Friday June 25th, 2021

2010 USSSA Conference Phoenix Recap


2010 Conference USSSA

"Cactus Classic"

Phoenix, Arizona

April 23-26


Papago Park is located near the site of the Papago Military Reservation

The 1st annual "Cactus Classic" in Phoenix, Arizona was dominated by Northwest Combat/CJ Financial.  They went 5-0 and were only challenged by the runner up GTL Cartel/Worth who was within shooting range in both the winner's bracket championship (24-23) and championship (27-21).  Northwest cruised through their first 3 rounds of the tournament controlling their games from the start.  The tournament field was made up of 22 teams from west of the Mississippie.  4 (A) teams, 4 (B), 4 (C), 7 (D), and 3 (E).    9 of the teams were from the Conference.


Northwest Combat was loose as they prepared for another victory

The weather was perfect, maybe a little windy Friday night, and the atmosphere and park were nice.  The ball used was the 40 core Dudley ZN Classic M which was rock hard and forced the teams to use their homer's strategically.  I would say the general consensus is that the ball is a little too hard to promote the best competition.  That is noone's fault as bat technology continues to improve. 

The tournament featured some solid play by the Arizona and California 'C' teams.  RMS from Arizona knocked off 2 conference teams in Peak and Elite.  ATS from Phoenix nearly knocked off Combat/Laservision only to lose in extra innings.  More on that game later in the report.  Mid Valley Plastering (MVP) out of California knocked off Combat/Laservision 26-18 Friday night.

All in all it was a solid weekend for softball and a tournament I would highly recommend that conference teams in the future should consider for their schedule.  Airport and hotels are nearby, the fields are kept in good shape (watered and dragged) and the tournament was well run by Elliot Clark who is a true ambassador of upper level softball.

Rusty Bumgardner, Jeff Hall, and Mike Dill hit the longest homer's of the weekend that I witnessed.


My only photo of the champs, NW Combat on Sunday as I left for the airport.  Sorry.


It just Wouldn't be right to have a report without a cactus in it.





Crowds were smaller and made up of mostly players and their families


Arizona and military softball star Dexter Avery (right) catches up with some old teammates

The weather was much better in Arizona than in Maryland for Conference tournament week #2


Papago at night


"Cactus Classic" Tournament Awards and Final Standings:

Player Tournament Awards Players Name Plays For
Tournament MVP Derek Warren Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial
Defensive Tournament MVP Matt Pesso GTL CARTEL/WORTH
All Tournament Team Kyle Decker Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial
All Tournament Team Chad Munger GTL CARTEL/WORTH
All Tournament Team Mike Bowlin GTL CARTEL/WORTH
All Tournament Team Matt Albert Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial
All Tournament Team Wade Casey TEAM COMBAT / LASER VISION
All Tournament Team Sal Formosa Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial
All Tournament Team Seth Stephens TEAM COMBAT / LASER VISION
All Tournament Team Jeff Gare Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial
All Tournament Team Anthony Dress GTL CARTEL/WORTH
All Tournament Team Vincent Granados TEAM COMBAT / LASER VISION


Place State Team Team
Wins Loses Ties Runs
1 WA northwest combat/ cj financial SPMensA 5 0 0 135 81 27 16.2 10.8 32 300
2 WA GTL CARTEL/WORTH SPMensA 4 2 0 146 107 24.3 17.8 6.5 29 220
3 WA team combat / laser vision SPMensA 6 2 0 206 141 25.7 17.6 8.12 32 180
4 AZ RMS SPMensC 4 2 0 107 111 17.8 18.5 -0.6 23 160
5 CAS elite sports u.s.a./combat SPMensA 3 2 0 114 103 22.8 20.6 2.2 26 140
5 AZ ATS/LG/TYJA SPORTS/EASTON SPMensC 2 2 0 88 77 22 19.2 2.75 28 140
7 CAN Classic Glass Qualified SPMensB 3 2 0 123 107 24.6 21.4 3.2 48 120
7 CAS SPMensB 3 2 0 121 79 24.2 15.8 8.4 29 120
9 AZ Team Chub/Combat SPMensC 3 2 0 85 67 17 13.4 3.6 29 100
9 AZ Mad Skills/WatchYurLips Qualified SPMensD 2 2 0 90 86 22.5 21.5 1 29 100
9 CAN mid valley plastering/worth SPMensC 2 2 0 79 71 19.7 17.7 2 26 100
9 NV desert falls/301 sports/miken SPMensB 1 2 0 65 59 21.6 19.6 2 23 100
13 CO Peak Contracting/TLG SPMensB 1 2 0 45 57 15 19 -4 19 80
13 AZ AZ BOYZ SPMensE 1 2 0 31 76 10.3 25.3 -15 28 0
13 AZ poa/xfactor/stateoftheart chiro Qualified SPMensD 1 2 0 32 60 10.6 20 -9.3 16 80
13 AZ Black Widow Customs SPMensD 1 2 0 42 76 14 25.3 -11. 22 80
17 AZ Met-Rx/Nothing Personal SPMensD 0 2 0 29 47 14.5 23.5 -9 21 40
17 TXS Texas Scorpions SPMensD 0 2 0 13 40 6.5 20 -13. 9 40
17 AZ Cheba Hut "Toasted" Subs SPMensE 0 2 0 14 46 7 23 -16 13 40
17 AZ Gil's AZ Heat SPMensD 0 2 0 49 67 24.5 33.5 -9 31 40
17 AZ Under Construction Qualified SPMensE 0 2 0 10 47 5 23.5 -18. 6 40
17 AZ AZ Merchants SPMensD 0 2 0 38 57 19 28.5 -9.5 24 40

