Slow Pitch Teams Of The Year
USMC Camp Pendleton Earns Softball Today’s Military Team of the Year Honors
By Robert Campbell
In 2011 we saw many US policy changes and successes by our men and women in uniform. Their service to our country across the service branches has no equal. We all know that their commitment and discipline is immeasurable.
The events throughout Military Softball celebrate the men and women in uniforms honor, courage, and bravery. There were many deserving men’s and women’s military softball teams to choose from around the world.
The competition among these teams is as fierce as their training. Softball Today Magazine is proud to announce our Military Team of The Year honor to the USMC Camp Pendleton Varsity Team.
They are the Varsity “A” Softball Team representing a very distinguished and instrumental military base in our country’s war effort. They have little free time so they take their softball very seriously. “As competitors and now 2-time World Champions, we were determined and found our place at the top the last two seasons, and receiving additional honors from Softball Today is greatly appreciated,” stated manager Chris Chaney.
The commander and leader of the team is 16 years served Major Armando Delsi. He is also one of the team’s best players. Each year he holds tryouts and searches the base for the top Marine and enlisted players.
2011 marked Camp Pendleton’s first back-to-back Men’s Varsity “A” USSSA Military World Championship title. It was Major Delsi’s fifth (5th) military world title. They are 10-0 going back to 2010 in World Championships.
“The team is a refined unit that knows how to win with stifling defense and consistent offense, “said manager Chris Chaney (All World Team). The coaches who have helped the organization are USMC Captain Chris Balcazar (All World Team) and Chief Warrant Officer 5, Steven Alvey.
In 2011 the team honored Wounded Warrior Tom Carlo from the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team as Honorary Team Captain and Assistant Coach. Their pink uniform was worn in support for breast cancer victims and research. In 2011 Camp Pendleton’s ASA record was 18-6 and USSSA record was an impressive 25-4.
The highlight was the USSSA Varsity “A” Military World Championship title along with several tournament wins in local and military regional play.
The player’s consistent performance is what sets them apart in 2011. The season leaders were USAF Senior Tech Sergeant Matt Suder (RF) (ALL World Team) 818 OBA with outstanding outfield play and Anthony Garnica (IF) (Military World MVP) with a 900 OBA.
Army Sergeant First Class Dexter Avery (1B) and Army Chief Warrant Officer Two Jermaine Flythe (LF) (All World Team) supplied the team with its power with both leading the team in Homeruns and RBI’s. Each carried 700 and 703 OBA’s respectively.
USMC Major Armando Delsi (All World Team) 750 OBA was the team’s catalyst all season on both sides of the ball. USMC Staff Sergeant Brian Stringer and USMC Rob Chute had solid seasons as they set the table and were instrumental in the key hit category.
The defense was lead by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daxton Mamuyac (P)(All World Defensive MVP) who’s pitching was incredible and he controlled games with his location and fearless plays in the middle. He is a Predator.
Army Major Greg Zayas (2B,SS) (All World Team) OBA 710 was stellar and his timely double plays and cat-like reflexes held opponents in check. He makes the most difficult plays appear routine. USMC Staff Sergeant Chris Idip (CF) (All World Team) is fast, throws well, and sure-handed with the glove.
He gets great jumps on the sinking line drives that routinely die in his glove. He may arguably be the best all-around outfielder in Military Softball. Camp Pendleton Men’s Varsity “A” Softball team distinguished itself on and off the field in 2011 and we recognize their professionalism. USMC Major Armando Delsi added, “We are honored by Softball Today’s recognition. Our team would like to honor all our troops around the world and those past and present, Always Faithful.”
R&M Easton Captures Softball Today's “A” Team of The Year
By Robert Campbell
Softball Today Magazine’s “A” division Men’s Team of The Year in is R&M Metals /Troupe/Easton of Waterloo, IA. Their schedule and play representatively covered both Conference USSSA and ASA Associations with impressive finishes throughout the 2011 season.
The "A" program nationally is enjoying its strongest group of teams in recent history. Many of the top teams featured rosters heavily loaded with the maximum number of major players and up and coming softball talents. The competiveness was fierce and there was unprecedented parity.
