BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION – Budweiser is the known as the “King of Beers” around the world, and the Budweiser Softball Festival is the “King of Softball Tournaments” in Texas. What started as a small, 24-team gathering back in 1986 has grown into one of the largest tour-naments in the nation, topping out at a record 301 teams this year.
“There are several factors that have come together over the years to allow this tournament to grow, with one of the biggest being geography,” said tournament founder Greg Huchingson. “Bryan-College Station is located in the middle of a triangle made up of three huge metropolitan markets – Houston, San Antonio and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Seventy-five percent of the state’s popu¬lation lives within a three-hour drive of here, so we’re easy to get to. Plus, we make sure that teams open against an opponent from a different market, so they get to play different teams and not the same old faces they see back home every other weekend.”
Huchingson added, “Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our primary sponsor Jack Hilliard Distributing, whose generous and continuous commitment to the sport of slow-pitch softball has allowed the Bryan-College Station community to benefit from the thousands of visi¬tors from across the great state of Texas every year.”
Jack Hilliard Distributing is the Central Texas distributor of Anheuser-Busch products. Ron Longoria has been the General Manager at the Bryan office of Jack Hilliard Distributing for the entire 25-year history of the tournament. Alan Bingham is the Promotions Director for JHD, whose duties during the weekend include the difficult task of picking up the lovely Bud Girls and driving them around to make appearances at the various complexes.
The 25th Annual Budweiser Softball Festival had the privilege of hosting two of the highest ranking dignitaries in the USSSA organization – Associate National Executive Director Danny D. Brown from California, and Western United States Vice President Kevin Naegele from New Mexico. Both were in Texas for the days leading up to and including the tour¬nament, and were impressed with the state’s hospitality.
“With over 30 years of running, partic¬ipating and visiting tournaments throughout the country, the Budweiser is one of the best … if not THE best,” said Brown, who is in charge of all slow¬pitch softball operations in the nation for USSSA.
Naegele also enjoyed his visit to Texas, not withstanding a close call on a poten¬tial speeding citation in Grimes County where the attending officer made refer¬ence to his German ancestry.
“I have had the opportunity to be a part of some of the largest events in our association’s history, but this event ranks as one of USSSA’s best ever,” said Naegele. “We are very proud of Huch and his staff for their efforts in building such an outstanding event. Also, I would like to thank the constable in Navasota for giving me a free pass through the ‘Autobahn’.
Festivities got underway Friday night with the always-popular Home Run Derby. Unlike most derbies, this event is a head-to-head, bracketed format featuring 96 hitters battling round-by-round on three adjacent fields at the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex. At the end, the winners of each of the three 32-hitter brackets meet on the show field for the $1,000 grand prize hit-off. When the dust finally settled after three hours of bombs, Argen Dodds of League City was the last man standing to capture the big prize.
The tournament began bright and early Saturday morning and continued non-stop around-the-clock until after midnight Sunday night on 17 fields at five different complexes. The event was under the threat of 30 percent chances of thunderstorms all weekend, but not one drop of rain fell on Bryan-College Station the entire weekend.
There were only a dozen teams in the highest bracket – Men’s B – but they were 12 good ones, including one from Los Angeles, Calif. Front Row Sports, a team based in Sulphur, La with players from the Houston-Beaumont-Lake Charles corridor, plays primarily in carnival tournaments. The Budfest was only their third USSSA-sanctioned event of the year. But Manager Curtis Day’s team came up big on the biggest stage in Texas by going undefeated through six games to win first place. Front Row averaged 20.2 runs per game in their six wins – by far the best in the tourna¬ment. Their closest game of the six was the championship, where they defeated AYS/Tanguma Sports from Houston by just a single run (13-12). AYS/Tanguma Sports settled for second place with a 3-2 record. Zamora’s All-Out Sports from Rosenburg came in third, Lonestar Sports from Cypress finished fourth, and Texas Softball Club/Miken from Houston and Crush from Spring tied for fifth.
Front Row shortstop Johnathan Lenz was named the MVP of the division, and Marcello Gonzales of AYS was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Jeff McCoy, Darren Segrest, Lamar Stiner, Scott Marquardt and Sergio Martinez, of Front Row; Gibby Garcia, Steven “Flaco” Barrientos, Jarred Robinson and Mario Martinez, of AYS; Benny Munoz, Kip Todhunter and Matthew Pavlik, of Zamora’s All-Out; and Matt Kainer, Tom Batson, and J.D. Chandler, of Lonestar Sports.
