronger bat for outstanding performance.” With composites, performance and durability are dictated by the angle of the fibers and the wall thickness of the barrel. Louisville Slugger TPS’s high-strength fibers used in the Triton allow for the best angle for performance while keeping the barrel wall thin for maximum flexibility and trampoline effect. “We use multiple layers of aerospace grade graphite. These high-strength thin fibers allow us to use more layers for durability and still design a light, thin wall bat for performance,” Sass said. “Our exclusive computerdesigned pattern precisely positions the angles of graphite layers, giving the Triton an extra-long barrel with a huge sweet spot and outstanding performance.” TPS embeds a specially-designed toughened epoxy resin to lock the graphite layers together. That’s what forms Triton’s light, durable thin wall design. This exclusive manufacturing process eliminates air between the graphite layers, giving players the ultimate combination of performance and durability.
Graphics 91 Approved by ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISF and ISA.
I can't believe it. My softball season is already over! I know it’s a cliché but it's crazy how quickly time goes by. We don't see the time go by because our seasons are so busy and so intense that before we realized it, they're over! However, since they're so intense, emotionally and physically draining, a break is always welcome. Any elite athlete no matter the sport or the level need some form of break at some point during the year. That usually happens at the end of the competitive season and is called a transition phase. It's basically the first phase of the off-season period. It's a very crucial rest period for any elite athlete no matter the sport or the level. This break will allow the athlete to recharge the batteries, heal nagging injuries, and give them an important mental break. This transition period should be at least 3 weeks and ideally up to 6-8 weeks. Yes, that long!
Marc Dagenais, MHK, CSCS, is a softball peak performance coach that helps softball players and coaches improve their game by sharing with them the tips and strategies used by the world’s best softball players and coaches to achieve extraordinary performances. You can sign-up to get his FREE Softball Tips at http://www.softballperformance.com
Softball Today • August 2009
By Marc O. Dagenais, MHK, CSCS, ChPC http://www.softballperformance.com
For many of us, time spent away from the field or the cage is often seen as wasted time because we could be working on mechanics and conditioning. It's very tempting to take this period lightly, underestimate its importance and want to shorten it up as much as possible.
During this break, no softball whatsoever, but it's encouraged to remain active and participate in recreational activities for fun with no formal conditioning. It's also the best time of the year to seek medical attention and heal these nagging injuries once and for all. So, give yourself a well-deserved break and go back to training a couple of weeks completely refreshed, totally healthy and super motivated!
However, that period is very crucial to ensure a full mental and physical recovery. Don't underestimate its importance! If you go back too fast, you're at greater risk of injuries, mental and/or physical burnout, loss of motivation, plateau, etc.
Softball Today • August 2009
“ESPN’s coverage and support of this year’s World Cup was tremendous,” said World Cup batting leader Natasha Watley. “I love when fans all over the country and world can watch our sport and see what a quick, fun game it is.” -www.softball.org
By Dave Utnik OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—The cheers alone were worth their weight in gold at the KFC World Cup of Softball. And for Jenae Leles, they provided both comfort and inspiration. This is her first summer as a member of the U.S. national softball team and the rookie third baseman has embraced her role as a young ambassador for the sport. “Wearing this uniform, a lot comes with it, and I just wanted to do my part and contribute,” Leles said. As she stared into the bleachers at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex in Oklahoma City, Leles felt an instant connection to the thousands of sign-waving, facepainted young girls who chanted zealously throughout the five-day tournament. She’s been a part of two Women’s College World Series championship teams at the University of Arizona so Leles knows a thing or two about performing under the weight of lofty expectations. But representing her country on the international stage encompasses another realm of complex emotions. “I think there’s a little added pressure,” she said. “But I think I’m a little more comfortable now.”
Credit the 20,000 fans who attended this year’s competition with making Leles and her teammates feel at home. Playing on American soil for the first time since they received silver medals at the Olympic Games in Beijing, the U.S. squad introduced a new generation of stars and reestablished itself as the best team in the world by winning six games by a 51-4 margin. Leles drove in four runs in a 7-2 opening day win over the Netherlands, Katie Burkhart earned her first international victory by shutting out Italy (12-0) and fellow rookie Alissa Haber homered against Japan (6-1) as the U.S. extended its winning streak to 18 games — a streak that culminated in a 3-1 triumph over Australia in the championship game. “It’s really fun to play in front of our crowd and hear ‘USA’ cheers throughout the stadium,” Olympian Lauren Lappin said. “It’s a special feeling. We are so excited and were able to play so well all week.” The absence of one international rival — Japanese ace Yukiko Ueno — and the retirement of seven American players did nothing to tarnish the World Cup. If anything, the U.S. emerged as strong and popular as ever before with the help of 10 youngsters and a pitching rotation that features Olympians Monica Abbott,
Cat Osterman and Jennie Finch. “We have a solid group of returners trying to set the tone but these younger girls, they came in and they were ready to go and excited to be a part of it. It’s been an honor to kind of help lead this team now. The young girls have done a great job obviously. This team has really excelled this week,” Lappin said. “One through nine plus the nine on the bench can contribute in this lineup — that’s what is so exciting. We’re able to be relaxed and go out there and try to do whatever we can to help each other be successful. It’s a full team effort.” The Americans’ depth was on display earlier this summer at the Canada Cup, where they went 12-0 and captured the gold medal by rallying in their final at-bat for a 3-2 victory against the host team. There were no such dramatics in Oklahoma City. Only Australia managed to offer any sort of challenge in the championship game. But Abbott and Osterman combined for 14 strikeouts in a 3-1 win. “The World Cup is a special event because we are playing in front of our home fans,” said Lappin, who hit her first home run of the summer in the finals. “We don’t get to do that very often. We got to go on tour in 2004 and
2008, but this is a special place, this home stadium.” Leles can appreciate that now. Even after committing two errors in the first inning
In front of a roaring crowd of 6,196, the USA Softball Women’s National team defeated Japan in a 6-1 triumph on day three of the KFC World Cup of Softball.
of tournament play, she quickly became a crowd favorite. She had seven hits and drove in 11 runs in her first eight at-bats and wound up with a three-run homer against Canada (15-0) and another against Italy. Despite losing long-time stars Jessica Mendoza, Crystl Bustos, Laura Berg, Kelly Kretschman, Stacey
Softball Today • August 2009
“Wearing a pink jersey to raise breast cancer awareness and eventually money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Watley cleared the bases in the third inning with a sky-high, grand slam over the right center wall, helping the USA Softball Women’s National Team secure a 15-0 four-inning win over Canada at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. www.USAsoftball.com
Nuveman, Lovieanne Jung and Jenny Topping, the U.S. captured its third World Cup in convincing fashion. “The young girls are full of talent and it’s exciting to see them wear the red, white and blue for the first time and do well,” Finch said. “It’s an intimidating factor coming into this program, especially following in the shoes of people like Crystl Bustos and Kelly Kretschman. Some amazing hitters left our game, but [rookies] are filling in great.” The veterans were pretty good, too. Shortstop Natasha Watley, who hit a grand slam against Canada, continued to excel in the leadoff spot after being named MVP of the Canada Cup, while the pitching staff combined for three shutouts. “One thing we’re all great at is we can throw a whole game ourselves but we all complement each other very well so you can mix and match as many different ways as possible,” Abbott said. “In reality, each batter could see each pitcher only once if we really wanted to. I think that’s the strength of the USA Pitching staff.” The strength of the offense is an unmatched combination of power and speed. In a 15-0, four-inning win against Canada, the U.S. squad hit three home runs — by Watley, Leles and Andrea Duran — and established a new World Cup record for margin of victory. And rookie Ashley Hansen made some history as well with her first home run as a member of the national team — a third-inning grand slam to right field that capped an 8-0 win over Australia. “It’s very exciting. I don’t know if I’ve ever hit a grand slam before so that was really exciting. And just to give the momentum to our team and to help Jennie (Finch) out. She pitched a phenomenal game so to give her the run support she needed was just a great feeling,” said Hansen. “The veterans have just really stepped in and helped us rookies out. And we have all just been working together well the past three weeks. It’s just great to see what we can do when we come out here and put it all out on the field. I give a lot of credit to the veterans for bringing us together.”
High School Softball Today • August 2009
The second annual Under Armour AllAmerica Softball Game, held July 21 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL, featured thirty of the nation's top high school softball players.
