Added VA vs FL condensed game —> 2024 Challenge Cup Men’s Major tournament report!

Virginia vs Florida condensed game link

North Carolina vs Florida condensed game link

Alabama vs Virginia condensed game link

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Adding videos daily on USSSALive YouTube page and pictures to the picture album as I do condensed games.

2024 Challenge Cup Men’s Major

Viera, Florida 

January 26-28 

 

Jason Matusik and team Florida averaged over 20 runs a game.

 


Video and Article Links

Bracket and Results link

Picture Album link (Adding pictures daily as I go thru content)

TX vs FL Condensed Game link

GA vs IN Condensed Game link

North Carolina vs New England condensed game link

Kentucky vs Georgia condensed game link

California vs Oklahoma condensed game link

Oklahoma vs Washington condensed game link

Indiana vs Alabama condensed game link

New Mexico vs New England condensed game link

Texas vs Ohio condensed game link

Florida vs New Mexico condensed game link

New England vs Indiana condensed game link

Virginia vs California condensed game link

Alabama vs Texas condensed game link

North Carolina vs Oklahoma condensed game link

Florida vs Georgia condensed game link

Archived Games link

 


 

Friday Recap

8 AM Friday morning in pool play it was a heavyweight battle between Florida and Texas as Bubba Mack knocked in 11 runs.

The 2024 Challenge Cup (State vs State) slow pitch competition continued with week #2 as the Men’s Major, B, and C divisions began on Thursday and Friday as well as the women’s Major, and C.  The weather was near perfect for slow pitch all weekend long.  The Men’s Major kicked off with 19 teams playing in the Space Coast stadium and two other baseball fields in the Red Quad all with their 325-365-385-365-325 home run fence dimensions and artificial turf.  They used a 16 home run limit and the Dudley Stadium ZN ball with 240 bat compression testing.

As usual the heavy favorite was team Florida and the tournament began with a 2 game “pool play” which ended at 5:00 PM Friday and seeded the teams into a double elimination tournament.  After “pool play” they also played the “play in” games and the “Round of 16” on Friday evening.  Then the “Final 8” played down to one undefeated team on Saturday in the stadium and they brought back the last 4 teams on Sunday.

On Friday in pool play these State “All Star teams” worked of the offseason rust and jockeyed for seeding position and they used a 1 hour 10 minute time limit.  There wasn’t much wind but the scores were lower on the big fields and there weren’t a lot of home runs hit.

New Mexico hits against California in pool play early Friday morning.

Alabama went 2-0 to take the 4 team Pool #1 over some very good LA/MS and Virginia teams.  Florida won their opener over Texas at 8 AM Friday morning which led to them winning pool #2.  North Carolina knocked off last years champion Ohio at 8 AM Friday morning and then NC pulled out a late comeback over upstart New England to win pool #3.  Kentucky won their showdown with Georgia scoring 11 runs in the top of the 1st to take Pool #4 which was a stacked pool which also had Indiana and their Roofx and Westpoint players.  Canada-West won Pool #5 over Washington and Arizona by the tie breaker as they all went 1-1.  And Oklahoma with their contingent of Seminoles players beat California and New Mexico to win Pool #6.

NC LF Austin Mapes robs a New England homer in pool play to help preserve the comeback win.

The double elimination bracket play began around 5 PM on Friday on the two back fields in the Red quad and then in the Stadium around 6:30 PM.  In the “play in” games Indiana beat Arizona 6-5 as Arizona had the bats in their hands in the bottom of the 7th.  There was no time limit in bracket play.  Over on Red Easton with the wind blowing out Canada-East won a shootout over Arkansas 27-24.  And then in the Stadium at 6:30 PM New Mexico and New England were locked in a pitcher’s dual until New Mexico hit 3 consecutive home runs in the top of the 7th and held on to win 9-8.  Then the 8 games in the “Round of 16” played out as darkness fell on the Space Coast Complex and it was a perfect night for softball.  Canada-West scored 1 in the top of the 7th to break a 6-6 tie with California on Red Marucci field.  But California got a single by Chad Erickson, a walk, a 3-10-1 double play, a game tying 2 out infield single by Dante Broome, and a walk off double by Brandon Traylor to right field to win 8-7!  Virginia with their contingent of Chick-fil-a players knocked off Bill Pinkham and  Kentucky over on Red Easton 22-15.  Alabama pulled off a big 21-19 win over Indiana as Josh Cardwell hit 4 home runs when the ball wasn’t flying all that much on Red Marucci.  In the stadium Texas walked all over Ohio 20-3 jumping out to a 17-0 lead.  Oklahoma rolled past Washington 21-9.  North Carolina tied with Canada-East 9-9 midway through the game and 10-10 going into top of the 6th scored 5 and went on to win 25-10.  Florida run ruled New Mexico in the stadium 24-8.  And Georgia beat LA/MS on Red Easton 14-6 to advance to Saturday’s “Final 8”.