Team by team notes brought to you by:alt


1st Place Northwest Combat/ CJ Financial  

Conf 'A' from Washington, 5-0 Phoenix Record

NW Combat rolled through the winner's bracket run ruling their first 3 opponents by a total of 84-37.  Then they used a big offensive inning late in the game and held on to beat GTL 24-23 in the winner's bracket championship.  In the finals they knocked off GTL again as they continued to produce on a consistent basis offensively.

NW Combat is much better than I originally gave them credit for and it doesn't seem to matter who is wearing the NW jersey the past two seasons, they still maintain great chemistry.  NW really only returns 4 players from last years 'B' world champs – pitcher Derek Warren, shortstop Jon Oram, hard hitting Franck Henry, and infielder Jeff Gare.


NW Combat closes out GTL in the winner's bracket final


NW Combat 1B Matt Albert was all tournament


NW Combat hardly breaks a sweat Saturday as they cruise through the winner's bracket


NW Combat pitcher Derek Warren was the tournament's MVP


2nd  GTGG GTL Cartel/Worth

Conf 'A' from Washington, 4-2 Phoenix Record

GTL won some solid games over Desert Falls and RMS before dropping to NW Combat in the winner's bracket finals.  On Sunday morning in the loser's championship they hit a bunch of solo homer's which opened the door for Laser Vision to make a comeback which never came.  GTL was unable to score as consistently as NW Combat in the Championship and fell 27-21.

Like most of the 'A' divsion GTL is better than I originally thought.  It will be interesting to see how GTL does against the eastern 'A' teams when we get to Indiana in mid May.  GTL has all the pieces necessary to win another 'A' championship which I still believe is Jean Shoppe's to lose.

Top of the lineup
Mike Bowlin
Donovan Pokraka
Jeff Hall
Sam Lopez


GTL's Donovan Pokraka gives them the lead


GTL Shortstop Anthony Dress was all tournament


GTL's middle infielder Matt Pesso was defensive MVP

3rd Team Combat / Laser Vision 

Conf 'A' from Washington, 6-2 Phoenix Record

Combat/Laservision is a "work in progress" but somehow still ended up in 3rd place.  A lineup top heavy with veteran major players and a general feeling that they only focus when under the pressure of losing, makes this team struggle at times on both sides of the ball.  Friday night they were shocked by MVP 26-18 and found themselves deep into the loser's bracket.  Combat stayed on the field all day long Saturday and knocked off a slew of Arizona 'D' and 'C' teams before coming up against  In the Famous game they trailed the whole way until the 7th when they took a one run lead with 7 total runs in the top of the inning.  In the bottom they made a couple of nice plays, one by secondbaseman Wade Casey to force extra innings where they won.  In their next game against ATS they were almost run ruled in the 5th and came from 14 down in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game and win in overtime.  The last 9 runs of the comeback were with 2 outs.  In the loser's championship on Sunday morning, Combat looked to be in good shape when GTL hit a rash of solo homer's but the offense and defense quit late, and Combat lost 22-12.

I still do not know what to make of this team.  I think they have a long way to go to consistently beat the top 'A' teams across the country.  In this tournament they did "refuse to lose" as they faced probably more than 20 offensive and defensive situations with one out or miscue causing them to lose, and they were successful in every one of them.  It should be interesting to see how they do in the ASA Corky's tournament this week where they should run into a very good Tharaldson's team.

