Friday May 14th, 2021
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2020 USSSA Conference Championship tournament report!

 

This report is dedicated to all of those backup pitchers that pitched this weekend and did a great job.

I have a lot of pictures of those pitchers who pitched in extremely difficult conditions with the batted ball speeds.

 

 

2020 Nationwide Conference USSSA

 

Championship Tournament

 

Columbus, GA

 

September 18-20

 

SIS/Precisions Dave Kessler hits a walk off homer in the bottom of the 8th to win the Conference Championship!

SoftballCenter Championship picture album link

 

2020 Championship bracket and results link

 

2020 Conference Tournament stats link once available

 

2020 Conference tournament archived games link

 


 

Video Highlites brought to you by:

2020 Conference Championship Video Clips Link

 

Condensed Game: 2020 Conference Championship Winner's Bracket Finals Game Link

 

Condensed Game: 2020 Conference Championship Game Link

 


 

The Conference Championships were played outside of Florida for the 1st time ever as the event was held at South Commons Sports Complex in Columbus, Georgia.  They had 8 beautiful fields all 300 feet and they were all tarped to prevent Hurricane Sally from ruining our weekend.  So THANK YOU to the parks department there that did all of the heavy lifting and work putting those tarps out and taking them off at just the right time to be able to play Friday at 5 PM!  There were 24 teams all from the Conference and they were basically the top 24 teams in the league fighting it out in a double elimination bracket.  The top 8 teams received a bye from the 1st round play in games.  In those play in games it was 'A' teams vs 'A' teams for the most part.  Maroadi/SNI (FL-A), Seminoles/TPS (OK-A), and Levels (CO-A) who were all 'A' teams vying for the last two positions in the USSSA Major World Series all won their 1st game over fellow 'A' teams that were higher seeded than them.  The only real upset though was Levels who beat Xtreme/Miken/Worth (MN-AA) 33-27.

In the "round of 16" the 8 winners from the play in games competed against the top 8 seeds.  And all 8 of the top seeds won.  Pure Sports (SC-M) run ruled Maroadi.  Bad Draw/TDB (NC-M) run ruled Riot/Klutch (FL-AA).  SIS/Precision (IL-AA) run ruled Seminoles 35-20.  Resmondo (FL-M) run ruled Primetime/Easton 32-16.  Anarchy/MPT (NJ-AA) run ruled Sports Reach 40-25.  Bay Area Legends (CA-A) beat Worksteer by 10.  Westpoint (IN-A) run ruled Levels 38-22.  And Dan Smith the #1 seed beat Turnkey/CCP (NC-A) 37-25.  It became evident early on that the Dudley Pro-M ball in the heat and humidity was absolutely flying and the batted ball speeds were in a dangerous range.  Most of the top teams used backup pitchers so their starters would not get injured for the upcoming USSSA World tournaments which play out October 1-11.

Finally on Friday night at 9:30 the "round of 8" began with the temperatures cooling off and the balls flying, the scores started to really get out of control.  Pure Sports and Bad Draw both major teams (16 HR limit) played a 39 minute 1st inning and at one point mid game Bad Draw had an 18 run lead but Pure Sports came all the way back and won it 45-41.  Pure middle infielder Ryan Mcclanahan turned a triple play in that game and I was told it wasn't his 1st of the tournament.  Resmondo scored 15 in the 1st inning against Smash It Precision but SIS/Precision scored 13 in the 4th to get back into the game and 11 in a comeback in the 7th to take a 42-38 lead and they held Resmondo scoreless in the bottom of the 7th to win.  BJ Fulk, Davis Bilardello, and Heath Barnes all had 5 hits apiece in the game.  The game was marred by a Precision argument over balls and strikes which lasted almost 10 minutes and resulted in 2 or 3 of the SIS coaches and players being ejected.  In the bottom half of the bracket Bay Area Legends outlasted MPT 35-31 in a battle of top 'AA' teams.  And in the stadium Dan Smith struggled with an old nemesis Westpoint after Dan Smith scored an incredible 33 runs on 12 homers in the top of the 1st inning.  Westpoint scored 19 of their own in the bottom of the 1st and scratched and clawed their way back into the game down 50-40 going into the bottom of the 7th where they managed just 5 runs to end up losing 51-45 in the highest scoring game of the tournament.  Tyler Marshburn, Ryan Harvey, Phil Matte, and Ben Dunn all had 6 hits in the win.

