MANSFIELD, TEXAS – With their hometown of Chicago buried under a foot of snow, the Klub’s softball team did what any other softball maniacs would do in mid-January – rented a couple of vans and drove 17 hours, one way, to North Texas to play in a USSSA Winter World Tournament.
“Most of my guys are younger and couldn’t afford an airplane ticket, so we rented two vans, loaded up and took off,” said Klub’s manager Kevin McCabe. “This place (Big League Dreams) is awesome. It feels like we’ve died and gone to softball heaven. We’ll definitely be coming back here.”
Big League Dreams in Mansfield is a three-year-old complex located between Dallas and Fort Worth. Each of the eight fields is a replica of a current or former Major League ballpark, such as Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park (complete with a “Green Monster”) and, of course, Rangers Ballpark, among others. The complex also features two climate-controlled restau¬rants on-premise, where ballplayers can relax in comfort out of the elements between their games and watch softball games out of the windows or sports on the multiple televisions.
Klub’s had their wish granted, when they got to play their first game in the Men’s D Division on the Wrigley Field replica, which they won over the Fakeouts (14-13). In their second game, the Illinois team faced eventual tournament champions Elite Screen Print and dropped a close game (5-3). After dropping to the loser’s bracket, Klub’s got on a roll and scored wins over Balco Inc. (20-10), Monsters (17-5), Southern Attitude (15-3), Outlaws/ Louisville Slugger (12-4) and Aztecas (10-9), before finally being eliminated by West Texas Mafia (19-6). While the other teams back in Illinois were still hibernating for the winter, Klub’s posted a 6-2 record and placed seventh at Winter Worlds to get their season off to a fast start with 130 USSSA Points.
While Klub’s traveled the farthest distance for Winter Worlds, they were by no means the only out-of-towners among the 115 teams entered. There were also teams from Colorado Springs, CO; Omaha, NE; Kansas City, KS; Fayetteville, Little Rock and other cities in Arkansas; Shreveport, Monroe, Ruston and other cities in Louisiana; Oklahoma City, Tulsa and other cities in Oklahoma; and from all corners or the huge state of Texas, including Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso, Del Rio, San Antonio, Houston, Waco and Dallas- Fort Worth.
In the Men’s B/C Division; Texas Brewed/TST/RR, a B team based in the East Texas town of Livingston, went 5-0 to capture first place in the 22-team bracket. Texas Brewed defeated Famous Softball (20-9), F.T.P. (24-15), Old School (22-10) and Jokers (11-8) to advance to the championship game, where they defeated Old School again (22-18) to win the championship and the 300 USSSA Points that came with it.
Runnerup Old School is a registered D team from Houston, but they added several B pickups for this tournament so they did not get double points for their 5-2 second place finish. Jokers, a true C team from Fort Worth, made a strong showing to finish third and with double points they started their year with 400 USSSA Points. Absolut Softball came in fourth place with a 3-2 record, while F.T.P. from Odessa and Smoke/GKITravel from Ft. Worth tied for fifth, and Budweiser from Bryan-College Station and Famous Softball from Ft. Worth tied for seventh.
Marcus Thornton of Texas Brewed was named Most Valuable Player of the division, while Chris Smith from Old School was the Gold Glove winner. Texas Brewed players named to the All-Tournament team were Jason Allen, Dwain Anderson, Mike Scoggin and Josh Bratz. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Aaron Grimes, Doug Waindel and Dante LaPoint, of Old School; Johnny Reyes, Edward Sanchez and Victor Guadalupe, of Jokers; and Eric Zachary and Louis Vasquez, of Absolut.
Men’s D was the largest bracket of the tournament, with a whop¬ping 52 teams. Elite Screen Print from Fort Worth, a team that was bumped up from E to D following the 2010 season, proved the bump was merited as they went 6-0 to win first place. ESP defeated Klub’s (5-3), Righteous (17-13), Tribe (22-15), Apollo Fitness/The Core (20-17) and TWP (14-9) to advance to the champi¬onship game, where they defeated TWP again to claim the crown and 300 valuable USSSA Points.