Top of the lineup:
Johnny McCraw
Vince Bisbee
Rusty Bumgardner
Mike Dill


Combat / Laser Vision celebrates a great defensive play by Wade Casey to keep their tourny hopes alive


Combat / Laser Vision scores 14 runs in the bottom of the 7th then wins in extra innings  vs ATS 


Team Combat CF Mario Granados climbs the wall but failed to get the ball

 4th RMS RM

'C' from Arizona, 4-2 Phoenix Record

RMS used a soft spot in the bracket to get themselves to the final 4.  Then against GTL they put up 15 runs early capped by a grand slam.  Then the bats went cold and GTL came back to win 29-15.  In the loser's bracket they knocked off Elite and then got hammered by Combat. 

RMS didn't have their uniforms for the tournament and seemed to sneak up on teams.  These guys have some talent and some veteran hitter's.


This youngster for RMS could pick it at shortstop


Tied 5th  Elite Sports USA/Combat

'A' from California, 3-2 Phoenix Record

Elite added former GTL player Jason Chamizo, infielder Alexis Ramirez, and pitcher Jay Hill this weekend.  They were upset by Mad Skills in the first round 29-23 as Mad "ridiculous" skills hit rocket shots all over the field.  In the loser's bracket Elite recovered somewhat as they came from behind to knock out Peak 21-17 and put up a big 1st inning to send home the MVP squad.  They then hung on to beat Classic Glass 25-24 and ended up getting knocked out by RMS 23-19.

Elite definitely added some experienced depth which should help for their long runs through the loser's bracket.  Elite seems to have all the pieces in place to compete with the 'A' teams across the country but I can't quite put my finger on what they are missing?


Elite added a big stick in Jason Chamizo

Tied 5th  ATS/LG/TYJA Sports/Easton

Conf 'C' from Arizona, 2-2 Phoenix Record

ATS is a Conference 'C' team from the Arizona area.  They used an 11 run 1st to put away MVP and then fell apart in the 4th inning against NW Combat to lose 28-13.  In the loser's bracket they put up 11 runs in the first against Combat/Laservision and continued to put the pressure on for the entire game.  At one point Combat had to put up 2 runs to keep from getting run ruled.  In the 7th inning Combat scored 14 runs to tie ATS and ATS ended up losing in extra innings.  A great effort and what could have been a huge points day for ATS was not to be.

ATS has lost most of their top players to the 'A' teams in the west but have restocked the shelves with some great players much like Classic Glass.  ATS will not be an easy out in any Conference tournaments this year.


The ATS defense is led by their pitching and shortstop

Tied 7th

Conf 'B' from California, 3-2 Phoenix Record

Famous didn't begin until early Saturday morning when they played Classic Glass, a tough draw.  Famous led most of the game and looked to be in position to win when young CF Adam Elliot gunned down a Classic runner at 3B to end their 5th.  In the 7th though Classic batted around and Famous let one slip away.  In the loser's bracket Famous smoked Cheba Hut and Black Widow and won a spirited game with Conference 'B' rival Desert Falls 29-22.  Famous then led from the outset against Combat/Laservision until they allowed 7 runs on 4 homer's to tie in the 7th and failed to score with the bases loaded.  In extra innings Combat prevailed and Famous goes home thinking "what if".

Famous was led by the pitching of Danny Lopez.  Lopez was pitching out of jams, giving his defense a chance to make plays  and stabbing linedrives consistently up the middle.  Offensively this team needs to find a lineup that maximizes run production and defensively they need to finish off those great diving plays and they will be just fine.  A quality addition to the 2010 Conference.

alt is a new Conference 'B' team

Top of the lineup:
Chuck Shimels
Chris Arredondo
Manny Liriano
John Gilmore


Famous third baseman Chris Arredondo rips a double



Tied 7th  Classic Glass

'B' from California, 3-2 Phoenix Record

Classic narrowly escaped a first round loss to a local 'D' team in a game which wound up being the highest scoring of the tournament 48-31.  In the second round they pulled off a huge 7th inning to overcome a game long deficit against Famous 26-19.  In the quarterfinals Classic hung around for a couple innings against NW Combat before getting run ruled 24-7.  In the loser's they beat Team Chub 18-8 before losing a tight one to Elite 25-24.

Classic has lost the star filled roster they had in 2009.  A majority of their top players moved up to 'A' and Classic has retooled this year.  This team was very impressive and has great talent.  Their confidence seemed to grow quickly with the comeback win over Famous and this could be a sleeper team for a top 5 finish at 'B' Worlds.


Classic Glass used a huge 7th inning to come from behind and beat Famous


Tied 9th  Desert Falls/301 Sports/Miken

'B' from Nevada, 1-2 Phoenix Record

Desert Falls hammered the local 'C' favorite, Team Chub, in their opener 20-5.  Then on Saturday afternoon they lost consecutive games to GTL and Famous.  Both were games that went back and forth.  The GTL game may have been the best game of the tournament Saturday in the winner's bracket.

