2018 Nationwide Conference USSSA
50th Annual Smoky Mountain Classic
Resmondo's Greg Connell collects another hit in the championship game vs Smash It Sports
Fans gather in the shade to watch the 50th annual Smoky Mountain Classic
Winner's final between Resmondo and Smash It was tied at 47-47 in the 7th inning
In the foothills of the Smoky Mountains lies the growing city of Maryville, Tennessee with its small town charm, and its slow-pitch softball treasure – The Great Smoky Mountain Classic. The Smoky is special because of tradition, unlimited home runs, and 80 foot base lengths. It is the best regular season tournament in slow-pitch and has been hallowed ground in softball for 50 years now. The tournament festivities began with the local home run derby on Wednesday, the regular home run derby on Thursday (won by Resmondos Brian Wegman), and that was followed by a banquet to honor all of the past MVP's and home run champions. On Friday morning at 10 AM the tournament began! 34 teams in a double elimination format with 27 of the teams from the Nationwide Conference USSSA. The weather was warm and muggy, just like we come to expect at the Smoky, and the tournament used the Dudley Classic M ZN ball on all fields.
There were two "play in" games where local 'D' teams learned that hitting home runs was not that easy. TCS no hit Garners Gun Shop for 5 innings and ended up winning 11-0. And ESCO who won the 'D' division of the prestigious Busch in Arkansas last weekend beat Synergy Auto Wash 16-3.
Then the "round of 32" began as La Famiglia/Easton a Pennsylvania 'A' team got a 2 run triple from one of the league's leading hitters Dave Durso to tie Riot Sports/Broughton (FL-AA) 11-11 going into the 6th inning. Riot then grabbed their final lead when Jeff Roxby hit a 3 run homer in the bottom of the 6th and Riot won 19-13. The main field is Sandy Springs #3 and is a high school baseball field with 315-335-350-335-315 dimensions and in the heat of the day it can be difficult to hit home runs, and with the 80 foot bases it is also hard to get hits as the infielders play deeper than normal. In other "round of 32" action Precision/3rd Street (IL-AA) run ruled Insane Sports (OH-A) 36-20 over on Sandy Springs #4 with its 310 foot home run fences and its short porch in right field. Also, on field #4 Smash Its Sports/Thunder (NY-Major) the #2 team in the country beat local 'D' team Athletic Shop 36-8 after a very slow start. Xtreme/Miken (MN-AA) coming off their tournament win at the Dudley two weeks ago beat SNI/Easton 24-9, Baugh Ford (AL-A) beat Vivid/Killbombers (TX-A) 22-15, TDB/FAI (NC-AA) struggled past last year's cinderella team Terry's/Hollands (NC-B) 21-16, and Rapid Fire Athletics (VA-A) run ruled TG Brand (MI-A) 26-10. Over at Everett Park on field #1, the smallest field in the tournament, Sports Reach a Kentucky 'B' team jumped on Nightmare (MO-AA) and got out to a 35-1 lead in the first two innings as they scored 27 runs in the 2nd. Nightmare extended the game to the 4th inning but lost 39-10 in one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. Then on field #1 All Out (TX-AA) mashed Rebel Sports (MI-A) 25-9 and on field #2 with its 310 foot fence Classic Glass (CA-A) jumped out to a big lead and held off a comeback by Premier (OH-A) 15-6. Rebel and Premier just did not hit. Then Seminoles (OK-A) beat Primetime (GA-A) 19-15. Over at the Denso Manufacturing field #5 Racks/Worth Astros (IN-AA) smoked Chanticlear Pizza (MN-A) 23-1 and Pauer Sports (OH-A) knocked off Bay Area Legends (CA-A) 32-11. To wrap up the "round of 32" back at the show field #3, the Major teams – #3 ranked Dan Smith got in some batting practice against TCS winning 33-0, #1 Resmondo beat ESCO 21-6, and #4 ranked Pure Sports beat OI Livingston 18-3.