R&M is based in the Midwest with multiple players from both coasts. The team coaches were Rob Humphrey and Veteran Player/Manager Chris Chaney. Rob Humphrey is the architect and leader of the organization from its beginning.
They secured mid-season additions of Easton players Sam Lopez, Nick “Noodle” Robertson, Matt Albert, Brian Farrar, and Easton Manager Chris Chaney.
The organizations sponsorship is provided by Roger Thompkins of R&M Metals, Jim Troupe, Rob Humphrey, and Easton Sports. “Our organization went through many changes in 2011 but the momentum we carried into the last six tournaments was special,” said Humphrey. R&M put together a 46-26 USSSA season and 21-4 ASA record as they became Easton’s Flagship team in 2011.
In World and Conference USSSA tournaments R&M finished Top 5 in six (6) of their twelve (12) events. They were second two (2) times and in the Top 10 in nine (9) of twelve (12) tournaments.
The team averaged 24.1 runs per game while allowing 17.1 average runs against per game combined in both associations. R&M finished the year 5-13 against Major/ Open teams.
Highlighting their run in USSSA was a second place finish in the Last Chance Major and “A” World Series, losing in the “IF” game 21-20. R&M was fifth (5th) at the USSSA Major World Series and were the Conference Championship “A” Champions.
Their “A” ASA results were comprised of two (2) first place and two (2) second place finishes. R&M’s combined record was an impressive 21-4 overall ASA record. The ASA “A” World Championship was highlighted by knocking off two highly rated programs and finally falling to the #1 ranked Brett Helmers’ Annilation/Easton in the Championship final.
The players are no doubt the heart beat of R&M and the entire team stepped up and performed in some of the biggest world and tournament championships. The team leader on and off the field was Kyle “Biggons” Yerkes with a, 741 OBA while pitching, catching, or securing first base.
He is the type of veteran leader that all teams count on and he led the team in homeruns and RBI”s. His teammate Chris “The Enforcer” Greinert 702 OBA provided power and consistency at the plate all season long.
R&M’s finishing outfield trio was remarkable in the teams stretch run; Brian Zirkle (CF), Nick Robertson (LF), and Brian Farrar (RF) collectively combined for 749 OBA, 700 OBA, and 772 OBA respectively.
The games were often saved and/or won by spectacular catches and throw outs by Zirkle and Nick “Noodle” Robertson (USSSA A World Series Offensive MVP). The defensive infield was solid with Scott Roen (SS), Matt Albert (2B), Sam Lopez (MF). TJ Thompson gave R&M a real advantage in pitching as he was able to deceive opposing hitters and keep R&M in most contests.
Ron Fields (AH/C) and Nate Staats (AH) provided the team with a majority of its homerun power and RBI production. Matt Albert (2B) with a 776 OBA proved integral with a dugout presence and countless key hits in critical game situations.
Keith Anderson, Jake Mays, Cliff Williamson, and veteran Brad Reckert (ASA only) added great consistency in their roles on R&M, especially late inning hitting and heroics.
“When you have all the hardworking pieces playing together ultimately it’s the players’ execution and no quit attitude that validates your success, This was a team in every sense,” stated Manager Chris Chaney.
This was a deserving team that played an extensive 2011 schedule with sportsmanship and true grit on the field each and every tournament. They were relentless in their pursuit of success. Softball Today congratulates “A” Team of The Year, R&M Metals /Troupe/Easton of Waterloo, IA. “We had a terrific year and as a sponsor and friend to our entire organization, I want to extend our appreciation for Softball Today’s recognition,” said Jim Troupe.
“B” Team Of The Year Cincy's Finest Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton
By Robert Campbell
Cincinnati, OH.,--- Softball Today Magazine analyzed multiple candidates in 2011 for the “B” Team of The Year in Men’s Softball. All the information pointed to one team that showed its perseverance across the softball landscape in 2011. Softball Today’s “B” Team of the Year, Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton out of Cincinnati, Ohio was most deserving.