The winner's bracket resumed at 2 PM in the stadium and the weather cooled off into the low 70's with overcast skies and very little humidity.  SIS/Precision scored 16 in the bottom of the 1st inning against Pure Sports and Pure answered with 12 in the top of the 2nd.  Both teams had their moments on offense and defense and Precision grabbed a 39-33 lead going into the 6th.  Pure Sports was out of homers and could muster just 3 runs in the 6th.  In the 7th Precision almost gave the game away when they dropped the ball at 1st on a game ending double play but Pure was unable to capitalize and lost 39-38.  Leadoff man Mike Umschied was 5-5 with a walk and rookie Tyler Kahlke was 6-6 with 2 HR and a grand slam in the win.  In the other semifinal Dan Smith jumped out to a huge 37-10 lead and finished off Bay Area Legends 37-15 in 5 innings.  Harvey, Ben Dunn, and Luis Reyna were all 5 for 5 in the game.  Bay Area hit just 4 homers and AJ Montano turned a triple play to end Dan Smith's 1st inning.

The winner's bracket finals was the last game of the night in the stadium and started as a light rain began around 7:45 PM.  Dan Smith and Precision traded 13 run innings early in the game and after a 10 run 4th inning by Precision they had the lead 29-22.  The Precision defense came up with 3 double plays in the game, many of them started by rookie pitcher Mark Blaziewske.  Also Dan Smith ran themselves out of an inning getting thrown out at the plate with no outs on an assist by center fielder Austin Andrews.  And the Pro-M ball was crazy hard to field and Dan Smith opened the door for Precision by making a slew of errors in the infield.  Before they knew it Precision was up 32-22 and Dan Smith was out of homers and Precision held on to win 36-28.  Austin Andrews led the way 5-5, pitcher Mark Blaziewske pitched in with a 3-4 and 4 runs scored performance, Brad Tabler hit a grand slam, and Rucelle Consigny in a backup role hit a 3 run homer in his only at bat.

In the loser's bracket the action was hard to keep up with as they used as many as 6 fields at a time.  The loser's bracket started at 8 am on Saturday morning in very cool conditions.  Maroadi/SNI beat Competitive Edge 44-34 in a battle of teams still trying to qualify for the Major.  This win ended up being Maroadis ticket to the show as they were the highest finishing non-qualified team in the tournament.  Riot Sports knocked off Chick Fil A by a run then Maroadis on a walk off before Westpoint dropped down and beat Riot 29-14.  In the 2nd quarter of the loser's bracket Xtreme who had lost their 1st game of the tournament beat Seminoles in a quick run rule, Primetime 29-27 in extra innings, then knocked off Anarchy by a run, and Westpoint 32-18 before Pure Sports dropped down and beat Xtreme 36-33.  Pure's Ryan Mcclanahan made a great play up the middle to end the game.  In the lower half of the loser's bracket Premier and Worksteer made 2 game runs before the Bad Draw and Resmondo Major teams dropped down and sent them home.  Then Resmondo beat Bad Draw 52-27, Bay Area 37-19, and Pure Sports 48-33 Saturday night to make it to Sunday.  One interesting tidbit in the Bad Draw vs Premier game, Buddy Wolf hit 3 grand slams in one inning!

On Sunday morning the temperatures dropped even more to 63 degrees and the wind blew in all day between 12 and 18 miles per hour which did change the game even though the balls were still dangerously hard.  Dan Smith played Resmondo in the loser's final at 8 AM.  Dan Smith was visitors and scored 17 runs in the top of the 2nd to take a 19-8 lead.  Resmondo though scored in every inning and their 10 run 4th cut the Dan Smith lead to 27-25.  Resmondo conserved home runs (may not have been intentional) and going into the 7th had a 29-28 lead.  But Dan Smith scored 9 runs in the top of the 7th even though they left 3 homers on the table and grabbed a 37-29 lead.  Dan Sanchez pitched the whole game for Dan Smith.  In the bottom of the 7th down 8 with 5 homers to hit Resmondo led off with a lineout and a flyout.  Then Wegman got on by infield single/error, Kyle Pearson walked, Cayton doubled, and Josh Riley may have hit the longest homer of the day into the wind.  But the comeback was not meant to be as Connell singled and Yates miss hit a popup in the infield to end the game.  Ryan Harvey and Jason Matusik were both 5-6 in the victory.

