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USSSA Pride pitcher Cat Osterman out pitched the Chicago Bandits, holding them to just two runs on two hits in game three of the NPF championship series. "photo by Dina Kwit",

MIZUNO INTRODUCES FRENZY™ 3.0 FASTPITCH BATS Norcross, GA (July 13, 2010) – Mizuno, one of the leading fastpitch bat manufacturers in the world, has launched the new and improved Frenzy™ 3.0 Fastpitch Bat Series. The Frenzy™ 3.0 Fastpitch Bat is more balanced and offers one of the fastest and most consistent swing speeds of any bat on the market. Several NCAA teams, including the 2009 NCAA Champion Washington Huskies, relied on the Mizuno Frenzy™ 3.0 for their 2010 return to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. The Frenzy™ 3.0 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™ 3.0 Fastpitch bat is made from stronger materials for more consistent wall thickness for the most durable Mizuno bat ever. Frenzy™ 3.0 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 piping. These tri-axial composites increase the sweet spot of the Frenzy™ 3.0 Fastpitch resulting in stronger and more desired performance. Another advanced technology in the Frenzy™ 3.0 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™ 3.0 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™ 3.0 Fastpitch bat, giving 38% less vibration than previous models. During the production process, Mizuno utilized a revolutionary air molding inner wall system designed to create a more consistent carbon frame. From there, all Frenzy™ 3.0 Fastpitch bats are tested for quality control prior to becoming available for purchase. Using X-ray scanning technology, Mizuno inspects each Frenzy™ 3.0 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 3.0 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 power, superior feel, and ultimate durability, in an outstanding looking bat,” said Dick Grapenthin, Vice President and General Manager of Diamond Sports, Mizuno USA. “The Frenzy 3.0 has been upgraded from top to bottom from the popular Frenzy 2. We are confident that this new model will be another top seller for Mizuno.”

The Buzz about the Mizuno Frenzy 3.0: “We have been really impressed with the way the Frenzy 3.0 bats have performed. The durability and the performance is unreal. Our kids really enjoy the way the bats feel in their hands. They feel like they have a little bit of an advantage. We have seen our power numbers increase and our batting averages increase. We’re seeing more kids hit more home runs.”

Softball Today • September 2010

- Howard Dobson-Head Coach, University of Southern Mississippi


“We won the conference and positioned ourselves in the Top 25 using the bat. The Frenzy 3.0 has allowed us to be able to do everything that we have set out to do. The sweet spot produces hits up and down the bat. Mizuno’s commitment to excellence always comes through. Every year you know you are going to get a better product from Mizuno, and we know that we are going to have an advantage because of that.” -Matt Meuchel-Head Coach, University of Nevada-Reno

Frenzy™ 3.0 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™ 3.0 collection of bats join the Frenzy™, Frenzy 2™, Shadow, Avalanche, and Jennie Finch Signature Series giving Mizuno its most powerful arsenal of fastpitch bat ever. The Frenzy™ 3.0 Fastpitch model is available now. The suggested retail price for the bats is $249.99.

MIZUNO LAUNCHES CRAZE SLOW PITCH BATS Powerful, Durable, and Affordable Bat Aims to Be Top Seller Norcross, GA (April 6, 2010) – Mizuno, one of the leading slow pitch bat manufacturers in the world, is scheduled to launch the new Craze Slow Pitch Bat Series in May, 2010. This revolutionary new bat from Mizuno provides the slowpitch athlete with one of the most powerful, durable, and affordable bats on the market. The Craze slow pitch bat is available in both ASA and USSSA models. Both the Craze and Craze Xtreme (USSSA model) bats have a 13 inch barrel. Craze bats are uniquely made with Black Array Carbon, a state of the art carbon fiber. Black Array Carbon provides the perfect balance of durability and feel, while offering explosive distance and ultimate control. All Craze bats are hand rolled in their initial development stage, before they are machine rolled in order for a smooth finish. A new angled seaming process eliminates any edge inconsistencies in the bat, which will considerably reduce any soft spots or cracks, denying ultimate performance. During the research and development process of the Craze, durability tests were conducted at Mizuno’s revolutionary Sozo™ Studios. Craze bats were repeatedly tested, simulating the most extreme game-like conditions. The durability of the Craze proved to be extremely high, as the Craze™ bats show dramatic improvement from previous Mizuno models before any signs of damage occurred. Mizuno is not offering any warranty options on Craze bats, something the company has never done before. To demonstrate their confidence in the durability and performance of the Craze bat, and to ward off consumers fears of the non-warranty, Mizuno has set the suggested retail price at $150.00. This makes the Craze one of the most affordable bats on the slow pitch bat market.

The Buzz about the Mizuno Craze: “The Craze is an unbelievable bat. I was originally concerned about the non-warranty of the Craze. However, when my team and I tested the bat repeatedly, our fears were erased. I don’t believe that consumers should be concerned about the non-warranty at all. I have over 900 swings on the Craze and it's still in perfect condition, and the performance is unreal. This is an outstanding bat, at an outstanding value.” - Tom Suchora, Team Sales Rep for Extra Innings, Utica, MI “The wonderful thing about the $150 price point is that consumers can essentially buy two high performance bats for the same price as buying one from another manufacturer. And for those players who play in both ASA and USSSA leagues, buy one of each, and you’re all set for both seasons, without putting a major dent in your wallet.” – Mike Lively, CEO of Direct Sports

All Craze and Craze Xtreme slow pitch bats are 34 inches in length, and are available in four different weights (26oz., 27oz., 28oz., and 29oz.). The Craze ASA model is red and black, and the Craze™ Xtreme is yellow and black. The Craze collection of slow pitch bats join the Frenzy, Frenzy 2, 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 Craze ASA and Craze Extreme model bats will be available on May 1st, 2010. The suggested retail price of the bats is $150.00.

Softball Today • September 2010

“The Craze has outstanding feel, and unreal distance. The durability of the bat has really impressed our team. We’ve put a lot of swings on the Craze, and it is still in great shape, and the ball is still flying off the bat. Our club is excited to hit the Craze this season.” – Brian Floyd, TaylorMade Mizuno


Bandits fourth year retiring third baseman Stacy May held the highest batting average on the team for the 2010 season and tied for the most home runs at 12. "photo by Dina Kwit",

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


USSSA Pride owner and general manager Don DeDonatis acquired Cat Osterman for this exact moment: Game 3 of the National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series. Needing one victory to capture the franchise’s first Cowles Cup since moving to Florida two summers ago, Pride coach Tim Walton gave the softball to the world’s best pitcher and let her do her thing in a 7-2 victory over the regular season champion Chicago Bandits. “I thought Cat pitched a very strong championship game. She mixed up her locations very well,” Walton said. “The goal was for her to go three innings, but three quickly turned into four, four turned into five and so on.” Osterman, a two-time Olympic gold-medalist, had no intentions of leaving the circle. Not with so much at stake. And her two-hit, seven-strikeout

performance lived up to the occasion. “Beating Chicago in the championship series was a difficult task. They were extremely seasoned and you could see their chemistry was special early in the season. In the end, the deciding factor for the Pride was to get on Chicago’s level,” USSSA Pride coach Tim Walton said. Chicago had been the best team in the league all summer long, inspired by pitcher Jennie Finch‘s announcement that this would be her final season, the Bandits went 30-20 to edge the Pride by one game in the final regular season standings. But once the playoffs began, Osterman and her teammates seized the moment. “Watching this team come together once the national team members were here full time was amazing. I sat on the outside looking in most of season due to injury, but watching all these great players mesh together and want each other to excel so we as a team win was incredible,” Osterman said.

“Once we arrived at playoffs, anyone could tell our team was playing well. It was a total team effort, and so much fun to be a part of." DeDonatis spent five months assembling a squad that was ultimately unrivaled at the professional level, essentially performing an extreme makeover on a franchise that has reached the Cowles Cup championship series in every season since the organization made its debut as the Washington Glory in 2007. He didn’t stop until the Pride featured a former Olympian at virtually every position. DeDonatis signed NPF Championship Series MVP Natasha Watley to play shortstop and Andrea Duran to play third. Jessica Mendoza was added to an outfield that already included Kelly Kretschman and Caitlin Lowe. On draft day, he swung a deal with the Bandits to acquire former all-star Nicole Trimboli, but he wasn’t done yet.

Florida won 43 games in his first season and the Gators have taken off from there, winning a schoolrecord 70 games and advancing to the Women’s College World Series semifinals in 2008, then reaching the championship series in 2009. That year, Florida earned the program’s first preseason No. 1 national ranking and went on to set a Southeastern Conference record with 86 home runs. Their .926 (63-5) winning percentage was the best in the country. In his first season at the professional level, the Pride made some history, too. Game 1: Pride 2, Bandits 1: Mendoza sent Chicago outfielder Emily Friedman crashing through the left field wall in an attempt to catch her two-run, fourth-inning home run. Osterman took it from there, working the final three innings to earn a save. Pride starting pitcher Sarah Pauly tossed four scoreless innings to earn the victory. Game 2: Bandits 7, Pride 2: Chicago rookie Nicole Pauly went 3 for 3 with a solo home run as the Bandits evened the series and gave Finch a victory in the final pitching performance of her career. Finch faced 24 batters in seven innings, allowing two runs while striking out nine.

Game 3: Pride 7, Bandits 2: Osterman’s complete game, two-hitter clinched the Cowles Cup for the Pride. Samantha Findley hit a pair of solo home runs for the Bandits, but the Pride countered with 12 hits to secure the championship. Lauren Lappin hit a two-run homer and Tonya Callahan had an RBI double in a three-run second inning for USSSA. Then rookie Charlotte Morgan smashed a solo homer off fellow rookie Nikki Nemitz in the third inning and Kretschman came through with a two RBI single. Watley drove a solo home run over the center field fence in the fourth and Osterman shut down the Bandits in a dominating performance to win her second consecutive National Pro Fastpitch trophy. “Cat meant a lot to our team this season. I think her and Monica (Abbott) are arguably two of the best pitchers in the world,” Walton said. “Both of them are very, very good. “Having Cat and Cat’s previous experience was really beneficial to the team. She had already won a championship and having her presence was good for us,” he said. “Even when she was hurt, she played a key role in mentoring our pitchers. She helped the coaching staff in pitching to our batters. Everything she brought was beneficial to the entire team.”

Softball Today • September 2010

His biggest, and boldest, offseason move came on May 4, when he traded ace pitcher Monica Abbott and catcher Shannon Doepking to the expansion Tennessee Diamonds for Osterman and catcher Megan Willis, who played together at the University of Texas. The former Longhorns reunited in 2009 and led the Rockford Thunder to the NPF championship. On August 29, they did it again as the Pride won the best-of-three series. “Our team really bonded, they played well and they played for each other,” Walton said. “We raised our game to another level and took our chemistry to the next level – a level Chicago has had for many years.” Walton’s arrival drastically contributed to the teams success. He has won nearly 400 collegiate games and has led the University of Florida to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The Gators reached the Women’s College World Series in 2008 and 2009 and broke 218 school records along the way. After playing professional baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, Walton began his coaching career as an assistant at Oklahoma in 1999 before guiding Wichita State to 123 wins in three seasons, including a 2005 NCAA regional berth.