By Dave Utnik Disney Wide World Of Sports, FL. - Her team was three outs away from completing a no-hitter and Jolene Henderson felt like she was playing catch with her best friend. She was that at ease in the circle. Then again, the pitches always seem to come effortlessly when Lindsey Ziegenhirt is behind the plate. So when the Sheldon High School ace took the field for Team Battle in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Under Armour All-American Softball Game, she relied on her amazing changeup and the relationship that helped her collect 28 wins and 352 strikeouts as a senior. “Playing with Lindsey is always really fun for me. It makes me feel comfortable to pitch to her because she knows my pitching very well since we have played together for so long,” the right-hander said. “It makes it easier to pitch to a catcher who you know will catch whatever you throw and it was very cool to be able to share that experience with her.” Henderson and Ziegenhirt aren’t finished being teammates. They are headed to the University of California together in the fall and they will take a historymaking performance with them after playing pivotal roles in Team Battle’s 2-0 victory over Team Undeniable at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Ziegenhart, a .482 hitter last spring, crushed a solo home run over the center field fence and Henderson earned the save by recording the final three outs of a combined no-hitter that also featured dominating performances from St. Mary’s (Phoenix) rising senior Dallas Escobedo, Notre Dame recruit Brittany O’Donnell and LSU signee Rachele Fico. “It was really great to be a part of such a big thing that other really good pitchers on the team were a part of too. It is a great accomplishment for us to come together
and all four of us pitch well with our great defense,” Henderson said. “This game is one of the best moments of my high school career, alongside all the games that I got to play with my amazing (high school) team and coaches and playing with my little sister (Danielle Henderson). “It was a moment in time that I got to share with new people and a fun experience that I really enjoyed.” Thirty of the country’s elite high school players gathered for the second time in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. for the All-American game and, just like last year, the competition wound up being a pitcher’s duel as Team Battle hurlers combined for 13 strikeouts. “Many of these young women are starting pitchers for their teams and thus are not used to only throwing one or two innings throughout the game. I thought they did a great job of accepting their roles within the game and taking advantage of the time they were given,” Team Battle coach Melissa “Skeeter” Gentile said. “Our pitching staff did a great job of keeping our opponents off balance and together worked to throw a nohitter. It’s an experience I will always remember.” The outs came so quickly — there were four hits total, including a home run by Alabama recruit Courtney Conley, who was named Team Battle MVP — that the nohit performance sort of caught Escobedo by surprise. “I honestly don’t think any of us realized that no one had hit,” she said. “I really didn’t notice until the coaches told us after the game. Yet I was still very impressed by how well the other girls performed.” Escobedo’s two-innings in the circle were especially impressive considering that she sprained her ankle in practice the day prior to the game. “I had every intention to still play, it wasn’t that bad because I had twisted it before, but it still hurt very much,” said Escobedo, who hit a two-run homer in last year’s game to earn MVP honors. “As soon as the trainer taped me up I was ready. I was very
excited to start the game. I thought if I’m going to start then no one is scoring. I always have that mentality in my other games so I just focused and threw.” Escobedo struck out four, including the first and last batters she faced, before handing the ball over to O’Donnell, who earned the win with two scoreless innings. Fico, who went 105-3 with a 0.07 ERA, 1,884 strikeouts and a national-record 26 perfect games as a two-time state champion at Masuk High School, got six outs to keep the no-hitter intact and then Henderson took over with history beckoning in the seventh. “Being the final pitcher of the night was a pressure-less situation because I knew that I had the best defense in the country behind me. So throwing outs was easier because they had my back,” Henderson said. The defense only had to make one play behind her. Henderson struck out the first two batters she faced and then retired Olivia Galati on a grounder to second baseman Kayla Braud for the final out. “It was a good way to end my high school career,” Henderson said, echoing a universal sentiment. “Having the experience to play with that group of girls was great. I recognized some of them from club ball. It actually made the experience more special because I got to go with one of my best friends, (Sunrise Mountain’s) Brigette DelPonte,” Escobedo said. “We’ve been playing with each other since she was about nine and I was eight, and going up there and having to share the experience with her was just icing on the cake. I also loved the team I was on. The girls were so nice and funny. We all bonded pretty fast.”
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Softball Today • August 2009
The Diamond Dusters won the Colorado Sparkler from an impressive 178 team field, which represented 27 states. The Dusters went on a terror, going undefeated with a 9-0 record for the tournament.
By Anthony Bronson WESTMINISTER, CO— It is the largest college exposure tournament held on the globe. The Triple Crown 2009 Colorado Sparkler College Exposure Tournament, which was held at the Christopher Softball Complex, was host to over 600 teams from 45 different states. The pressure is on and the competition is fierce as over 300 college coaches were recruiting during this tournament and over three thousand all-star participants were present. With over eighteen thousand fans looking on, it takes a tremendous team to be able to fill the shoes of this tournament champion. In the 18 and under division, one hundred seventy eight teams were thrown into the mix from 27 states. No one else, but the Diamond Dusters, out of Huntington, WV, could fulfill this role in 2009. “The Diamond Dusters softball team based out of Huntington, WV, has been in existence since 1994 and has sent over 45 girls to schools such as Virginia Tech, Marshall University, University of Tennessee, Campbell University, Liberty University, Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky and several West Virginia State schools with softball scholarships,” said Diamond Dusters head coach Larry Verbage. “The Diamond Dusters have qualified to 5 ASA A National tournaments in Minneapolis, MN; Tulsa,
OK; twice to Dallas, TX and Normal, IL.” For a team who has achieved high marks among the best competition in the country this year, you can bet that the Diamond Dusters have many prestigious notches on their belts. “In addition to winning the Colorado Sparkler from a field of 178 teams, representing 27 states, we hahve also went 6-2 in the prestigious Orland Park Sparks Invitational, to finish ninth out of 68 teams,” Verbage said. “We beat the Illinois Chill, who ended up third and lost to the eventual tournament champions—Chicago Bandits.” Being from West Virginia, many find it much to their amazement that such a successful program has been born out of a state that is not so large in terms of softball. “Our team is so special because we have such a small area to choose our players from, compared to most other programs,” Verbage stated. “Being from West Virginia, and not thought of as a softball powerhouse, we always feel like we have to prove ourselves.” And prove themselves is what the girls of the Diamond Dusters have done. In preparation for the large tournaments, such as the Colorado Sparkler, they have danced with some of the most reputable teams in the country. We have met up with some strong competition this summer such as the Kentucky Outlaws, Georgia Elite, California Young Guns, Michigan Elite, California Bustos Elite, The Shamrocks, Oklahoma Badside, Chicago Bandits and Illinois Chill,” Verbage explained. Each of these teams had a host of Division 1 college prospects and players and only prepared our girls for the strong Colorado run. We have held our own with each of these teams and realize that playing in major tournaments, only prepares our girls for the next level.” The Diamond Dusters won the tournament in a perfect undefeated 9-0 run during the tournament, which leaves many to wonder what it is that made this team so successful. Our success this summer has to begin in the circle with Tennessee bound Andi Williamson, Alderson Broaddus
College pitcher Mereaha Cooper and Samantha Snodgrass, a rising senior at St. Albans High School,” Verbage started. “Each has been extremely consistent, if not overpowering, at times. With Marshall University signee Ashley Gue and Alex Furr, rising seniors at Hurricane High School, both hitting over .400 and stealing over 35 bases each and setting the table for the big sticks of Samantha and the Stickler twins, Kasey and Morgan, and Kat Powell from Alderson Broaddus College,” Verbage continued. “All four hit for power and had a batting average of .390 or better and consistently came through with timely hits to carry the offensive load.” “Add in the strong defensive play of Poppy Ramey, signee at West Virginia State, Jennifer Francis from Alderson Broaddus, Miranda Linville, sophomore standout from Poca High School, and Alicia Lane from Baltic, Ohio and you have the makings of a very strong Diamond Dusters softball team from the small state of West Virginia.” While most of us can agree that the talent of the team is what won the Diamond Dusters their Colorado Sparkler victory, we can also agree that their talent is not the only thing that got them there. “We had a couple of days of hard practices, visited lots of restaurants, and took in some of the beautiful sightseeing in Colorado,” explained Verbage. “We took the team up to Estes Park, where they saw elk and threw snowballs in July. The team seemed to bond, both on the field and off.” This time off of the field allowed the Diamond Dusters to focus better when they got back on the field. On their undefeated journey to the championship game, the Dusters emerged victorious over Colorado Rumble in an overpowering 14-1 victory, Washington Purple Haze 6-2, Texas Dynasty in a 9-0 shutout, California Young Guns 7-1, California Bustos Elite in a slim 6-5 victory, Colorado Rage in a 10-0 shutout, Oklahoma Badside 4-1 and Utah Shock in a narrow 2-0 shutout. Left as the only team standing in their way, the Chicago Wasco Diamonds wasted no time in making their statement in this championship game. In the first inning, Wasco Diamonds took a 2-0 lead on a 2 run homerun by Sarah Debosschere,” Verbage started. “In the third inning, the Diamond Dusters scored Alex Furr on a sacrifice fly by Kasey Stickler and Samantha Snodgrass scored on a double by Kat Powell.” The score remained the same until the top of the seventh when Miranda Linville led off with a single,” Verbage continued. “She moved to second on a single by Alex Furr and, with these runners on first and second, a full count and two outs, Kasey Stickler hit a shot over the center field fence, scoring 3 runs. Kat Powell then tripled and scored on a wild pitch to set the final score at 6-2.” As if the Diamond Dusters had not already made a statement with their success as a softball team from the state of West Virginia, they would take home the 18U 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler championship and prove that they really are a diamond in the rough. 11 in 5 1/3 innings.
