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Softball Today • April/May 2012

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Long Haul Bombers stars Chris Larsen (in photo) and Kevin Filly both swing the Stadium Spec-ONE, which will be featured during a tour of Major League Baseball stadiums.


The bats were gone in a week. The entire first run of DeMarini's revolutionary Stadium SpecONE Slow pitch line flew off the shelves faster than they can launch a softball out of the park. They are that popular. Oh, and powerful. That's the beauty of this two-piece design that combines a 13-inch 4.ONE composite barrel with a SC-4 aluminum handle: High end performance, unrivaled durability and the potential for some pretty big innings. Team DeMarini's Long Haul Bombers will be touring the country with the Stadium Spec-One in their bat bags this summer. The trick now is to find one. "Don’t worry," said Jerry Garnett, DeMarini's National Slow pitch Marketing Manager. "We are making more." By essentially combining the best features of their 2012 GTL Cartel model and the very popular 2011 Stadium N-Spec Limited Edition, DeMarini has transformed its bat line into a showpiece that meets USSA, NSA and ISA championship standards. It's available in 26, 27, 28 and 30 ounce models. "Players want bats that have good performance right out of the wrapper and durability that is fair for a high performance level bat," Garnett said. "We were able to accommodate both with our unique designs, exceptional processing control and quality materials." Long Haul Bombers stars Chris Larsen and Kevin Filly both swing the Stadium Spec-ONE, which will be featured during a tour of Major League Baseball stadiums as well at other major competitions such as Bat Wars and USSSA Slugfest events. "The 2013 Stadium Spec-ONE has many improvements that are at the design and processing level," Garnett said. "The result is a bat that meets the new performance standards while allowing players to remain competitive." The 2011 Stadium N-Spec model was considered one of the top slow pitch bats on the market with regards to its overall high performance and durability. The Spec-ONE has somehow created even more buzz. "Players told us that they wanted a bat with a similar feel and performance to our GTL Cartel with durability that was closer to our Stadium N-Spec model," Garnett said. "We choose our 4.ONE composite barrel design, SC4 aluminum handle and Dish end cap to achieve our stiffness goal and created a more durable barrel The end cap is especially intriguing because its design through material and processing concaved design, according to Garnett, "the unique design improvements." creates stiffness at the end of the barrel while driving energy back to the sweet spot." And that, after all, is the goal of any power hitter. The stiff barrel and handle allow for a more responsive feel that sluggers desire. "It creates a solid feel under the ball that generates incredible DeMarini's Stadium Spec-ONE performance and increased confidence at the plate," Garnett said. and The ONE Senior bats offer "Response has been great. We’ve seen an interest from players for our high end performance and brand over the last couple of seasons starting with the Stadium N-Spec unrivaled durability. & GTL Cartel. Players recognize DeMarini as a competitive bat option and consumer confidence and product demand is high." As the first week of production indicates, their popularity is soaring. "We believe," Garnett said, "that we’ve designed a great product by listening to our customers and working hard and smart to give them what they want."

Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Dave Utnik

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DeMarini Stadium Spec-One (WTDXSTU-13) Barrel: 4.ONE Composite – Barrel designed for maximum stiffness. Handel: SC4 Alloy – Stiffest handle designed by DeMarini with the strongest alloy manufactured by DeMarini. Endcap: Dish – Concaved design creates max stiffness at the end of the barrel while driving energy back to the sweet spot.

Barrel length: 13 inch Grip: Hybrid Comfort Grip Weight distribution: End loaded Rotation Index: Numerical system reminds players to rotate bat extending its life. Available weight: 26, 27, 28 & 30 oz Available length: 34 inch length only 2.25 diameter barrel Meets 1.20 BPF ABI test 12 month limited warranty 1.20/ABI performance standard for USSSA, NSA and ISA championship play.

Review: DeMarini Stadium Spec-One (WTDXSTU-13) “I would buy this bat in a heartbeat," said Peter Suarez "I got great distance, I went yard several times. The ball was coming off the bat like a rocket, and the graphics were sweeeeet”.

Softball Today • April/May 2012

“Could not wait to hit this bat, I was the fourth batter to hit this bat, in one word "WOW" what a bat," said Bobby Montoya. "My first hit went over 300 feet. This bat was 'Smoken' loved the fierce line drives, loved the sound. Duribality wise we hit this over 400 swings and had no problems”.

Line Drives 95 Distance 94 Feel/Sting 94 Sweet Spot 95 Sound 94 Durability 100 Graphics 95

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By Jim McCurdy

“It’s neat for them (Ohio State) to have this milestone,” 16-year coach Linda Kalafatis said. “It’s about a whole lot of women that have worn the scarlet and gray. To be able to do it this early as we try to build our confidence and get back to our winning ways, it’s just the icing on the cake.” Photo courtesy of Ohio State

Softball Today • April/May 2012

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL. --- Ohio State hasn’t been the school that necessarily turned heads around the country’s softball diamonds. Then again, the Buckeyes have hosted a couple regional's in recent years, which is something every major team in the nation is shooting for. Yet on an early March weekend at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Buckeyes made history for itself at the D9 Events Citrus Classic. Ohio State beat Longwood, 12-3, for the program’s 1,000th victory on March 2. The Buckeyes, who are playing in their 40th year of softball in the school's 100th year in the Big Ten (or is it the Big 13 now?) will cherish this win for a while. “It’s neat for them to have this milestone,” 16-year coach Linda Kalafatis said. “It’s about a whole lot of women that have worn the scarlet and gray. To be able to do it this early as we try to build our confidence and get back to our winning ways, it’s just the icing on the cake.” Ohio State picked up win 999 earlier that historic March Day when the Buckeyes shut out Georgetown, 5-0. But as Kalafatis and assistant coach Danielle Henderson sat scouting Notre Dame -- an opponent it would eventually lose to 3-1 on the second day at Disney -- it was quickly apparent that winning milestone games are nice, but they aren’t the end-all. And they’re not like winning championships. “To tell you the truth, I’m just worried about the next one,” Kalafatis said. “I’m worried about win 1,001. In the world of athletics, it’s what’s next?” The Buckeyes left Florida without another win after falling 1-0 to Hofstra when Becca Bigler scored from second on an error. Ohio State lost its final game at the Citrus Classic, 4-0, to Pittsburgh. That meant, after taking the following weekend off before venturing off to Tennesee State’s event in Nashville, the Buckeyes had to wait two weeks before it could try to start collecting the first of what they hope will be another 1,000 more wins.“When you’re at a place like Ohio State, the kids fall in love with the pageantry,” Kalafatis said. “They love the tradition.” That’s what a football school will do for you. Or in recent years even basketball. But on that first weekend in March, it sure felt good to be a Buckeye softball player. A milestone moment it was.

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By Jim McCurdy

Softball Today • April/May 2012

Something is ragin’ in Louisiana. In the outer reaches of the swampy South lives a softball team that was, well, tearing it up through March. Teams from all parts of the country made their way to Cal State Fullerton’s Judi Garman Classic March 14-16. With the likes of Arizona, Washington, Arizona State, Oklahoma and Michigan, no one was expecting this forgotten Top 10 team in Lafayette, La., to steal the thunder. That the Ragin’ Cajuns did. Louisiana at Lafayette went another weekend in March unscathed, running its record to a perfect 26-0 after three wins in Fullerton. The Ragin’ Cajuns knocked off defending national champion Arizona State, 9-2, as they busted out the bats for at least one run in each of the last five innings and battered two Sun Devils pitchers for 11 hits in a real Southern-style beat-down. Lafayette, which in the mid-2000s were among the nation’s elite never to be heard of at the end of the season, created something to talk about over the first two months of the season. Now the question becomes how real is this Ragin’ Cajuns squad? A win over the defending champs ought to tell you something. Nerissa Myers went 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBI against Arizona State. Sarah Draheim homered and went 3 for 4. Pitcher Jordan Wallace allowed five hits and two runs in a complete-game effort. It was Louisiana’s third win over a ranked team this season.