The Men’s C Division featured 25 teams, and Imperial from Houston went unde¬feated through five games to capture the crown. Imperial was a D team in 2009 and was one of 20 teams to get bumped up at the end of the season. They have consistently been the best C team in Texas all of 2010, which should serve as an inspiration to all teams who land on the reclassification list at the end of each year. Imperial averaged 16 runs per game and allowed just 6.2, for an average margin of victory of 9.8 runs. But it was much closer in the most important games, beating Steel Softball (13-12) in the winner’s bracket finals, and again (8-4) in the championship.
Steel Softball from Corpus Christi settled for the runnerup trophy with a 5-2 record, while Slapaho from Dickinson came in third also at 5-2, Houston 420 from Houston came in fourth at 3-2, and the Black Sox from Austin and STFU from San Antonio tied for fifth. The rest of the Top 10 consisted of Straight Shot from Conroe and DFW Warriors from Dallas-Ft. Worth tied for seventh; and Bud Crew from Dickinson, Mayhem from Euless, and T.K.O. and SA Hitmen, both from San Antonio, all tied for ninth.
The MVP of the C Division was Javier Sauceda of Imperial, while the Gold Glove went to Richard Salazar of Steel. Other players named to the All-Tournament team were Jason Scott, Ricky Hass, Jose Molina and Christopher lopez, of Imperial; Cesar “Cheezer” Garza, Erik Buxton, Mingo Salinas and Mark Holsonback, of Steel; Brent Smith, John White and Joe Brown, of Slapaho; and Chuck Cox and Greg Lopez, of Houston 420.
Men’s D and Men’s E were by far the two biggest brackets of the tourna¬ment, with 96 teams in each. In the Men’s D, a pair of Houston area teams – Disturbed from Baytown and Hard- N-Early from Lake Jackson – waged three epic battles to determine the supremacy of the division. Both teams won their first five games to reach the winner’s bracket finals undefeated. In the king seat game, Hard-N-Early held on to claim a narrow 14-13 victory to advance on to the championship game. Disturbed dropped to the loser’s bracket to face Old School from Spring, who had just destroyed one of the best teams from the Metroplex, A3 Construction/ Famoso from Ft. Worth, by a score of 15-4. Disturbed jumped out early on Old School and rolled from there for a convincing 24-12 win. Then, Disturbed kept the momentum from that game rolling as they proceeded to double-dip Hard-N-Early by scores of 19-11 and 17-9 to capture the crown with an 8-1 record.
Hard-N-Early had to settle for second place with a 6-2 mark, while Old School came in third also at 6-2. A3 Construction/Famoso was one of the best stories of the entire tournament. Manager Art Archuleta’s team lost their very first game Saturday morning, then battled back through the night and all day Sunday for nine consecutive wins before finally running out of gas in the Sunday night loss to Old School to finish fourth at 9-2. Texas Tokers from Tyler and Texas Raiders from Houston tied for fifth place; Dream Street from Beaumont and Jokers from Houston tied for seventh; and Texas Made/A&M Doors from Houston, Woodpeckers from Galveston; Trailer Park Stars from Deer Park, and Brewskies from Houston all tied for ninth.
Zach Galliher of Disturbed was named MVP of the division, and Jason “Yella” Hughes of Hard-N-Early was the Gold Glove winner. The rest of the All-Tournament team consisted of Kris Carpenter, David Prahm, Donald Davis and Jimmy Eberly, of Disturbed; Blake Cisneros, Mark Morgan and Russell “Bubba” Lofton of Hard- N-Early; Jimmy “Sabo” Galloway, Joey Ficarra and Tyson Uhlig, of Old School; and Ryan Miera and Ryan Gonzalez, of A3 Construction/Famoso.
Just like the equally large Men’s D bracket, there was a two-scooping served up in the Men’s E Division as well. This 96-team bracket was dominated by San Antonio teams, which claimed three of the top four positions. The New Boys and Braun Hall Bombers, both from San Antonio, each won their first five games to advance to the winner’s bracket finals. The New Boys then won the king seat game by a narrow 7-5 margin, sending the Braun Hall Bombers to the loser’s bracket. After STX Dynasty from Houston sent Rehab – It Happens from San Antonio home with fourth place, they faced Braun Hall. The Bombers lived up to their name with a convincing 14-5 win to get another shot at the New Boyz. The Braun Hall Bombers then proceeded to win both championship games easily – 17-12 and 22-12 – to capture the cham¬pionship with an 8-1 record.