North Carolina takes on Canada East.

 


 

Saturday Recap

Florida and Georgia met in the Final 8 Saturday.

On Saturday in the stadium starting at noon the “Final 8” played all the way down to one undefeated team.  In quarterfinal #1 Virginia up 14-12 going into the bottom of the 7th then gave up a run then an error with 2 outs allowing California to have the tying run on third and winning run on 2nd but got a line out to right center to end the game with a 14-13 win.  In quarterfinal #2 Texas, one of the favorites, left too many runner’s on base in first 4 innings vs Alabama.  After Texas zeroed for the 3rd time in bottom of the 5th, Alabama put up an 8 spot to go up 18-3.  In the bottom of the 6th down by the run rule Texas scored 7 to extend the game on base hits but couldn’t complete the comeback and Alabama advanced 19-10.  In Q3 – Oklahoma pitcher JD Harris got out of a bases loaded situation against North Carolina by getting a foul out but NC’s Jackson May hit a homer off the scoreboard to take a 7-0 lead early.  In the top of the 7th North Carolina’s Rich Racobaldo hit a 2 run homer to put them up 9-2 and NC won 10-3 behind a great pitching performance by Brandon Jonas.  In Q4 – Florida powered their way to a big lead over Georgia.  Georgia responded by scoring 8 in the bottom of the 6th to pull to within 4 but left the bases loaded down 3 with two outs in the bottom of the 7th when Logan Rogers made a nice sliding stop up the middle and got the out at 2nd to end it with Florida winning 17-15!

Alabama hits against Texas in the Final 8.

 


 

Final 4 Recap

Semifinals Alabama pitching to Virginia.

The semifinals played out after dark on Saturday, again in beautiful weather.  In semifinal #1 Chris Anninos led the Virginia offense with a first inning 2 run homer and VA made Alabama pay for some fielding mistakes enroute to a big 18-7 win.  Then in semifinal #2 Florida who had superior offense to the rest of the teams all weekend long, slowly pulled away from North Carolina with home run power and won a low scoring 11-3 game.

Florida jumps on North Carolina in the semifinals.

 


 

Winner’s Final Recap

Virginia and Florida in the winner’s final late Saturday night.

In the winner’s bracket final late Saturday night Florida scored 14 runs in the bottom of the 1st against Virginia and Jeremy Yates and Kyle Pearson (OG) each hit 3 home runs in a 29-9 run rule victory to advance undefeated into Sunday.

 


 

Loser’s Bracket Recap

Sunday morning final 4 teams.

The loser’s bracket played out for the most part back in the Red Quad all day on Saturday.  Almost every team that dropped into the loser’s bracket ended up winning that 1st game and then losing their 2nd and Alabama and North Carolina who dropped down from their semifinal losses ended up being the 2 teams that advanced to Sunday after late night Saturday wins.  With Alabama winning on a walk off sacrifice fly by Drew Hall after clutch hits by Bishop Harris, Justin Tripp, and Josh Cardwell.

 


 

Sunday Recap

Loser’s bracket finals between North Carolina and Virginia

On Sunday at 8 am in the 4th place game North Carolina base hit their way to a 20-1 lead against Alabama scoring 4 then 16 to start the game.  Alabama’s Daniel Cayton hit the first home run of the game in the bottom of the 4th down 21-11 and some good Bama defense by the pitcher Justin Tripp and infielder Bailey Isbel in the top of the 5th helped keep them in the game but they ended up losing to NC 22-16.  The wind was blowing across the field from right to left and the overcast temperature was 74 degrees.  Virginia looking fresh in the loser’s final got a lead off homer from Patrick Center to go up on North Carolina 2-0.  Then the Virginia 2nd baseman Jacob Clifton laid out for a big out defensively and the score was 2-2 after 1 inning.  In the top of the 2nd Aaron Stidham hit a long 3 run homer to put Virginia up 9-2.  In the bottom of the 4th the North Carolina offense came to life as Josh Fyffe hit a 3 run homer to give them a 14-11 lead and Austin Mapes hit a 2 run homer to “Osprey Alley” in right center field in the 5th then Robo hit a solo to increase their lead to 22-11 and North Carolina went on to win 22-20 hanging on to a 5 run lead entering the 7th.