The newly formed all-star team out of Florida, the USSSA Pride celebrate their first Cowles Cup in the franchise's short history. "photo by Dina Kwit",


Softball Today • September 2010

By Joe Lacdan


With one wide wave toward the Oklahoma City crowd, Jennie Finch took a final walk to the dugout donning a USA uniform. As she took the steps, she embraced longtime Olympic teammate Cat Osterman while the crowd, gathered to watch the face of USA softball one last time, chanted "Jennie, Jennie." The USA squad began celebrating a convincing 5-1 July 26 victory over the same Japanese team that upset them in the Beijing Olympics two years ago, but most eyes fell on No. 27. After USA pitcher Monica Abbott closed out the inning, each USA player, sporting Finch's trademark headband, circled around Finch giving congratulatory hugs, and pats on the back. Some players shed a few tears. "There's no crying in softball," Finch said gleefully, citing Tom Hanks' line from the 1992 film, "A League of Their Own" that chronicled the story of the members All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Like those women, Finch, was a pioneer in her own right and transcended her sport to a visibility never before seen. During her nine years as a member of Team USA and four years at the University of Arizona, the power right-handed pitcher brought dominance to the sport never seen before. Finch announced her retirement from softball on July 20. She was scheduled to close out her career Aug. 24-29 in Sulphur, La. in the NPF playoffs. Among her accomplishments: an NCAArecord 60 wins, two-time World Champion, A gold and silver medal in the Olympics, and twotime NCAA National Player of the Year (2001 and 2002) and two gold medals in the Pan American Games. She became an international celebrity posing for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit edition, cohosting Baseball weekly and making an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman and the Jimmy Kimmel show. She became one of the world's most marketable female athletes, earning endorsement deals with Sprint, Bank of America and 24 Hour Fitness. "Obviously she’s become iconic in sports," said longtime USA softball coach Mike Candrea, who also coached Finch at Arizona. "Whether it was her beauty that gave her those opportunities to get on public stage or her talent ...I don’t think the fame has ever gotten to her; she’s continued to have balance in her life. She’s the same Jennie Finch I knew 12 years ago. She definitely has touched a lot of lives throughout the country and throughout the world.”

Finch plans to spend more time with her four-year old son, Ace, and husband, Houston Astros pitcher Casey Daigle, but hasn't ruled out a return to softball in some capacity. Despite her celebrity, Finch, 30, remained humble and willing to give back to the sport. She will continue to focus on her softball camp in Flemington, N.J. In addition to countless promotional appearances, she has campaigned to bring softball back to the Olympics, which was removed for competition for the 2012 London games and 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After the birth of her son, Finch's schedule began taking its toll. Finch had multiple commitments for the U.S. National Team, training and making appearances and she also had to balance her schedule between family and traveling to Elgin, Ill., to compete for the Chicago Bandits. "Over the last few summers it got a little tougher being away from my son and my husband," Finch said. "Softball is a lot of time and commitment and it's getting harder balancing Team USA, the Bandits and my family. And you know what? I've had amazing career and I couldn't have dreamed of or hoped for anymore. I've had an amazing time playing this game and seeing it grow for many years." Finch said she

was not sure this summer until her agent and the Team USA public relations staff convinced her to make the announcement shortly before the World Cup in July. "They were saying if you were going to announce it, you need to announce it (before the World Cup)," Finch said. "I didn't want that; I wanted it to be about Team USA and the World Cup, but I wanted to show my appreciation and gratitude and thanks to the fans and coaches." Finch was scheduled to play her final softball games in the league she helped establish, for the Chicago Bandits during the National Pro Fastpitch Softball League playoffs in August. Finch currently ranks second in the NPF in ERA, with 5-4 record and 69 strikeouts. The Bandits dropped their final regular season game 4-2 with Finch on the mound Aug. 22. “You look at her headbands all over the country when you watch softball," Candrea said. "In the past you’ve never seen that. Wherever she goes, she draws crowds and I think the reason she does, is the way she treats people. She still acts like kid playing travel ball in Oklahoma City.” The La Mirada, Calif. native will end a decorated career that began as a five year old and ended with July's gold medal finish in that same city where she played travel ball as a youth. In addition to the World Cup triumph, the Americans defeated Japan at the World Championships in Venezuela earlier this year 7-0. "We had a bitter taste with the silver medal (finishing second to Japan in the 2008 Olympics) and softball being dropped as an Olympic sport," Finch said. "I kind of looked forward to the World Cup. Our goal was to get the gold back in the U.S. and that was huge accomplishment and I enjoyed that." Finch began her career at Arizona in 1999 as a first baseman and pitcher, and solid hitter. Finch set new milestones during her junior season, having the most dominant season in NCAA history with a perfect 32-0 record a 0.54 ERA and led the Wildcats to the 2001 NCAA national championship. Her celebrity soared during appearances with Team USA and Candrea recalled how the crowd became so raucous, during an appearance in Brazil that he had to act as her personal bodyguard. Finch's popularity helped fuel the creation of the National Pro Fastpitch Tournament and Finch competed for the Chicago Bandits since 2005, sitting out the 2008 season for national team commitments. She helped lead the Bandits to the 2009 NPF championship. "I'm going to miss (softball) so very much and it's a dear part of my life," Finch said. "My teammates are more than teammates -- they're friends and sisters to me and there's no greater feeling than being with teammates in workouts and practices -- all those times along with the traveling." "I look forward to a bright future for the sport. It's been one amazing ride." Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch took her last bow after the 2010 NPF championship. She still holds the record for most consecutive wins in the NCAA at 60.


Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik

against Canada on two-run singles by Jenae Leles and Molly Johnson. “It’s very exciting to just be here at the World Cup and a part of this team,” Tincher said. “We are taking steps everyday to get better.” And facing Finch was part of the learning process. In her last pitching performance for Team USA, Finch struck out 12 and shutout the Futures squad, 3-0. “I have been honored with so many amazing opportunities and I have to credit so many people — from the women before me to everyone at USA Softball to the fans and everyone involved in the sport who have made this such a special part of my life,” said Finch, who made her U.S. National Team debut at the 2001 Pan American Qualifier. Along with her two Olympic medals, the 6-foot1 Finch was named the 2009 USA Softball Player of the Year. And she retired, fittingly, as a champion. “To be a little girl, wearing USA stuff, watching the Olympics and then to grow older and to compete alongside the women you have admired is unbelievable. It’s so surreal that I was able to play with my role models in Leah (O’Brien-Amico), Lisa (Fernandez) and Laura (Berg),” Finch said. “There is so much history, pride and tradition with USA Softball and I feel extremely blessed to be a part of it for the last 10 years. “It has taken me places I have never dreamt of and given me relationships that go way beyond the softball field. I am thankful to my teammates, coaches, USA Softball, sponsors, my friends and family who have allowed me to not only create my dreams, but to live them.”

Softball Today • September 2010

Oklahoma City, OK. - The familiar red, white and blue uniforms were accompanied by glitter headbands bearing the words “Dream and Believe.” In a tribute to retiring teammate Jennie Finch, every member of Team USA wore one as they took the field for the championship game of the 2010 KFC World Cup of Softball – essentially adopting their pitcher’s signature slogan as a way of saying thank you and goodbye. On a historic evening in Oklahoma City, where nostalgia melded with devotion and, eventually, celebration, the U.S. transformed Finch’s final international softball appearance into a triumphant spectacle by defeating Japan, 5-1. “I am sad that this was the last time I’ll wear this uniform, something that means so much to me, but I’m so happy for the chance to wear it,” Finch said. “I’m so happy that I could do what I love with these amazing women, who are not only my teammates but my best friends, and I am so thankful for how they have touched my life. “I’m not sure what comes next for me. I just know that softball will always be a part of my life.” With her husband, Casey Daigle, and son, Ace, by her side, Finch left her cleats at home plate after the U.S. clinched its fourth consecutive World Cup title. “I have had a career that has far surpassed anything that I could have ever imagined. Just thinking about everything that has happened all I can say is ‘Wow.’ I’m incredibly blessed to have had all of these opportunities,” said Finch, a three-time World Champion who has been a member of the Women’s National Team for 10 years. She helped the U.S. win an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and a silver medal in 2008. “I don’t think Jennie will ever not be the face of

softball,” U.S. pitcher Monica Abbott said. “I think that even though she’s retiring her on field skills, the limits are boundless for her. We should all expect the best from her. I think her impact on the game is going to jump up a level from here.” “Obviously, USA Softball-wise, we’re going to need some people to step up. Everyone is going to go out there and do the best that they can.” With Abbott in the circle, the U.S. remains a formidable team. Her complete-game, 10-strikeout performance against Japan resembled so many of Finch’s outings over the years. Caitlin Lowe delivered a two-run triple, while infielder Natasha Watley went 3 for 3 and established a World Cup record with 12 singles during tournament play. Finch, an adored icon who earned acclaim for her unhittable fastball and off-the-field generosity, occupied first base in her farewell appearance. “I feel an outpouring of gratitude for so much and for so many that it’s really hard to put into words,” she said. “Playing USA Softball has been more to me than I ever imagined possible. I could never have dreamed what an amazing ride this has been.” Finch made an entire generation of young players “dream and believe” during her decade of dominance. And now many of those athletes are on the cusp of international stardom as well. The USA Futures Team, which features pitchers Angela Tincher, Stacey Nelson, Jordan Taylor, Blaire Luna and Kenzie Fowler, captured the World Cup bronze medal with a 9-3 win over Canada. “They are the future of USA Softball,” Finch said. “They are the best of the best.” Valerie Arioto hit a sixth-inning home run and the Futures squad scored six runs in their final at-bat

Team USA won its fourth straight World Cup of Softball Title after knocking down Japan 5-1 in Oklahoma City in late July.


The East Cobb Bullets bested a field of 64 revered squads from across the nation, including Team North Florida who knocked down eight consecutive teams in the loser's bracket to reach the championship game.

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


Lexi Overstreet had done it. Hundreds of fans at Lost Mountain Park knew it the second the softball jettisoned off her bat and soared toward the fence in right-center field. The East Cobb Bullets were going to make history. They’d played so marvelously throughout the ASA 18U Gold National Championships that a moment like this almost seemed inevitable. And when it finally happened, an entire state rejoiced. Playing in what basically amounted to their backyard, the East Cobb Bullets became the first Georgia fastpitch team to capture an ASA National Championship when Overstreet’s three-run, ninth-inning blast eventually landed some 250 feet away from home plate. It wasn’t the first time that the 5-foot-9 Buford High School junior had won a game for the Bullets, but no other game-winning hit will ever measure up – in distance or grand spectacle -- to the home run that clinched a 6-3 victory over Team North Florida. “It was special to win in Georgia with about 600 people watching the game,” East Cobb coach Keith Pauly

said. “It was a great night for Georgia softball. We beat a very good North Florida team.” It seemed like practically everyone in Powder Spring had turned out to see if the upstart hometown squad could complete a perfect run through a 64-team field that featured one elite squad after another. The odds, and history, were never in their favor. Yet the Bullets took no notice and continued to play inspiring softball until they’d somehow won seven straight. When Overstreet beat the Miami Stingrays with a seventh-inning, pinch-hit single, anything seemed possible so nobody was truly surprised when she went 2 for 4 and scored twice in the finals as the Bullets rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. Team North Florida, a squad loaded with Southeastern Conference talent, won eight consecutive games out of the losers’ bracket to reach the finals. But, by then, there was no stopping East Cobb. Pitcher Lori Spingola (North Carolina) pitched seven games in four days, essentially ignoring a blister on her pitching hand, and was virtually unhittable in her quest for a national title. Having already won a pair of state championships for Marist High School, the 6-foot right-

hander used a 63-mph fastball to strike out 51 batters. Spingola, who was 26-1 during her senior year, allowed seven runs in 49 innings at nationals. “Lori was on a mission to pitch us to the title,” coach Pauly said. The offense had a mission, too. Shortstop Sierra Lawrence, a Michigan recruit, batted .421, while left fielder Chelsie Thomas (Ga. Tech) hit .360 and first baseman Lauren Coleman (Ga. Tech) hit .333. But it was Overstreet who delivered the most important hit in the organization’s 13-year existence. After North Florida’s Kasey Fagan hit a two-run homer in the first inning, the Bullets mounted an amazing comeback. Chelsea Thomas drove in one run and Haley Down doubled in another. Once Overstreet broke a 3-3 tie with her majestic home run, history was within reach. Downs preserved it by making a diving catch in center field to take a run-scoring hit away from Sami Fagan and then Spingola retired the final batter on a fly out. “It was a great week,” coach Pauly said. “It was a total team effort by twenty amazing young ladies.”