A season where players and “B” teams are expanding their recruiting boundaries to grab the elusive championship ring, as softball sponsorship and competitiveness soars to an all-time high. It was Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton a team with 13 players from the local Cincinnati area that proved championship team talent can still be from the same town. “Our philosophy was if we can get the best softball players in our area together, we can compete nationally.” said Dave Watanabe. It’s apparent their strategy proved successful.
The General Manager and primary sponsor is Dave Watanabe. A longtime successful sponsor and champion back to his 1993 ASA 'A' Championship in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He is one the most respected men in Midwest softball. His 2009 team finished second in the USSSA B World.
He is joined in sponsorship by Terry Walton of Blitz, Brian Wegman’s, Mid America Ballyard (MAB), Weller Roofing of Cincinnati, and Easton Sports. A collection of sponsors and management that was melded by selecting a talented group of softball players that bought-in to the concept that with hard work and chemistry they could and would compete nationally.
The core team has been together for several years and made key additions at shortstop and right field that truly paid dividends. The team had an overall record of 68 wins with 28 losses. They were competing in their 5th year in Conference USSSA playing stronger class team’s week in and week out.
They completed their Conference schedule by placing 18th overall. In their 6 events they placed in the top 10 every weekend and managed 1 top 5 weekend. They were the top B Team at the Columbus Major NIT and second among B Teams at the 43rd Smokey Mountain Major Classic.
They only lost one ASA game all season and won the 10th Annual City Slam Men's Open NIT in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s apparent they matured during the season into a galvanized unit that was strengthened by the rigors of play in Conference USSSA. They entered the 28 team USSSA B World Series as a ranked team but the morning line on the tournament said 15 teams were capable of winning in 2011.
A very balanced and competitive B Class for 2011 would feature some of the finest games in recent memory as the youth movement continues to uncover some outstanding young talents on both sides of the ball.
Blitz went 5-0 and out-scored their opponents 108-47 in the World Series. They would play 1st Step Softball from Pompano Beach, Florida still on a roll from the recent “A” World Series playing up and continuing in the “B” World Series. It was all Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton as their offense blossomed in the sunny and humid “B” World Series conditions garnering 3 run-rules in five of their victories. Their defense and pitching held off many charges in the tight games and that secured their place as 2011 USSSA “B” World Series Champions. This gave their 2 new additions Nick Masur (SS) and World Series MVP David Kessler (RF) back-to-back “B” World Championships.
The squad was a close knit group and if you ask them it was all about the team and organization that contributed to their success in 2011. We all know this to be true in all winning organizations but you know there are those you have to single out who perform week-in and week-out.
David Kessler (RF) proved his highly rated talents by having a .822 OBA and holding down right-field, A definite a standout. Veteran Jimmy Carter once again proved his prowess by putting together a .725 OBA with leading the team in extra base hits and unselfishly limiting his usual heavy homerun tallies.
He is a veteran leader with the bat and in the dugout. Nick Masur (SS) solidified their infield defense with a great defensive year and a .577 OBA for the season and that was much higher in Championship play when it mattered most.
The AH/C rolls were shared by Jon Jamison .712 OBA and Brad Tabler .700 OBA who provided leadership and key hits throughout the season. The all important pitching duties were shared throughout the season by Frank Gruber (USSSA “B” World Series Defensive MVP) and Mark Urbain.
They combined with their defense to maintain the lowest runs against average among ”B” programs. Dave Watanabe recognized Mike Rogers and Ritchie Jones as key outfield work horses all season. “It was a very rewarding and memorable a worst to first accomplishment and we are pleased for everyone who contributed to our success and this award”. The team will take their talents to the “A” Division in 2012. Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton is a well deserving winner of Softball Today’s “B” Team of the Year.
Utah's Team ABRA Captures Softball Today's D Division Team of the Year
By Dave Utnik
Clint Haveron usually had one pitch to work with. He had no choice but to make each one count.
The rain that fell in Orlando throughout most of the USSSA Men's Class D World Series altered the way Team ABRA's heralded pitcher worked opposing hitters, but it did nothing to change his command of the strike zone.