WESTMINISTER, CO—These days, with all of the drama going on in the world and there being so many bad things, it takes more for a player and a team to be successful. The Warriors '93, out of Lafayette, CO, won the prestigious 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler not just because they have talented players on their team, but because they realize that it takes a solid network behind the scenes to keep a team moving forward. “What makes this team special is that the Warriors ’93 are cohesive and the girls all have common goals,” said Warriors '93 head coach Mike Lujan. “With great parental support and a great coaching staff, this group of female athletes understands the commitment and dedication required in order to be in Championship games.” What makes the network even stronger is that the team is composed of only twelve players and four coaches. “The majority of these girls have been together since they started playing in the 12u division and all but 2 of the girls graduate in 2011,” Lujan stated. The longevity of the team has allowed them to get to know each other over the years and build up skill without having to adapt to new players, which has allow them to meet with success on multiple occasions during 2009 “Some of the team successes for this year include 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Classic Champions 16U 'A' Division, 2009 Triple Crown State Champions 16U 'A' Division, 2009 ASA Stazio Tourney Co-Champions with Colorado Styxx 16U 'A' Division, 2009 ASA State Tourney –
3rd place 16U 'A' Division and 2009 ASA Pony Express Tourney – 2nd Place 18U 'A' Division,” said Lujan. With all of their success this season, it may just seem that the Warriors are hitting the pinnacle of success with their championship victory in the 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler. “By far, the most significant tournament play was during the Triple Crown Sparkler,” Lujan stated. “The Warriors ’93 Team went 9-0, allowed only 2 runs scored against them, and scored 75 runs in 9 games.” In addition, in the nine games that the Warriors played in, seven of them were shutouts. On their path to the 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler victory, the Warriors put away Kansas Blue Ice in an overwhelming 14-0 shutout, Missouri Wildcats 8-0, Minnesota Irish 9-0, Texas Cyclones 9-1, Fort Wayne Fire 5-0, Arizona Thunderhawks 9-0, Kansas City Lookouts 8-0 and New Jersey Avalanche 13-1. “Facing other 16U 'A' teams from Kansas, Texas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and New Jersey was a really great experience for us,” Lujan commented. “But by far the best team the Warriors ’93 Team faced was the Arizona Hotshots, who were also undefeated going into the Championship game.” The championship game would turn out to be one that would not only ask that both teams go the distance, but demand it. “Pitcher Raya Johnson and Catcher Nicole Hudson went the distance in this exhaustive 8 inning game,” Lujan started. “The game remained scoreless for 7 1/2 innings.” “The visiting Arizona Hotshots failed to move the
international tie-breaker runner on 2nd to 3rd, but instead popped up to left field and grounded out the next 2 times to 3rd base played by Ashley Martinez,” Lujan continued. “In the bottom of the 8th inning, home team Warriors ’93 capitalized on a sacrifice bunt by Katy Noble with Aly Martinez on 2nd to move her to 3rd.” “Pitcher Raya Johnson hit the game winning deep fly ball to right field to score Aly Martinez from 3rd. Both Shortstop Haley David and 3rd baseman Ashley Martinez played SOLID defense with 5 putouts and 7 putouts respectively throughout the game.” Though the Warriors were met with almost no real resistance during the tournament, their game with the Arizona Hotshots ended on a 1-0 victory. “Raya Johnson is one of the best 16U 'A' pitchers in Colorado, if not in the country,” Lujan mentioned. “She struck out 34 batters in the 7 games that she pitched during the Triple Crown Sparkler and six of those were shutouts.” “Nicole Hudson has great hop and glove-to-glove time from home to 2nd. She is also leading the team in homeruns and RBI’s and is a huge hitter for our team.” “Ashley Martinez plays incredible defense wherever she is on the field and is a solid base hitter that could crack a homerun in addition to her smart base running.” With this victory, there is no doubt that the Warriors' position in the state of Colorado and the entire country has been solidified. Look for these girls to be on top of the podium for the rest of this year and the next.
Softball Today • August 2009
By Anthony Bronson
The Warriors ’93 Team compiled a perfect 9-0 record, while their defense allowed only 2 runs scored against them. Offensively they lit up the score board with 75 runs in 9 games during the Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler.
USSSA Pride infielder Sara Larquier throws out a Thunder base runner at first in NPF play-off action. Photo by Dina Kwit, www.dkwit.ifp3.com
Softball Today • August 2009
By Fred Myers
AKRON, OH—The National Pro Fastpitch has seen its share of changes throughout the 2009 season, such as the complete restructuring of an entire team and its ownership from the WA. Glory to the USSSA Pride, but once the season finale play-offs begin it was business as usual for the top four teams in the NPF Play-offs. Many observers thought that the playoffs and the championship had already been decided. As many critics, fans and reporters had already given the Chicago Bandits their second NPF championship in a row. There was solid reasoning behind such thoughts as the Bandits led the league with a season ending 27-12 record and a .692 winning percentage.. However this was not going to be the case, as the three other competitors had had different scenarios on their mind. With the first day of championship play yielding to Mother Nature, the play-offs had to be pushed back to the second day, where each team would be playing in a double header. The Chicago Bandits and the USSSA Pride were the first teams to test the field after the deluge the previous day. Much to no one’s surprise, the Bandits scored a narrow 1-0 victory over the Pride when Stacy May crushed a hit to the right center field gap, scoring runner Aileen Morales. About three hours later, the other side of the NPF playoff bracket was kicking off. With the Akron Racers and Rockford Thunder competing at nearly the same levels all season, the fans were in for a great show. The Racers drew first blood early in the game when two errors on the part of Thunder third baseman Jenae Leles allowed Akron to pick up a run in the first
inning. Never looking back, the Racers stole the early lead in the first game of the series. With two teams well on their way to advancing toward the championship series, each team had hopes of winning the NPF championship. Later that evening, the Bandits took the field against the Pride, who needed to win this game to stay alive in the playoffs and prevent them from going home early. The circle was the main factor in this game for the Pride as Sarah Pauly threw a complete game while only allowing one run, four hits and striking out four on the night. On the offensive side the Pride poked sporadic holes in the Bandits defense the they went on to score a 2-1 victory to shock the Bandits. With a heated battle on one side of the playoff bracket, the Thunder was looking to do the same thing with their one-game deficit to the Akron Racers. In the top of the fourth inning the Thunder scored first by driving in two runs on a double in the left center field gap by Chelsea Spencer and a single by Amanda Williams. Akron, scored one run of their own but it would not be enough as the Thunder eventually cruised into the sixth inning with a comfortable 3-1 lead. In the top of the sixth, the Thunder raised the bar out of reach for Akron when Shanna Diller hit a two-run homer to left center field to win the game 5-1. The next day of competition would outline who was going to have the privilege of competing for the
Cowles Cup in championship play. With both series tied 2-1, this would be the final day to decide who would walk away as the 2009 National Pro Fastpitch champions. The surprising resiliency of the USSSA Pride had fans on their feet as they stepped onto the field to battle the Chicago Bandits for the last time this season. Blasting out of the gate early, the Pride struck first, scoring two runs and suppressing the Bandit’s offense with great pitching by Monica Abbott. While only surrendering four hits and three walks, Abbott struck out eight and led her team to a 2-0-shutout upset over last year’s NPF champions. Bandit’s pitcher Jennie Finch also had a spectacular game, striking out 14 hitters, while surrendering five hits and three walks. With only one game left deciding who was going to meet the USSSA Pride in the championship series, both the Akron Racers and the Rockford Thunder had their eyes set on taking this game and competing for the Cowles Cup. The Thunder wasted no time in showing that they deserved to advance when, in the top of the second, Chelsie Mesa hit a single down the left field line to capture the early 1-0 lead for Rockford. They extended their lead in the third inning to 5-0 on two singles by Kate Robinson and another by Mesa, as well as an error by Akron second baseman Kenora Posey. When the blood bath was over, the Thunder emerged over the Racers in 7-2 victory and punching their ticket to the 2009 NPF championship.
Bandits infielder Tammy Williams gets the force out at second base in early play-off action. Photo by Dina Kwit, www.dkwit.ifp3.com
By Robert Campbell
Softball Today • August 2009
Thunder pitcher Cat Osterman led the way, with her second complete game shut out of the day, only allowing the Pride to have one single and a walk in two games on Sunday. Osterman (The NPF Championship MVP) struck out an amazing 26 batters and only gave up four hits. Photo by Dina Kwit, www.dkwit.ifp3.com
four hits and struck out 26 batters. Pride batter Oli Keohohou was the only player to get on base in game three as she drew a walk and hit an infield single that bounced off of Osterman's glove in the fifth inning. Pride pitchers Sarah Pauly and Monica Abbott combined to pitch an outstanding game. However the Thunder batters remained patient at the plate until leadoff hitter Shanel Scott got Rockford going with a hit to left field just past a diving Kristin Schnake. Scott eventually scored on a sacrifice bunt by Lyndsey Angus to give Rockford a 1-0 lead. Chelsea Spencer added an insurance run when she slammed a pitch deep over the center field fence for a solo home run. The home run would be enough to remove Pauly off the mound as the Pride turned to Abbott. The Prides Ace was very effective as she shut Rockford's offense down for the remainder of the game. However the damage was already down as the Thunder went on to win the championship 2-0 to capture their first Cowles Cup. “This championship is a testament to our players and our coaching staff,” said Moore. “Going into this season I am not sure many people picked us to go from worst to first. I think that makes it all even sweeter for our organization. Our players truly earned this as they worked super hard.”
AKRON, Ohio – Cat Osterman, the soft spoken but highly competitive pitcher for the Rockford Thunder put her teammates on her back and made a pitching statement to her competition and to the world that her team would not be denied. The Rockford Thunder captured their first Cowles Cup at Firestone Stadium on Sunday afternoon (August 23) crowning themselves as the 2009 NPF champions as they defeated the USSSA Pride 2-0 in the final game of the season. While the victory may have surprised some of the crowd on hand the victory and Osterman’s MVP performance came as no surprise to Thunder General Manager Aaron Moore. “Cat is like all great athletes, the one’s that are used to performing at a high level, they have the ability to take their game up to a higher level when they need to. Much like a Tiger Woods does. Cat has that mind set that makes her one of the best pitchers in the world. Our player’s know when Cat is in the circle and we get one or two runs up on the board that we have an outstanding chance to be victorious.” Osterman led the way with her second complete game shut out of the day, as she only allowed the Pride to have one single and one walk. Between the two games on Sunday, The NPF Championship MVP gave up just
Seconds after defeating the USSSA Pride 2-0 in the championship game the 2009 NPF Champion Rockford Thunder stormed the mound in a victory celebration. Photo by Dina Kwit, www.dkwit.ifp3.com
Softball Today • August 2009
In addition to winning the 18U Champions Cup, Team North Florida saw tremendous action in the ASA Nationals defeating teams such as So Cal Athletics, Alabama Crusaders Gold and OC Batbusters.