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After a slow start to the season, Notre Dame and (Katey Haus) swang their way to a solid March, including a 16-run outburst at the Judi Garman Classic. The Irish went 2-2 in Fullerton. Photo by Charlie Lee


No wonder Louisiana has been cookin' up some Southern-style superiority this year: Christi Orgeron is one of the nation's best. Courtesy of Louisiana at Lafayette

Wed., Mar. 14 Notre Dame 16, Cal State Fullerton 0 (5) Purdue 8, Cal State Fullerton 6 Thurs., Mar. 15 UC Davis 11, Virginia 5 Notre Dame 2, Iowa 0 Washington 14, UC Davis 1 (5) BYU 14, Purdue 1 (5) Oklahoma 18, DePaul 1 (5) Michigan 2, Notre Dame 1 Arizona State 3, BYU 0 Washington 4, Iowa 3 Oklahoma 2, Michigan 0 Fresno State 1, Virginia 0 Louisiana 9, Arizona State 2

Myers cranked a grand slam in the second inning of the Ragin’ Cajuns win over Fresno State. Louisiana put the Bulldogs away in the fifth when Natalie Fernandez had an RBI single up the middle to score the ninth run. “Our kids are tough and take great risks, and play the game so hard,” Lotief said. “It is a testament to their fitness and mental make-up that they continue to battle and fight and compete. I’m more proud of that than any win or championship ever.” Oklahoma blasted DePaul, 18-1 in five innings. The Sooners scored six runs in the second and eight more in the third, pounding 19 hits. Lauren Chamberlain went 3 for 5 with a grand slam and drove in five runs. Pitcher Keilani Ricketts was 3 for 3 with three RBI, and gave up two hits, no runs and struck out seven in three innings of work in the circle. Georgia Casey, Destinee Martinez and Jessica Shults all had three hits apiece. Oklahoma shut out Michigan, 2-0, as Ricketts

Louisiana at Lafayette's pitcher Jordan Wallace and Ashley Brignac have spun softball to new heights again in Cajun Country. Courtesy of Louisiana at Lafayette

DePaul 4, Fresno State 0 Friday, Mar. 16 Iowa 2, Virginia 0 Washington 7, Notre Dame 2 Arizona State 4, Fresno State 0 Louisiana 5, Penn State 1 Washington 9, DePaul 1 (5) Oklahoma 9, Virginia 1 Louisiana 9, Fresno State 1 (5) Arizona 8, UC Davis 0 (6) Arizona State 1, Michigan 0 Oklahoma 6, Penn State 1 Arizona 6, Iowa 1 BYU 9, UC Davis 0 (6)

Softball Today • April/May 2012

“I think our kids played extremely well tonight against an extremely good team in an awesome venue,” Louisiana co-head coach Michael Lotief said. “I thought Jordan was steady the entire game and trusted the plan, her teammates, and went pitch by pitch. The fifth-year kids that have been through the battles gave us a sense of belief, and we never doubted. It’s a good win.” Katelyn Boyd homered and went 2 for 4 for the Sun Devils. Dallas Escobedo, last year’s freshman pitching phenom, surrendered five runs, six hits and three walks in the loss. Louisiana continued its offensive onslaught with a 5-1 win over Penn State and a 9-1 drubbing of Fresno State. Pitcher Ashley Brignac allowed one hit and struck out seven in her win over the Nittany Lions. Myers ripped an RBI single in the fifth as the Ragin’ Cajuns scored the game’s first run in a contest that had pitcher’s dominion penciled in with Brignac and Penn State’s Lisa Akamine neutralizing the opposition for the first four innings. Christi Orgeron drove in two runs as Louisiana went up 3-0. Penn State’s Lauren Yao broke up Brignac’s perfect game with a double to left, and Morgan Long’s RBI groundout ended the Cajuns’ shutout bid.

struck out nine in the complete-game outing. Chamberlain homered for the 11th time this season, and Katie Norris singled and drove in a run for the Sooners. Amy Knapp had two hits for the Wolverines. The Sooners also beat Virginia, 9-1, as Shults and Casey drove in three runs apiece. Oklahoma had 18 hits. The Sooners finished the Classic with a 6-1 win over Penn State as Casey and Norris each drove in two runs. Oklahoma rapped 51 hits in going 4-0 in Fullerton. Arizona State beat Michigan, 1-0, on Boyd’s solo shot in the sixth. Escobedo went the distance, allowing two hits and a walk. Michigan’s Haylie Wagner allowed four hits in the loss. Washington got past Iowa, 4-3, as Bryanna Walker went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three walks in the win. Kaitlin Inglesby closed out the game to pick up the save for the Huskies. Iowa’s Megan Blank was 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBI. Washington’s Nikia Williams went 2 for 2 with an RBI, and Inglesby was 1 for 3 with two RBI. The Huskies run-ruled UC Davis, 14-1, as Inglesby went 3 for 4 with two RBI. She allowed one hit and two walks to pick up her 13th win in the circle. Washington also pounded DePaul, 9-1. Inglesby allowed four hits and a run in the win. She went 3 for 3 with three RBI, and Kylee Lahners had a three-run homer and Kimi Pohlman was 2 for 3 with a triple and an RBI. The tournament was shortened by rain the last two days.

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Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Jim McCurdy

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When DePaul ventured off to the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., Feb. 24-26, the Blue Demons weren’t the favorite. Not with the likes of ranked Tennessee, Michigan, Louisiana at Lafayette and Georgia Tech in the field. But what the Blue Demons accomplished is nothing short of barking over. Especially considering in a field full of offensive-minded teams, the Blue Demons pitching was downright unforgiving. DePaul went 5-0, winning the tournament title after beating Hofstra, 3-0, on the final day at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The Blue Demons also shut out Massachusetts, 8-0, in a five-inning run-rule game to open the tournament. They knocked off No. 20 Georgia Tech, 4-2, later that first day. The Blue Demons blanked Winthrop, 10-0, in five innings, and got past Mississippi State, 3-2. Bear in mind, No. 12 Michigan lost to No. 17 LouisianaLafayette, 10-7. The Wolverines also were shut out, 1-0, by UMass. No. 10 Tennessee fell to Winthrop, 2-1. Georgia Tech was blitzed, 9-0, by the Volunteers. UMass also shut out the Yellow Jackets, 1-0. Mississippi State also beat Georgia Tech, 5-3. Yeah, that’s a lot of who-beat-who to keep up with, but the bottom line is the so-called best teams were losing games, and the unheralded found ways to win. Louisiana-Lafayette also went unbeaten in the three-day tournament, but DePaul was crowned champion on a tiebreaker. The Blue Demons used a two-run double from Kirsten Verdun in the first inning of its final win over Hofstra. Ali Warren’s sixth-inning base hit drove in the third run for DePaul. Pitcher Hannah Penna allowed four hits, walked two and struck out four in the shutout. Louisiana-Lafayette beat Winthrop, 6-1, in its final game. Paige Cormier went 2 for 2 with an RBI. Reliever Ashley Brignac won her third game of the tournament, tossing the final four innings and allowing three hits and no runs. She struck out 20 batters in four appearances at the Leadoff Classic. DePaul pounded 51 hits in the five games. Assistant coach Samantha Findlay, a marked hitter at Michigan, no doubt was


(Left side photo) Blue Demons pitcher Kirsten Verdun has put a different spin on things for DePaul this year in the circle and Verdun has been a menace at the plate, helping DePaul steal the show in Clearwater in late February. All photos courtesy of DePaul Blue Demons

Michigan responded in the third on Lane’s two-run bomb and Lauren Sweet’s solo shot to grab the lead back, 5-4. Haack drove in the tying run for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the top half of the third, and Cormier singled through the left side to regain the lead for Lafayette. Michigan’s Amy Knapp homered to center to knot the score at 6-6 in the fourth, and Steph Kirkpatrick singled and later scored on Bree Evans’ RBI groundout to push the Wolverines back on top, 7-6. Myers lined a ball past a diving center fielder with a runner on, resulting in a tworun homer, as Louisiana at Lafayette took the lead for good in the fourth. Brianna Cherry cranked a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth to tack on a late-inning insurance run for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Verdun, Megan Coronado, Samantha Dodd and Penna were selected to the Leadoff Classic All-Tournament Team. Verdun went 2 for 3 in the finale, and Dodd was 3 for 4. Coronado hit .625 at the tournament. “Hannah and Bree both did a good job of pitching,” Verdun said. “We were pretty focused on not giving up too many walks, and eliminating the home run balls. All three of us made a lot of progress.”