"With the rain that happened at Worlds, we were forced to play one pitch in almost all of our games: Ball you walk, strike you’re out," Team ABRA assistant coach Mike Berkley explained. "Clint did an awesome job of throwing strikes and making the hitter put it in play so our defense could make plays."
Haveron is usually the guy on the opposite end of the delivery -- a renowned slugger who can hit just about any pitch out of the park. But he was chosen as the World Series MVP for making rival batters fail.
Team ABRA's first World Series title capped a tremendous slow pitch season that featured championship performances at 11 tournaments, including the Troy Luchich Memorial Polar Bear, Payson NIT, and the Longs Peak Cup NIT. But it was in rain-drenched Orlando that Haveron showcased his true softball talent and secured ABRA's place as the Softball Today Magazine Men's Class D slow pitch Team of the Year.
"Clint had many clutch hits throughout the season that led to many victories for ABRA. Let’s just say that Clint is probably better suited for “C” ball because he has a hell of time keeping it in the yard sometimes," Berkley said. "But he was mostly chosen as the MVP at Worlds because of the job he did pitching in Orlando."
At the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Walt Disney World, Team ABRA allowed only 59 runs in 12 games. Haveron had a lot of do with that. A hard-hitting lineup that featured eight all-tournament hitters more than doubled that run total -- paving the way for another remarkable charge out of the losers bracket and a pair of thrilling one-run victories over World Series runner-up NET/New Holland Region.
"Going into the World Series we already had three tourney wins by 'double dipping' the undefeated team, so it was something we were accustomed to doing," Berkley said, noting that Team ABRA was never swept in the "if game" scenario during the 2011 season. "When we lost the game in Orlando, every single player on our team believed we had what it took to win five straight games in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity. Not only did it take extreme physical stamina but it takes so much emotional stamina to stay focused and win five games in those conditions."
Of course it didn't hurt having a batting order that features Haveron as well as World Series Offensive MVP Matt Newbold, who also earned tournament MVP honors at Longs Peak Cup in Colorado.
"Matt without question led our team in hitting the whole year," Berkley said. "He is young kid that played college baseball and he has adapted well to the slow pitch game. Matt has a great swing and he can spread it around the field."
The rest of the batting order produced some pretty good swings, too -- most notably from World Series all-tournament selections Shawn Thomson, Benjamin Misik, head coach Michael Reyes, Bowdy Haveron, Anthony Brown and Berkley, who drove in the deciding run in a 7-6 championship game victory.
Based out of Utah, Team Abra is made up of players who all live within 100 miles of Salt Lake City. They began the year by sweeping the USSSA Frozen Fields Tournament and went on to post a 93-18 overall record. There have been far more wins than losses since the team was formed in 2010 through support from ABRA and the combined vision of Mike Lawrence and Michael Reyes.
As the players make a transition to Class C this summer and prepare for membership in the USSSA Conference in 2013, reaching the World Series remains the ultimate goal.
"We should be able to compete in every tourney with the players we have," Berkley said. "Last season, some of our guys hadn’t played together going into the year so we weren’t sure how everyone would gel together. We had a lot of haters in the softball world and in Utah that said we would be broken up by midseason. Needless to say that didn’t happen."
USSSA Frozen Fields Tourney- South Jordan, UT - 1st Place
AFA Super Bowl Tourney- Saint George, UT - 1st Place
AFA March Madness Tourney- Saint George, UT - 2nd Place
USSSA Provo Tune up- Provo, UT - 2nd Place
USSSA Troy Luchich Memorial Polar Bear- Boise - 1st Place
USSSA Payson NIT- Payson, UT - 1st Place
USSSA Longs Peak Cup NIT- Loveland, CO - 1st Place
Academy Sports Tourney- Ogden, UT - 1st Place
Pioneer Days- Ogden, UT - 1st Place
Faces for Friends @Valley- Salt Lake City, UT - 1st Place
USSSA Nationals- Las Vegas, NV - 2nd Place
USSSA Payson Memorial- Payson, UT - 1st Place
ASA Peach Days Tourney- Brigham City, UT - 1st Place
USSSA “D” World Series- Orlando, FL - 1st Place