By Anthony Bronson IRVINE, CA—In the third inning, it looked like the run that would send Team North Florida on a quiet plane ride home was about to be scored, if it weren’t for catcher Jackie Reese. With a runner on third and the Worth Firecrackers attempting to squeeze in the third inning, pitcher Lauren Sewell put her serious game face on. Hurling a pitch, worthy of collegiate participation, that was low and inside set up for the defensive play of the game. When the Firecracker offense could not get a bat on Sewell, Reese played the ball off of the dirt and then picked the runner off going back to third base. It was just all part of the plan for the eventual ninety-eight team 18U Champion’s Cup winners. The play, and the win, has been the product of an organization that has been around for 6 years now. “Team North Florida was established in the fall of 2003 to help promote talented and hard working softball players achieve collegiate scholarships,” said Team North Florida head coach Coy Adkins. “The organization has had teams play in the age groups of
14U, 16U, 18U, and 18 gold.” In 2009, the team has made some breakthrough achievements as they have participated in the Region 5 ASA Gold qualifier in addition to a vast amount of showcase events. Not to mention that this year’s team was the first in the history of the organization to qualify for the 18 Gold nationals. “The team has tournament championships at the Champions Cup, Georgia Fire 23U challenge, ASA region 5 gold qualifier and a recent 5th place finish at gold nationals,” Adkins added. Team North Florida however has to attribute their Champions Cup victory to their hard preparation, playing some of the sharpest competition in the United States. “We have played some very tough teams this summer, including Gold Coast Hurricanes, Worth Firecrackers, Lady Magic, California Cruisers, and East Cobb Bullets,” he explained. “All of these teams are first class organizations that send several players to division 1 colleges each year.” In addition to their rigorous training, the girls of TNF not only carry the physical talent to compete at the highest levels, but have the fine-tuned attitudes
as well. “Each player on this team has a certain role and all of the players have accepted their role and contributed in a positive way with it,” Adkins explained. “No one is worried about individual accolades and that is one of the things that has made it so enjoyable.” “You see so many teams that are talented, but they let minor things keep them from becoming great or dominant and this team has really not allowed petty things to get in their way.” This was apparent when pitcher Jackie Traina led her team to victory in the first game of the tournament against the Angels- Phil. After going down 2-0, Traina came in and pitched a perfect game, allowing her teammates to score ten unanswered runs. As we saw in the first game, the team is not just solid in the circle, but has an impressive lineup as well—even if it may be deceiving sometimes. Late in the second game against Lil Rebels, TNF’s pulling out a win was dependent upon four-foot, ten inch tall Ryan Iamurri. “Do not let her size fool you because Iamurri is one of the best pure hitters in the country,” Adkins said. “The rebels found this out the hard way as Iamurri
the tournament—the Worth Firecrackers in a 1-0 win. The girls of TNF went on to finish their first appearance in the ASA nationals with a record of 4-2, taking losses only to Gold Coast Hurricanes (2-1) and Sorcerer- Phil (6-0). TNF will be under new management for next year
as Kevin Fagan, who led the Tigers to a 32-1 record culminating in a Class 4A state championship victory over Lake Wales in May, will take over the Team North Florida's head coaching job because Adkins is leaving for an assistant coaching position at the University of Florida, according to Ocala.com.
As one of the most reputable fast pitch organizations in the country, the Corona Angels posted a performance that was nothing less than their reputation suggests in the 16U Champions Cup. As a long-standing team, the Corona Angels have been together since their 10U days, which was 5 years ago now. In the 10U division, they won the ASA National Championships and the team has continued to perform as one of the top programs in the nation. In 2007, the Angels finished third place in the 12U ASA Nationals and, in 2008, they finished third place in the 14U ASA Nationals.
For 2009, the Angels have posted similar performances, going an undefeated 5-0 at the Las Vegas Showcase earlier this year and finishing in the runner-up position at the 2009 ASA Nationals in the 16U division. A strong combination in the circle, lead by Emily Lockman, Leah Mundan and Taylor Langdon led the Angels defense to pin down the offensive campaigns of their opponents. Combine that with their offensive powerhouse line up of Nicole Girard, Khala Taylor, Dawna Tyson, Jasmin Mejia, Lauren Swan and Austin Urness and the Angels paved their way to a 16U Champions Cup victory. The lady Angels out scored and out played their opponents as they scored victories over Tucson P L in a 9-0 shutout, TX Storm 41, SD Renegades 12-1, Victory USA- Campbell in a 4-0 shutout and TNL in a narrow 3-2 victory. The Champions Cup finished the 2009 season with the 6th Annual Champions Cup Junior Olympic Showcase on July By beating many of the best teams in the country the Corona Angels proved to be among the elite in their division. 19, 2009. The premier
showcase draws nearly 100 of the nation’s elite teams, annually, July 15-19, 2009. Sunny and accessible locale in world class facilities attracts hundreds of visiting college coaches hoping to uncover that “gem” for that last unfilled spot on their roster. 2009 also launched the 1st Inaugural Champions Cup (16U) Junior Olympic Showcase held on July 9-13, 2009, in Irvine, California. A planned 49 team venue drew the top in the nation, showcasing a much younger group of athletes. It was held at Harvard Athletic Park, Irvine, California, which included seven top-notch fields to display the talent. Comments from college coaches and the attending teams tout this tournament as a must attend for elite 16U teams. The Champions Cup is a non-profit organization supported by sponsors: Ringor, Irvine City Park and Recreation, Irvine Visitor’s Bureau, Disneyland, CopyPage, SoCal-ASA, hotels: Hyatt Irvine Regency, Embassy Suites in Irvine, Crown Plaza in Irvine and numerous hotels in Orange County combine to provide the teams in attendance and attending college coaches a unique experience. For more information regarding this tournament, please visit www.championscup.org. Jim Bollinger, Tournament Director.
The City of Irvine is proud of its beautiful parks and dynamic sports facilities. Irvine hoped to provide something special for Irvine kids and to attract incredible events and incredible athletes such as those who participated in this years’ Champions Cup Softball Tournament. Natasha Watley, Jenny Finch and other members of Team USA Softball have competed in Irvine at the Deanna Manning Stadium. While Michael Phelphs, Jason Lezak, Amanda Beard, Aaron Peirsol and other members of Team USA Swimming have graced the aquatics facilities at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center. Irvine is very proud of its Deanna Manning Stadium and Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park. The site has been host to some incredible events having hosted exhibition games for Team USA on several occasions including a rematch of the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal Game featuring Team USA and Team Australia. The William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center has been the host to many incredible swimming competitions since its reopening in 2004… The Duel In Pool matched international super powers in swimming Team USA and Team Australia. The facility has hosted the USA Swimming Nationals, the USA Synchronized Swimming Nationals, and is excited to host its first international championship next summer, the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. We are here to provide exceptional facilities first to our Irvine kids. I can’t think of a better way to judge our performance than by watching Irvine kids PLAY one day and out to the park to WATCH the next. Our Irvine kids have access in their parks to watch some incredible athletes. Watching incredible athletes such as those traveling to Irvine to play in the Champions Cup is truly something special.
Softball Today • August 2009
ripped a ball in the 5-6 hole to win the game for TNF.” It was players such as Traina in the circle, Iamurri on offense, and Reese on defense that lead Team North Florida to victory in their next games against Cal Pumas by a score of 4-3, Desperados 3-1, Lady Magic in a 4-0 shutout, and shutout the second-best team in
improving techniques, and coming together as a team the young athletes were able to grow quickly on AURORA, CO—As perhaps the largest stop the field.” Through a rigorous program and players for fast pitch softball teams on the ASA circuit, the that worked everyday, all day just to achieve 2009 Colorado Fireworks College Exposure Tournament was host to well over a hundred a fraction of improvement lead the team to immediate success. teams, all of who were hungry for a victory in this “Travel outside of Oregon to prestigious tournament. To take a victory in a tournament of this expose the team to the best caliber, a team must not only have talent, but competition in the nation has paid physical and mental endurance and a rigid support off,” said Kelly. “The Northwest Blaze team has qualified every year for the honor of system behind them. representing the state in national competition, The OR Northwest Blaze, champions in the 16U Colorado Fireworks tournament, is no stranger to participated in 5 national championships, won two state titles in 2004 and 2005, one regional title in these attributes and to success. It has been a long journey and the Blaze has made multiple victorious 2003 and had two top-five finishes in the large 4th of July Colorado tournament before winning in 2009.” stops along the way. After placing fifth out of an astounding one “The Northwest Blaze team was formed in hundred forty four team field in the 2008 ASA 16U 2003 when I was asked to coach a National Championships in Owensboro, KY, the girls group of young softball athletes of the Northwest Blaze have their sights set on one from the Portland, Oregon thing this year: winning the 2009 ASA National area to play on a Championships. With so many high caliber teams competitive softball across the nation that will be competing this year, it team,” said will be no simple task. Northwest Blaze “It could be fate as the only team in Oregon to head coach Chris bring home an ASA national championship Kelly. “In the next did so in Sioux Falls in 1999, the same few years of place the Northwest Blaze will have to teaching solid compete for the same honor,” fundamental skills, explained Kelly. “Facing learning positions, a state championship team every game, quality pitchers and hitters, the dreams of being a National Champion could be won or lost with on swing of a bat.” Facing teams that compete at the highest level is nothing new for the Northwest Blaze as their travels have Aurora is designated by Sports brought them up against those with the Illustrated as the #1 sports town same goals that they have. in Colorado and a fantastic venue “This season Northwest Blaze’s fifty six for fast pitch softball tournaments with 23 fields all located in the area and 19 lighted fields. day season started in Las Vegas, NV
Softball Today • August 2009
By Anthony Bronson
The 2009 Colorado Fireworks College Exposure Tournament was host to some of the most respected competition in the nation, with girls making their impression on the college community. competing in the J.O. Classic, followed by the teams one and only tournament, in there home state of Oregon,” Kelly started. “The Valley Invitational 18 Gold tournament had all of the best Gold teams in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Canada participating.” “Northwest Blaze had a great showing, going undefeated in the tournament winning the 18 Gold bracket,” he continued. “Seattle was the location of the 16U National Qualifier where again, the Blaze went undefeated to earn a berth to the Nationals.” The experience that the girls from Oregon collected from playing at the 18 Gold level all year long lead them to a extraordinary victories over Colorado Games 7-4, Kansas Renegades 13-1, Midland Magic 7-4, Arizona EV Pride 7-5 and New Jersey WS Witches in a 7-0 shutout on their way to the championship game. “The Utah Flames had, by far, the best pitcher the Blaze had faced in the tournament,” Kelly said. “The tightly contested battle for the title took a turn in the fourth inning when Blaze was able to push 3 across.” From that moment on, the Northwest Blaze never looked back as they sprinted toward their 3-0 victory to win the 2009 Colorado Fireworks tournament. “This year’s Northwest Blaze team is solid,” Kelly stated. Most teams have one or possibly two extraordinary players.” “Our offensive power and speed, combined with our pitching staff provides a great balance. Team chemistry has been strong from the first pitch of the season and our player’s clear goals this season have kept us working hard to meet them.”