Softball Today • April/May 2012

beaming at the 10-plus hits per game the Blue Demons averaged in Clearwater. “I’ve been working with Sam a lot, and trying to be more selective,” said Verdun, who doubled in the sixth inning of the win over Hofstra. “I was seeing the ball better, and picking the right pitches to swing at. “The thing with slumps is that you can’t muscle your way out of them. It just has to happen, and in the meantime, you just trust that your teammates will come through. That’s exactly what’s been happening.” Along with Verdun and Penna, Bree Brown combined to direct the Blue Demons’ pitching staff to a 0.44 earned run average in the five Florida games. “Our pitching made a definite improvement,” coach Eugene Lenti said. “We didn’t give up any home runs, and that was a big priority.” Louisiana-Lafayette ran its record to 11-0 in the win over Michigan. The Ragin’ Cajuns fell behind 2-0 to the Wolverines early when Ashley Lane banged a two-run homer. Louisiana at Lafayette’s Katie Smith doubled to lead off its half of the first, and scored on Nerissa Myers base hit. Matte Haack drove in two runs to put the Ragin’ Cajuns ahead, 3-2. Cormier singled up the middle to add another run for Louisiana at Lafayette.

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By Jim McCurdy

Softball Today • April/May 2012

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL. --- This had all the makings of a pulp fiction storyline. Seriously, who could’ve written a script any better? Not in a million years. No chance. Not even the Orange. When Syracuse made its way to the Citrus Classic at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports major NCAA college tournament March 2-4, the Orange were unproven, overlooked and not far from also-ran status. But sixth-year coach Leigh Ross never stopped believing in her girls. What the Orange did was nothing short of remarkable, to be frank. Unranked at the time, Syracuse entered the D9 Events Citrus Classic with a 5-5 record. When the Orange left, they were 9-6 with wins over Top 25ranked Michigan, Baylor and North Carolina. Leave it to a small-town Michigan girl, who won three state titles as a prep star, to coach her team over the biggest bully in her hometown state and a coach she’s looked up to for so long. On ESPN3, albeit. Syracuse’s 4-2 win over former NCAA champ Michigan at an ESPN-tournament on an ESPN

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Jordan Strickland and Baylor tried to beat UCLA, but it was B.B. Bates and the Bruins who won the slugfest at Disney in early March. Photo by Charlie Lee

internet broadcast not only was a put-your-seal-on-themap win, it was a testament that teams from cold climates are changing the face of the game. “As soon as that game was over, I got a call from our AD,” Ross said. “He said, ‘You guys are on fire.’ They announced it at the basketball game. Everyone in the (Carrier) Dome went crazy.” Syracuse Twitter followers have mushroomed -supporters gushing to tap into part of the Orange’s softball success. And why not? After going 4-1 at the Citrus Classic in the heart of Disney World, it was truly a magical weekend. Syracuse also beat Virginia -- a win Ross thinks really turned a page in the Cuse’s season as the tides of March rolled in. Syracuse trailed the Cavaliers, 1-0, but came back in the seventh en route to a 4-1 triumph on a Saturday the Orange will never forget. After beating North Carolina, 6-2, to complete the first day, the Orange had a tangy appeal Mickey and Minnie would be proud of. Then they freshly squeezed the life out of the softball world when pitcher Jenna Caira, a senior twirler from Toronto, beat the Wolverines, 4-2, on a

field ESPN claimed “exclusive” rights over. Caira was out just two weeks earlier with mono. She went 3-0 in Florida. “I think Syracuse is under-rated,” Ohio State coach Linda Kalafatis said. “That pitcher, we saw her before. I think she’s terrific. Those kids probably feed off her.” Feed. Feast. Neither. The Orange put a stranglehold on college softball’s world for a weekend, and squeezed the limelight away from the top programs in Orlando. And yeah, Syracuse lost to Top 25-ranked Auburn, 5-0, but not even the best teams in the country were winning every game the previous three weekends at the big-time events. “This weekend, we kind of turned the corner,” Ross said. “The previous two weeks kind of left us down a little bit. I scheduled a phenomenal (non-conference run of games). I asked them, ‘Did I do something wrong here?’” It was the motivation that helped pushed the Orange to the forefront of college softball at the nation’s marquee tournament the first week of March. “We just kind of got ourselves straightened out here,” Ross said. “We got our heads straight. We trusted it. The commitment level has to be extreme, and these girls have that.”


Yes, there were other teams who made a case for themselves at Disney. Michigan shut out Auburn, 4-0, and beat UCLA, 5-3, for a pair of impressive Top-25 wins on the first day. UCLA beat Baylor, 10-6, in a slugfest that freshman third baseman Stephanie LaRosa flashed her brilliance with some web gems in the field and home run power at the plate. North Carolina sophomore pitcher Lori Spingola baffled Auburn’s bats, and junior Constance Orr provided the game’s only offense with her pinch-hit gamewinning RBI in the bottom of the eighth of a 1-0 international tiebreaker win for the Tar Heels. Notre Dame went 3-1 at the Classic, beating Ohio State, 3-1, on a day its pitching allowed just one run. The Irish, who didn’t face the likes of any of the powerhouses at this tournament, lost to Virginia Tech, to conclude its four-game run at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. But they cracked over the .500 mark in their trip to Disney. “I feel like the more we play, the better we get,” 11year Fighting Irish coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I’m not panicking yet.” At a school that expects so much, what would it take for a Notre Dame to emerge in softball? “The grades, No. 1,” Gumpf said. “Someone (namely a pitcher) to give it a chance to say, ‘I wanna be the one to take us there.’ Honestly, we’ve got to do it ourselves. If somebody’s hot, they become hot.” In other words, if a team gets hot, its recruiting value becomes more enticing. That’s what Baylor proved last year in advancing to the Women’s College World Series. It’s what Oregon is trying to do in a Pac-12 Conference synonymous for softball

titles. Tournaments like the Citrus Classic, where a team from the Great Northwest has to travel to the far reaches of the country to play five games in three days sounds a bit nuts. Actually some of the coaches will tell you nowadays they’d rather stick to four games instead of five. “Boy I like that,” Kalafatis said. “I’m gonna stick with that.” Ducks third-year coach Mike White is just the opposite, though. He’s been bringing his team to Orlando since he got the job, and the way he sees it, he’ll take all the games he can pack into a weekend. Oregon played six at Disney. “In some ways, it’s trying to get us ready for a possible long trip in the postseason,” White said. “It is difficult, but it’s something we need to do. We’re still a little inconsistent. We’ll go flat for a little bit. What we need to do is evolve as a team. For us, it’s defense. We have to play error-free defense. Just because we’re from the Pac-12 doesn’t mean we’re gonna get wins.” Oregon got its share at the Citrus Classic. The Ducks went 5-1, their lone loss a 2-1 setback to Baylor. Yet their 3-2 eight-inning thriller over Pittsburgh on Kelsey Chambers’ one-out single, and a 5-4 comeback win over North Carolina on Kaylan Howard’s two-run homer to left offered a flare for the dramatics. UCLA, the glossiest name in college softball history, went 3-2, its win over Baylor the Bruins’ signature victory in their cross-country trip to Florida. “We’re in the middle of a rough patch,” Bruins assistant coach Lisa Fernandez said. “I’d be a little bit more concerned if we were in the middle of May than the middle of March. We’ve got an eight-cylinder, but we’re only firing on four.”

Baylor didn’t have the best of weekends. It started off with a bang with wins over Oregon and North Carolina. Yet it ended with a thud after losing 2-1 to Syracuse on a pair of home runs by Shirley Daniels and Lacey Kohl, to cap a 2-3 weekend for the Bears. Their Citrus showing included a 6-4 loss to sub-.500 Illinois State. A lot of that, of course, had to do with the loss of Baylor pitcher Whitney Canion, who tore the ACL in her left knee, and will be evaluated over the next month. Canion, of course, was the pitcher who steered the Bears to the World Series last year. “At this point in time, we’re fighting through some adversity,” Baylor coach Glenn Moore said. “We knew coming into this, it was going to be an opportunity to grow. I’ve got to be patient with ’em. The perspective we’re gonna take is, ‘Make sure these losses aren’t losses.’ They’re fighting right now.” Nobody fought more than the Orange. For certain, Syracuse was the talk of college softball’s world as March ushered its way in. “It’s tough at a cold-weather school,” Ross said. “They want to prove to you they can play. I really respect (Michigan coach Carol Hutchins) for what she’s done. The Michigan game, we felt we were in control. We felt great. That’s our team. That’s how we play. We pulled it all together. I think the girls are like, ‘Oh, there we go.’” In early March, the Orange were more than on-thego. They were peeling apart college softball for a weekend. And what a Citrusy story it was.