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2 1/4 Barrel Diameter • -9

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Softball Today • September 2010

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Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


On her last swing of the summer, Illinois state softball player of the year Kirsten Verdun became a national champion. That’s the way every one of the Stone City Sharks will remember it anyway. Though it wasn’t technically a walk-off blast, Verdun’s three-run, 10th-inning homer against the San Diego Renegades cemented the lefty’s legacy as one of the greatest fastpitch sluggers of her generation. Her second home run of the game, in the third international tiebreaker inning, clinched a 9-7 victory and the 18U ASA National Championship. “What a final game,” Sharks coach Jack Podlesney said. Intrigue, controversy and extra innings. The Sharks’ 50th win of the season had it all and Verdun, who has done so much for the organization throughout her travel career as a pitcher and power-hitting first baseman, provided some of the best drama before heading off to DePaul University. One of four players on the roster from Coal City High School, Verdun drove in four runs in the championship game as the Sharks outlasted a 103-team field. Her memorable – and historic – home run concluded a 9-1 showing at nationals that also featured sensational pitching from West Chicago’s Mary Connolly (another DePaul recruit) and clutch homers from catcher Coryn Schmit, Loyola University outfielder Olivia Bell and second baseman Jenna Marsalli. Schmit batted an eye-popping .481 during tournament play, with six homers and a triple, while Marsalli hit .400 with three home runs. Led by Podlesney and assistants Scot Sutherland and Chic Harley, the Sharks won eight straight games at nationals before losing to the Renegades, 8-0 – a setback that forced an unforgettable winner-take-all playoff.

Verdun’s first home run of the tournament highlighted a 10-2 victory over the Southern California Smash and then Bell doubled and scored the only run in a 1-0 triumph over the Roseville (CA) Heat. Connolly, who earned five wins in the circle, threw a two-hitter. Verdun followed with a three-hit shutout of Virginia’s Cape Fear Storm, a 7-0 victory that was highlighted by two-run singles from Schmit and Marsalli. The Chico (CA) Starz were the third of five shutout victims as Bell homered and Connolly tossed a one-hitter in an 8-0 decision. The Sharks, who scored 62 runs en route to winning the championship, blanked the Shockwave 5-0 behind a 13-strikeout performance from Verdun, while Marsalli and Schmit hit back-to-back home runs in an 8-3 win over the Combat Panthers. The first of three games against the Renegades wound up being a pitcher’s duel with Verdun winning that battle, 3-1, but it did little to foreshadow the events that were about to take place.

While the Renegades fought their way through the losers’ bracket to reach the finals, the Sharks kept cruising as Connolly threw a two-hitter in an 11-0 rout of the Southern California Diamonds. That left the 103-team field down to two: Renegades and Sharks. And the fun was just beginning. After the Renegades handed Stone City only its eighth loss of the summer, the two teams slugged it out for 10 more innings before the Sharks finally prevailed. “The championship game was one of the most dramatic games I have been involved in during my 26 years as a coach in the Stone City organization,” Podlesny said. And he wasn’t exaggerating. The Renegades took advantage of an illegal pitch to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh and then rallied from a two-run deficit in the ninth. Finally, Verdun gave the Sharks the lead for good with her second home run of the game. The Renegades scored once more in their final at-bat before Sharks shortstop Aly Zembruski snared a line drive for the final out.

Michelle Floyd just wanted her right arm to make it through the week. She wasn’t asking for any miracles, only enough power and control for the ace of the Orange County Batbusters’ pitching staff to help her team capture an ASA 16U National Championship. Floyd was going to pitch. There was no questioning that. She’d already put the forearm injury that kept her out of the Best of the West Tournament completely behind her. But this was nationals–the one competition she’d waited her entire travel career to win—and that made her even more determined to excel. “I have been dreaming of winning a national championship since I stepped into the travel ball world from Little League three years ago,” she said. “With a strained forearm, I learned to overcome obstacles and push through. My arm was nagging me throughout the tournament, but when I stepped (into the circle) I didn't feel my arm. All I felt was the urge to go after the batter. “My team and coaches were very supportive and I wouldn’t have been able to pitch the way I did without them. My arm is now healed and throwing strong. I love being a Batbuster.”

In the seven games that Floyd pitched at nationals, she allowed 10 hits. Opposing teams scored one earned run. And the Batbusters, who did not lose a game after July 4, capped off an undefeated week with Floyd throwing a two-hit shutout to defeat the Atlanta Vipers, 8-0. “Of all the great pitchers the Batbusters have had, she belongs right at the head of the class,” Batbusters’ coach Doug Myers said. “Coming into the tournament we didn't know how much she would pitch. It is absolutely amazing what she accomplished.” Everything about Floyd screams star power. She’s 6-foot-3 and throws a 65 mph fastball. But that’s only the beginning. The San Marino High School star had 301 strikeouts and a 0.43 ERA during her first varsity season and then carried that success into her maiden venture with the Batbusters. “High school was a very important season for me. I pitched practically every game and it greatly improved my pitching stamina and overall conditioning,” Floyd said. “Varsity softball taught me to step up and just pitch my heart out. I got to face many different types of batters and call a lot of my games with my catcher so it was a very important learning experience for me.”

Floyd finished the high school season with the most strikeouts and lowest ERA for any freshman pitcher in California. At nationals, she was just as overpowering and her teammates gave her 82 runs of support. “I love playing teams from all over the United States and facing many different types of batters,” Floyd said. “The Batbusters is an amazing organization to be a part of and I feel very fortunate to have been able to learn from the coaches and play with this team. I have learned so much since the beginning of the season and have grown as both a player and a person. “I knew I would have my best chance at a national title with them.” Floyd’s arrival hastened the Batbusters’ fourth national championship. Myers, who also won ASA titles in 2004, 2005 and 2006, immediately established her as the ace and the offense took care of the rest. Shortstop Delaney Spaulding went 3 for 4 with a double against the Vipers in the finals and Hanna Sommer had two RBI. Left-handed hitting Mandie Perez, who has committed to Arizona, catcher Madeline Jelenicki and Darian Tautalafua also drove in runs. “We had several stars that stood out on the biggest stage,” Myers said.

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


Softball Today • September 2010

By Kevin Beese


Moline, Ill. - The message from San Jose Sting 14U head coach Bob Perales was a simple one when he talked to his squad between championship games against the Corona Angels in the ASA 14U National Championship held in Moline, Ill. “Play the game,” he said after a losing effort, referring back to the team's motto all year of doing the basics. “I said, 'OK. That one's dirt. It's history. There's nothing you can do about it. You can continue to review it or you can play the game. Make this game memorable. Remember this and try to tell your kids or possibly your players that you left it all on the field this game, that you brought your best.'” The message hit home as the Sting rebounded from a 2-1 loss to the Angels in the first championship game to win the rematch – and the organization's first national title – in a 10 triumph. The Sting outlasted 156 teams, and beat the always-tough Angels two out of the three consecutive tournament games they squared off in to compile a 10-1 record in the August national tournament. “It was like a different team,” Perales said of the second championship game performance. The Sting's Jazmyn Jackson scored the game's only run in the top of the third on an RBI single by Allie Walljasper, who also pitched the Sting's shutout victory. “The Angels keep fighting,” Perales said. “(Once we scored,) I knew it would be the longest 12 outs of my life.” Its defense helped the Sting in both the bottom of fifth and sixth innings of the titlewinning effort. In the fifth, the Angels attempted to bunt a runner to third, but catcher Lauryn Saunders rushed out from behind the plate, fielded the ball and got the runner at third base. In the sixth, third baseman Kiersten Nordin flipped the ball to Saunders on a squeeze play to nail the runner at home. The two plays were examples of the great defense the Sting played all tournament. The squad won its first pool-play game 3-2 over the

American Liberty Softball Kruser from Texas in a game that went 10 innings. In the third international tie breaker, Dana Bouquet stole third for the Sting and Jackson drove her in with a deep fly ball to right field. After handling the East Cobb Bullets 5-0, the Sting beat the Indy Blast in its first elimination-round game, but the 8-0 final score was no indication of how tough the contest was. It was still a close game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Bouquet homered to start a sixrun inning. A 10-0 triumph over Georgia Academy followed and put the Sting up against Dreams 95, also from Indianapolis. The Sting emerged with a hard-fought triumph, 3-2. The Sting kept the wins coming as it won all three of its contests on Saturday, Aug. 8. After topping a wellcoached Birmingham Thunderbolts team 6-2, the Sting's Walljasper locked up in a pitchers' duel against the Originals from Kansas City. Walljasper pitched a twohitter with 10 strikeouts, while the Originals' pitcher scattered four Sting hits and recorded nine strikeouts. The Sting faced a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh when with two on and two out, Haley Nakamura hit a 2-1 pitch to drive in the tying run. Andrea Reynolds followed with a ball up the middle that went off the pitcher's glove, beating it out and scoring the winning run for a dramatic 2-1 Sting victory. In the next game, a two-run home run by the Southern California Jynx in the top of the sixth only plated one run when interference was called for contact with the hitter before she crossed home plate. That knotted the contest at 1-1. Having a flair for the dramatic again, the Sting's Reynolds, who had pitched a strong game, doubled with two outs in the seventh and

Bouquet followed with a screamer down the third-base line to score her. In its first of three consecutive battles with the Corona Angels in the double-elimination tournament, the Sting won 5-4 in extra innings. In the International Tie Breaker after the Sting's Saunders sacrificed Jackson to third, Walljasper hit a ball to deep short scoring the go-ahead run. The Angels countered by bunting their runner to third in their half of the extra frame, but Saunders was able to end the threat by rushing out of the catcher's box on a squeeze bunt and running down the Angel baserunner. Facing the Angels again in the first championship game, the Sting was stymied by two Angel pitchers, who combined for 10 strikeouts and allowed just three hits. Reynolds pitched admirably, recording four strikeouts, but offensively “the girls were nervous,” head coach Perales said. “They were playing on television for the first time...The environment got to them.” The Sting suffered their only tournament loss at the hands of the Angels, 2-1. The head coach credited a total team effort with bringing home the Sting's first national title. He said outfielders Fatima Larios, Destiny Benavides and Ivana Hughes and Franchesa Perales and Lauren Cymrot all helped provide stellar infield and outfield play behind the excellent pitching of Reynolds and Walljasper, who went undefeated for the tournament. Annie Apffel called up from the 12U team also contributed to the team's success, Perales said. “Every single individual added value to the team,” he said. He also credited his assistants, Troy Walljasper and Diffric Jackson, with doing an outstanding job.

The 12U Orange County Batbusters went 42-2-1 on the season, including nine consecutive wins to win the ASA national champions in the 12U division.