came from talent across the team. Shenise Cox had an RBI single in the OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—With a list of firsts set championship game against the Gold Coast by many teams in the 2009 ASA National Hurricanes. Championships at the ASA Hall of Fame Complex, “The Sorcerers added an insurance run in the the 18 Gold Sorcerers- Phil (Vallejo, CA) decided top of the seventh on a Tylyn Wells’ (Concord, CA) that they were not going to be left out of the loop. single scoring Jessica Vest (Hollister, CA), who had “To go 7-0 for their first ASA Gold national singled to open the inning and was sacrificed to title, Sorcerers Gold defeated the defending 2008 second,” Mumma explained. “Wells also brought Gold National Champions, the Gold Coast home the first Sorcerer run in the third inning of the Hurricanes (Plantation, FL) 3-1, in the championship game with a double inside the right championship game,” said Sorcerers head coach field foul line.” Phil Mumma. On their march toward their first ASA National Credited to the outstanding tight-knit team Title, the Sorcerers triumphed over well-known and flawless cooperation, the Sorcerers avenged teams such as the Worth Firecrackers 3-1 and Worth their loss to the defending national champions— Hurricanes 2-0. In addition, they also defeated Tulsa The Gold Coast Hurricanes. Shootout Gold 2-1, Texas Hawks Gold in an 8-0 “One reason Sorcerers won was because of shutout, Nashville Cruisers 4-0, Jersey Intensity Gold the outstanding play of Ricketts (San Jose, CA), 4-1, and Team North Florida in a 6-0 shutout. who will attend the University of Oklahoma this “In the winner’s bracket final on Sunday fall,” Mumma said. “Ricketts limited the Hurricanes morning, the Sorcerers blanked the Worth to only three hits and one run while striking out Hurricanes, who had won its last four games by oneeight in going the distance in a 97-pitch run margins,” Mumma commented. “The Sorcerers performance, while walking only one batter.” scored single runs in the third and sixth inning to “Her performance was impressive advance to the championship round and remain as throughout the tournament,” Mumma continued. the tourney’s lone undefeated team.” “Emily Allard’s (Antioch, CA) two-out single “She won all of her team’s seven games and fanned 58 batters in 47 innings, allowing 15 hits brought across the first run in the third inning for the while only walking eight batters and drove in six team,” he said. “The Sorcerers added another run in the top of the seventh on a double by Cox.” runs while batting .444.” While the Sorcerers claimed their right to However, Ricketts was only a fraction of the team’s success as much of the Sorcerer’s success appear in the championship game of the ASA Nationals, their eventual competition had their work cut out for them. After dropping to the loser’s bracket early in the tournament, the Hurricanes won nine consecutive games to square off with the Sorcerers in the deciding game for the national title. “Gold Coast had advanced to the championship game by eliminating the Worth Firecrackers, 3Sorcerer Gold compiled a perfect 7-0 record for their first ASA GOLD National title. 1, in the third place
Softball Today • August 2009
By Michael Lee
Behind the pitching and batting of left-hander Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.), Sorcerer Gold-Phil of Vallejo, Calif. swept through the ASA 18 GOLD National Championship. game earlier Sunday,” Mumma stated. While both teams fought valiantly during the game, the rested Sorcerers were just too much for a team that had played 10 straight games in the tournament. “In the bottom of the seventh, the Hurricanes went down in order, which ended the game and their magnificent run through the tourney as they finished with a 10-2 record, winning nine consecutive games in the loser’s bracket before losing in the championship game,” Mumma outlined. “Ricketts also had three of her team’s nine hits—which came off four Gold Coast pitchers—in the championship game with a single in the second and a double to left center leading off the top of the fourth.” As a team that has been in the thick of it all season long, winning the national championship was a perfect way to cap off an incredible year.
One hundred –thirty nine teams competed in high temperatures throughout the week for the coveted ASA 18U National title and the Tampa Mustangs outscored the competition 70-16 while belting 12 home runs. Stapf (Sickles HS/ Univ. of Fl.), Loren Smith (Land O Lakes / Indian River CC), Knipp, and O’Brien aggressively created enough havoc to force at least a dozen throwing errors, which contributed to the 70 runs scored,” Rozanski continued. The last game proved that dreams do come true for the Tampa Mustangs organization,” said Rozanski. “The players, coaches and parents were proud when the five tools of this team’s chemistry overcame the Elyria Sundogs in the championship game.” “O'Brien's two-run double keyed a four-run fifth inning to win 7-5 and capture this once in-alife time championship,” Rozanski continued. “O'Brien's bases-loaded double plated Bembnowski and Stapf. Knipp scored on the play when she slid home and kicked the ball out of Elyria catcher Jen Bower's mitt. O'Brien came around to score when the ball rolled to the backstop, giving Tampa a 6-2 lead. Bembnowski started the scoring with a two-run home run in the second inning.” Top that with a pinch hit solo home run by Kasey Murray, Tess Sito's three-run homer in the seventh and a double by Devan Boggs and that was game. Their journey ended here at the 2009 ASA Nationals with a perfect end to their story. With a team who’s success began months ago, the 18U Tampa Mustangs now sit at the top of ASA 18U competition.
LAS VEGAS, NV—For the first time in the more than twenty-nine years that the organization has existed, the Tampa Mustangs captured the title in the ASA 18U Nationals, which took place at Majestic Park in Las Vegas, NV. In addition to winning their first national championship for their organization, the Mustangs also achieved another first for the state in which they represent. “We are the first Florida team to ever win the 18U ‘A’ USA/ASA National tile,” said Tampa Mustangs head coach Walt Rozanski. “We won 10 games in a row, including pool play and championship bracket play, scoring 70 runs and allowing 16 with 12 home-runs, and a dozen stolen bases, while forcing many errors with tenacious base running and unbelievable defense.” In the more than one hundred thirty nine teams that were in the running to become national champions, the Mustangs held out in the extreme Nevadan heat. “It was the team chemistry that led to their success in each game,” Rozanski said. “Every player took on their responsibility and when they were called upon, they delivered.” The philosophy used each game was that which surrounded the idea of unification. This meant that each of the seventeen players contributing when they could with a “punch ‘em in the nose” attitude that lasted throughout the championship play. Whether they were picking each other up in the outfield or
cheering for each other from the sidelines, the Mustangs knew how to keep the integrity of the team in-tact. “The Tampa Mustangs team is comprised of eighteen players, the majority of whom are from the greater Tampa Bay area with a few from other parts of Florida,” Rozanski explained. “Over 95% of this team is either signed or verbally committed to play for a university or college on the east coast of the United States.” This is a very impressive feat for a team, and a state, that has just claimed its first national title. “The Vegas tournament site, Majestic Park, saw exceptional pitching from Lindsey Richardson (Ft. Meyers HS/ Univ. of South Fl.), Olivia Kline (Mitchell HS/ Jacksonville Univ.) and Abby Tewet (Bartram Trails HS) along with the overwhelming ‘perfect’ defensive efforts by Maddie O’Brien (Palm Harbor Univ./Fl. State Univ.), Reagan Knapik (Wiregrass HS/ Gulf Coast Univ.), Brittany Knipp (Stetson Univ.), and Stephanie Medina (Chamberlain HS/ Univ. of South Fl.), Ashley Schnitzler ( Plant HS) and Stormi Gryzbek (Cooper City HS/Univ. of South Fl.),” Rozanski stated. “Offensively there was no defense that could match the power of the Mustang bats with Nicollette Levine (Newsome HS/Univ. of FL.), Kirsten Bembnowski (East Lake HS/ Gulf Coast Univ.), Kasey Murray (Land O Lakes HS), Medina and O’Brien.” “The thing that overwhelmed just about every TEAM the Mustangs played was the chaos that they created on the base paths where players Ashley and Courtney Goff (Sickles HS/ Univ. of South Fl), Alyese
Softball Today • August 2009
By Michael Lee
ASA Softball Today • August 2009
“The Northwest Blaze pulled off one of the most impressive winning streaks of any of this year’s ASA National champions, winning 13 straight games on their way to capturing the 16U ASA title.” contributed to this championship. You never knew Grants Pass High School senior Krystin Jantzer By Dave Utnik where the key hit or clutch defensive play was going to beat the Bees with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh in the first championship game and there SIOUX FALLS, SD—Kaitlin Inglesby couldn’t come from, but someone always came through.” For an entire year, they were twelve girls with one were plenty of other clutch plays throughout the week. wait to get around the bases. This was a moment she Abby Komin, a rising junior at Southridge High definitely wanted to share with every one of her unifying goal — inspired by a seventh-place finish in 2008 and determined to reach Sioux Falls, SD as a School, threw a runner out at the plate from left field teammates. with the bases loaded to help preserve a 2-1 victory She was a national champion and the contender in their second season as a 16U team. “The way we did it speaks for the team’s strong over the Colorado Styxx and the Blaze received celebration taking place near home plate pretty much desire to accomplish goals set last year,” coach Kelly dominating pitching performances from Glencoe High confirmed that. said. “This team played like a team in the true sense of School’s Sloan Anderson, Morgan Barnes, of Grants All Inglesby had to do was get there. The Northwest Blaze had rallied again — this the word — on and off the field. They supported and Pass, and Inglesby. An offense that generated 94 runs had its share of time defeating the Arizona Killer Bees, 5-4, on a encouraged each other even in the offseason, during