Softball Today • April/May 2012

Syracuse was full of freshly-squeezed smiles in shades of Orange after Lisaira Daniels hit a long ball in a 4-2 coming-out-party win over Michigan on ESPN3. Photo by Charlie Lee

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Texas' Lexy Bennett will call Akron, Ohio, home this summer after the Racers made her the No. 3 pick in the NPF Draft.

Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Dave Utnik

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Memphis, TN -- They were prepared to go with Plan B. Championship teams always have multiple options in mind on draft day. Chicago Bandits owner, Bill Sokolis, and general manager, Aaron Moore, knew they would get a potential star with the No. 2 overall pick. So they mapped out scenarios to fill their roster with rookies who could make an impact in 2012. "We knew coming in to the draft that we had a couple of holes to fill in the roster, both offensively and defensively," Moore said. The Bandits have a well-deserved reputation for scouting and developing talented players. And Moore is convinced that University of Washington outfielder Kimi Pohlman, will be a star one day. Only he figured it would be for another team. "Bill and I had several plans in place going into the draft and we really thought Kimi was going to go No. 1 to the [USSSA] Pride," Moore said. "When a player like Kimi Pohlman is there at No. 2 you have to jump at it." Two years ago, the Bandits chose Michigan lefty Nikki Nemitz with their first pick. She went on to win rookie of

the year honors. The reigning National Pro Fastpitch champions believe they have another potential ROY candidate in Pohlman, who led the Huskies to the NCAA championship last spring by hitting .432 with 25 stolen bases and 57 runs scored. "There are a lot of things to like about her. She’s a complete player and has a chance to compete for Rookie of the Year honors," said Moore, after the Bandits used the first of their four picks to select Pohlman in the first round. "We feel like Kimi brings more speed and the ability to be a table-setter for the big hitters we have behind her." When the Pride passed on Pohlman, selecting LSU ace Brittany Mack with the first pick of the draft on March 8, Moore didn't really need any of the extensive research that was laid out before him. The player the Bandits wanted all along was there for the taking. "Kimi can be plugged into several parts of our lineup. There’s a good chance our lineup can have two rookies at the top if you throw [second-round pick] Katie Schroeder into the mix. The adjustment period for everyone will be short, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens." Bandits' rookies are seldom bench dwellers. They are expected to contribute to a team with championship

aspirations. And the 2012 class is no exception. Schroeder, an outfielder from UCLA, was the 6th overall pick. And she's a potential starter as well with over 200 collegiate hits and all-PAC 10 honors on her resume. Northwestern infielder Adrienne Monka -- the 20th overall pick -- has 41 career homers and was the Big 10 Freshman of the Year in 2009, while third-round pick Stephanie Ricketts has been named WAC Pitcher of the Year twice at Hawaii. "Our rookies have and always will be asked to come in and contribute right away, Moore said. "The players we select are with a distinct purpose. We’ve been fortunate in years past to be able to draft great players that fill holes for us. The 2012 season should be a lot of fun." The Pride, who reached the championship series last summer, had four picks in the first two rounds and used them wisely to create another contending team. Mack, who plays for Pride coach Beth Torina at LSU, earned AllAmerican honors last season after going 20-7 with a 1.74 ERA and 209 strikeouts. She joins Olympic gold medalist, Cat Osterman, to create a formidable pitching rotation. With seven picks overall, the Pride added tremendous depth to an already talented team. General Manager Don


Washington's Kimi Pohlman has a lot more hi-5s to give out after being selected with the No. 2 pick by the Chicago Bandits. Photos supplied by the NPF provide us with better at bats all the way up and down the lineup. I believe the addition of these players improves our ability to score, play solid defense and give our pitchers the help they need to close out games," Arrietta said. "Obviously Bennett will be an impact player but I truly believe all six [draft picks] have the potential to challenge for positions in the starting lineup." Shortstop Alicia Herron, from Ohio State is the reigning 2011 USA Softball Player of the Year, while Michigan third baseman Amanda Chidester and Cal outfielder Jamia Reid have already earned All-American honors. Arizona State's Hillary Bach and Jen Mineau, from Fordham, add depth to a good pitching rotation. "My job is to find the best fit for our program; the rest is up to the individual players including the veterans. No question we were looking for help in the circle. Lisa Norris 2012 NATIONAL PRO FASTPITCH DRAFT First Round (1) USSSA Florida Pride - Brittany Mack (2) Chicago Bandits - Kimi Pohlman (3) Akron Racers - Lexy Bennett (4) USSSA Florida Pride - Andrea Harrison Second Round (5) USSSA Pride - Kristyn Sandberg (6) Chicago Bandits - Katie Schroeder (7) Akron Racers - Hillary Bach (8) USSSA Florida Pride - Valerie Arioto

and Kristina Thorson become much more effective if we can expand the rotation. Bach is having a stellar season at ASU and Mineau has turned in two no-hit performances [this season]," Arrietta said. "Chidester adds a huge stick and depth at third and behind the plate. Herron gives yet another huge stick and helps solidify our middle infield. Reid is the speedster we needed. When you stack it all up, we added depth at every position, In fact, we are now at least two deep everywhere on the diamond. Recently, we have not been successful at obtaining what I consider the complete team. I believe the 2012 is that complete team. "We made a huge step forward both offensively and defensively. The draft class and the free agents give us the missing pieces we needed to move up and challenge for the regular season title." Third Round (9) Carolina Diamonds - Sara Plourde (10) Chicago Bandits - Stephanie Ricketts (11) Akron Racers - Amanda Chidester (12) USSSA Florida Pride - Michelle Moultrie Fourth Round (13) Carolina Diamonds - Kelsi Weseman (14) Akron Racers - Alicia Herron (15) Akron Racers - Jen Mineau (16) USSSA Florida Pride - Nikia Williams Fifth Round (17) Carolina Diamonds - Angel Bunner (18) Chicago Bandits - Adrienne Monka (19) Akron Racers - Jamia Reed (20) USSSA Florida Pride - Christi Orgeron

Softball Today • April/May 2012

DeDonatis orchestrated a trade last July to acquire the Diamonds first-round pick and wound up taking UCLA's versatile Andrea Harrison with the fourth overall pick. The Diamonds, who moved from Tennessee to North Carolina, didn't have a pick until the third round but still wound up with an impact player in Sara Plourde, who owns the UMass career strikeout record. Plourde, who set a record by striking out 16 batters in a no-hitter against Quinnipiac in March, 3, joins a squad that features former UNC All-American Danielle Spaulding. The Diamonds are creating a lot of buzz in Kannapolis, where most of the team's home game will be played. There is excitement building in Akron as well with the arrival of first-round draft pick Lexy Bennett from the University of Texas. "Lexy, first and foremost, was our first selection because of her nearly flawless defensive skills. She is so versatile in that she can play anywhere in the infield and not miss a beat. The fact that she has the ability to be a force offensively made her worthy of a first round selection. Her outstanding attitude and work ethic add to what I believe to be a perfect fit for the Racers, said Racers co-owner and general manger Joey Arrietta."Bennett is the complete package and she will be a tough out." Arrietta has assembled a roster filled with tough outs by adding free agents Aja Paculba (2B), Brianna Hesson (OF) and 2011 NPF catcher of the year Katelyn Castillo and six rookies to a lineup that already boasts 2008 NPF Championship MVP Nicole Trimboli and all-NPF catcher Sam Marder. "We plugged a lot of holes in the Racers lineup that will

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Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Dave Utnik

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She is headed to medical school in the fall. Kasia Smith wants to be a physician's assistant one day. But she isn't in any particular hurry to leave Goodyear, Arizona. Not just yet. The Estrella Foothills senior has a lot to look forward to -- at Philadelphia University and on the softball diamond. The future, like her fastball and powerful bat, is loaded with promise. Of that, there is no doubt. Smith is the Wolves undisputed MVP and a significant reason they are considered by many as the top high school softball team in the nation. On the final day of the regular season, with rival Desert Edge threatening to spoil what has been a perfect spring, Smith showed once again why she is so highly regarded by her teammates and peers. She gave her team and early lead by delivering a run-scoring single off Desert Edge ace Cyra Wentz in the first inning and followed that with a two-out home run in the third to cap a 2-1 victory. Smith also struck out six in a two-hit pitching performance that secured the Wolves' 31st consecutive victory. "Kasia was unanimously voted as the player of the year," coach Rick Brungardt said. Smith is the first Estrella Foothills softball player to receive a scholarship to a major fouryear college program and the Wolves have flourished during her career, reaching the state quarterfinals in 2009, the state finals in 2010 and capturing the Class 3A state championship last year. "After losing the state championship in 2010 the team was hungrier than ever," Brungardt said. And the Wolves' appetite for victory has not diminished despite a realignment that has them competing in the newly formed Division III. "Our re-aligned conference allows us to play

larger schools from higher divisions and we have enjoyed much success in doing so," Brungardt said. "The prospect of playing bigger schools helps us elevate our game to a higher level and provides us with quality competition." That is a philosophy embraced by each of the nation's elite teams, including No. 2 Palm Beach Gardens, No. 3 Alvin (TX), and No. 4. Norco (CA).