New Boyz were runnerups at 6-2, STX Dynasty was third also at 6-2, and Rehab – It Happens was fourth at 7-2, while Don’t Know from Bryan and Turn 2 from Wills Point tied for fifth. Twisted Crew and Texas Mayhem, both from Houston, tied for seventh; while No Regret from San Antonio, Devilz Rejects from Katy, Young Guns from Houston, and DavidTheLocator.com from Houston all tied for ninth.
Chase Feeler of the Braun Hall Bombers was named MVP of the division, and Lawrence Castillo of New Boyz was the Gold Glove winner. Other players named to the All-Tournament team were Tyson Powell, Anthony Sears, O.J. Hernandez and Albert Olivares, of Braun Hall Bombers; David Macias, Edward Bratton and Ralph Lopez, of New Boyz; Robert Reyna, Adam Gonzales and Charlie Camancho, of STX Dynasty; and Bobby Villanueva and Jimmy Alonso, of Rehab – It Happens.
The Budweiser Festival is one of the few remaining tournaments in Texas with separate C and D brackets for Women’s
teams. (Most tournaments combine all Women’s teams into one bracket.)
In the 18-team Women’s C Division, the Steel Unknowns from San Antonio rolled through all five games unde¬feated to claim the championship. Their closest game of the tournament was the championship, where they snuck past the Lookouts/Mizuno from Deer Park by just one run (7-6). The Lookouts/Mizuno settled for the second place trophy win a fine 6-2 record. All About Sports from Houston came in third with a 3-2 mark; the Lady Brokers from Houston finished fourth at 4-2; and Team Arkansas from Little Rock, AR and Lady Canes II from Ft. Worth tied for fifth.
MVP of the Women’s C went to Yolanda Garcia of Steel Unknowns and the Gold Glove went to her team¬mate Jennifer Kelley. Other ladies named All-Tournament were Hortencia Cabrera, Leah Layton, Kim Guymon and Santa Castro, of Steel Unknowns; and Sara Fitzgerald, Jamie Jenson and Mya McRae of the Lookouts.
In the 25-team Women’s D Division, Quiet Storm from Killeen went unde¬feated through five games to win first place. Quiet Storm averaged 10.8 runs in their five wins, while giving up just 4.0 runs for an average spread of 6.8 runs – a big margin for this division. Their cham¬pionship win was a 14-7 victory over J.F.F. of Spring, who finished second with a 7-2 record. Houston Energy came in third at 4-2; Team Dallas Women took fourth at 3-2; and Lady Terror Squad from Bryan and Houston Blaze tied for fifth.
Larita Williams of Quiet Storm was named MVP of the division, and team¬mate Vanessa Smith was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Elisa Nieves, Angela Clemons, Jean Brown and Windi Klein, of Quiet Storm; Candace Yaritsky, Edith Langford and Laura Smith, of J.F.F.; Tamara Weathers, Christian Lotto and Givency Young, of Houston Energy; and Temeka Stoker and Misti Russom, of Team Dallas Women.
There were 30 teams entered in the Co-ed bracket, and the results were the most diverse of the entire tournament. Team Renegades from Austin won first place with a 6-1 record. Team Victory Sports Park from San Antonio was runn¬erup with a 6-2 mark. Ronoco/Maverick Promotions from Dallas finished third at 7-2. Half-Cocked from Nacogdoches in East Texas came in fourth at 6-2. Bad Intentions from Kemah and Powerhouse/Elite from Ft. Worth tied for fifth; Double D from Temple and Smack That from Houston tied for seventh; and BMF from Round Rock, Straight Shot from Conroe, I’d Hit It from Baytown, and Stop Lookin’ from Tyler all tied for ninth.
The All-Tournament team in the Co-ed division consisted of Tammy Martinez, Krystle Miller, Justin Mark and Daniel Evans, of Team Renegades; Brian Goelz, Teri Camarillo and Tracy Bougere, of Team Victory Sports Park; Greg Jones, Chad Stewart and Tasanee Wood, of Ronoco/Maverick; and Larry Jenkins and Marcie Netardus, of Half-Cocked.
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!