three-run, seventh-inning home run by the rising winter workouts, through high school ball when many of big hits as well. Elizabeth Brenner, a rising junior at the girls’ teams played each other, and in the Blaze Jesuit High, homered in three games and the Blaze Central Catholic High School senior. rallied to beat the Styxx on a two-run single by Tara Inglesby’s dramatic blast over the right- season through nationals.” An unyielding camaraderie resulted in one of the Glover in the bottom of the seventh inning. field fence capped a relentless charge out of the Jordan Kreiger, a rising junior at Glencoe High, hit losers’ bracket and provided a sudden, yet postseason’s most inspiring winning streaks as the appropriate, finish to the 16U ASA National Blaze recovered from a 2-1 loss against the West Jersey a three-run homer to highlight an 8-0 win over the Witches to win five games on Saturday and six more on Birmingham Vipers and Roosevelt senior Izzy Batayola Championship Tournament. “Ending in a walk-off home run, could it be any Sunday. They went 16-1 against a 164-team field to drove in the winning run just before time expired in a 3better?” Blaze head coach Chris Kelly said. “These wrap up a remarkable 57-3 summer that also featured 2 victory over the Indiana Shockwave. But it was Inglesby’s final blast — following base girls always believed they could win it all. They had a first-place finishes at the prestigious Colorado Fireworks and Best of the West tournaments. hits by Alyssa Gillespie and Glover — that finally fulfilled unified attitude to never give up.” “To establish a goal a year earlier and then a year-long dream. Even when they trailed by four runs, three “Once the home run was hit the excitement of innings into the championship game, the Blaze never accomplish that goal is not only a great feeling but looking back through the season and understanding the winning that final game was amazing,” coach Ray said. stopped believing they could win. “As time passed that night in the celebration All tournament long, they’d found one way or time and hard work these players put themselves another to rally — pulling off six victories in their final through was an unbelievable accomplishment,” said and, later in the evening, the players, parents and at-bat and winning 13 straight games over the final assistant coach Rob Ray, after the Blaze won back-to- coaches still looked around at each other and still back games in walk-off fashion against the Killer Bees had to remind ourselves that we actually won the two days. national championship.” “They kept battling back. Every player to clinch the first-place trophy.
Relying on the same selfless play that has become the team’s trademark, Victory USA recorded six shutouts and reached the championship round in suspenseful fashion as Sierra Romero narrowly beat a throw home from shortstop in the sixth inning to clinch a 1-0 victory over the Corona Eliminators.
of depth on the team and they are willing to make sacrifices to win,” coach Campbell said. “Several of the players are willing to play positions that they don’t normally play to make the team better.” Not surprisingly, contributions came from all over the field. Brittany Moeai caught virtually every inning of the tournament and was spectacular behind the plate and Darian Tautalafua hit a towering home run in a 5-0 triumph over the Georgia Crusaders and Erika Campbell and Mo Mercado went 4 for 4 in a 19-2 win over the Orlando Sparks. Celinna Cosio, Hanna Sommer, Kati Mauga, Coco Taualii, Sahvanna Jaquish and Danica Mercado also has multi-hit games for Victory USA. Pitching, however, is the team’s heart and soul with Fredericks and Jennifer Hartman — the pair of aces who were nearly unhittable all tournament long — showcasing their outstanding arsenals and Selene Pola and Danica Bishop providing quality innings throughout the summer. “This team is so special because they work so well together,” coach Campbell said. That was especially true when it mattered most. After edging the Eliminators, Victory USA had to essentially sweep a championship doubleheader against the Corona Angels to win the title. Campbell delivered a bases-loaded, fourth-inning double to spark a 7-2 victory in game one and then Fredericks took over in the circle. “It's a great feeling to accomplish something like this. I have won four other national championships prior to this year and they all feel great. I live for the expression on the girls’ faces when they win,” coach Campbell said. “They give up so much throughout the year committing themselves to the team, that when they finally get it done their faces say everything.”
summer — allowing two hits and striking out four in a complete-game 7-0 shutout as Victory USA added to its MARIETTA, GA—The softball felt surprisingly light growing legacy by securing the organization’s sixth ASA and comfortable in Kelsey Fredericks’ hand. Given all national championship since 2000. the drama and pressure of having to win back-to-back A year after the 14U squad finished second in games against one of the nation’s most storied travel Midland, Texas, Victory USA went 10-1, outscored programs, the Victory USA pitcher was nothing short of opposing teams, 86-7, and avenged a 2-1 eight-inning serene in the circle. loss to the Corona Angels to earn the first-place trophy. Her team was one win away from capturing the “The girls jumped out of their cleats after the final 2009 Class A 14U ASA National Championship and out,” coach Campbell said. “They could not have been Fredericks had everything under control. happier. To beat a team like the Corona Angels twice was “She began to come on for us at the end of the more than we could ask for.” season and really stepped up during the tournament,” Relying on the same selfless play that has become Victory USA coach Mark Campbell said. the team’s trademark, Victory USA recorded six shutouts Having dealt with older, more experienced teams and reached the championship round in suspenseful throughout the season, Fredericks was prepared for the fashion as Sierra Romero narrowly beat a throw home Corona Angels when the two California-based rivals met from shortstop in the sixth inning to clinch a 1-0 victory for the third time in Marietta, Ga. over the Corona Eliminators. And she delivered her best performance of the “We had a really tough game against the Corona Angels, losing in the international tiebreaker on Saturday night. Emily Lockman threw a great game for Corona and we had to come back the next morning and face the Corona Eliminators, who played a great game with solid pitching and defense.” In their fifth season together since finishing second in the 10U competition in 2005, the Victory USA squad has practically grown up together. They won a national title at 12U and will likely move on as a group to 16U. Victory USA found redemption at the 2009 14U ASA Nationals, going 10-1 and redeemed their runner-up finish at the ASA Nationals last year. ���We have a great deal
Softball Today • August 2009
By Dave Utnik
With threats in every aspect of the game, it was no surprise that the Power Surge shocked their competition on and off of the field, with their intense training and athletic display.
Softball Today • August 2009
By Anthony Bronson
NORMAL, IL—Crying and hugging is how the ASA 12U Nationals ended for Power Surge ’96, out of San Diego, CA. While many of you have already made your assumptions, the team was actually shedding tears of joy as they hoisted their banner as the nation’s 12 and under champions. “Everyone was crying including me,” said Power Surge ’96 head coach Scott Berndes. “Normally we high five the girls after a win, but after winning the national championship I took my time and hugged each girl and told them how great they were.” For a team that came together just two years ago in the 11 and under division, the girls have matured far beyond their age. “We took some beatings early on, but started to really come together,” Berndes said. “We were lucky enough to qualify for the ASA Nationals up in Northern California and were one of only 4 11U teams to go to the 2008 ASA Nationals in Montgomery, AL. We did not do well, but I think the experience really helped us become ASA National Champions this year.” And their prior experience was apparent in their near flawless play during the 2009 season. With a record of 92-7-1, the Power Surge ’96 seemed to be invincible going into the national tournament. Success came knocking early and often for the Surge this year. After winning the Southern California ASA
“In addition, we have great power hitters in Rebecca Dvorak, Katie Byrd, Alicia Brown, Tiana Miller, and Abigail Metsch.” “And to cap it off, we have the best catcher in the country, Carlee Wallace, who led the team in almost every category.” With threats in every aspect of the game, it should come as no surprise that the Power Surge shocked their competition on and off of the field. They went 7-0 in the tournament, with 5 of those wins coming as shutouts. On their way to the game that would decide their fate in the national standings, the girls of the Surge saw dramatic victories over American Liberty Cruzers-Texas in an 8-0 shutout victory, the Corona AngelsLockman 9-0, Team Fury- Texas 8-0, Lady Laser Black-Ohio, Diamonds ’96-Texas and JynxCalifornia 2-0. With a rematch against Jynx on the horizon, the game would turn out to be one of the toughest that the Power Surge had to get through all year. “Jynx came out strong and scored in the first inning on two Power Surge errors,” Berndes explained. “Power Surge tied it up in the 5th inning on a great hit by Kaylie Hill.” With both teams neck-and-neck and coming down the home stretch, Jynx pulled away once again in the bottom of the fifth to a 2-1 lead. Answering their call in the sixth inning, Rebecca Dvorak scored the run to put the Power Surge back on track for a national title. Going to an international tiebreaker, it was do-or-die for both teams. In the top of the extended inning, the Power Surge put the nail in the coffin when Dvorak, once again, came to the rescue and scored 2 of the 3 runs with a double that inning. Being too far in the hole, Jynx reciprocated with only one run in the bottom of the eighth and fell to the Surge by a final score of 5-3, while the Power Surge brought the 12U national title back to San Diego. “We played the best of the best,” Berndes finished. “The teams from Texas and the south were truly outstanding and it made for a difficult run to the championship.”