ESTRELLA FOOTHILLS The Wolves are the bulls-eye that every aspiring champion is aiming to hit. Brungardt understands that as well as anyone. Estrella Foothills spent four seasons trying to win a state title. And now that the Wolves have accomplished that feat, everyone else is out to replace them. "Having an undefeated season has brought with it good and bad," he said. "We have received a lot of support from a growing fan base, the community, our student body as well as very favorable media coverage. But with it comes the price of feeling like you are sitting on a powder keg waiting to blow up. "We have an ever growing target on our backs and recognize that there are a lot of teams out there that would like to take us down. We realize that we must work hard in practice to be fully prepared for anything that is thrown at us." The Wolves had the talent and the experience to remain a championship contender with Smith in the pitcher's circle and a trio of all-state players -- senior catcher Tatum Reedy, senior first baseman Lenora Brafford and sophomore shortstop Ashley Godfrey --

Estrella Foothills senior pitcher Kasia Smith is the Wolves undisputed MVP and a significant reason they are considered by many as the top high school softball team in the nation.


anchoring the lineup. Even after Smith departs the future remains promising with freshmen Taylor Godfrey and Dustie Durham already establishing themselves as potential stars.

PALM BEACH GARDENS The Gators have won four Florida Class 8A state championships in seven seasons and they have one good reason to believe that No. 5 is on the horizon: Shelby Turnier. Armed with a 65-mph fastball and a scholarship to the University of Central Florida, Turnier is the ace of a program that has spent significant time ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation and the front-runners in Florida's Class 8A. As Palm Beach Garden's coach Randy Jackson explains: "It all starts in the circle." And there are few better in the country than Turnier, who has more than 150 strikeouts and a pair of no-hitters to her credit this spring. The Gators depend heavily on Turnier's powerful right arm, but they can hit, too. And that gives them a decided advantage every time they take the field. Tiffany Lower hit a grand slam against Gulliver Prep in the Kissimmee Klassic championship game, Sara Diskant belted a game-winning solo home run in the regular-season finale over Suncoast and center fielder Ta' Coia Williams batted over. 500 with eight home runs during the regular season.

ALVIN

Norco Pitcher Emily Lockman is among the players who thrives on heightened expectations. She has signed with Nebraska and is responsible for setting both the competitive and emotional tones in the circle.

Bianca Barrera helped Alvin achieve many of its goals by leading the team in hitting. Kinsey Nichols emerged as a terror on the bases and Loren Donaldson led the team in clutch hits -- seemingly always coming through with runners on base.

NORCO The Cougars begin each season with exactly one goal in mind -- winning a California state championship. Everything else is pretty much secondary. So while the 14-0 start and the national ranking that came with it are something to be proud of, it's the postseason that truly matters. "I think when players come into the program they hear about our past success and their effort rises to the level of expectation," Norco coach Rick Robinson said. "Every year our only goal is to win it all and we tell them that is the effort we expect."

Pitcher Emily Lockman is among the players who thrives on heightened expectations. She has signed with Nebraska and is responsible for setting both the competitive and emotional tones in the circle. Kylie Reed, who batted over .590 for much of the season, is another star who tends to showcase her talent when the pressure is on Since opening the year by winning the prestigious Arizona Tournament of Champions, Norco has been ranked among the nation's top teams and is unquestionably the best California has to offer. "We really preach the idea of team and family being the most important part of our program," Robinson said. "The players have worked hard to put the goals of the team before individual goals. They have played as a team and the results have showed it."

Softball Today • April/May 2012

Hailey Harris rarely takes an inning off. If the Alvin Lady Yellow Jackets are on the field then there's a pretty good chance that the star senior is wrapped up in shin guards and a chest protector. "Hailey has caught just about every game for us this year," Alvin coach Carla Newsom said. "She leads our team from behind the plate." Harris, who is headed to Houston Baptist in the fall, has a lot of responsibility and she takes it very seriously. She earned the starting catcher's position as a sophomore and won the team's defensive MVP award in her first varsity season. She's hit over .300 for her career and hardly anyone dares to run on her arm. Then there's the great work she's done handling a talented pitching staff that features Karri Smith and Lara Bean. For Harris that's all part of being a team leader. She is part of a softball tradition that has produced 16 playoff appearances in 17 seasons and a national ranking in 2012. The Yellow Jackets ended the regular season with 30 wins despite a difficult schedule that included powerhouse foes Pearland, Brazoswood, and the Woodlands. "Playing a tough schedule has helped us get better throughout the year," coach Newsom said. "It has been an honor to coach this group of kids. They have been on a mission all year. We have had high expectations and have put in lots of hard work to try to reach them."

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By Jeff Berlinicke In softball, the pitchers usually get all of the ink. The games are on their arms. The pitchers get the wins, but there’s somebody behind home plate who deals with the dirt, the heat, and is basically the quarterback of the team. That is the catcher. It is not a glamorous position; they usually leave the field muddy and sweaty after spending almost two hours in the heat, covered by protective gear. It takes a lot more than a good arm to play catcher. They perform their task behind a mask, but most coaches will tell you that the catcher is the most valuable player on the team. They call the pitches, calm down the pitcher in an unsteady situation, and are usually expected to knock in a few runs along the way. It might not be the glamour job, but it can also pay off with state titles and college scholarships. Here are five of the top high school catchers in the country who will be moving on to the next level next season, taking their talent and their dirt right along with them.

Softball Today • April/May 2012

TAYLOR KING

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(Oak Hall High School, Gainesville, Fla.) If you are a nationally known catcher, recruited by almost every major college program in the country, the University of Florida is always near the top of the list, especially if you live in Gainesville, Fla., home of the Gators. That wasn’t the way Taylor King was thinking when she decided to leave Gainesville and sign with the University of Texas where she will be part of the Longhorns’ top-notch recruiting class. King spent her first two high school years at a small school in Orlando while playing her club ball for the Gainesville Gold. She moved on to Oak Hill and earned all-state honors as a junior when she batted .524 with 27 RBI. She also stole 24 bases in 24 attempts. Texas coach Connie Clark said it was as much the way that King runs the bases as it was her gaudy stats at the plate. “Taylor King is a catcher who possesses good size, strength and a solid catcher’s mentality,’’ Clark said. “She also has deceptive speed, runs the bases well, and is a great addition to our running game.’’ In addition to her base running ability, she also had six doubles, four triple and three homers during her junior season and King committed to Texas before her senior year. “It’s been exciting and (signing with Texas) is a dream come true,’’ King said. “It is where I wanted to go ever since I was nine-years-old. It is the only place I ever wanted to play.’’ King said part of the appeal with Texas was that she is a big fan of former Longhorns pitcher Cat Osterman.

“Taylor King is a catcher who possesses good size, strength and a solid catcher’s mentality,’’ said Texas Longhorns coach Connie Clark.


Yukon, Oklahoma High School catcher Whitney Ellis saved her best for last season when she batted .442 with 13 homers and a fielding percentage of .987.

(Yukon, Okla. High School) Oklahoma might not be known as a hotbed of softball,. But don’t tell that to University of Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso. She had a nationally-ranked seven-player recruiting class coming in next season and all of them are from Oklahoma. One of the top recruits is catcher Whitney Ellis, who has been catching at Yukon High since she was a freshman. She led her team to the 2010 state championship, but saved her best for last season when she batted .442 with 13 homers and a fielding percentage of .987. Ellis hasn’t limited her talents to the high school level. She’s been playing for the Oklahoma Exclusive Golf for the past four years, and had 12 homers in 2011, leading the Golf to the 18 & Under Gold National Qualifiers. Going to Oklahoma was never an issue. “I always wanted to be a Sooner,’’ Ellis said. “I know that Oklahoma is ready to win a national championship and I want to be a part of it.’’ Gasso was searching for a catcher and knew she had one in her backyard.