The 2024 Challenge Cup Championship between North Carolina and Florida.

In the championship game North Carolina’s Zach Watts hit a grand slam in the top of the 3rd to put them up 12-5, and Josh Fyffe a 3 run homer to put them up 15-5.  But in the bottom of the 4th and 5th innings Florida’s offense went off and Florida left NC on the field 31-15 winning the game by the run rule and with it the 2024 Challenge Cup!

 


 

Long Bomber of the Week!

The Long Bomber of the Week is Josh Cardwell from Alabama.  When teams were struggling to hit home runs most of the weekend, he crushed 4 homer’s Friday night in one game in bracket play to lift his team past Indiana including a shot out of center field where it was 385 feet and 2 backside bombs!

 


 

Challenge Cup Results and Awards

 


 

Team by Team Notes

1st Place – Florida

Record  7-0 

Florida had a deep roster and a lot of power with Yates, Mack, Harvey, Matusik, Collins, Castillo, and Pearson leading the way.  Unfortunately there are no stats but Florida may have had about as many home runs in bracket play as all of the other teams combined.  Purcell was the manager and actually pitched against one of the Canadian teams.  Shawn Jones did most of the pitching.  And Matt Mosel, Joey Kampfer, Logan Rogers, and Jordan Robinson were the Florida Challenge Cup “rookies” that contributed.  I don’t think Capparelli was there?

 


2nd Place – North Carolina

Record  7-2 

North Carolina had a strong roster led by Rich Racobaldo, Josh Fyffe, Jason Martel, and Robert Blackburn.  And some pitching depth with Brandon Jonas and Sport Williams.  Almost the entire team has AA and higher Conference experience.  Parker Strader and last minute pickup Jackson May from the NC ‘D’ team were the new faces.

 


3rd Place – Virginia

Record  4-3 

Virginia had that Chick-fil-a feel with 8 players that played for the ‘AA’ team in the last couple years plus guys like Cory Boothe, Chris Anninos the 2022 Major MVP, Brandon Jackson from Competitive Edge, the defensive star Josh Brown, and outfielder Rob Banks.  They made it to the winner’s bracket finals but didn’t have enough for Florida on Saturday night or North Carolina on Sunday.

 


4th Place – Alabama

Record  5-2 

Alabama was the late entry into the tournament and made a nice run with Justin Tripp doing a lot of pitching.  The roster had a Baugh Ford type feel to it with Rainer and Hall plus the Major player Daniel Cayton, two time Major champ Kyle Overstreet, and the up and coming McAdams.

 


 

5th California  4-3 (better than expected)

 


 

5th Georgia  4-3 (lot of talent)

 


 

7th Oklahoma  4-2 (Seminoles feel.  Letak was back and making some nice plays.  Collier was impressing Jrowe with his speed and hustle)

 


 

7th Texas  3-3 (Stacked roster.  Lost that opener to Florida.  Crushed Ohio)

 


 

9th LA/MS  3-3 (finished 2nd last year)

 


 

9th Arkansas  2-4 (I didn’t see them)

 


 

Canada-East  2-4 (2 wins, nice)

 


 

9th Indiana  2-4 (couldn’t finish)

 


 

13th Kentucky  2-2 (good roster)

 


 

13th Washington  1-3 (played hard)

 


 

13th New England  1-4 (scrappy, nice outfield range)

 


 

13th New Mexico  1-4 (no magic this year)

 


 

17th Ohio  1-3 (last years champ)

 


 

17th Canada-West  1-3 (didn’t see them)

 


 

17th Arizona  1-3 (needed more power)

 


 

Faces in the Crowd / More Pictures

There were a lot of different batches (codes) on the stadium ZN balls and they all performed differently.

It was great to see Toby Letak back at the fields!

Dustin and JRowe from Bring It Podcast!

California state director Chuck Shimels with Indiana state director Richard Foltz.

JRowe killed it on the mic.

Juan, Slim, Dave!

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