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


Ray Pereda was all prepared to say good-bye to coaching. After 17 seasons, including 10 on the travel ball circuit, he’d officially announced in February that this would be his final season with the Orange County Batbusters. That, of course, was before his 12-&-under team won an ASA National Championship and a talented group of young athletes talked him out of leaving. “After winning the national championship, and with many of the girls asking for one more season, I talked it over with my family and decided to go one more year,” Pereda said. The Batbusters made it a fairly easy decision. They are among the nation’s premier fastpitch organizations and the youngest talent has risen quickly over the past three seasons. Pereda’s vision is to prepare his players to succeed in softball and in life. And it’s a philosophy that has worked well for the Batbusters, who placed third at two consecutive 10-&-under ASA National tournaments before winning it all in the 12U division. “As coaches, we had a primary goal of helping each player develop their softball skills, to better

understand the game, to become a better player on the field and a better person off the field,” Pereda said. “As a team, our only goal was to win the last game we played at season’s end. “With some key additions that we picked up at the beginning of the season last September, we knew with some hard work and support of the parents that this team would go a long way. And it did.” Pereda feels the same way about next season, when seven players of the championship squad will join forces with the Batbusters’ 14U team. “Nobody knows what the future holds for this team,” he said. “But with the same dedication, hard work ethic and willingness to learn and get better, we look forward to another successful season with this new group of young ladies.” A precedent for success has already been established. The 12U championship journey began in November with a first-place finish at the Brenda Marsh Memorial Tournament. The Batbusters were 6-0 that weekend and they went on to capture four more invitationals, including the Southern California ASA State Championship and the Best of the West Tournament. Along the way they went 41-2-1 and wound up

winning nine consecutive games to end the season -relying on pitching and defense to defeat the Georgia Impact, 6-1, in the grand finale. “As the old saying goes, defense wins championships,” Pereda said. “Our defensive approach paved the way to the championship.” The lineup did some damage, too. While Kaley Winegarner, Hanna Boyd and Amanda Mrozek dominated in the pitcher’s circle, the Batbusters lived up to their nickname by scoring 59 runs in nine games at ASA Nationals. And they accomplished that while facing five teams that finished the year ranked among the nation’s top 10. Georgia Impact was one of those acclaimed teams. But Winegarner struck out 12 in a complete-game, twohit performance and Alyssa Palamino went 3 for 4 with a two-run third-inning homer as the Batbusters beat the Impact for the second time in six days to clinch the title. Lynzie Pacheco and Hanna Boyd had two hits each in the championship game, while Monica Pereda scored a pair of runs. “Throughout the season we preached teamwork and having each other’s backs,” coach Pereda said. “The girls took to the concept and never swayed all week. They were ready to go.”

By Anthony Bronson CHATTANOOGA, TN. - The Southern California girls of the 10U Firecrackers '99 made a bold statement in a state known for producing great softball players. At the ripe age of 10, these youth of softball showed the discipline and sheer hunger of an operation worthy of winning a ASA National championship. Not to mention, many of the girls of the Firecrackers '99 have experienced play in the softball-loving state of Tennessee. “Our players come from three different counties in Southern California,” said Firecrackers '99 head coach Shawn Quarles. “Most of these girls played against each other last year as first year 10-andunder players. Several played in Johnson City, Tennessee at last year's nationals.” Having come together from different teams to form a high-caliber organization, the Firecrackers developed a remarkable relationship with success. “This Firecrackers team has participated in eight tournaments this season,” said Quarles. “The team won seven out of the eight tournaments, including the Southern California state title and the ASA national championship.” Despite the appearance that this Southern California

team is all business, Quarles prefers to take a very unique approach in his coaching technique. “Our number one team goal is to always try and have fun,” Quarles said. “Especially at this early of an age, making the softball experience positive and fun is the most important thing coaches can do.” With a mentality of stepping onto and off of the field with a smile on your face the Firecrackers were able to claw their way into the championship game with only a few bumps and bruises. “The only hardship we faced was getting sent to the losers bracket by the White Lightning and having to fight our way back to the championship game,” said Quarles. “After we avenged that earlier loss to the White Lightning, we had to face an undefeated So Cal Jynx team for the title.” And with a familiar Southern California rival standing between the Firecrackers and the 10U national title, the expectation was that the last barrier wasn't going to be easy, but what happened was just the opposite. “The two teams were very familiar with each other, both being from Southern California and we have played each other more than ten times this season,” said Quarles. “The Firecrackers jumped out to an early lead, and mercy-ruled Jynx 8-0.” With Firecrackers pitcher Taylor Dockins throwing a

shut out in the undefeated game, the 10U champions carried a significant amount of momentum into the championship game. “Once again, battery Taylor Dockins and Bobbi Aguirre anchored a strong defense and held Jynx to five scoreless innings before finally giving up one run in the sixth,” said Quarles. “The Firecrackers jumped ahead early and went on to take the title with a 4-1 victory.” Quarles had nothing but praise for his young team as they hoisted their national championship banner. “This year's championship was a team effort,” said Quarles. “Great defense led by stand-out pitcher Taylor Dockins, only allowing a handful of runs throughout the entire tournament with battery mate Bobbi Aguirre not allowing one run to score due to a passed ball. Our offense was also outstanding with each player contributing timely hits throughout our championship run.” Next year, the Firecrackers have their eyes set on the 12U ASA national title. “The team will make the move up to 12U together,” said Quarles. “It is a rough transition year, so I will predict we will take our lumps, but we will still be competitive and look to do well at next year's nationals.”

Softball Today • September 2010

The Southern California natives of the Firecrackers '99 will make the move up to 12U competition next year where they hope to repeat as national champions.


Softball Today • September 2010

By Dalton Ruer


In the classic romantic comedy Footloose, actor Kevin Bacon plays a highly charged teenager who’s family has just moved to a very conservative small town. The outlet for all that he is going through emotionally is rock music and dance. He has the audacity to think he can change the “world he’s living in” and derives a plan to fight the entire town in order to hold a high school dance. If you are reading this article it’s likely that “dance” isn’t the way that you are trying to change the world. But if you’ve been following along with my articles then like his character you have identified your dream, know that you want to commit to achieving it, but may feel like you are facing the entire world. Dramatic change doesn’t happen easily because it is often met with great resistance. Achieving great things has to start with a solid plan. In fact you might say that achieving great things must begin with S.M.A.R.T. goals. Specific – They must be precise because that adds the element of accountability; we can’t negotiate based on our emotions after the fact because others know exactly what we meant. Measurable - They have to include numbers that can be objectively measured. Unfortunately most people, especially female fast pitch softball players, have a tendency to want to beat themselves up and goals that are not “measurable” leave room for them to do just that. Achievable by you – They have to be realistically achievable based on your abilities, talents and passion level and accounts for the fact that some things are

beyond your control. This doesn’t mean that you set goals that are easy to reach; it simply means that based on your size, strength and speed your goals have to be something that you can achieve if you work hard. Reach forward – They have to be something that will cause you to achieve something if you succeed in the goal. Many people derive goals that attempt to avoid negative situations, rather than striving to actually achieve something and even if they are successful they haven’t advanced their career. Time based – They have to acknowledge that like all things time can be used to our advantage. Like a snow ball rolling down a large mountain each small improvement can build a tremendous amount of momentum over time. I like to see people think in terms of: Immediate action (what can be done right now to get the snow ball started), Short Term (what can be accomplished within 6 weeks towards the goal), Mid Term (what can be accomplished within 1 season) and Long Term (what can be accomplished within 1 year or more). As I stated in my last article your goals are supposed be like the directions from a GPS that help you achieve your dream. By now you should know where you are starting from and where you want to go. As you get started writing your directions/goals …write them out one by one in a row. Then make columns for the S.M.A.R.T. aspects of what a great goal should encompass and allow someone else to go through and place check marks in the columns that fit and x’s in the ones that don’t. Goal writing is a process, not a 5 minute off the cuff activity. Continue rewriting every goal until your trusted advisor(s) can honestly check off all 5 boxes. As you can probably guess, as with all of the movies I bring up, there is a happy ending and our lead character achieves his goal and is able to hold his dance and the town lives happily ever after. I want the same to be said about you. I want you to develop S.M.A.R.T., GPS based goals that enable you to accomplish your dream and change “your world.” My next article will help you learn how to control the most important 6” in the game which is going to be vital if you want to accomplish your goals as you pursue your dream. Dalton Ruer has been using softball instruction to encourage and motivate for the past 15 years. Throughout the year he provides private batting lessons, team based clinics and high energy softball camps. He can be reached for questions or comments through email at Checkout his blog and other valuable resources at It includes a document that you can download that contains more details about S.M.A.R.T. goals including a lot of examples to get you started:

2011 CF4 ST Insane -10 Insane End Loaded Feel Seeking to level up your hitting performance, but you aren't quite ready to graduate to the next weight drop? Look no further than the CF4 Insane. Built for the player seeking extra power in their swing, DeMarini has moved the evenly distributed weight all the way to the end of the barrel. If you're a power hitter, more mass at full extension results in additional swing speed at contact giving you more power and more distance. In addition to doubling the amount of Silver Trace bonding agents in the Pitch Black Plus stacked composite and extending the sweet spot towards the handle, DeMarini's designed hubcap redirects the outgoing energy back into the barrel. With the CF4 Insane, the opposition will recognize that wild look in your eyes. Minus 10 WTDXCFI 2232-11 WTDXCFI 2333-11 WTDXCFI 2434-11

Ounces 22 23 24

Length 32 33 34

Review: 2011 CF4 ST Insane -10 Before our group of Travel ball hitters got started we asked them their thoughts on the color and graphics of the CF4 Insane bat. "I love the bright yellow background with the cool CF4 graphics." Said Amy Blair. Once the hitting got underway the dazzling comments began to fly. "I love this bat, I think this is end loaded because my deep line drives are traveling another 20 to 30 feet more than usual," said Morgan Presswood "The bat feels great and there is very little sting even when you hit the ball deep."

The Score: Line Drives 93 Distance 95 Feel/Sting 93 Sweet Spot 93 Sound 91 Durability 100

Softball Today • September 2010

"They named this bat correctly as the line drives and deep shots I hit were absolutely INSANE," said Maria Gomez.

Graphics 96 Approved by ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA


The Louisiana Lady Hawks went 66-11 on the season and won five tournaments during the 2010 season, including the USSSA 16U World Series.

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


The hawks circling overhead were heralded as a harbinger of good fortune. Namesakes just don’t happen on occasions of such importance. There had to be a reason. So as they peered into the bright Florida sky high above the softball field at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Louisiana Lady Hawks all came to the same conclusion.They were about to win the 16U USSSA World Series. “As we were warming up for the championship game, I pointed out the two hawks and reminded the girls that, through the years, our teams have not lost a single game with a real hawk in attendance,” coach Rocky Hope said. The winning streak is still intact. Behind six home runs and 23 RBI from tournament most valuable player Jade Bourgeois, the Louisiana Lady Hawks bounced back from a second-round bracket play loss and captured the

World Series title with 11-1 and 9-5 victories over the South Florida Stingers. “We roared back to win five consecutive games to claim the championship,” Hope said. “Way to finish strong.” Bourgeois, a versatile three-position player from Dutchtown High, led the rally by batting .563. Slidell High School senior Breanne Rainey, the tournament’s most outstanding pitcher, went 8-0 in the circle and the Lady Hawks received some clutch hits from Wilkinson Christian senior Caroline Walker (.514) and Hahnville High senior Elisa DeBruler (.483). They wound up going 9-1 overall by averaging 8½ runs per game. And despite losing to the Stingers in bracket play, the Lady Hawks were pretty much at the top of their game throughout the competition. The Stingers turned out to be an arch nemesis of sorts with the two teams matching up on four occasions, including the tournament opener and the championship game.

No other foe offered much of a challenge.With players from nine high schools representing Prairieville, LA, the Lady Hawks won four times by shutout. They allowed only 24 runs the entire way and nine of those came during the lone defeat. The Northern Colorado Roadrunners went down 100, the Virginia Lady Eagles fell 13-1 and the Lady Hawks blanked the Oklahoma Intimidators, 8-0. By the time they ran into the Stingers in the finals, the Lady Hawks were feeling as if they could actually fly. The USSSA World Series championship was the crowning achievement of a travel season willed with first-place trophies. The Lady Hawks went 66-11 and won five tournaments, including the Louisiana ASA State Championship. They went on to place 17th at 16U ASA Nationals in College Station, Texas. “These girls made Louisiana proud,” Hope said.