“We were searching for catchers and Whitney was definitely one of the best catchers I have seen on the national level,’’ Gasso said. “She has a strong arm and the ability to pick off runners. She has a great arm and will be a great leader.’’

CASEY AFRICANO (Edison High School, Huntington Beach, Calif.) Notre Dame is already solid at catching, but Casey Africano decided to head for South Bend, Ind., anyway. She has put together a solid career in the competitive Southern California softball circuit and spends her summers with the Worth Firecrackers, one of the top club teams in SoCal. Africano led Edison to an undefeated season as a freshman and was named all-conference and all-city as a freshman and a junior. "Casey plays the game with confidence, intensity, poise and maturity,’’ said Notre Dame coach Deanna Gumpf. “ She commands the field from behind the plate and has a powerful and explosive bat. We feel confident that all of these qualities will lead to a successful career for her here at Notre Dame."

KATEE AGUIRRE (Rancho Cucamonga High School, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) After three years at Rancho Cucamonga, Katee Aguirre has accomplished about all she can accomplish and will be taking her talents to Arizona State next season. She’s started since a freshman at Rancho Cucamonga and it all culminated when she was named First-Team All-Baseline after her junior season. She was also named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player after her freshman season. Aguirre played travel ball for the California Cruisers based out of Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., for coach Lyn Christensen. With the Cruisers, she helped the team to a first-place finish at the Louisville Firecracker Tournament in 2011, a third-place finish at the 16U ASA Nationals in 2010 and a runner-up finish in 2009. As a junior, Aguirre had a .390 batting average with 13 RBIs and a pair of home runs in 77 at-bats. Her 10 extra-base hits led the Cougars.

Softball Today • April/May 2012

WHITNEY ELLIS

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KATIE

ROWNE

(Zachary, La.) Katie Browne decided to leave Louisiana despite the strong programs at LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette. She’ll still be in Southeastern Conference country, but the Zachary High catcher is headed for the University of Georgia. She had connections with Georgia. She plays at Zachary High for coach Leslie Efferson, who pitched at Nicholls State for current Georgia coach Lu Harris-Champer. Browne could have gone almost anywhere. She is a 6-0 slugger who has been racking up awards ever since starting at Zachary in ninthgrade. She led the Broncos to an eighth-place finish in the state tournament, and the Broncos climbed to third-place in 2010. She’s played at Zachary for four years, and has spent time with the Southern Force playing travel ball. "Katie is a hard-nosed catcher with phenomenal work ethic that also has a tremendous arm, size and strength that will allow her to become a great Southeastern Conference catcher," Harris-Champer said. "On top of that, she is a mentally-tough individual who will bring great character and work ethic to our program. Her offensive power potential could easily allow her to become one of the top homerun producers in the country by the end of her career at UGA.” Katie, and her sister, Jessie, who also played for the Broncos, lost their mother in a car accident and a memorial fund has been established on behalf of the Browne sisters.

+achary High catcher Katie Browne is headed for the University of Georgia.


The Major slowpitch softball landscape has changed since last season when Resmondo-Specialty Tank/Worth won their third consecutive Major World Series over the surprise #16 seeded Taylormade/Mizuno. The offseason was ripe with massive changes as the #2 team from 2011, GTL Cartel/Demarini folded unexpectedly and this created more player/team changes than usual. Resmondo will be the favorite, but they will be pushed by #2 Laser Vision, and #3 ranked Nordkap/Desert Falls. s the ip based out of Minnesota, join States. a new team with sponsorsh United the r ove all from ed Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton, her gat the first time with players ranks of the Major division for Photos by Dale Weiser

2012 Pre-Season Rankings:

#1 Resmondo/Worth - The changes start at the top as the 2011 World Series Champion Resmondo/Worth lost star middle infielder Bryson Baker and long time left fielder Brian Rainwater to the new Laser Vision/Easton team put together by Brett Helmer. Resmondo picked up former GTL center fielder Tim Howard and Team 454 outfielder Ronald "Bubba" Mack to replace them with Bubba moving to an infield position for 2012. Until someone proves they can beat Resmondo, it looks like they will have a good shot at their 4th straight Major World Series title. P Andy Purcell OF Bobby Hughes UT BJ Fulk

SS Don Dedonatis Jr 3B Jimmy Salas OF Tim Howard

IF Jeremy Isenhower MI Bubba Mack P LC Watson

2B Greg Connell UT Vince Bisbee

1B Howie Krause OF Scott Striebel

#2 Laser Vision/Annihilation/Supreme/D2E/Easton put together by 2011 Offensive MVP and batting champion Brett Helmer has a mix of great veterans and some of the top young players in the game today. Laser Vision has everything they need to knock Resmondo out of the #1 slot and they will win multiple tournaments in 2012. LF Brian Rainwater CF Rick Baker RF Brian Wegman 3B Dal Beggs SS Kevin Kennington MI Bryson Baker 2B Sam Lopez 1B Ryan Theide P Geno Buck C Jason Kendrick EH Brett Helmer Utility Scott Kirby Back up pitcher and coach Billy Messina Manager Dan Fruwirth Stats Bill Tassinari Sponsor Pierre Alfred

Softball Today • April/May 2012

#3 Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton, a new team with sponsorship based out of Minnesota, joins the ranks of the Major division for the first time with players gathered from all over the United States. The team has a multi-year plan to rise to the top of softball. In talking to some of the players, they feel they can make a big splash this year. Look for Nordkap to win a few of the Conference tournaments that Resmondo and Laser Vision don't have on their schedule and position themselves for a World Series run.

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IF/OF Brett McCollum P Chad Munger UT Josh Olson C Kevin Filby

IF JD Genter IF Joey Formosa UT Tyson Steele

OF Mike Bowlin UT Travis Clark UT Rob Olson

SS Anthony Dress OF Brian Zirkle IF Chris Hansen

OF Donovan Pokraka Manager Mark Meersman Manager Rick Olson

#4 Combat/Derby Boys/Supreme are back with another Major team. This one is younger and is giving some of the top 'A' players from recent years a chance to shine and build for the future. Look for Combat to do well in the western tournaments like Phoenix, Vegas, Seattle, and possibly try to beat one of the "big two" at the World Series. UT Scott Brown P Derek Warren IF Jeff Gare Brandon Perry

SS Jeff McGavin P Jeff Graus OF Joey Smith Davis Bilardello

OF Johnny McCraw IF Frank Yeilding UT Dale Roe

C Mike Dill OF Franck Henry UT Casey Rogowski

Staff Don Cooper Staff Bobby Nifong Staff Hector Pagan


#5 Team 454/Emerald/Worth (VA) the reigning USSSA 'A' World champ returns with a corps group of players from a stellar 2011 season and add to the roster veteran CF Jason Branch, and some big hitters in Rusty Bumgardner and Jeff Hall. Look for Team 454 to be heavy favorites to repeat as 'A' World champions, win some of the smaller events in the southeast, and upset some of the major teams at least a couple of times this year. CF Jason Branch SS Kevin Bazat 3B Bill Rhew P Andy Vitcak P Kevin Johnson RF Brent Griffin IF Donald Rogers IF Mitch Mabe 2B Phil White UT Jeff Hall UT Kyle Moyer UT Rusty Bumgardner OF Jesse Harrison Manager Tim Taylor #6 Shoppe/Team TPS/Elite (TN) a perennial favorite in the 'A' division returns with a reconstructed middle infield in SS Chente Granados and middle infielder Tony Mack. They also bring back former pitcher Dan Sanchez and outfielder Robert Blackburn to go with their top hitters Eric Thompson, second generation power hitter Lee Powers, and veteran Tim Cocco. P Dan Sanchez OF Cory Boothe OF Robert Blackburn 3B Lee Powers MI Tony Mack C Tim Cocco 1B Eric Thompson SS Chente Granados OF Billy Moore OF Kyle Cowart P Shane Spicer 2B Chris Moon Manager Larry Quartuccio Sponsor Greg Blackburn #7 TYJA/Suncoast Reebok (FL) is a merger between the Suncoast/Reebok sponsor Lee Trotter and the Darkside TYJA sponsor Mark Weber. Both sponsors brought a few of their best players and added two of the biggest names in the game in former Resmondo catcher Jeff Wallace and infielder Dennis Rulli. Suncoast finished off the roster with the recent addition of former GTL infielder Victor Cordova. Look for Suncoast to challenge for the 'A' World title. Mark Weber - sponsor OF Neil Haglund IF Lee Lipshutz

IF Lee Trotter - player/sponsor IF Terry Rosenbalm P Perry Hensley

OF David Kessler IF Luis Reyna IF Vic Cordova

C Jeff Wallace OF Dustin Roberts OF Matt Bunn

IF Dennis Rulli P TJ Thompson

#8 R&M Metals (IA) had about half of their 2nd place 'A' World roster raided by other teams in the offseason, but fill in the holes with some great up and coming players like outfielders Reggie Schulte and Brandon Dillon from Sinister and third baseman Scott Zaciewski from Combat/Laser Vision. Manager Rob Humphrey seems to find a way to win though, and they have self-expectations to take the next step to a World title. P Lossen White SS Mike Umscheid OF Joe Gordon

P Kyle Yerkes CF Brandon Dillon IF Keith Anderson

OF Reggie Schulte 3B Scott Zaciewski 1B Aaron Middendorf MI Scott Roen IF Kevin Kull IF Steve Whaley

IF Matt Albert C Ron Fields Manager Rob Humphrey

IF Alexis Ramirez OF Brian Faria IF Charles Cunningham C Chris Greinert P Danny Lopez OF Jeremy Davis OF Jonathan Lenz 1B Kevin Ballard IF Manny Liriano SS Michael Noonan OF Nick Robertson 3B Sammy Christensen OF Westy Guill Manager Tony Verdugo Sponsor Sonny Pilcher Sonny's/TPS (WY) returns in 2012 having added some of the top new 'A' players in power hitter Chris Greinert, outfielder Nick Robertson, and shortstop Michael Noonan. Photos by Dale Weiser

Softball Today • April/May 2012

#9 Sonny's/TPS (WY) returns in 2012 having added some of the top new 'A' players in power hitter Chris Greinert, outfielder Nick Robertson, and shortstop Michael Noonan. They lost the Granados brothers, but will try again to use a western heavy schedule to build a top seed for the World tournaments at the end of the season.

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#10 Taylormade/TM Sport/Mizuno (VA) lost star shortstop Kevin Kennington who went to Laser Vision, Robert Blackburn who went to Shoppe, and 2nd baseman Kevin Rye who is sitting out 2012. Taylormade will be tasked with trying to find some more "diamonds in the rough" to fill out their roster, and if they do, should finish higher than 10th ranked. 1B Brian Floyd 3B Brent Haywood OF Chad McLamb IF Nick Floyd

1B Chris Calcutt CF Brian Logan IF Chris Kirian Travis Taylor - Sponsor

P Brandon Jonas LF Jeremy Yates IF Branden Blake

UT Chyenne Brooks P/IF Stacy Bolton UT Jeremy Egan

#11 CA Sports/Creative Stucco is a new team to the 'A' division and is made up of a number of veteran players that have been to the top of softball like third baseman Brian Justice, outfielder Ryan Robbins, and middle infielder Brian Blount. CA Sports will have to shake off some rust to make it into the top 10 in the rankings. IF Brian Justice UT Landon Helm UT Scotty King Doug Reed manager/sp

OF Ryan Robbins OF Ronnie Lytle IF/Sponsor Jason Baxter

IF Brian Blount IF Jason Hatley P/Sponsor Tommy Bain

UT Nate Holcomb IF Matty Crawford Jay Ross manager

#12 Blitz/Watanabe (OH) moves up to the 'A' division after winning the 2011 'B' World Tournament and has a roster made up primarily of players from the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. OF Mike Rogers SS Nick Masur OF Chris Ashley 2B Jayson Scott

C Jon Jamison OF Richie Jones UT Dan Bean

C Brad Tabler 1B Jimmy Carter IF/OF Brad Reckart

P Frank Gruber IF Jason Roesch IF Shane Hatfield

Conference 'B' Teams:

West Coast Doerflinger/Eastson (WA) FBI GTS Worth (AR) The Scene (NY) Linedrive (MI) Down2Earth/SBC/Worth (GA) "4 THE FALLEN"/3N2 (USA) Columbus Pipe/DSS Bats/Easton (OH) SBS/Combat

Conference 'C' Conference Teams:

Pure Romance/Easton (OH) Major League Dynasty/D2E/Worth/Sports55 (NC) OC Swats (CA) Monster/Combat (WA) Peak (CO)

The Top Non-Conference teams:

Luther Auto/Tanel360/nsk/Protandim (MN) 3rd Street Financial/Loveless Hardwood/TPS (OH) Checking / Worth (CT) Ts 13 (NE) AZM (AZ)


Laservision used a pounding offense and a stingy defense to outhit and out glove their opponents by a margin of 183 to 67. Photo by Dale Weiser

Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Lance McCall

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Kansas City, Kansas --Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton from Cicero, New York compiled a perfect 5-0 record on their way to capturing the Worth Sports/Mike Turney Memorial Conference USSSA Title. Laservision used a pounding offense and a stingy defense to outhit and out glove their opponents by a margin of 183 to 67. Laservision culminated their Conference USSSA victory with a sound trouncing of Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth in the championship game. Laservision avenged an earlier loss to Resmondo earlier in the season at the USSSA Hall of Fame Classic in Kissimmee, Florida. Co-Tournament MVP Co-Tournament MVP Defensive Tournament MVP All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team

Co-Tournament MVP's Bryson Baker and Kevin Kennington posted huge numbers offensively and shined on defense as they sparked their team to early 32-1 and 27-7 victories over Rock Hounds and NorKap. Laservision continued to slice their way through the winners bracket with a impressive 40-21 long ball victory over a strong 'C' division team Hubs Pub from St. Louis, Missouri. All Tournament team star players Rick Baker, Brett Helmer and Dal Beggs scorched the base path as they sparked their team to victory. In the undefeated contest Laservision lit up the scoreboard with an impressive 34-19 victory over 'A' division powerhouse R&M Metals/Troupe/Pipac/S&R/Easton from Waterloo Iowa. All Tournament Team players Brian Thiede and Brian Rainwater paced Laservision to victory as the team now Bryson Baker Kevin Kennington Richard Buck Rick Baker Brett Helmer Dal Beggs Brian Wegman Ryan Thiede Brian Rainwater

advanced to the championship game against Resmondo. Resmondo from Winter Haven, FL. was also having an outstanding tournament as they scored a 44-4 victory over KC Karuption a 39-8 victory over Axis a 44-20 victory over T's 13 and a convincing 53-29 win over Syndicate/Guardian National Bank. With these sound victories under their belt it appeared their championship game against Laservision would be a highly contested contest. However, Laservision came out firing on all cylinders as they poured it on offensively in the early and middle innings. When the smoke hadfinally cleared Laservision stood victorious with a resounding 5019 victory.

Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton


Team 454/Emerald/Worth won the 12th Annual "Texas Legends" Men's Major NIT Photo by Dale Weiser

Euless, TX. --- Team 454/Emerald/Worth won the 12th Annual "Texas Legends" Men's Major NIT by going an incredible 8-1 and "double dipping" Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton 19-18 and 32-17 in the championship. Team 454 based out of Glen Allen, Virginia stumbled early when Conference USSSA 'B' classed team BuziniSports.com/BWW/Worth upset them 28-17 in the quarter finals of the 25 team tournament. In the loser's bracket Team 454 rattled off three straight wins on Saturday night including an 11-5 defensive struggle against Resmondo-Specialty Tank/Worth with the wind blowing in. Sunday morning, Team 454 played for 6.5 hours straight and knocked off Team All Out/DaBomb/Miken, SBS/Combat, and the current #1 team in the nation Nordkap/Desert Falls twice to take the tournament title. The tournament began on Friday night at the Euless, Texas "Softball World" park with the Houston based All Out/DaBomb/Miken team upsetting the mighty Resmondo 17-10 in front of a fair sized crowd. Team All Out won the game by getting out to an early lead, fielding the hard shot grounders and turning them into double plays, and by showing some great range in the outfield. With the wind blowing in strong from left field, Team All Out adjusted their swings to hit to the right side while Resmondo continued to try and power the ball out of left to no avail. This is the first time Resmondo has lost their first game of a Conference double elimination tournament since the leagues inception in 2006. This was also the first time they have been beaten by a non-conference 'B' team and the first 'B' team to beat Resmondo on a non-baseball field since 2008 when Columbus Pipe beat them in St. Louis. The upsets continued on Saturday morning when Monster Softball, a 'C' team out of Arkansas, hit a 3 run walk off homer to beat Fence Broker's 11-8. Elsewhere, Sagnasty/Worth/Prototype beat Team All Out 25-16 and BuziniSports.com shocked Team 454.