"Round of 16" – The Smoky is played at 6 different fields across 4 different parks around the city of Maryville and Alcoa Tennessee and as a reporter I have to pick and choose what games to cover. On Friday the better matchups are always at Everett or Denso fields and the main fields at Sandy Springs park with the top 4 seeds playing there – usually have blowouts. That was true again this year as #1 Resmondo advanced past Baugh Ford 33-2 in the 2nd round. #2 Smash It Sports beat Classic Glass 23-3. #3 Dan Smith beat Seminoles 21-3. But then Rapid Fire Athletics an 'A' team pulled off a huge upset of heavily favored Pure Sports 15-7 to advance to the prestigious final 8. Why is it prestigious to win 2 games on Friday at the Smoky? Because that means Saturday you are on the show field with some of the best teams in the country hitting unlimited bombs in front of appreciative softball knowledgeable crowds! Doesn't get better than that. Also, Precision beat Riot Sports 23-13 in a battle of 'AA' powers on the show field. Over at Everett park All Out just did get past the hot hitting Sports Reach team, winning 31-30 on a walk off homer. And the final two tickets to the final 8 were punched over at Denso field where I went to watch. First Xtreme and Racks battled for 5 innings about even and Xtreme held a 14-12 lead going into the bottom of the 6th. But Racks batted for 20 minutes and scored 16 runs to take a 28-14 lead. Xtreme never gave up though and scored 14 in the top of the 7th to tie the game and did a good job of getting 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th before Racks infielder Sammy Christensen hit a walk off homer to win 30-28. After that TDB grabbed the final ticket to the final 8 with a 45-30 run rule win over Pauer Sports.
Saturday at the main field Sandy Springs #3 started out with a beautiful morning and a loser's bracket game where fans who arrived early were treated to a nice game between Bay Area Legends and Terry's/Hollands. Bay Area shortstop Carlos Vasquez made an incredible diving stop and turned a 6-4-5 double play. Then Bay's Pilar Amaya hit a nasty knuckle ball line drive that ignited a huge 9 run rally with two outs and Bay Area at one point hit 6 straight home runs and won 31-10. Veteran Smoky fan favorite JD Genter hit a bunch of homers for Terry's.
Then the "Final 8" began at 9:15 AM with Precision and Smash It Sports. Precision came out strong and went up 12-0 after 1 and a half innings. But Smash It answered with 11 runs in the bottom of the 2nd and the two teams traded the lead until the bottom of the 6th where it was Precision leading 25-24. But Precision line drives towards the end of the game were stabbed by Smash It infielders and Smash Its offense took over and they advanced to the "final 4" with a 38-31 win. In the 10:30 AM game Dan Smith grabbed a 6-4 lead on Racks in the first, all on base hits. Then Racks cut the lead to 12-11 on a Chad Mullins line drive homer over the 350 mark in center field in the top of the 4th. But Dan Smith scored 12 runs in the bottom of the 4th and went on to win 29-14. Dan Smith hit 11 homers in the game and was led by Dale Brungardt who was 4-4 with 3 RBI. In the high noon game, #1 Resmondo cruised past All Out 36-20 as their dominating top of the lineup Baker, Connell, Wegman, Yates got into their groove. And in the 1:30 PM game between TDB and Rapid Fire, Rapid Fire rode a 9 run 5th inning to a 24-16 lead. In the 5th inning Rapid fire added 5 more runs and led 31-21. TDB was able to cut the lead to 31-28 on a Tyler Marshburn grand slam but Rapid Fire was able to hold on and win for the huge upset. Rapid Fire hit 11 HR in the game, led by Rich Racobaldo and Jess Maloney with 3 each.
The "final 4" of the winner's bracket then played out starting at 4:30 PM in warm and humid conditions. The Major vs Major team battle was first between #2 Smash It Sports and #3 Dan Smith. Dan Smith led 15-10 going into the bottom of the 3rd when Smash It Sports offense led by Kyle Pearson took over. Smash It scored 25 runs in the bottom of the 3rd and cruised the rest of the way to a 38-17 run rule win in 4 innings. Smash It hit 18 homers and Dan Smith hit 7. Kyle Pearson batting leadoff for Smash It was 5 for 5 with 5 homers and 14 runs batted in! In the second semifinal Resmondo scored 6 in the 1st and 2nd innings and 15 in the 3rd to beat Rapid Fire 30-12 in 5 innings. Resmondo hit 14 homers as Connell, Wegman, Yates, Mack, and Rettenmeier all hit two.
The winner's bracket championship was played Saturday night under the lights in front of a crowd about the size of the past 3 or so years and it was the heavyweight showdown that everyone paid to see between #1 Resmondo and #2 Smash It Sports. The game did not disappoint as Resmondo scored in every inning, including 10 runs in the 2nd and 14 in the 4th. They hit 30 home runs for the game! Smash It matched them point for point as they scored 16 runs in the 2nd inning and hit 34 home runs for the game with Ryan Harvey hitting a game high 5 homers. The game was filled with long bombs, crowd pleasing homers, and some great defense as Smash It Shortstop Don Dedonatis made the best diving stab of a liner between shortstop and middle, