2011 Conference Season Preview and Pre-Season Rankings!
2011 Conference USSSA Season Preview and Pre-Season Rankings
2011 Conference Make Up (38 teams):
4 Major Teams
10 'A' Teams
20 'B' Teams
4 'C' Teams
2010 Conference Make Up (34 teams):
2 Major Teams
11 'A' Teams
15 'B' Teams
5 'C' Teams
1 'D' Team
As you can see there was a slight gain in quality as well as quantity for 2011.
The following is my pre-season rankings. Once again this is all in fun, if you don't like where your team is ranked, use this as motivation for the season and good luck to all teams.
#1 Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth (Major)
Jeremy Isenhower Infield
Don DeDonatis Jr. Infield
Bryson Baker Infield
Bob Hughes Outfield
Vince Bisbee Catcher
Mike Rhines Infield
Brian Rainwater Outfield
Greg Connell Infield
Howie Krause Infield
BJ Fulk Outfield
Andy Purcell Pitcher
Jeff Wallace Catcher
Scott Striebel Outfield
Resmondo enters 2011 with 2 consecutive Men's Major Championships and run ruled all opponents in the Series to end last year. They lose a key piece in third baseman Dennis Rulli who went to Combat/Laser Vision. They added infielder Jeremy Isenhower and extra hitter Vince Bisbee returns to the team.
Look for Resmondo to be the favorite in every tournament. Their late season stretch where they lost in Colorado, Michigan, and the Conference Championships last year before the World Series shows they are human though. I don't think anyone would say they are better than 2010, but they probably don't have to be.
#2 Team Combat/Laser Vision/Down2Earth (Major)
Team Combat is basically the 2008 World Series Championship team minus Nastally, Kirby, and Bryson Baker. They picked up MI Dennis Rulli, EH Brett Helmer, 2B Brian Wegman, as well as SS Jeff McGavin, center fielder Rick Baker, and recently relief pitcher Andy Vitcak. They suffered a potential season ending foot injury to Robert Blackburn in Las Vegas and Wegman (shoulder) and Bumgardner (neck) are still not 100%.
A controversial choice for #2 for sure, however I believe Combat will get healthy and make one final run with this group at the World Series. Look for their struggles to continue out of the gate and they may not drastically improve until mid-summer. These guys know how to win though and are tough outs when the game is on the line.
#3 GTL Cartel/DeMarini (Major)
GTL has a new look with outfielders Tim Howard and Jason Branch, a new pitcher in Geno Buck, and new corner men in 3B Joey Formosa and 1B Sean McDonald. They have also added new power hitter Chris Larsen and Kevin Filby returns to GTL. Donovan Pokraka (back) was injured in Vegas, and returning are leadoff man Mike Bowlin and 2B Victor Cordova, SS Anthony Dress, and MI Matt Pesso.
GTL was clicking on all cylinders in Vegas as the won the season opening tournament. Right now they could very well be ranked number one but it is a long season and we need to see this team play well on the baseball fields. Normally they are competing for the 'A' World championship and then take the rest of the season off. This year the focus is on a new prize and they have a puncher's chance.
#4 Combat/Pharmapar/Transat/Holiday (Major)
This team steps up to the major division with some of the 2010 NW Combat team, 2B Jeff Gare, CF Sal Formosa, C Francois Henry, SS Jon Oram, and pitcher Derek Warren. They combine with Mike Dill and Mike Taylor from Laser Vision, Tim Bowser from FBI, and a group of relatively unknown (at least in the USA) players from Canada.
I ranked this team #4 because I cannot bring myself to rank a lower classed team ahead of a higher classed team to start the season. I think there is a huge learning curve that will take place for the Canadian players and there will be some big question marks as to whether they can consistently hit the top Major pitchers. For this reason I don't believe they will rank #4 at the end of the season and will not earn enough points to finish in the top half of the Major World Series seeding. This will be a fun team though and we should know a lot more after next weekend about them.
#5 Jean Shoppe/TPS/Elite (A)
Larry Quartuccio – Manager
Jean Shoppe comes back with the nucleus of their 2010 team. They add one of the toughest outs in the game in outfielder Chad McLamb from Taylormade, and Major third baseman JD Genter to an already talent laden team. Jamie Gordon should be back and hopefully healthy as well and pitcher Shane Spicer finally gets the starting nod at pitcher.
A season of frustration in 2010 may very well launch this team to an 'A' title in 2011 and the long awaited trip to the Major division in 2012.
#6 EWS/Shirts&Logos/Easton/Drgrapx (A)
Manager Todd Ankey
3rd Base Coach Doug Reed
Coach John Toveli
Sponsor Eric Weller
Sponsor Rick Marino
Sponsor Mike Mages
EWS enters the 2011 season with a completely overhauled team. Most of their regulars have been forced into reserve roles as they picked up the new Easton contract players 2B Sam Lopez and 3B Jimmy Salas as well as former Dan Smith players 1B Ryan Thiede, SS Brett McCollum, and outfielder Scott Kirby. An interesting mix. As we watched in Las Vegas we noticed some outfield mishaps and the inability to close out Team Combat. In the end though they lost both of their games to Major teams and did enough to establish themselves at the top of the 'A' division. Look for an EWS vs Jean Shoppe final at the 'A' World.
#7 Famous Sports/Logo Express/Easton (A)
Famous/Logo is a merger between the 2010 Famous 'B' team that finished 2nd at the 'B' Worlds last year and the Logo Express team that finished an amazing 4th in the final season Rankings. The team also added former Dan Smith utility infielder John Gallegos and 2-time 'A' World Champion pitcher Chad Munger fomerly of GTL. This combination of players showed that they could compete in Las Vegas 2 weeks ago and I think they will be a solid addition to the 'A' division all year long. They should have a shot also at some of the smaller Conference events.
#8 Suncoast/Reebok (A)
A new year and a new team for Suncoast. Great additions in Brian Justice, Adam Rockoff, Dan Bean, Trravis Lane, Ryan Robbins and Losson White among others should put this team in position to have an outside shot at 'A' Worlds.
#9 Team 454 Emerald/Worth (A)
Another interesting team with a lot of potential. Sort of a combination of the 2009 T&R Stucco team, some vets like Boone and Turner, and GTL players Don Rogers and Bubba Mack. Good enough to have a few runs in Conference play.
#10 TaylorMade/TM Sports/Mizuno (A)
Taylormade lost Bazat, Justice, and Boothe but the young players should step in and salvage the season along with outfielder Eliseo Aguilar and the return of Brent Haywood.
#11 R&M Metals/Troupe/TCP/Easton (A)
Rob Humphrey – Manager
R&M metals is the Pipac/TCP team from a year ago. They added veteran hitters Jason Kreider and Kyle Yerkes from AJS and Chris Greinert from Dan Smith. My gut says they might struggle some this year but they proved they could compete last year with their Indiana conference win and top 10 final ranking.
#12 Sinister / Pritchard / Miken (A)
This might be my new team to root for. Gone is the top 4 in the lineup run producers of Jeff McGavin, Rick Sedlacek, Kevin Filby, and Todd Joerling. And yet they still put an 'A' team together with some great players. Sometimes less is more, if you know what I mean. I don't see Billy Barrett or Casey Rogowski on the team? Looks like Jeff Graus will get a well deserved starting role, Todd Pease returns, and they picked up stadium sensation Reggie Schulte who hasn't played a lot of utrip but impressed everyone at last years Major Series with FBI.
#13 Darkside/TYJA/Easton (A)
Manager Weber, Mark
This team added Dan Sanchez late in the offseason to round out a solid 'A' team. They won't be backing down from anyone and should compete in the midwest tournaments on their schedule. I'm a big fan of Neil Haglund, John Robinson, and Moose White and I think this team can finish .500 against Conference opponents with a "building for the future" mentality in the back of their minds.
#14 The Scene/A.J.S./Easton/D2E (A)
#6 Eric Johnson -infield
#00 Mark Dennis -EH/C
#8 Shay Cooper -infield
#20 Carey Luke -infield
#12 Will Watson -outfield
#27 Brad Barowsky -pitcher
#2 Ryan Parfitt -outfield
#06 Joel Ramos -infield
#18 Jose Santiago -inf
#5 Blake Williams-outfield
#19 Matt Arlett -Outfield
#7 Mike Westfall
Scott Zaciewski – Infield
#1 Aaron Willis -infield
Sponsor-Tony Albicocco-The Scene
Pete Campbell and the rest of this sponsorship group try to piece together a competitive 'A' team after AJS won the 'B' World last season and their roster was completely raided with their players being scattered across most of the Conference for 2011.
Look for them to compete as always, pull some upsets and lay the foundation for a successful 2012 season.
#15 Doerflinger Software/TSC/Pro-Coat/Combat (B)
Coach: Strojan Kennison
Asst. Manager/Sponsor: Ric Doerflinger
Asst. Coach: Tim McQuery
Robert Sena – P
Cal Ford – 1B/OF
Joey Smith – OF
Julio Salazar – 3B
Aaron Martinez – M-Inf
Brian Plenkovich – OF
Jared Goetz – M-Inf
Wes Archie – C/EH
Daniel Van Daele – C/1B
Brian Munson – OF
Sean Bagley – M-Inf
Shawn Pederson – M-Inf/OF
Jack Weaver – P/Inf
Frankie Griffin – Utility
Josh Fulton – Utility
Doerflinger is the top ranked 'B' team in my opinion. A nice blend of Conference experience, defense, power, and pitcher Robert Sena.
#16 Blitz/Weller/Watanabe/MAB/Easton (B)
A lot has changed in the 'B' division for 2011 except for Blitz. I'm not sure thats a good thing but they should be solid enough to have a shot at the 'B' World. They added Dan Smith pitcher Mark Urbain and AJS outfielder David Kessler among some other non-conference pickups.
#17 Sonny's/Beacon/Sidelines/Cowboys (B)
Sonny's has some big name players and 'B' World runner up pitcher Danny Lopez. This team was built to win the 'B' World and may very well do so but look for some bumps in the road in Conference play.
#18 Gold's Gym (B)
My new favorite team in the 'B' division led by veteran pitcher Perry Hensley, major list player Kelly Hartman, and Preston Spurlin and the offense of Trey Palacol and Clay Smitherman mixed with some young and energetic players who think hustle and defense first. This could be the right combination and will be entertaining nevertheless.
#19 Fencebrokers/Game Time Supply/Worth (B)
Coach Joey Powell
Coach Mike Wilson
They said they weren't coming back after their incredible run at the Major but here they are, sort of. FBI is basically a completely new team made up of veteran Arkansas players and I see enough names on their roster to say they have a nice 'B' division team and with less expectations this year will probably finish top 5 at the 'B'.
#20 RFC/Hub's Pub/Syndicate (B)
This is a mix of the Hubs Pub and RFC 'B' teams from 2010. Most of these guys have paid their dues in the Conference and have learned to win which makes a difference. The sheer amount of top quality 'A' and Major teams though will make it hard for 'B' teams to have great seasons. Realistic expectations for most of these 'B' teams is to go .500 in Conference play and the ones that perform the best will slip into the last spots at the World Series.
#21 Turano/Angle Inn/Sports 55/LB (B)
William Foos Sr
Butch Cummings manager
This team has a bunch of the ex-ABS players – Montenegro, Paturzo, Riley, and Wilson, along with AJS utility man Dave Garcia, and part time Taylormade picher Eric Byrum. Another stick like say a Mark Dennis from the now folded Wood Law team, and another pitcher like Bill Honeycutt or Mike Kalinowski would bump this team to the top of the 'B' division. Of course there are a number of names on this roster I know nothing about.
#22 Bullshippers (B)
Donnie Meyett, Jr
From #22 Bulshippers down in this rankings list I have to confess I really don't know enough about these teams. Bulshippers will most likely start out very slow knowing that they are not as USSSA experienced as they need to be.
#23 Victory/Demarini/TYJA (B)
This is a good 'B' team from the west. They compete very well with the 'B' division teams. I think they need to get used to the long and tiring games that they will need to play against the higher level teams in order to compete. Every inning of every game you have to bring your best. I was pleasantly surprised in Vegas at this teams abilities.