Meanwhile Nordkap/Desert Falls and SBS/Combat were cruising through their first three games each on their way to meeting in a memorable winner's bracket championship game. In that game Nordkap/Desert Falls led big early on and looked to force another mercy rule win, but SBS/Combat never gave up and pushed the game into the 7th inning tied 30-30. Nordkap batting in the top half of the 7th could only muster one run and SBS/Combat had two shots to win the game with a homer but came up empty in a devastating 31-30 loss. Team 454 made their Sunday drive to the title winning four straight games. The first game of the Championship was hard fought down to the end, but low scoring as the wind kept the ball in the park. Nordkap came up in the top of the 7th needing just one run to tie. A great catch of a pop up in right field by 454's Jesse Harrison, a hard grounder stabbed by pitcher Andy Vitcak, and a nice play by shortstop Kevin Bazat gave Team 454 a 1-2-3 7th and a 19-18 victory.

Finishing order: 1) Team 454/Emerald/Worth (A) - Glen Allen, Virginia 2) Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton (M) - Riverton, Utah 3) SBS/Combat (B) - Santa Clara, California 4) Team All Out/DaBomb/Miken (B) - Houston, Texas Tournament MVP Mitch Mabe Team 454/Emerald/Worth Offensive Tournament CO-MVP Kevin Filby Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton Offensive Tournament CO-MVP Joey Formosa Nordkap/Desert Falls/Easton Defensive Tournament MVP William Rhew Team 454/Emerald/Worth

Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Dale Weiser

In the "if" game of the championship, Team 454 tried to give it away early with some ugly defense, but grabbed the momentum when Rusty Bumgardner hit a grand slam homer to tie the game at 14. 454 went on a 26-3 run to end the game and won in the 6th by the 15 run "mercy" rule 32-17 to cap an incredible tournament. With Team 454 winning, Nordkap stumbling just slightly, and Resmondo and Laser Vision looking a little more "human" than expected this year, we now have a four team race for #1. The parity we have witnessed in 2012 continued with the non 'A' teams like SBS, Buzini, and Team All Out competing toe to toe with the best in the game. This season should get very interesting when Conference events are seeded by this year's Conference points come June 3rd.

Team All Out/DaBomb/Miken who became the first 'B' team to beat Resmondo on a softball field since 2008. Photo by Dale Weiser

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Softball Today • April/May 2012

By Lance McCall

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Glendale, AZ. --- West Coast Doerflinger/Easton from Los Angeles, CA. won the Conference USSSA Cactus Classic held on April 27-29 by defeating Team Combat/Pacific Headwear of Kent WA. in the 'If' Game. West Coast and Team Combat ended out battling each other three straight games at the end of the tournament before a winner was declared. West Coast went 5-1 on the tournament and they certainly started the tournament off on the right foot as they won a lopsided 20-0 victory against Darksyde from Phoenix, AZ. West Coast followed up that victory with another convincing win over The Fallen/Easton/3n2 by the score of 23-8. West Coast got some great play from their All Tournament players Cal Ford and Johnny Bailey. Against Class Glass/Easton/DSS of San Jose, CA. West Coast would have its toughest game of the tournament thus far as both teams battled to the final out. However, West Coast got some outstanding play from Tournament MVP Steven Lopez and some great defensive play from Defensive Tournament MVP Mario Granados to pull out a narrow 26-23 victory.

The undefeated game would be the first of three straight match-ups against Team Combat/Pacific Headwear from Kent, WA. The two heavy weights battled it out throughout the game. However West Coast a conference 'B' team more then held their own against the men's 'Major' Team Combat. The conditions were just right as the ball carried very well throughout this contest. Each team had their share of 8 to 10 run leads throughout the game. By the seventh inning West Coast was holding on to a 50-40 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Combat nearly battled their way back into the game as they pushed 6 more runs across the plate. However West Coast

defense shined bright at the end of the game to hold Combat off by a score of 50-46. In the losers bracket Combat went on to beat Sonny's/Louisville Slugger by the score of 29-27. This victory earned them the right to play West Coast in the Championship game and they made the best of their opportunity as they downed a flat West Coast team 25-9. In the winner take all 'If' game the two heavy weights went toe to toe throughout the game. Both teams rallied with a barrage of base hits and the usual long ball. However when the final out was called West Coast stood victorious with a close 35-32 victory.

Tournament MVP Defensive Tournament MVP All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team

Steven Lopez Mario Granados Matt Pesso Rego Nieto Julio Salazar Cal Ford Johnny Bailey


By Lance McCall Kissimmee, FL. --- Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth from Winter Haven, FL. went 6-0 to win the first of the duel Hall of Fame USSSA Classics held in Kissimmee, FL. on April 19-20. The team based out of Winter Haven, FL. had to win the tournament the hard way as they as had two victories that were decided by just 2 runs and they had to beat a talented Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton ball club from Cicero, NY twice in the undefeated and championship games. Resmondo's road to victory started off with a impressive 22-14 win over "B" division team Buzinisports.com/BWW/Worth of Jackson, MS. Game two would be no easy affair for Resmondo's as "B" division SBS/Combat from Santa Clara, Canada came to compete and they definitely had no fear of the powerhouse Resmondo's team. With the final out Resmondo scored a close 16-14 win. Against Taylormade/TM Sports/Mizuno an "A" team from Williamsburg, VA. both team started off a little flat. However by the middle innings Resmondo's hitters were

back on track as they scored 23-12 victory. Against Team 454/Emerald/Worth another top of the line "A" division team from Glen Allen, VA. Resmondo was in a tight battle until they got some key base hits to pull away with a 15-12 victory in the late innings. The victory was cruicial as this advanced them to the undefeated game against fellow "Major" powerhouse Laservision/Anni/Supr/D2/Easton from Cicero, NY. Resmondo all Tournament Team players Jeremiah Isenhower, Sean McDonald and Robert Hughes all had an outstanding game to push their team to a 16-2 victory.

Laservision was forced down into the losers bracket where they defeated Taylormade 24 to 9. This set up a battle between Taylomade and Resmondo in the championship game. The two "Major" division titans squared off with Remondo just needing this one victory to secure the tournament title. Defensive Tournament CO-MVP's Don DeDonatis III and Howard Krause, Jr, both played some exceptional defense as they held Laservision to a single digit scoring as they sparked their team to a 24-9 victory and the first of the dual Hall of Fame championships.

Tournament MVP Defensive Tournament CO-MVP Defensive Tournament CO-MVP All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team All Tournament Team

Jimmy Salas Don DeDonatis III Howard Krause, Jr Sean McDonald Robert Hughes George Connell Jeremiah Isenhower Ronald Mack III

Softball Today • April/May 2012

Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth from Winter Haven, FL. went 6-0 to win the first of the duel Hall of Fame USSSA Classics held in Kissimmee, FL. on April 19-20. Photo by Dale Weiser

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Combat Avarice 98 (AVARSP2) TECHNOLOGIES • Precision Molding Technology • Seperation Barrier Technology • Blended Fibre Technology • Nanocomp Technology Inside • Anistropic Composite Technology • 100% Composite Construction • Variable Stiffness Technology • Maximum Performance Weighting Approved by ISA, ISF, ASA, NSA, USSSA

Review: Combat Avarice 98 (AVARSP2) We had a great mix of C and D tournament players that had heard about the Combat Avarice 98 bat but none of them had ever swung the bat before. "The graphics are awesome and the performance is outstanding," said Pete Rodriquez. "I drilled several balls over 290 feet and one over 320, as a "D" player I have never slammed a ball that far. This Avarice 98 is now my top ASA stick." "Tons of pop, line drives were sick," said Kevin Myers. " I will have one of these bats with next Friday's pay check."

Softball Today • April/May 2012

"I launched several deep shots and this bat has an outstanding sweet spot," said Dino Eckrich "We hit this bat several hundred times and there was no durability problems, way to go Combat."

Line Drives 94 Distance 93 Feel/Sting 94 Sweet Spot 95 Sound 92 Durability 100 Graphics 94

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