The Nationwide Conference Championships are broken up into 3 brackets. The top 16 teams in the Nationwide Conference regardless of team classification start in the “Open” division on Friday night at the Osceola County Stadium and surrounding baseball fields in Kissimmee, Florida. Seeds 9-16 begin in round 1. The 4 winners move on to round 2 to face seeds 5-8. The 4 winners of round 2 move on to face seeds 1-4. The loser’s of round 1 and 2 drop into the “Lower” bracket and start a new double elimination tournament of their own over at the Fortune Road softball complex on Saturday. The top 4 seeds in the “Open” division and the 4 teams that win their way into the “Open” division final 8, square off in a double elimination tournament to determine the Nationwide Conference Champion! The third bracket is the ‘B’ Conference Championship and that consisted of 5 ‘B’ teams squaring off in a 3 game guarantee bracket at Fortune Road.
The weekend was hot and humid but never did have any rain. The ball used on the baseball fields was the stadium zn and it was not flying all that well on the stadium or on field #1 with the wind blowing in. It flew a little better and scores were higher on field #2. On Friday night the upsets were early and often as 3 major teams all lost their first game. Combat, Resmondo, and Laservision all lost and Nordkap/Desert Falls pulled out a late inning win against Team 454.
It quickly became evident that infield defense was the key to winning and one team stood out in that category – TYJA-Suncoast Reebok. With Dennis Rulli at third, Luis “the acrobat” Reyna at short, Matt Crawford up the middle, Victor Cordova at second base, and Jason Baxter at first, they were holding teams to less than 10 runs on a regular basis. The pitching combo of TJ Thompson and Perry Hensley along with their 3 left handed and fast outfielders David Kessler, Michael Stephany, and Neil Haglund chipped in to hold their opponents to just 58 runs over 6 games. Less than 10 runs a game!
When the games finished on Saturday night Nordkap/Desert Falls was the only top 4 seed left in the winner’s bracket and they were joined by the 3 hottest ‘A’ teams in the game TYJA-Suncoast Reebok, R&M Metals who recently won the ‘A’ Worlds, and Shoppe.
On Saturday morning TYJA and Nordkap both advanced behind some big defensive plays and TYJA came out in the winner’s bracket finals and beat Nordkap 27-16 to be the undefeated team.
Meanwhile R&M Metals ran the losers bracket and held off Nordkap 27-22 to make it to the championship where they scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th and held TYJA scoreless to force an “if” game 9-8.
In the final game, R&M Metals scored on a 2 run homer by Keith Anderson in the first inning and a 2 run homer by Reggie Schulte in the 2nd to take a 4-3 lead. Then TYJA was sparked by run scoring triples by Neil Haglund and Michael Stephany which led to a 9 run bottom of the 2nd and a 12-5 lead. David Kessler then hit a home run in the bottom of the 4th for TYJA which led to a 6 run 4th and TYJA went on to win the Nationwide Conference Championships by the run rule over R&M Metals!
TYJA-Suncoast Reebok becomes the first ‘A’ team to win the USSSA Nationwide Conference Championships in its 7 year history:
2012 TYJA-Suncoast Reebok
2011 Resmondo-Specialty Tank / Worth
2010 Dan Smith/Menosse
2009 Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth
2008 Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth
2007 Resmondo Softball
2006 Bell Corp/Taylor/Belcher/Easton
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!