TWP, a strong team from Oklahoma City, finished second with a 5-2 record and earned 225 USSSA Points. Tribe Del Rio, another team bumped from E to D following 2010, came in third place with a 5-2 record and earned 200 USSSA Points, and Trouble Inc./Aw Ready from Austin came in fourth also at 5-2 and earned 175 USSSA Points. West Texas Mafia from Odessa and Apollo Fitness/The Core tied for fifth place; while Klub’s from Chicago and Righteous from Justin tied for seventh. The rest of the Top 10 consisted of DFL Construction from Shreveport, Aztecas from Dallas, Tribe from Converse, and Rehab-It Happens from San Antonio all tied for ninth.
Chris Burns from Elite Screen Print was named Most Valuable Player of the division, and Gene Stanley of TWP was the Gold Glove winner. Other Elite Screen Print players named to the All-Tournament team were Brian Elliott, Daniel Sloan, Bruce Kennedy and Nacho Sanchez, while other TWP All-Tourney players were Joey Anderson, Chris Townley and Zac Dennis. The rest of the Men’s D All-Tournament team included David Espivea, Gerardo Garcia and James Hufstedler, of Tribe Del Rio; and Gil Soto and Justin Graves, of Trouble Inc./Aw Ready.
In the Men’s E Division, there was some post-tournament contro¬versy. Why So Serious from Monroe, LA went undefeated through six games to win first place, but 24 hours later they were disquali¬fied for having played with too many D players. Therefore, the first place award and the 300 USSSA Points went to Circus Motorsports from Ennis. Circus Motorsports won their first two games over Tacabron (14-4) and Rally Dawgs (18-5) before losing to Hard Knox (22-7). But Circus Motorsports dropped to the loser’s bracket and reeled off consecutive wins over H&H (14-13), Wrecking Crew (14-2) NTX Blaze (15-3), Hard Knox (20-11) in a re-match, and Texas Crew (15-5) to make it all the way back to the championship game with a 7-1 record.
Texas Crew/T.S.G.H. from Kennedale earned second place and 225 USSSA Points with a 4-2 record. Hard Knox/Texas Shock from Ft. Worth also went 4-2 and finished third to receive 200 USSSA Points. Dawgs from Dallas took fourth place at 5-2 and NTX Blaze from Arlington took fifth at 3-2. North Texas Takeover from Waxahachie and Wrecking Crew from Texarkana, AR tied for seventh; while Disfunctional from Wichita Falls, H&H from Waxahachie, Warriors from Dallas, and Arkansas Suicide from Little Rock all tied for ninth in the 32-team bracket.
Jeremy Guana of Circus Motorsports was the Gold Glove winner of the division. Guana was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammates Bruce Sanots, Robert Castillo and James Guana. Other members of the Men’s E All-Tourney team were Jordan Hall, Cody Boyle and Richard Franklin, of Texas Crew; and Andy Linder and Zack Stepehens, of Hard Knox.
The tournament also featured nine teams in a Women’s C/D bracket. Lady Canes II from Cedar Hill went 4-0 to capture first place and the 300 USSSA Points that went along with the crown. Lady Canes II defeated Resurrection (21-8), Bad Intentions (18-13) and Shocker Softball (24-11) to advance to the championship game, where they snuck past Shocker Softball again (16-15) to win it all. Shocker Softball, from Abilene in West Texas, finished second with a 3-2 record, while Hit List from Oklahoma City came in third at 3-2, and Bad Intentions from Euless finished fourth at 2-2. Team Dallas Women and The Elite tied for fifth.
Kyna Bradford of Lady Canes II was named Most Valuable Player of the division, while Nicole Cortez of Shocker Softball was the Gold Glove winner. Other players from Lady Canes II named to the All-Tournament team were Sonya Fields, Anntron Barrett, Yasminda Chambers and Sandy Sanchez. Others named to the All-Tourney team were Sierra Saenz, Cameron Mackey and Laura Ortega, of Shocker Softball; Melissa Willis, Dana Askins and Stephanie Moore, of Hit List; and Nancy Myers
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!