State Tournament, Fresno Force Classic Tournament, Huntington Beach Surf City Tournament, Palm Springs Big League Dreams, Pre-States Revenge Tournament and the Saboba USSSA 14U Pre-Nationals Tournament, the girls from San Diego only had one more milestone to establish—becoming the national champions. “First of all, we had a record that is almost unbelievable,” Berndes Commented. “I thought I would never be able to coach ASA National Champions. There are so many great teams and to be able to be the best in the country is truly amazing.” “We had the best pitching in the country with Sara White, Selena Taamilo, and Kaylie Hill, who combined for a .079 ERA and that is truly amazing,” Berndes explained. “We had four leftie Slappers who ran past the competition with Erin Mario, Anna Barkhimer, Katie Schultz, and Julea Backing up their title as the 2009 12 and under ASA National champions is their astounding effort during their season to rack up an unprecedented 92-7-1 record. Cavazos.”
Not even a one hour rain delay in the final game could slow Victory USA down as they jumped right back in and put on a defensive display to hold off the opposition and claim the 10U national title. By Dave Utnik
Softball Today • August 2009
Following a 9-2 victory over the Georgia Cobras that secured the 2009 10U ASA National Championship, the excited winners called to share the news with Campbell, who was in the process of celebrating a title with the 14U squad. Not even a one hour rain delay in the final game could 2 loss to the Crunch and their star hitter Alyssa Diaz. slow Victory USA down thanks in part to a four-RBI game There were big hits in every game — with key from outstanding catcher Deja Mulipola, who tripled in two contributions coming from Montana Dixon, Taylon runs in the second inning and had a two-run single in the Snow, Mack Boesel, Bailey Henkie and Jaymee fourth. There were other clutch performances as well. Campbell — until only the Cobras (and a rain shower) Alyssa Barrera doubled in the game-winning run stood between Victory USA and a national title. against Cerritos Franchise (2-0) and Alyssa Pelegrin came Gutierrez tossed a three-hitter and struck out through with a tie-breaking single in a 2-1 win over eight in a 5-0 victory that forced a deciding game and American Athletics. then Best sent everyone searching for a cell phone with “The competition was tough,” coach Campbell said. a complete-game pitching performance that was “The Southern California Crunch, Cerritos Franchise and complemented by Mulipola’s four RBI and run-scoring American Athletics were teams we played in the hits from Boesel, Dixon and Pelegrin. tournament that we had hard-fought games against. We “From the time they started playing in the fall played all three of them throughout the season since they they continued to grow as a team,” coach Campbell are also from Southern California.” said. “We only practiced one day a week because of the After Gutierrez and Best combined for 10 strikeouts distance the kids travel to be on the team. But as the against Georgia Extreme to open tournament play, Victory season went along, the girls began to understand what USA spent the rest of the competition recovering from a 6- it took to win.”
JOHNSON CITY, TN—The lyrics from Queen’s rock anthem “We are the champions” have probably never been accompanied by so many giggles. After all, it’s hard to keep a straight face when a dozen or so 10-year-old girls are trying to sing a cappella into a cell phone. Victory USA softball coach Mark Campbell still considers it priceless, especially given the circumstances. Following a 9-2 victory over the Georgia Cobras that secured the 2009 10U ASA National Championship, the excited winners called to share the news with Campbell, who was in the process of celebrating a title with the 14U squad. “These are the little things I will always remember,” he said. “And that is why I do this.” In just two travel seasons, the youngest members of the Victory USA softball family have quickly adopted the organization’s winning tradition. Following a first-place performance at the Southern California State Tournament, the 10U team went 7-1 and battled through the losers’ bracket following an opening day loss to the Southern California Crush to claim the title. “To win two national championships on the same day is a feeling I have trouble describing. I am so happy for all of the players, coaches and the parents who worked so hard the entire season,” coach Campbell said. “I could not be any prouder of a group of girls.” With Campbell also guiding the 14U squad, Robert Young and Brian Gutierrez co-directed the championship journey — one that featured a six-game winning streak and back-to-back triumphs over the Cobras in the finals. Pitchers Breanna Gutierrez and Stephanie Best opened tournament play by combining on a no-hitter against Georgia Extreme and teamed up for all seven tournament wins.
The girls of Dynamites Badside have achieved success many times this season, taking wins in the Tulsa Hall of Fame qualifier and winning the 18U ASA Hall of Fame tournament.
Softball Today • August 2009
By Anthony Bronson
this fall that are college exposure tournaments, one being in Houston called the Ronald Mcdonald Showcase where they did very well in last year making it to championship play.” In a division in which they have done so well, it comes as surprising that their team is very young and many have multiple years ahead of them on this team. “We have some seniors yes, but we also have a group on this team that is very young and we are asking them to play older ball and they are responding well,” Foutch said. “It seemed to me that they really gelled as a team and matured mentally throughout the year.” Playing beyond their years, the Hall of Fame champions prevailed over Texas Rapid Fire in a 40 shutout, Arizona Scramblers 5-4, Kentucky Sports Reach by a slim 2-1, Oklahoma Energizers in a nail biting 1-0 shutout and the New Mexico Sundancers 42 on their way to the championship game of one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. “There are several teams we have played in Oklahoma that are very well structured, well coached and have an excellent quality of players,” Foutch commented. “Anytime we get to play them win, loose, or draw, we come away with knowledge about where we need to be and what we need to do.” And what the Dynamites Badside needed to do in the upcoming game was blatantly obvious. It was exactly what their opponent, Kentucky Sports Reach, wanted-- an ASA 18U Hall of Fame notch on their belt. Having been the second time that these two teams
would go toe-to-toe, they were both out to make a statement. When Kentucky Sports Reach fired the first shot in their first at bat, scoring 1 run, the girls from Oklahoma broke out their sticks and marched into battle. In the bottom of the first inning, the Badside set up early for a very successful offensive campaign that picked apart their opponent. “In the bottom of 1st inning, BadSide hitting Shelby Blanton lead off with a single, followed by Chelsea Jones who got a single, which was followed by Caitlin O'Hagan's single,” Foutch said. “With the bases loaded and 1 out, Tara Nall got a single, which scores Blanton, Aaron Adams got a single which scored Jones, and Shelby Wheeler runs the squeeze play which scored O'Hagan.” In a matter of 6 at bats, Kentucky Sports reach found themselves in a 3-1 deficit that they would never see their way out of for the rest of the game. With each team having occasional runners reach base, both essentially went 3 up and 3 down for the remainder of the game. The fate of Kentucky Sports reach was decided in an explosive first inning as they fell to the Dynamites Badside by a final score of 3-1. “That was the second time we had played the Sports Reach and they are a very competitive team with great coaches and players,” Foutch said. The Badside went on, after the ASA 18U Hall of Fame, to take an impressive fifth place at the 2009 Colorado Sparkler Tournament in a field of one hundred sixteen teams. “We made the cut to the championship bracket that had 30 teams in it,” Fouch commented. “It was good experience for all of us.”
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK—At 18 years of age, most of us have just graduated high school, our thoughts are perhaps focused on that big senior trip before we start college and our responsibilities are few and far between. However, the girls of the 18U ASA Hall of Fame championship winning hometown team, Dynamites Badside have had their stare solidly fixed on their futures, both in the game of softball and in their separate lives. “The core group of 7 or 8 have stayed and played together with some of them going on 4 or 5 years together with this same team,” said Dynamites Badside head coach Lisa Foutch. “They are very dedicated in their learning of the game and training for the competitive schedule we play each year.” “They sacrifice a lot to maintain this very hectic and demanding schedule they are put under,” Foutch continued. “They all understand this is what it takes if they want to go on to the next level of ball, which is college, and play while they are getting a great education.” The tightly knit bad side of the girls from Oklahoma have produced a very successful year that ranks them among the best 18U softball players in the nation. “The whole year has been very successful for this team of 2009,” Foutch outlined. “The girls took 1st place in Tulsa to Qualify for the Hall of Fame Tournament and qualified for 18U ASA Nationals in Las Vegas. They qualified for IFA National Invitation Tournament in Broken Arrow 18U division and won the Hall of Fame Tournament this year in the 18U division.” In addition to winning the prestigious 18U ASA Hall of Fame tournament this year, Dynamites Badside also went “They also have many more tournaments to play on to place fifth in the 2009 Triple Crown Colorado Sparkler College Exposure Tournament.