In the championship game Dan Smith was in familiar territory needing to "double dip" Smash It/Precision to win the Conference Championship.  But with the #1 seed for the Major wrapped up they again did not pitch Andy Purcell to keep him healthy for the big one at the end of the year.  Dan Smith got off to a great 6-0 start in the 1st inning and shut down SIS/Precision 1-2-3 in the bottom of half.  Neither team would score more than 7 runs in an inning with the wind blowing in and Dan Smith scored in every inning of the game but Precision scored 5 in the 5th and 7 more in the 6th to take a 19-18 lead on back to back homers by Travis Houseman and David Kessler.  They also managed their home runs much better than Dan Smith who had hit all 12.  In the top of the 7th Dan Smith managed 5 runs including a clutch 2 out 2 run single on a 2-0 pitch by Jeff Snow who had replaced a struggling Collins who had tweaked a prior muscle strain.  In the bottom of the 7th needing 4 to tie and 5 to win, Precision got a leadoff homer from utility man Rucelle Consigny, a solo homer from Austin Andrews, and after consecutive outs got a 2 out single from Brad Tabler, and a 2 run game tying homer from Davis Bilardello in dramatic fashion to tie the game which went into extra innings after right fielder Jeff Snow made an incredible but controversial catch as he ran/slid into the right field foul fence to end the inning.  In the top of the 8th Precisions defense held strong as the pitcher Blaziewske made a stab of a hot smash up the middle and only a Dirty Sanchez RBI was to be had.  In the bottom of the 8th needing only 2 to win the Conference Championship Travis Houseman led off with a single through the 5-6 hole and David Kessler after a foul ball hit the game winning walk off homer.  Brad Tabler was 3-3 with 2 HR off the bench and Travis Houseman was 5-5 with 2 HR in the win.

The tournament was as well played as it could be considering how hard the balls were, how difficult it was to keep them in the park, and how crazy they moved on line drives, bounces, and hits to the outfield.  I watched one game in its entirety on Friday night and I think it had more solo homers, homers for outs, and errors in it than actual clean defensive plays.  There were a lot of intentional bad swings, half swings, and chops by players trying to keep the ball in the park which just is not good softball or the way the game was meant to be played.  All of the umpires were Conference umpires with varying levels of experience.  The batter's box on the main field had some ruts in it but overall the fields were in great shape and had those Bermuda grass outfields.

Note to all teams going to the Major World Series managers meeting.  Please speak up about your ideas about the safety bag, the ball needing to be changed in conference play, pitching distances talked about (53 feet), and the fact you want to see the team lists for each tournament posted online.  Without your voice there will be no change.

Finally thank you to USSSA for another great year of slow-pitch at the top level.  I cannot believe we finished most of the season and played the number of tournaments that we did considering the challenges brought on by the pandemic.  Strojan Kennison and his tireless work dealing with all of the changes and unprecedented things that happened during the year is appreciated.  And to Columbus, Georgia for hosting us in the face of Hurricane Sally.
 


 

Championship Game

Championship Sunday in Columbus, Georgia had the same two teams as Virginia Dual #1

 

Dan Smith's Jeff Snow gets a clutch single for the go ahead RBI

 

SIS/Precision pitcher Mark Blaziewske snaps off yet another middle shot

 


 

Team Breakdown:
24 Teams Overall
24 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
4 Major Teams
5 'AA' Teams
14 'A' Teams
1 'B' Teams

 


 

Key Games

 

 

This ball tipped off Purcells glove and Marshburn caught in the air and doubled off the runner at 1st

In the winner's final Dan Smith ran themselves out of one inning and hit into 3 dp's

Bay Area Legends Joe Dorton hits a grand slam in the semifinals against Dan Smith

SIS/Precision takes on Pure Sports in the semifinals

Bad Draw ran into Resmondo in the loser's bracket

 

The park was in great shape considering Hurricane Sally rolled through just 18 hours before the tournament

The tarps and the great work by the grounds crew saved the weekend!