It was her final tournament as a member of the Manassas Blaze and center fielder Jessica South wasn’t in any hurry to say good-bye. Playing at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Walt Disney World would have been reason enough to linger, except the Blaze is the only travel softball program South has ever played for and she is quite attached to the friendships that have helped shape her fastpitch career. “I love these girls. It’s so much fun,” the Osbourn Park High School sophomore said. “I’ve always been on Blaze. After the fall season we had and then the spring, I wouldn’t have wanted to play with anybody else. I’m really glad I was on this team.” South is 15 now and it’s time for her to move on – to an older age division and a higher level of competition – so the USSSA World Series was a fitting showcase for a farewell performance. With South occupying the No. 3 spot in the batting order, the Blaze won 51 games this summer. The final 10 came in Florida, where they fought their way out of the losers’ bracket to capture the 14U championship. “Winning the World Series is overwhelming,” South said. “The fact that we could win our last tournament together was amazing. “Our team has never done something that big. It was so much fun.” The top four hitters in the Blaze lineup – World Series MVP Rebecca Hall, Zoie Patrick, South and shortstop Heather Davies – will wear new team jerseys next season. But what they accomplished in 68 games together will become the stuff of softball legend in Manassas. They won 75-percent of the time with a mixture of

power pitching, slick fielding and clutch hitting – combining for 451 runs. “There was no drama. We just all came together and really worked well as a team,” said Patrick, a sophomore at Osbourn High School who saved her biggest hit of the summer for the final. “We just really play well together.” The Blaze offered promising glimpses of their combined talent by capturing tournament titles at the Northern Virginia Spring Opener and the Maverick June Jam. At the USSSA World Series, however, they ascended to another level. “It’s really exciting to be a champion,” said Davies, another up-and-coming Osbourn Park star who, like South, made her varsity debut as a freshman last spring. “After the first game, when we came back, I knew that we were going to win because we just didn’t stop working hard.” A 3-2 victory over the Oklahoma Magic was the first of seven straight wins for the Blaze, who combined for 62 runs in 11 games. They defeated the Venom Magic, Miami Lady Canes, Tampa Heatwave, Virginia Legends, Diamond Dusters, Sunraze and Virginia Lady Eagles en route to the finals. And it was there that the Blaze avenged their only tournament defeat by winning back-to-back games against the Churchville Lightning, 3-2 and 9-4. “We always came up with the big hit at the right time and we made the plays when we needed to make the plays,” said Blaze assistant coach Mike Bures, whose daughter, Courtney, plays professional softball for the Akron Racers. “It was a huge accomplishment for us. It just goes to show what can happen when you play as a team,” he said. “It was our weekend. Without a doubt, it was our

The Manassas Blaze racked up 51 victories over the summer, 10 of which were in Florida, and fought their way out of the loser's bracket to win the USSSA 14U World Series.

weekend. At some point in the tournament, every kid on the team did something good.” And that includes the team’s three 12-yearolds: Evie Raley, Debbie Stuart and Forrest Poland. But it was Hall who really stood out. The Blaze always seemed to come alive when their leadoff batter reached base. “I love hitting after Rebecca because she gets it started and gets me fired up,” Patrick said. “Then we all just hit.” Hall’s MVP honors had a lot to do with her ability to get the offense running. “She hit all weekend. She probably batted .600,” Bures said. “She’s one of our best power hitters and she consistently gets on base.” Hall gave Patrick, South and Davies plenty of RBI opportunities and they rarely failed to deliver. The Blaze scored 11 runs against the Virginia Lady Eagles and nine in the championship game against the Lightning. They averaged nearly six runs per game, which was more than enough support for pitchers Taylor Davidson, who won three games, and Kaitlin Munda, who went 7-1 in the circle and was named the World Series’ Most Outstanding Pitcher. “We took every team as a challenge,” Munda said. “We were focused and we were ready to play.” After losing to the Lightning, 2-1, in extra innings, the Blaze focused and played even harder. Then, they eventually got even with a two-game sweep that clinched the first-place trophy. “That was our only loss, so to come back and beat them was pretty exciting,” said Patrick, who played a pivotal role in the tournament’s defining victories over Churchville. Patrick scored on catcher Brittany Coffey’s smash to leftcenter field to secure a 32 extra-inning win, and then came through with a bases-loaded hit that sparked a 9-4 victory in the finals. “The Lightning, they were a really good team,” South said. “After losing to them, I knew we’d see them in the championship. It was really intense, but it was really fun. That’s what we all live for.”

Softball Today • September 2010

By Dave Utnik


Softball Today • September 2010

By Fred Myers


There was plenty of pride and Red, White and Blue at this year's 12U USSSA World Series. "We are a very proud team that plays together and stays together," said American Athletics coach Troy Ybarra. "The core group of our girls (7 total) have been playing together since 8 and under." The California based American Athletics have had an all American ride through the 2010 tournament season. As a team they produced impressive victories at the USSSA Fathers Day Classic in Fountain Valley, CA. and another victory at the Triple Crown Red, White and Blue tournament in Laguna Niguel, CA. However, the team had not fulfilled all of their early season goals yet explained Ybarra. "We had some unfinished business as a team. We had underlined two goals at the beginning of the season. The first goal was to improve every single team member as a player and as a person. Our second goal was to win a World title. Goals Accomplished!!! The Athletics won the right to compete for the USSSA World Series title at the Disney World Sports Complex in Florida, and the American Athletics were all healthy and most importantly mentally and physically ready to compete. "We were on a mission to play our very best ball when it truly counted," said Ybarra. "Coach Toni Mascarenas and I had our team focused and ready to play. Toni graduated from the University of Arizona and she played with Jennie Finch and their team won the national title. Toni brought a tremendous amount of experience and leadership to our young team and

she was a huge reason for our success." With the right goals and the right leadership there was only one thing left to do, win the USSSA 12U World Series title and that's exactly what the west coast American Athletics did. The Athletics diced through their bracket like a hot knife slicing through butter as they posted a perfect 8-0 record on their way to earning the USSSA World title. In the semi finals and championship game the Athletics Hannah Nilsen pitched two outstanding games and offensive stars Noelle Hee, Allie Dickman, Lauren Kane and Mackenzie Curry lead the charge offensively as Hee the teams DH led the club in the championship

game with 4 rbi's while lead-off batter second baseman Allie Dickman earned tournament MVP honors with a .464 average and first baseman Lauren Kane hit an outstanding .500 for the game and short stop Mackenzie Curry hit .545. The championship game belonged to the Athletics as they outscored and out played the Florida Diamond Dusters 6-3. "Our entire infield and outfield were playing on all cylinders as both groups played near flawless for the tournament, I am so proud of the entire team," Said Ybarra. "We are a close knit group and that closeness and team chemistry contributed greatly to the team's success."

By kevin Beese The 2010 Jax Fusion 10U squad is “The Little Neighborhood Team that Could.” Winning 15 or 17 tournaments this year and rolling through the 33-team USSSA World Series at the ESPN Complex at Disney World with a 9-0 record and outscoring its opponents, 75-21, is not something you expect from a neighborhood team. But that is just what this squad, primarily from Julington Creek, Fla. did. Ten of the squad's 12 players are from Julington Creek, just outside Jacksonville; and the other two are from just up the road. “You don't see travel teams with this kind of makeup,” Fusion head coach David Albertson said. “You don't get a team of the best of the best and 10 of the 12 are from a one-mile area in one community.” “We used every bit of talent on this team to accomplish this (World Series) goal,” Albertson added. “The girls worked their butts off for this. “What an unreal World Series. The bats were on fire all week; the defense shut (other teams) down as always; the pitching between Lexie (Schivley) and Kelsey (Sweatt) was phenomenal; the parents were ecstatic; and coaches were in heart attack mode. I am so proud of these girls. We have worked so hard this season.” In addition to earning the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series, the Fusion won three state championships. In the two tourneys this year that team members didn't walk away with first-place trophies, they finished second. The team, which has been together for almost four years, has always been a talented bunch, Albertson said. Although the talent started to emerge as 8U All-Stars, it wasn't until the end of last season that he really began to see that he had something special on his hands.

Albertson credited his assistants, Steve Schivley, Dave Markis and Derald Sweatt, with helping to make the neighborhood team into a force. The Fusion head coach had thoughts of putting his squad into major tournaments last year, but held off, noting the team was still very young from a maturity standpoint. With a young squad that has a couple of girls who would still qualify to play 8U, Albertson used incentives. “I blackmailed them a little,” said Albertson, who runs two-hour team practices three times a week. “I told them if they worked hard, we might do something like the Disney World Series.” The Fusion started the World Series experience in Orlando firing on all cylinders as it beat its first two opponents – Monster Energy of Ohio and the Ohio Wave - by a combined score of 27-0. Against Monster Energy, Kamdyn Kvistad crushed a ball that cleared the center field fence by 30 feet. Alie Smith had two doubles and drove in five runs; and pitchers Lexie Schivley and Kelsey Sweatt combined for a no-hitter. Against the Ohio Wave, Reedy Davenport stole the show, both on offense and defense. Davenport had two doubles to drive in four runs, and played an outstanding second base, including an unassisted double play and a diving grab on a liner to her left. Lauryn Markis added a three-run homer to center in the 11-0 win. A much tougher game faced the Fusion against the West Pines Diamond Dusters from South Florida. Fusion shortstop Taylor Allen stifled Diamond Duster opportunities time and time again, showing her range and abilities, assisting on seven force outs. Kennedy Albertson paced the offense in the 5-4 victory, going 3-for-3, with two doubles. Lauren Martinelli showed her ability to handle the bat, laying down two perfect bunts – one for a hit, the other to squeeze home a run. In a 10-0 romp of the Lady Bandits of West Boyton,

Fla., the Fusion's Savannah Parker hit two doubles and had four runs batted in; and Megan Allen had two singles and made a spectacular catch in center field. Moving on, Schivley continued her mastery in the circle as she held the Georgia Pressure to just one hit in a 5-1 Fusion victory. Albertson again led the way offensively, with a double, triple and three RBI. The Fusion then squared off against the PC Pride of Michigan. Parker again led the way offensively, going 3for-3 with two doubles. Sweatt added a key stand-up double to left center in the 5-4 victory. On defense, the right side of the Fusion infield was outstanding. Markis made a diving catch at first; and second baseman Davenport made play after play for the Fusion. Sweatt then pitched another gem, giving up just two hits and one run against a talented Heat team from Sarasota, Fla. Blaire Register aided in the 7-1 triumph with a key line-drive single, scoring a run. To advance to the championship game, the Fusion got by the Flames from Oviedo, Fla., 8-7. The game, which featured key hits and stellar defense on both sides, went to an International Tie Breaker. After the Fusion went ahead, Alie Smith gunned down the would-be tying run at home with a laser-beam throw from left field to Kamdyn Kvistad behind the plate for the final out. In the championship game, Sweatt was once again outstanding in the circle, helping the Fusion top the Slapshot from Alabama, 6-3. Schivley came on in relief to secure the win; and Register recorded the big hit, driving in two runs on a shot to right field. “Some of the coaches over the course of the week couldn't say enough about our hitting and defense,” said David Albertson, who now plans to move the team up to 12U competition. “(There was) compliment after compliment about our talent and our sportsmanship.”

Softball Today • September 2010

The Jax Fusion won 15 of its 17 tournaments this season and bested the 33-team field of the 10U USSSA World Series with a 9-0 record and outscoring their opponents 75-21.