SEBASTIAN, FL—When Michelle Williams started the 10U Florida Crush, she immediately found Skylar Fairchild, a talented pitcher who, at 10 years old, could throw a 45 mph fastball. Now she was up to 3 players. Until Williams began to bolster the coaching staff, the size of the team was looking pretty slim. “Manager, Michelle Williams brought another coach to the team, coach Tom Stella,” said Florida Crush spokesperson Kim Stella. “His daughter had played with some great teams since she was 6 years old and Brianna plays everything except the pitcher’s mound.” After a few more additions in January of 2009, the team was ready to get off of the ground and start practicing. “There are a few players who knew each other prior to the team's formation but, for the most part they were all complete strangers who have come together for their passion for the sport of softball,” Stella explained. That’s right, the Crush is among some of the youngest teams out there in terms of age and time they have been around. “The 10U Crush girls have played in 8 USSSA tournaments this year with surprising success from such
a young team,” said Stella. “The girls have managed to get into the championship game in all but one tournament.” From those Championship games, the Crush team has taken home the winner's trophy from 3 of the tournaments and captured the runner's up position on 4 occasions, including going undefeated at this USSSA A State Championships. “Given that the South Florida 10U Crush team is a fairly new team, our competition didn't quite know what to expect from us,” Stella said. “Most of our girls had played on other travel teams in the past and we knew about some of them but they certainly didn't know how we would perform as a team.” “But, from our very first tournament when we met the undefeated number one team in the State and lost 21, one out from going to a Kansas City tie breaker, we were welcomed as much needed competition to the South Florida softball scene,” Stella continued. “Teams were always grateful to us for providing a challenge to their girls. They all want to compete against the best and we feel that we have on several occasions challenged them to the best of our abilities.” The first major tournament win came on Mother's Day in Wellington, FL for the Crush. It was the first ‘A’ tournament and the competition was stiff. The girls of the
Crush eliminated the Pembroke Lake Bandits, who were previously undefeated in over twenty-three games of tournament play. The Crush girls went on to beat the Miami Wildcats 9-2 in the Championship game of The Walk on the Wild Side Tournament. From that moment on, the team knew that they could be the best. At tournaments the Crush would chant "We're all for one and one for all, Together we stand, together we fall but, in the end, we win them all. We're all for one and one for All. Go teams!" When teams at the A State Championships heard the traditional Crush ritual, they knew that the girls were ready to make some noise. And make some noise is exactly what they did. The 10U Crush performed flawlessly as they defeated the Miami Wildcats 5-2, Wellington Wild in a 5-0 shutout, Orlando Aftershock in a 5-0 shutout, Jupiter Seahawks 3-2 and the Coral Springs Panthers 4-1 and won a state championship in their first year as a softball squad. “The girls exemplify sportsmanship on and off the fields with friendships being developed between many of our competitors,” Stella stated. “We would like to thank all the South Florida 10U ‘A’ teams for their great competition and camaraderie.”
Softball Today • August 2009
By Fred Myers
The 10U Crush girls have played in 8 USSSA tournaments this year with surprising success from such a young team, the girls have managed to get into the championship game in all but one tournament.
By Anthony Bronson
Softball Today • August 2009
SHAWNEE,KS—The state of Kansas is no stranger to the recent winners of the 16U USSSA Kansas State Championships: Explosion USA. From a team where success is commonplace, four athletes, including second baseman Morgan Baldwin, catcher Jamie Lockwood, shortstop Megan Lockwood and right fielder Jenny Ziegler were selected to be on the Kansas All-State team. “The team was formed in 2005 as a way for the girls to gain skills needed for high school softball,” said Explosion USA head coach Chris Lockwood. “. In 2006, we had a very successful season when we won 2 tournaments including the Kansas USSSA 12B State Championship and in 2007, we placed 4th at the Kansas AFA 14B State Tournament as a first year 14U team.” “In 2008 we won a USSSA qualifying tournament while playing mainly 14A and 16B tournaments and finished 3rd in our USSSA 18U league.” It is clear now that the Explosion USA program has gone far beyond just mere training for high school softball. “We were runner up in a USSSA tournament in Manhattan, Kansas in 2009,” Lockwood said. “We are tied for 1st with a 9-1 record in the 18U league at Shawnee County Girls Softball Complex in Topeka, KS. In additon to winning the 2009 USSSA 16B State Championship.” All of their experience helped them to push through the Kansas State Championships with flying colors.
In addition to winning the 16U state championship, Explosion USA was the team to beat in the 18U league in Shawnee County, running wild with a 9-1 record in league play. En route to hoisting the tournament trophy, Explosion USA triumphed over the Jaguars in an astonishing 9-0 shutout, the Stealers 5-2, Lawrence Phenix 5-2, before winning the best-of-three series against TAZ 2-1, 1-2 and 5-2.
“Each team we played in the tournament displayed good sportsmanship and were very competitive” Lockwood finished. “The TAZ were a very good hitting team with a strong defense.”
“The competition we face on a regular basis in Kansas City is quite substantial,” said Hotstix ’94 head coach Robert Waters. “We frequently trade wins with the SHAWNEE,KS—In the 14 and under division, KC XPlosion, the Flash, Jazz and KC Extreme just to name Hotstix ’94 is well known for being a defensive a few of our greatest challengers. There’s really no need powerhouse. Since competition in the state of Kansas is to travel far from home when we can face competitors like so strong, rarely does this team find themselves them in our own backyards.” venturing out of the state to play games. So when Hotstix ’94 stepped out onto the field for the 14U Kansas State Championships, their familiar competitors knew that they were going to step up their offensive game if they were going to keep up with the agility of the Hotstix defense. “We are a group of dedicated, hard working young ladies committed to competing at the highest level of softball with a strong desire to win,” Waters said. “We compete in 15U and 16U tournaments each year at multiple age divisions.” “Our goals are to provide the Hot Styx 94 battled some of the fiercest competition the state Kansas had to offer. girls with opportunities to
improve and showcase their softball talents in a competitive atmosphere, develop each player’s skills to compete at a national level and to instill in each player with a love and respect of the game.” Their excellent values and hard work have propelled them to be successful in 2009. “We stepped right in to our fall season with a second place finish in the 18U MSP Fall College Exposure and a third place finish at the 18U Jamestown Indoor College Exposure Tournament with a combined record of 10-1 against the older competition,” explained Waters. “Since then we’ve enjoyed top four finishes in the last five out of seven tournaments we’ve participated in at all different age levels.” Bringing that success and the knowledge of their competition to the Kansas State Championship, Hotstix prevailed over Kansas Renegades 5-1, Revolution 4-0, Kansas Renegades Red 2-0, KC Extreme 2-0, KC Jazz 4-3, Sliderz 5-4 and KC Xplosion 6-1 in the championship game, while taking only 1 early tournament loss. “The repeat is probably the most memorable experience so far of the year for me personally,” Waters said. “Winning six consecutive games facing elimination was impressive, but watching the team come together and seeing the girls understand that hard work and unselfish sacrifice makes the team stronger was very rewarding for me.”
By Anthony Bronson
By Anthony Bronson SHAWNEE,KS—In the state of Kansas, there seems to be a common theme of teams having an excellent defense, allowing little to get by them. At the Mid America West Sports Complex, the Silver Lake Lakers were crowned champions of the 12U Kansas State Championships. Consisting of players from Silver Lake, Rossville, Osage City and Topeka, these girls come together for the love of the sport. “Silver Lake's defense was suburb and their hitting was as great as it has been all year,” said Silver Lake Lakers coach Kirk
Simone. “The Lakers batters were patient at the plate drawing 36 bases on balls and waiting for the competition to throw strikes before making contact.” Silver Lake scored 63 runs while only allowing 12 runs during the tournament. Allison Christy hit an opposite field home run and Jordon Yoder hit an inside the park home run to fuel Silver Lake's offense. With an outstanding offense, and an even more threatening defense, the Silver Lake Lakers put away Topeka Fusion 11-2, Concordia Crush 12-1, two games against Lawrence Firestix 11-1 and a massive 17-0 shutout, and winning a three game series against Augusta Renegades 8-1, 6-0 and 5-0. Silver Lake pitcher, Allison Christy, threw 3
straight shutouts in the championship bracket. Christy struck out 13 of 16 batters in defeating the Lawrence Firestix 11-1. She was backed by an outstanding defense lead by catcher, Emma Reitz, and outfielders; Kennedy Hamilton and Hailey Dick who made several outstanding catches. "I'm very proud of our players, coaches and parents," said Simone "We overcame heat, humidity and rain that helped us defeat a very good Wichita area team twice to win the State Title." "This was definitely a team effort and a great way to wind down the season."
By Anthony Bronson
The 10U KC Blaze team exhibited poise and maturity as they out played and out hustled their competition. place finishes. With all of this success in less than a year, this fierce 10U team shut down the Wichita Mustangs in a 4-0 shutout, Topeka Angels in a 2-0 shutout and KC Crunch in a 2-0 and 3-1 double header in the state tournament. At such a young age, the KC Blaze has shown
their potential and will undoubtedly top the charts as they move up through the USSSA brackets. “The Blaze players are very intense when they cross the white lines and they believe, ‘Every ounce of effort counts, leave nothing!’ said Wallace. Of course, they love to play, but they genuinely care for the success of their teammates.”
Softball Today • August 2009
SHAWNEE,KS—For a team who just won the 10U Kansas State Championships, one might assume that their team is dedicated to softball year round with practices and meetings, but the KC Blaze have a different approach to success. “A key philosophy of the Blaze is to have a balance between softball and other sports, promoting athletic and social growth for 10 year olds,” said KC Blaze spokesperson Jeff Wallace. The Blaze has many members that compete in other competitive sports. “If we can’t beat you in softball we will give you a heckuva game on the soccer field,” KC Blaze coach Chevalier said. After winning the first tournament that the team ever played in and winning the Kansas state title this year, it seems doubtful that this team will need to take you out to the soccer field to get their point across. “Our biggest success is how quickly they came together as a team and continue to grow today,” Wallace said. “While they have not yet been together a year, there is great chemistry between players, coaches and parents.” Having already put on spectacular performances at the USSSA State Entry Special, USSSA Mother’s Day Tournament, ASA Memorial Day Tournament, USSSA Hawaiian Hitfest, USSSA Father’s Day Tournament, USSSA Tournament of Champions and the USSSA Kansas State Championship, the Blaze have a combined 2 championships, 3 runner-up finishes, and 2 third