The 2009 Conference USSSA Men’s Major Slow Pitch Softball Program kicked of its season with the “Hall of Fame Classic” tournament in Kissimmee, Florida April 16-19. This year’s version of the Conference features 38 teams from 23 states.
The tournament is called the “Hall of Fame Classic” because it is played at the Osceola County Stadium at Heritage Park which is the spring training home of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball. This is also the home of the USSSA headquarters and USSSA Hall of Fame. The stadium field had 8 foot high fences all the way around. The dimensions were 330 390 410 410 390 330. Easily the largest fields in softball.
The format for the opener was to play two separate double elimination tournaments! The first tournament started on Thursday afternoon at 3:30 PM and finished at midnight Friday with Dan Smith/Menosse/Benfield/Combat going 5-0 to win the tournament. Dan Smith defeated Long Haul 21-20 on a walk off homer by Jason Kendrick in the winner’s bracket semi-finals. Then they beat Resmondo by one run in both the winner’s final and the championship. Both games with Resmondo ended with Resmondo hitting deep fly balls to the fence that could have decided the game. Dan Smith was led by MVP Scott Brown who was on base 15-22 plate appearances and Defensive MVP Jeff McGavin. They also played the whole weekend without starting pitcher Scott Nastally who injured an ankle in pre-tournament batting practice.
T&R Stucco/Worth finished 3rd with a record of 6-2 and was led by the hitting of Conference newcomer Brent Griffin who was 37-51 with 9 HR’s for the weekend.
Johnny Blaze/Combat/Elite a class “B” team finished a surprising 4th and were led by the pitching of Dan “Dirty” Sanchez and power of Dan “Horse” Norquist.
The second “Hall Of Fame” Conference Tournament started at 8 AM Saturday morning and ended in the late afternoon on Sunday. Dan Smith/Menosse/Benfield/Combat went 5-1 and defeated Long Haul/Miken/Phonemasters in the forced “If” game of the Championship. Long Haul had made it to the finals by defeating Resmondo twice during the tournament. Long Haul’s 34-31 win in the first game of the Championship gave Dan Smith their only loss of the week. In the “If” game Dan Smith ended Long Haul’s run with a 10 run first inning and went on to win 30-7. Dan Smith was led by Brian Wegman who went 4-4 with 2 HR, a triple, and 7 RBI in the final game. Brett Helmer, Rusty Bumgardner, Brian Justice, and Jeff McGavin were also perfect in the game. Brett Helmer won the tournament MVP and Rick Baker won the Defensive MVP playing for Dan Smith. Scott Striebel won the Offensive MVP playing for Long Haul.
Resmondo-Specialty Tank-Worth finished 3rd in the second tournament and was led by shortstop Don Dedonatis Jr. who reached base safely 21 of 28 times.
The surprise team of this tournament was A.J.S./Easton/3N2 out of Florida who went 3-2 to capture 4th place. A.J.S. was led by veteran pitcher Jose Santiago who was 14-20 with 3 HR and 12 RBI. A.J.S. nearly pulled the upset of the year when they lost 28-25 to Dan Smith in the winner’s bracket semi-final after leading the game going into the 7th inning.
The four LONG days of softball were played at a very high level under perfect weather conditions. All 22 teams were Conference teams and for the most part the class “A” through “C” teams all competed very well. This year’s Conference USSSA looks to be the strongest yet and the teams will travel to 21 tournaments across the USA to earn points and qualify for the Championship. The Conference Championship is also held at the Osceola County Stadium over Labor Day Weekend. Good luck to all teams and we will see you in September!
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!