By Dave Utnik

home runs in a 9-3 win over the Virginia Shamrocks and another in a 10-0 victory over the Las Vegas Rage as the Angels cruised into the quarterfinals against their sister Angels’ team. And LaRosa wasn’t done yet. She collected three more hits in that 12-5 win as the field of 98 was officially narrowed to four. In the semifinals, Evelyn Carrillo (Ohio State) came through with a two-run, fourth-inning single that sparked a 5-3 win over the Washington Lady Hawks and then the Angels prepared for a rematch against the Athletics in the final. LaRosa clinched the MVP trophy by blasting two more home runs. Jones also hit a pair and Tatum Edwards provided a two-run double to back Ybarra’s winning effort in the circle. Hall picked up a save by recording the final seven outs. “Our goals every year are to make each player better, and teach them team work,” Tyson said. Fittingly, virtually every member of the 20-player squad contributed to the Champions Cup title. Courtney Gano (University of Washington), Savannah Smith (UC Davis), Jasmine Ruiz (Gahr High School senior), Lauren Anderson (Hart High School senior), Taylor Green (Fresno State), Elizabeth Caporusio (Arizona State) and U.S. Junior National Team member Destinee Martinez each contributed key hits along the way, while Whitney Jones and Lockman combined for five wins in the circle. “We carry 20 kids every year,” Tyson said. “That scares people away, but those 20 who stay are more than ready to compete at any level.” Nelson and Folder are proof of that.

Softball Today • September 2010

One former player is pitching for Team USA. Another is catching professionally for the Chicago Bandits. The truth is the Corona Angels know how to develop fastpitch softball talent. Stacey Nelson and Rachel Folden are the most prestigious athletes to come through the Angels organization and they are largely responsible for shaping the U18 Gold squad’s reputation as a national power. That legacy now belongs to a new generation and the Angels are as deep and gifted as they were when Nelson and Folder were high school seniors six years ago. Led by a trio of All-Americans -- U.S. Junior National Team infielder Amber Freeman, UCLA freshman pitcher Jessica Hall and University of Nebraska freshman infielder Taylor Edwards – the Angels are once again poised to make a run for a national championship after capturing the prestigious 18U Champions Cup for the first time. With a 7-3 victory over American Athletics in the tournament final, the Angels completed a 12-0 run through the 98-team field. Diamond Bar High School senior and UCLA recruit Stephany LaRosa batted .462 with five home runs to earn Most Valuable Player honors and Hall was selected Most Valuable Pitcher after earning three wins and a save. Nebraska recruit Tatum Edwards also batted .450 with six extra base hits and nine

runs scored for the Angels, who compiled 94 runs overall. A year after the Angels’ U16 squad won a Champions Cup title, four players from that title team – Norco High pitcher Emily Lockman, Chino Hills infielder Nikki Girard, Corona High infielder Dawna Tyson and Arlington High infielder Jasmin Mejia -- helped the 18s make history this summer. “The four sophomores are growing up and seeing the difference from 16U to 18 Gold,” Angels coach Marty Tyson said. “We're slowly getting there.” A week after they placed second at the Canada Cup, the Angels showcased their promising youth and prolific offense. Arizona State recruit Bethany Kemp (Valencia High) delivered the first big hit on opening day with a two-run triple in a 4-3 win over the Rapids and later hit a grand slam in a 12-0 rout of the Long Island Bandits. Tyson followed with a walk-off, two-run single to beat the Dogfight 4-2. Home runs came from all over the lineup as Taylor Edwards (Nebraska) hit a three-run shot and Desiree Ybarra (Cal State Fullerton) had a two-run blast in a 13-1 win over California Thunder. Freeman added a game-winning two-run homer in the Angels’ 3-1 triumph over Southern California Sudden Impact, but the bats were just getting warmed up. After Hall shutout the Athletics, 11-0, in the final preliminary round game, the Angels won a pitcher’s dual against the Oregon NW Blaze. Hall was in the circle for that victory, too, and Taylor Edwards delivered a clutch two-run, seventh-inning homer. LaRosa, a shortstop at Diamond Bar High, hit two


The 18U Corona Angels knocked down a 98-team field with an undefeated 12-0 record to win the 2010 ASA Champion's Cup.

By Dave Utnik

The Next Level compiled a 10-1 tournament record. Sophomore Jaylene Ignacio drove in two runs with a first-inning triple and Gourley took care of the rest, earning her sixth victory in the circle. “The Corona Angels have a strong organization,” Delamater said. “So does The Next Level.” San Diego’s premier fastpitch program features seven travel teams, with 93 girls making up squads that compete at the 12U level through 18 Gold. The 16s are comprised entirely of hometown stars, who have qualified this summer for ASA Nationals and the ESPN Premier tournament. “It’s a collective team effort each, and every game,” Delamater said. The Champions Cup was another example of that, as Gourley struck out 65 batters in 40 innings, while junior Celinna Cosio batted .421 (16 for 38) with five home runs and Ignacio hit .378 (14 for 37), including her game-winning triple in the finale. “We started off fast,” Delamater said. And The Next Level never slowed down. After going 6-0 at the 16U ASA Southern California State Tournament, they won 10 more games over three days in Irvine, CA, beginning with an 8-1 triumph over the All-American Sports Academy as junior Noelle Johnson earned a victory in the circle. With college coaches watching virtually their every move on the diamond, The Next Level shutout the Arizona Hotshots (4-0) and the Fort Collins Storm (11-0) before meeting up with the California Cruisers in a rematch of the state championship game.

Delanie Gourley struck out nine in a three-hit, shutout performance as the Southern California state champions capped off a 10-1 tournament run.

TNL won that one, too, 3-1 on consecutive sixthinning hits by Cosio, Molly Hutchison, Johnson and Gourley. After suffering their only loss of the tournament to the Grapettes of Northern California, The Next Level won six consecutive games to wrap up the title. Hutchison and junior Martiza Lopez-Portillo contributed home runs, while sophomore pitcher Rachel Nasland earned three victories. The San Diego Renegades fell, 10-0, and the Rawlings Rebels went down, 8-2 as The Next Level lineup combined for 18 hits. Gourley struck out 12 in an 8-1 victory over the American Athletics and then Ignacio hit a two-run homer to rally the team to a 2-1 win over the Lakewood Ladies. That dramatic blast lifted The Next Level into the semifinals, where they held off the rival Renegades, 2-1 on Hutchison’s two-run, second-inning double. Then, only the Corona Angels stood between The Next Level and a first-place trophy. In the championship game, San Diego State recruit Monica Downey bounced a leadoff single off the third baseman’s chest and Samantha Camello followed with a sharp single to left. Ignacio tripled off the fence to put The Next Level ahead 2-0 and Cosio drove in the final run with a sacrifice fly. The remainder of the contest belonged almost exclusively to Gourley, who allowed three singles and did not issue a walk in a complete game victory. “Most of this team has played together since last year, so the girls were elated that they had beaten the Corona Angels,” Delamater said. “The goals for the rest of this season are to continue to play hard and continue to play as a team.”

Softball Today • September 2010

They’d come so close a year ago, making it all the way to the finals of the 16U Champions Cup Tournament. And the experience left every player wanting more. There isn’t anything wrong with second place, especially when two of the most prestigious fastpitch programs in California need an international tiebreaker inning to decide the outcome. It’s just that softball for The Next Level is about winning championships. So when they ran into the Corona Angels in the title game again this summer, sophomore pitcher Delanie Gourley didn’t leave anything to chance. Figuring that it’s pretty much impossible to lose if you don’t allow a run, Gourley struck out nine in a three-hit, shutout performance as the Southern California state champions capped off a 10-1 tournament run with a 3-0 victory over the Angels. “At last year’s 16U Champions Cup Tournament, our team placed second, losing to the Corona Angels in a game that ended 3-2 in ITB in the 8th inning. This year, it was a different story,” coach Jerry Delamater said. “TNL was ready to go get the win.”


Softball Today • September 2010

By Jeff Berlinicke


If you follow softball, you know the Worth Firecrackers, based in Huntington Beach, Calif. They have formed the nucleus for several of the best college softball teams in the country and were the home team for Megan Langenfield, the UCLA pitcher who led her team to the NCAA softball title this year. Not only did the Firecrackers run through the Colorado Fireworks 18U Tournament this summer in Aurora, Colo., they didn’t even get a chance to go home before winning the Canadian Fast Pitch Open (formerly the Canada Cup). The Firecrackers are not an ordinary softball team. They are known to anyone who follows softball and nearly every player who starts for the Firecrackers has moved onto Division I softball. Their starting lineup this -California. They might not all know each other and only practice about nine weeks out of the year, but coach Tony Rico said his plan works. They have won the Fireworks Tournament five of the last six years. “We are about playing events and giving our players the best chance to win on a national level,’’ Rico said. “We understand that most of these kids are going to be playing college softball and we give them a chance to play year-round.’’ The formula has worked and Rico said it’s all about bringing in the kids who are willing to commit to softball. He said the Firecrackers have been successful because they let the girls have fun while remaining competitive. It’s an unlikely balance but the prove is on the win ledger. Rico said he follows the same philosophy as the Walt Disney Corporation. He points out that places like Disneyland and Walt

Disney World have attractions that are entertaining, but they offer stimulants that make things seem exciting all the time. ”When you are at Disney parks, you are excited and you feel good while you are there,’’ Rico said. “That’s what we try to do with the Firecrackers. Make them excited to be where they are even though they are here to get a job done. We do our best to make sure they are excited and having fun while they are trying to win a tournament.’’ Rico also does his best to be with his players even though some of them live far from Huntington Beach. On a weekday in mid-August, Rico was contacted and asked to talk about his team. He had a few minutes, only because he was sitting outside the operating room while one of his players, Mary Massei, was in the operating room of a local, hospital being treated for thyroid cancer. It’s something she found out about as soon as the team got home from Canada. “I love these kids,’’ Rico said. “The

commitment they put in is absolutely incredible and I need to give the same things back. When I heard about Mary, I was stunned and was going to be with her no matter what. A player has to commit to the Firecrackers and I give everything I can right back.’’ Massei is expected to make a full recovery. She is an outfielder who has committed to the University of Wisconsin next season, but she won’t enroll until spring while she recovers. The rest of the team is filled with some of the best players in the country. The top three hitters in the batting order – second baseman Kylee Lahness, centerfielder Hallie Wilson, and third baseman Lauren Chamberlain – are all members of the Junior World National Team. Lahness is the leadoff hitter and will play at the University of Washington next season. Wilson will attend Arizona, and Chamberlain is headed for Oklahoma. All three are expected to start as freshmen. The Firecrackers have two pitchers sharing the mound. Cheyanne Tarango, a signee at Tennessee, and Nyree White, who is going to Stanford were nearly unhittable in the tournament. Tarango is another member of the Junior World National Team, and White is a unique story. Her father is Mike White, head coach at Oregon and a worldclass men’s softball pitcher. Stanford and Oregon are both Pac-10 powers, so there will be plenty of father-daughter days this year with each of them on opposite sides. Koral Costa and Missy Taukiaho are steady in the infield and both hit for power. They are each being recruited by Pac-10 schools, while catcher Janelle Lindall rounds out the order. She might hit in the nine slot, but she’s already committed to Oregon. If you haven’t heard of any of the Firecrackers yet, just watch the College World Series in two years. You’ll know who they are.