Desert Falls has a nice 'B' team and leave Phoenix with a bad taste in their mouths.  With Dirty Sanchez pitching and Sam Christenson at SS they have a defensive minded team.  On the offensive side they lead off CF Nick Robertson who is a newcomer to the Conference and have veteran hitters like Charles Cunningham and Chris Hoshaw in the production spots.  With some lineup tweaking and more consistency on offense and defense this team will be in the hunt for the 'B' world title but a longshot to make the Major World Series.


Desert Falls played in some good games but had a short weekend and will take a hit in the points

Top of the lineup
Nick Robertson
Sam Christensen
Charles Cunningham
Dan Sanchez


Sam Christensen throws out a GTL runner in the winner's bracket Saturday

Tied 9th  Team Chub/Combat

'C' from Arizona, 3-2 Phoenix Record

This is the Arizona  team I thought would pull off the big upsets.  Instead it was RMS, ATS, and Mad Skills.  After winning their opener Saturday night they squared off against Desert Falls.  Unfortunately they looked like they had never played against a good upper level pitcher before (which I know isn't true) as Falls pitcher Dirty Sanchez shut them down and made Chub look pretty bad.  Team Chub lost 20-5.  On Saturday they won two games against local teams and then hung for awhile against Classic Glass before losing 18-8. 

This is another team with some solid talent and leadership with the Calise father/son combo involved.  Team Chub should do well at 'C' worlds and I'm sure would like another shot at some of the Conference teams in the near future.  Great job stepping up to play Conference in 2010 and good luck.


Team Chub brought their game faces

Tied 9th  Mid Valley Plastering/Worth

'C' from California, 2-2 Phoenix Record

MVP knocked the Arizona 'D' POA/Xfactor team down 25-5 in their opener and shocked the Conference world with a 26-18 victory over Team Combat/Laservision in their next contest.  Against Combat, MVP came out swinging and their linedrive offense with some timely homer's left Combat thinking there wasn't much they could do.  The ball was definitely flying most of the weekend and the lower class teams were able to use their homer's which evens up the competition.

MVP's Friday night magic ended quickly on Saturday as they dropped two straight and failed to overcome early double figure innings by ATS and Elite.  MVP is led by middle infielder and former Classic Glass infielder Tim Uhls and the extra base hitting of Nick Price.  This is another team that should be top 20 at the 'C' Worlds.


MVP from Cali celebrate their upset victory over Team Combat

On Saturday MVP could not regain their Friday night magic and dropped two straight


Nick Price for MVP was piling up the extra base hits

Tied 9th  Mad Skills/WatchYurLips

'D' from Arizona, 2-2 Phoenix Record

Mad Skills led off Friday night with a 25-8 victory over Met-RX then upset Elite 29-23.  Mad Skills was lacing linedrives all over the field and in most of their games they were using all of their homeruns.  This is one 'D' team that has the talent to compete nationally and should probably play 'C'.  For that matter find some sponsorship and join the Conference.  On Saturday Mad Skills gave Combat/Laservision all they could handle but hit too many homer's for outs and ended up losing 32-24.



Papago Park, 4 fields all 300 ft


A big thanks to my sponsor's – Phoenix USSSA (Elliot Clark), USSSA,,, and

Plane tickets to KC were too expensive, so DP who just moved to KC is going to do some reporting.

My next tournament will be Dallas, followed by Indiana and Music City.

Link to the rest of my Phoenix pictures

Link to the Phoenix Bracket/Stats

Link to the tournament in Kansas City

Link to the USSSA Point Standings and Stats

Here are some other pics from Phoenix:


Chub Hut



POA will be one of the top 'D' teams in the country


Ryan Barabe returns to Confernce play, formerly with C-Town


Famous first baseman Sean Boldt is one of the up and coming hitter's in upper ball


Veteran Jason Kreider is trying a "new role" this season?


Slugger Jose Nunez was playing for Black Widow Customs


Western softball legend Ricky Salazar wasn't making very many outs for Gil's AZ Heat


The Gil's AZ Heat pitcher hit two clutch 3 run homer's against Classic.  He also has softball's most interesting nickname Sh!thead?


Conference 'B' team Peak Mortgage seems to be improved but couldn't pull out any big wins.


Jeff Hall was boowooping for GTL


Robo was playing middle infield due to the Joey Formosa injury


Below are the last two consecutive frames of video on the controversial "safe" call in the ATS vs Combat Laser Vision game.  ATS would have won if the call would have been out.  I know the video that I downloaded these pics from is not real clear but it does show that Blackburn tied the throw.  If a tie goes to the runner then he was safe.



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