#24 Down2Earthsports.Com/Worth (B)
Andrew Dubberly – Manager
D2E is one of SoftballCenter's biggest supporters but I have to admit I know next to nothing about this team. We will take a closer look at the Hall of Fame tournament and report back. My gut feeling is that they will struggle, particularly on baseball fields.
#25 AZM/Cartel (B)
Mike Tarwater – IF
Marcus Henninger – IF/P
Lance Quaney – IF
Ken Tracy – IF
Brian Knight – IF/DH
Chris Barton – P
Aaron Bair – OF
Nick Sansone – IF/C
John Doerfler – OF
Joey Perez – OF/EH
Michael Thompson – IF
Shaun Sullivan – OF
Ron Sartin Jr. – EH
Ron Sartin – Coach/Sponsor
Terry Blaker – Coach
Mike Thompson – Coach
A long season ahead for this team. They are a threat in those west coast tournaments but hopefully they stick it out and build for the future. A welcome addition to the Conference for sure however.
#26 MidWest/Miken (B)
OF Todd Mazzier
1B Andy Mazzier
SS Mike Noonan
M Jason Krack
OF Cody Gilbert
2B Kenny Geiersbach
P Brent Sharon
3B Ricky Potter
EH Craig Morrison
U Ryan Smith
3B Mike Hall
OF Justin Sterling
OF Evan Gallmeier
OF Kevin Roeder
Coach Tracy Flack
This team took its lumps last year in the Conference. Lets hope that pays off this year.
#27 Gas It/Lewis Lawn Service/Easton (B)
Joshua Fisher – Manager
Like Midwest Swing, this team can take another step towards the top of the 'B' division.
#28 Texas Miken (B)
David Wayne Ayo
Looks like they are taking care of the 'B' division in Texas. What will happen when Conference tournament play begins? Your right, I have no idea either.
#29 Magic/National Gold/S&S/TYJA (B)
Magic is back in the Conference and in my opinion they have some unfinished business there. Time for this team to make a splash.
#30 DMC Softball / Resmondo Sports (B)
Manager/Coach = Dave Meyer
I am a big fan of Richie French and the way he plays the game on both sides of the ball. The rest of his team should take note and follow suit or it will be a long year.
#31 Clutch/Savesecond.com/GKITravel.com (B)
Another team I don't know much about. I'm thinking this team could improve with some of Wood Law fallout.
#32 PrimeTime/Easton (B)
I have always been a fan of Primetime and Pace. This team has always struggled though in Conference play. They have some good talent though and hopefully some new players that would bump up their ranking. We'll find out soon.
#33 Pace / Big Daddy's Sports / TPS (B)
This team looks very similar to the 2007 team that I watched play decent at the World Series that year. Its been awhile but if they can shake off the rust and some of the new players are stars they can leap frog most of the 'B' division.
#34 T's 13 (B)
Rock Petersen Coach
Terry Petersen Sponsor
I liked the T's 13 that played 'B' worlds last year and it looks like they may have improved some.
#35 Line Drive/Triple SSS (C)
This team should actually be ranked #22 but you know me and my classification ranking rules. They are off to a great start after Las Vegas and should perform well in the midwest tournaments. Plenty of Conference experience here.
#36 Peak Contracting / L3 Screen Printing / TLG (C)
Peak is younger than in the past and there is some potential there.
#37 BWW/Buzinisports.com/Baden Sports (C)
Rudy Thompson Inf
Dudley Waldrop Utl
Cody Childress Of
Eric Patten Inf
Jeremy Moreau Of
Brock White Inf
Stan Wilson Inf
Brady Bascle Of
Tjay Busin Inf
Steven Gentry Inf
Kyle Wilks Inf
JD Massey Utl
Justin Stuart Of
Brooks Bryan Of
Shane Pullen Utl
Donald Plaisance P
Michael Whitlow Inf
Tough year for this Conference newcomer but kudos for stepping up.
#38 Wheelhouse Sports / Reebok (C)
Daryl "Juice" Beard
Josh "Cali" Lindstrom
Nowhere but up for this team after taking one on the chin in 2010. I love the perseverance though.