By Jeff Berlinicke The team from Missouri, facing some of the top 16U softball teams in the nation, had finally heard enough. At the Colorado Fireworks Tournament this summer, one of the premier softball tournaments in the nation, The Missouri Originals went 11-0 on the field to win their biggest title in team history—beating teams from California, Arizona, and all the other softball hotbeds. It wasn’t that the Originals, based in Kansas City, didn’t feel like they belonged, but they heard the whispers as they climbed through the tournament

brackets. Just before their semi-final game against a team from Georgia, coach Mark Waterbury said his team heard the Georgia coach admonish his team, telling it that they were only playing a team from Missouri. “I overheard it,’’ Waterbury said. “Here we were just a Podunk team from Missouri playing a team that gets to play year-round. We are just from little old Missouri.’’ Missouri calls itself the “Show Me State,’’ and that was what the Originals did. Brienne Bond homered and stomped on home plate and simply shouted, “That’s right, we’re from Missouri.’’ The Originals got a break in that game against Georgia. They trailed by a run heading into the final inning. The game clock was running down to the twominute mark and Georgia made a pitching change to kill a few more seconds. With less than a minute left on the game clock, something unique to tournament softball, the Originals pushed two runs across to move to the championship game. “That was tight, but the girls hung in,’’ Waterbury said. “That was a close call. They tried to kill the clock, so we were in a tough situation.’’ The Originals aren’t a softball factory that turns out Division I players every year. They have some headed to play in college, including pitcher Chelsea Ross who will pitch for Oklahoma State next season, but they are hardly a dynasty. They will have to rebuild almost completely next

season and Waterbury won’t be around. He said he wanted to go out a winner and, after a record of 87-13, he got his wish. “It was time to go,’’ Waterbury said. “There was so much travel this season and after a while, the girls get a little tired of it. We were all over the country this season. It was great, but it is just time to break it up a little. We’ll have some kids back next year with a new coach, but it’s time.’’ The team may be splitting up, but they have a lot of memories from their year as road warriors who knocked off the best that California, Arizona, and Florida had to offer during their big week in Colorado when they showed everyone that they play some pretty good softball in America’s heartland. Ross shared time on the mound with Kelsey Chifferdecker while Bond and Kristen Heil worked behind the plate. Lauren Fuller, Madison Rich, and Kaitlin Schaberg anchored the infield while Rebecca McPhearson, Bethany Collinger, and Keelia formed the outfield. Waterbury plans to stay involved in Missouri softball and said that, even if he never coaches again, this year’s team was special. It played together all year except for the three-month high school season, and, after a long time in coaching, he was happy to leave on a high note. “Nobody’s going to look down at Missouri anymore,’’ Waterbury said. “We have some great players here and we went out on top.’’

Softball Today • September 2010

The Missouri Originals won their first Colorado Fireworks Tournament, and their biggest tournament win in team history, with a flawless 11-0 record.


By Dave Utnik Brian Higginbotham knew a rally was coming. Team Canada’s pitcher had witnessed it all before. If there’s one thing he’s learned from facing the United States Men’s Slow Pitch National Team, it’s that even 30 runs might not be enough to win. Higginbotham did everything he could to provide Canada with a comfortable lead in the second annual Border Battle at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. He drove in six runs with three homers and a double. Then he headed back out to the pitcher’s circle for the bottom of the seventh inning hoping, along with everyone else on the Team Canada bench, that a five-run advantage would hold up. “We just wanted to stay close with them and see what we could do,” Canada coach Jeff Long said. “Everybody was on the same page and pulled for each other.” Higginbotham is one of 10 returning players

who remember how the inaugural Battle Border turned out as the U.S. came from behind to win last summer. The rematch had similar drama. Just as Higginbotham expected, the United States came roaring back with six consecutive hits in its final at-bat. Only this time, he found a way to stop the rally before it was too late and Canada held on for a 30-29 victory – setting up the possibility of another climatic showdown next summer. “We would love to play another,” Long said. The U.S. would, too, after nearly overcoming Canada’s 32 hits. “They (Canada) came ready to play. We just didn’t respond,” said Team USA coach Steve Shortland, following his squad’s first defeat after four exhibition victories. Because the U.S. used up its home run limit during a four-run seventh inning, long blasts by Scott Kirby and Scott Brown merely resulted in automatic outs. Still, Team USA, which led only once the entire game, pulled to within a run on Johnny McGraw’s two-run

homer and had the potential tying and winning runs on base following Rick Baker’s two-out single. The comeback finally ended when Higginbotham fielded a comebacker by Ryan Robbins and raced to second for a force out to end the game. Team USA wound up out-hitting Canada 35-32, but a pair of fourth-inning errors proved costly in the end. A fielding miscue by shortstop Jeff McGavin and a wild throw by second baseman Jeremy Isenhower allowed Canada to score 10 runs in the inning. Canada third baseman James Kelly hit a one-out homer to get the big inning started. Jeff Gare and Jeff Falardeau followed with two-run blasts. Gare went 5 for 6 and drove in four runs for Team Canada. McGraw led the United States with six hits and six RBI, while Rusty Bumgardner, Brett Helmer, J.D. Genter and Brian Wegman had four hits each. “We’ve got a bunch of newcomers and guys with different skill sets,” Shortland said. “We are looking for the right combination and chemistry to get better every game.”

Softball Today • September 2010

After suffering a loss to the United States in the first-ever Border Battle, Team Canada evened the score, squeezing out a narrow win despite being outhit by Team U.S.A.


By Fred Meyers Orlando, FL. - One of the most anticipated Softball events of the year canopied by the Florida sunshine. This season A & B teams had much more overall success then years past in conference play. The talent is prospering throughout the teams. The 2010 USSSA Class A World Series field was an outstanding group of A & B teams poised for the title. The defending champion GTL Cartel/Worth was the heavy favorite. A collection of high powered teams ready to stand in their way as play began for the field of 22. The early season winners were GTL, Aubrey’s, Sinister, EWS, Suncoast/Reebok, Team Combat/Laservision, and Woodlaw Miken. Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno playing its finest all season was matched against Team Combat/Laservision in the winner’s bracket semi-final. The game see-sawed with a lead change each inning as late in the contest Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno took control and won 32-29. GTL Cartel/Worth found themselves facing a red hot Suncoast/Reebok team. This game was decided with strong defense and an early lead that never dissipated. GTL Cartel/Worth jumped on Suncoast/Reebok and rolled to a 29-8 victory. The winner’s bracket final was a great match up between GTL Cartel/Worth and Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno. Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno started out with the early lead. However midway through the contest GTL Cartel/Worth

seized the lead and never looked back. The final score was 29-15 with GTL Cartel/Worth punching their ticket in the 2010 Class A World Series final. “We were determined to play consistent ball at a high level and our results demonstrated that.” said All Tournament Team Pitcher Chad Munger. The loser’s bracket was full of hard fought battles as Northwest Combat, Suncoast/Reebok, Team Combat, Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno and Logo Express challenged for a trip to the finals. Team Combat/Laservison dispatched Logo Express by a 30-28 count. Team Combat/Laservison then faced Suncoast/Reebok and posted another big score by putting up 30 runs. Team Combat/Laservison ran past Reebok with a 30-15 win. Suncoast/Reebok finished fourth and shortstop Luis Reyna was awarded an All Tournament for his efforts. Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno was waiting for them in the loser bracket final. Team Combat/Laservison scored often and early and Aubrey’s had no answers. Team Combat/Laservison cruised to the Championship round with a 21-14 victory. The 2010 “A” finals were now set with West Coast and Washington state Teams GTL Cartel/Worth and Team Combat/Laservison. “We were very focused and our team was confident headed into the finals”, said Offensive MVP

Rusty Bumgardner of Team Combat/Laservision. Team Combat came to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning down 22-13. GTL Cartel/Worth was composed and had the look of confidence about closing it out. Team Combat rallied to close the gap to 22 to 21 with two outs and two on base. Tournament Offensive MVP Rusty Bumgardner stood at the plate. It didn’t take long as Bumgardner crushed a walk off three run homer to win the Championship game by a score of 24-22. The “IF” game was now set for the third consecutive year in the USSSA “A” World Series. GTL Cartel/Worth combined a spectacular defense with a consistent offensive attack as they controled the “IF” game. The game reached a heart pumping seventh inning where the teams had drawn even. GTL’S Tournament MVP Anthony Dress was very clutch in this game and throughout the weekend. Both teams showed incredible grit all weekend and fought through the stifling heat. Again facing a bottom of the seventh scenario, GTL’S Jimmy Salas stepped to the plate and delivered a walk off game winning homerun that ignited GTL’S 2010 “A” World Championship celebration. They were now USSSA Class “A” Back-to-Back World Champions. Sponsor Charles Garcia stated, “We put this organization together looking for this result, it’s very rewarding for all of us.”

DeMarini The ONE.12 Technology Matters DeMarini is committed to making the best bats for players of all ages and abilities. We design bats with the player in mind to make the perfect bat for each individual, and we scour the earth for the highest quality components to make sure the bats perform. All components are performance matched for optimum distance, durability, and feel. We design it, build it, hit it, tweak it, re-build it, hit it again...we're never happy. 4.One Proprietary composite design creates one of the stiffest composites known to man by using a narrow composite in multiple lay-ups Stacked The next generation of DoubleWall, Stacked Composite, optimizes multiple walls separated by DeMarini Power Ply for the biggest sweet spot and most power on off-center hits Specifications aka the CL22 The ONE.12 provides players with the stiffness and responsiveness of a one-piece feel in an end-loaded two-piece bat with a specially designed 12 inch 4.ONE Stacked Composite Barrel and same rigid composite material used for the barrel was utilized to make this the stiffest composite handle in the DeMarini lineup. Ounces Length DXONA 2634-11 26 34 DXONA 2734-11 27 34 DXONA 2834-11 28 34 DXONA 3034-11 30 34 Approved Associations: ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA

Review: DeMarini The ONE.12 Our reviewers were lining up to hit one of DeMarini's hottest new bats on the market—the red The ONE.12 "The handle and grip were very comfortable and the overall feel of the bat felt more like a one piece bat then its actual two piece composition," said Philip Barnes. "As a tournament 'D' player, base hits are my bread and butter and this bat hit consistent, crisp line drives all day long. When I turned on a few pitches I was able to pull the ball with greater distance then any of the bats currently in my bag, which tells me that my next check needs to go to this bat." Even Softball Today's most stubborn reviewers were blown away by The ONE.12's ability to increase their performance.

Softball Today • September 2010

"I have heard all of the great comments about this bat before, but I am the type of player that has to see the results for myself," said Anthony Garcia. "At 220 pounds, I have some beef behind my swing and this bat was outstanding for line drives and several over the fence bombs. The RD was my personal all time favorite, but I have to rank this bat's overall productivity higher that my RD."

The Score: Line Drives 93 Distance 94 Feel/Sting 94 Sweet Spot 93 Sound 92 Durability 100 Graphics 91


Approved by ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA

FREAK® DST™ Balanced Features Balanced for maximum bat speed Our proprietary DuraShell Technology™ acts as a composite "shield" on the outer shell of our 100% aerospace grade carbon fiber barrel, maximizing performance out of the wrapper. Multi-Layer Biaxial™ and MPa7™ Resin System maximize sweetspot and push performance to the limits. Advanced InnerFlex Technology™ takes performance to the next level by delivering precisely calibrated handle flex and energy transfer to optimize barrel rebound. Advanced InnerFlex is customized to barrel specifications for maximum distance and ball speed. 100 Comp™ - 100% Composite is engineered utilizing 100% premium aerospace grade fiber to deliver Miken's legendary performance and durability. R900™ is proven to endure grueling play deliver unrivaled durability and maximize performance. Length Weight 34 26 34 27 34 28 34 30

Review: FREAK® DST™ Balanced A few of our reviewers had participated in reviewing the Miken MV1 several months earlier and several of them drew comparisons. "This is a great all around bat and it reminds me a lot of the high performance Miken MV1," said Andy Merchant "This Freak DST has a great feel and overall balance to it and the liners are vicious off this bat."

The Score: Line Drives 94 Distance 93 Feel/Sting 92 Sweet Spot 93 Sound 91 Durability 100

Softball Today • September 2010

"This bat started off hot, however after a couple hundred swings this bat is lethal," said Anthony Munez "The performance is great and the bat has had no breakdown durability problems after several hundred swings. This is the kind of bat my team would use for the whole season."