The stadium field was built for the 1996 Olympics

The view from center field

  

The mirror technology lighting was similar to the Space Coast Complex with no "halo's"

 

 


 

 

The oldscout pollers had Precision 3% to win…

 


 

Long Bombers of the Week

Resmondo's Josh Riley is the long bomber of the week for that clutch homer he hit in the 7th inning with 2 outs into the wind over the trees!

Chad Mullins hit the longest one on Friday night.

Shots that cleared the 2nd fence beyond the trees went at least 389 and balls that hit the road were minimum 405.

 


 

Conference Championship Final Standings and Awards

Jason Matusik of Dan Smith was Offensive MVP and Reyna, Harvey, Matte, and Dodds were All Tournament.

For Resmondo it was Kevin Bazat, Josh Riley, and Kyle Pearson on the All Tournament Team.

 


 

Team by team notes brought to you by:

 

 

1st Place – Smash It/Precision/3rd Street/Bulldawg

Conf 'AA' from IL  5-0 Record

Another full team effort by Precision gets the job done.  Players that struggled were picked up by their teammates.  They still won games after errors or close plays could have cost them the game mentally.  And how about the pitching of, I guess you would call him the 3rd string pitcher, Mark Blazewske?  That guy beat Dan Smith twice!  Those two games are worth watching in condensed form when I get them completed later in the week.  Precision is peaking at the right time.  'AA' Worlds should be a blast October 4-5 with the early season favorite Bay Area, the mid season favorite MPT, and now the late season favorite Precision.  And you can't forget about the upset potential of Xtreme, Riot, or an 'A' team in a small tournament on the 325's!   

Andrews and Keske the defensive stars led the team in onbase percentage.  Bilardello had 10 HR and 28 RBI and got some revenge back on Dan Smith who released him a couple of years ago.  McCollum and Tabler each hit 8 HR.

Trending Up!

 

Umschied and Kahlke

 

Tabler and Fulk

 

Andrews, McCollum, Barnes, Keske

 

Bilardello and Kessler were close on these attempts

 

Houseman and McCollum

 

Blaziewske and Drake did the pitching

 

Precision breaks the huddle for the winner's final

 


 

2nd Place – Dan Smith/Menosse/Steven Smith/FAI

Conf Major from CA  4-2 Record

 

Dan Smith sat Purcell and Collins some to preserve them for the Major and Collins was struggling.  But they still had that never give up attitude and salvaged a 2nd place finish.  They are right where they want to be for the Major and will be almost impossible to beat twice.  Matusik was .813 with 10 HR and 25 RBI.  Dodds, Jones, Reyna, Matte, and Harvey were all over .700.  Reyna had 9 doubles.

Trending Up!

 

Sanchez pitched probably half or more of the games and Purcell pitched at least 2

  

3B Matte, SS Bennett, MI Reyna, CF Dunn

  

Harvey was vying for the batting title and triple crown but will have to settle for HR and RBI champ

 

There was a Racobaldo sighting and Collins hits a grand slam in the winner's final

 


 

3rd Place – Resmondo/Smash It/Sonny's/JJ's/RDD

Conf Major from FL  5-2 Record

 

Resmondo played without Briggs, Lewis, and Mack.  And Clark played 3rd base while Reckart did the pitching.  They lost a tough one to Precision.  They scored over 50 against Bad Draw in like 4 innings.  And they beat Pure.  But they came up short again against Dan Smith on Sunday with the bats in their hands.

Connell, Bazat, Pearson, Riley, and Magnum were all over .800 for the weekend.  Pearson, Riley, and Connell each hit over 10 HR and had over 30 RBI

Definitely not trending up

Kyle Pearson will have won the batting title once all the stats are in

 

Greg Connell and Travis Clark.  Clark playing third in the absence of Bubba Mack (storm damage)

  

Cayton above and Bazat below will be fun to watch at the Major

 

The whole season has been just out of Resmondo's reach

 


 

4th Place – Pure Sports/Infamous/EB

Conf Major from SC  3-2 Record

2B Mack, SS Flood, MI Mcclanahan, RF Migues or Branch

 

LC Watson pitched almost the whole way for Pure which had an impressive come from behind win over Bad Draw.  Mcclanahan put on a show defensively.  I really thought rock hard balls and 300 foot fields would be their niche this year but I was wrong.