Graphics 90

33 Approved by ASA 2004, USSSA 1.20 Certified, NSA and ISA

By Fred Myers Panama City, FL. - The 2010 USSSA Military Varsity A World Series brought out the finest teams in many years. This is a annual tradition with great rivalries across the service branches. The field represented all of the USA Military branches worldwide. The varsity division is our nation’s top players in active duty service, retired status, and DOD. The competition was as hot as the weather; as temperatures soared to over 100 degrees. This event celebrates their honor, courage, and bravery. It gives them an opportunity to find out who is the best of the best in Slow-Pitch Men’s Softball. Some of the early favorites posted impressive victories with JNJ Sports/JAX Navy downing the PAX Bombers 17-10. National Capital Region (NCR) and the Army’s Scrapalators advanced with impressive wins. USMC Camp Pendleton outscored Seymour Johnson AFB handing them a 21-4 loss and then followed it up with a 27-7 victory over Air Force Senior. Camp Pendleton’s pitcher Chief Warrant Officer 4, Gary Connors, Chief Warrant Officer 5, Scott Alvey, and center fielder Nick “Noodle” Robertson (All tournament Team) proved difficult obstacles as their early defense shut down multiple rallies. On Saturday the winner’s bracket semi-finals were hotly contested. JNJ Sports/JAX Navy took it to 8 innings finishing off National Capital Region (NCR) 1817. The other winner’s bracket game featured Army versus Marines. Camp Pendleton was in control holding the Scrapalators down for most of the contest. The Scrapalators loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and down by one run. This had all the competitive trappings and tension one could find. The crowd swelled to around 300. Veteran Player/Manager Chris Chaney inserted Major Armando Delsi to close the game out as pitcher. The quick decision proved costly. The count on Scrapalators Lt. Col Ladd went full. Pitcher Major Armando Delsi (All Tournament Team) took his time and wind milled his delivery and Ladd froze as strike 3 right down main-street was

called and framed by catcher Chief Tyrone Butler (All Tournament Team). “It may have been the single most impressive defensive moment of the tournament, the crowd erupted and so did we”, said Chaney (All Tournament Player/Manager). The Marines of Camp Pendleton with honor intact, won the game and a trip to the winner’s bracket final on Major Delsi’s walkoff strikeout. JNJ Sports/JAX Navy of Jacksonville, FL had all the youth and USMC NAS Camp Pendleton of San Diego had the veteran military players. The game began on a cool Saturday evening. A boisterous crowd amassed as many of the women’s teams and Men’s B division teams settled in to watch the two most impressive teams in the tournament. The game began with Camp Pendleton opening up with 12 runs in the first three innings. They were lead by Captain, Jermaine Flythe, (Tournament MVP), Chief Dustin Roberts, Corporal Joshua Runey, (All Tournament Team), and Major Greg Zayas. JNJ/JAX Navy struggled on the pitching and defense of Camp Pendleton. JAX Navy scored 4 runs early in the battle. They later added 5 to finish with 9 runs as they were outscored by the Marines of Camp Pendleton 20-9. Camp Pendleton would now await the winner who would surface from the loser’s bracket. The Scrapalators were Army tough as they put together

Tournament MVP

Softball Today • September 2010


wins over American Legion 25-20 and a nail biter in 8 innings downing JNJ Sports/JAX Navy 30-29. The Scrapalators were lead by the offense of Maikled Quarles, Elmer Mason, and Leonard Myers (Tournament Offensive MVP). A rematch from an earlier loss in the tournament was up next for the Scrapalators in the tournament Championship game. Camp Pendleton (Marines) versus Scrapalators (Army) all members and brothers of the same United States Military but competitors on the softball field this weekend. The stakes were high for 2010 USSSA Military Varsity A Men’s World title. The Scrapalators were stymied by the stingy defense of Camp Pendleton. Camp Pendleton held them to 2 runs in the first and second innings respectively on key double plays by second basemen Major Greg Zayas. Camp Pendleton’s offense struck early and often. They were lead by Nick Robertson, Jaime Nelson, Major Armando Delsi, Anthony Garnica, Chris Chaney, and Tournament MVP Captain Jermaine Flythe. They plated 22 runs in 5 innings and took the 2010 USSSA Military Men’s Varsity A title by a run-rule of 22-5. “Our team this weekend was determined and the results showed it." stated Chris Chaney. Major Armando Delsi added, “Our team would like to honor all of our troops around the world with the victory and those past and present, Always Faithful.”

Jermaine Flythe Camp Pendleton

Offensive Tournament MVP Leonard Myers Scrapalators

Defensive Tournament MVP John Gallegos Camp Pendleton

All Tournament Manager Chris Chaney Camp Pendleton

USMC Camp Pendleton took the Varsity A Military World Series with a run-rule 22-5 victory in the championship game.

2010 MENS SEASON RECAP CHAMPIONS USSSA Hall of Fame Classic I - Kissimmee – FL


USSSA Hall of Fame Classic II -Kissimmee – FL


Shuckers/Sports55 MAJOR NIT- Glen Burnie –MD


Cactus Classic - Phoenix – Arizona


Mike Turney Memorial Classic - Kansas City – KS


10th Annual Texas Legends - Euless - Texas


Columbus Major NIT - Columbus – Indiana


Music City Classic - Gallatin – Tennessee


Peach State Shootout - Marietta – Georgia


22nd Annual Mike Davis Memorial - Concord – CA


4th Annual Space City ClassicLeague City – Texas


Windy City Busch Light NIT - Joliet – Illinois


28th Dudley Budweiser - Brooklyn Center, MN


Worth/TYJA Northeast Shootout - Branford, CT


31st Busch Pepsi Classic - Sherwood – Arkansas


MEN'S MAJOR NIT I - Kent – Washington


MEN'S MAJOR NIT II -Kent – Washington


42nd Smoky Mountain Classic - Maryville – TN


11th Annual Cincinnati NIT - Cincinnati - Ohio


26th Rocky Mountain Shootout - Aurora – Colorado


4th Annual Carolina Shootout - Raleigh - North Carolina


Worth Last Chance - Sterling Heights – Michigan















TIM COCCO (2.49)





Softball Today • September 2010




Softball Today • September 2010

Dan Smith/Menosse/Cheney's outlasted Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Phonemaster's to become 2010 USSSA slow pitch Major division champions.

Kissimmee, FL. - The 2010 USSSA Conference Championships were played at the home of the USSSA Hall of Fame and birthplace of the Conference Championships. A new format exists that has allowed in class or competitively similar teams to square off. The Conference Championships consists of three separate tournaments divided into Major, A Division, and B Division. This has been USSSA’S best format for the Conference Championship since its inception. The Major division had USSSA Conference leaders Resmondo Sport/Specialty/PhoneMasters and Dan Smith/Menosse/Chaney’s to square off in a best of five series to determine the 2010 Major Division USSSA Conference Champion. Friday night in Osceola Stadium the defending World Champions Resmondo were looking to get on track early. The game was very tight and was close throughout until Resmondo’s bats caught fire. They proceeded to bat around the order and over took Dan Smith. Resmondo was lead by the HR power of BJ Fulk and timely hitting of Andy Purcell and Don Dedonatis III. In the late innings Resmondo rallied behind its pitching and defense to hold off Dan Smith by a score of 27-24. It was a key win in a five game series and their spirits were high. Dan Smith leadership must have sent the team a message. Saturday proved to be a moving day for the West Coast Major team. Saturday morning saw Dan Smith find its offense and stifling defense. They

jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The offense was sparked by key hits and massive stadium bombs. Dan Smith’s Brett Helmer, Brian Wegman, Dal Beggs, and JD Genter pounded the ball with multiple homeruns. The defense was lead by Rick Baker and Dal Beggs. Dan Smith took the breakfast battle with a 30-12 win. This evened the series to a game each. The humidity was high. Both teams seemed stymied by the heat. Dan Smith again was sharp with strong defense and pitching. Dan Smith rallied behind the offense of Denny Crine, Ryan Theide, and Brett Helmer. The pitching held Resmondo in check and the defense of Jeremy Isenhower, Dal Beggs, and Brian Wegman remained strong. Dan Smith rose up and took game three by a 15-11 count. The series was now at 2 games to 1 in favor of Dan Smith. Resmondo’s back was now up against the wall. Sunday morning was much anticipated. The teams were well rested and anxious to knock each other out and claim the USSSA Conference Major Championship. Dan Smith started Game 4 by trailing early. Resmondo found themselves struggling as the game progressed. This was a must win game for Resmondo. After an early 7 runs their bats failed them. Dan Smith begun with multiple rallies garnering the lead after 4 innings of play. The bottom of the 5th inning was the turning point in this contest. The score was 20-7 and Dan

Smith loaded the bases. Resmondo had to hold off Smith’s offense to continue on. Dan Smith’s second baseman accepted the challenge and delivered a sharply hit single to score 2 runs for a 22-7 run-rule. It was a walkoff hit that cemented the victory and gave Dan Smith/Menosse/Chaney’s the 2010 USSSA Conference Major Championship. Dan Smith said, “We really like our team and we all share in this victory.”

Softball Today • September 2010

By Robert Campbell


EWS/Shirts and Logos proved to be resilient, withstanding onslaughts from some of the nation's top 'A' and 'B' division programs to become USSSA 'A' division champions.

Softball Today • September 2010

By Fred Myers


Kissimmee, FL. - The “A” Conference Championship showcased the top 12 Conference programs outside of the Major teams. This season these teams proved that the A & B programs have increased their talent levels and have been extremely competitive no matter what divisions they have played against. In 2010 they have stood toe-to-toe with the game’s best and made it difficult to predict championship outcomes. The format was similar to many local tournaments using a two game double elimination format but making it a three game guarantee event. This tournament drew the best “A” programs in the nation as the field included GTL Cartel/Worth, Albiccoco’s/Worth, Team Combat/Laservision, Northwest Combat/CJ Financials, and Sinister/LineDrive/MOJO/Worth. Logo Express finished respectable in the middle of the pack. Aubrey’s/Taylormade/Mizuno and FenceBrokers were the 5th place duo and both showed they have the ability to compete in the stadiums with timely hitting and quickness. Jean Shoppe/Easton/Down2EarthSports finished

fourth in a Sunday morning battle with Woodlaw/Miken. The game was a battle of endurance and great defensive plays. WoodLaw/Miken was dominant throughout as they downed Jean Shoppe by a score of 37-28. Woodlaw was able to score often in this tournament and posted some impressive scores. They averaged 18 runs per game while only giving up an average of 14 runs. Woodlaw/Miken then squared off against AJS/Easton/Supreme/Mike Foulks/Mojo However the AJS squad was firing on all cylinders as they went on to beat Woodlaw. Woodlaw/Miken finished in third place with a 205 run rule loss to a hot AJS team. This set up the “A” Conference Championship between “B” rivals EWS/Shirts & Logo’s and AJS. Saturday night in the winners bracket final EWS and AJS were locked into a struggle of wills to secure a spot in the finals. The game was tight with lead changes seemingly in every inning. Players on both squads performed with clutch hitting and some dynamite defense. The teams were led by Brandon Riese (EWS), Andy Vitcak (EWS), Adam Rockoff (AJS), Pat Hastings (EWS), David Kessler (AJS), Blake Williams (AJS), and Jason Kreider (AJS). The final score was 18-17 with EWS earning the win as

their pitching and defense outlasted AJS. A possible preview of the upcoming B Worlds and a Saturday battle hard to top from any perspective. With the finals to be played on Sunday EWS was in the driver's seat as they needed just one win to take home the Conference USSSA Championship while AJS had their work cut out for them as they had to win two games in a row. The championship game produced two resilient B programs in the finals. In a division known for great hitting and power it was surprisingly both teams defenses that dictated this contest. There were several spectacular diving plays throughout the game and both squads turned several rally killing double plays. AJS earned the win by a score of 6-3. Pitchers Andy Vitcak (EWS) and TJ Thompson (AJS) both played spectacular for their respective teams. The "If" game showcased two great defenses and some great rallies by both squads. The lead changed hands several times during the early innings. However by the six inning EWS pull away with the lead. AJS was in the unenviable position of playing catch up against a well seasoned team. EWS went on to win the game 15-11 and take home the 2010 Conference USSSA A Championship.

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