Trending Even

 

LC Watson was brought in to do the pitching.  Mooch hurt from Virginia.  Tommy Melton.

Scott Hartling

Mcclanahan hits a grand slam homer againt Precision

 


 

Tied 5th Place – Xtreme/Miken/Worth/Athlon/ASP

Conf 'AA' from MN  4-2 Record

Cole Campbell hits a grand slam against Primetime

Xtreme lost their first game to Seminoles then had an epic run through the loser's bracket only losing to Pure Sports 36-33.  It was good to see them have some success going into worlds week. 

Trending Up!

  

Thorbrogger did some pitching.  Kanaby

 


 

Tied 5th Place – Bay Area Legends/Easton

Conf 'AA' from CA  2-2 Record

Montano goes back side

Bay Area beat their rival MPT but then lost to Dan Smith and Resmondo.  They have all the tools to win the 'AA'.

Trending Up!

 


 

Other top finishing Conference teams

 


 

Tied 7th Place – Bad Draw/TDB/RapidFire/T2/BAF/Pauer

Conf Major from NC  2-2 Record

Bad Draw lost a tough one late Saturday night to Pure and never really recovered.  They put up some big offensive numbers as Mullins was .905, Martel .950, and Stewart, Ussery, and Pearson were all .842.

Trending Even

 

Stovall was a nice pickup

David Bare did some of the pitching for Bad Draw


Martel quietly had a monster season

 


 

Tied 7th Place – WestPoint

Conf 'A' from IN  2-2 Record

Westpoint was the highest finishing 'A' team and battled Dan Smith after they were down 33-0 after a half inning.  Bradley Bruns was 13-14 and Rob Roop had over a .900 onbase.

Trending Up!

Kirsten homered 8 times

 


 

Hot Links section brought to you by:

I would like to thank USSSA and the SoftballCenter advertisers for their support!

Send corrections to dw@softballcenter.com

Link to the SoftballCenter.com Youtube channel

Link to the SoftballCenter.com Facebook page

Link to all 2009 to 2020 Tournament Reports and Previews

Nationwide Conference USSSA Points and information link

 


 

Some more pictures for you:

Premier tied for 9th at 2-2

Category5/Nager/Atrium/M&S/Grizzy went 1-2 beating Turnkey by 1

 

Primetime/Easton/F.A.I./Riot/Klutch was 2-2 and lost in extra innings to Xtreme

Riot Sports/Klutch/Treedem/Pure was 3-2 and played some long games

Sports Reach/Crunchtime/H&H/Grizzy was 1-2 and played without Jonas

Worksteer/Bell's LawnCare was 3-2 and tied for 9th.  Another good showing.

Cheap Suits/Republic Realty/EA went 0-2.  Missing 5 starters.

One super fan was watching 4 games at a time on USSSAlive.com!

 


 

The Chase for the final 2 Major Berths

Baugh Ford/HDLNS/Hubs Pub sort of backed into the Major without winning a game this past weekend.

Tommy Baugh homers

Maroadi/SNI/Easton beat Classic Glass and Competitive Edge to get into the Major

 

Levels upset Xtreme and just needed one more win to make the show.

Competitive Edge and Seminoles came up a game short as well.  Sorry, didn't get any pictures.

 


 

Scoring the games on your phone is a Gamechanger for the Conference!

 

I do not believe after going frame by frame that Snow actually caught that ball.  It hit the fence first. 

Great effort though.

 

Shoes with no laces for this guy…  🙂

Mr. Anarchy is looking at being a Pure super fan next year.  🙂

Rob Mantlo and Dallas Maag did the championship game

 

 

 

3 responses to “2020 USSSA Conference Championship tournament report!”

  1. Tony says:

    Love all the live feeds but anyway in showing the scores in lower corners

  2. DW says:

    only way would be to hire scorekeepers. the score will be on the screen live for all of the upcoming world tournaments in florida. in the future when all of the teams use gamechanger the scores will be put on the screen.

  3. Stephen Cutright says:

    The bats are the problem. College baseball changed bats years ago to match wood bat speed of 100 mph. That is about the limit of a human can respond to catch the ball. If they can do it so can softball. Or place a combined weight limit on each team. Really how much fun is it if you score 70 runs and someone seriously gets hurt.

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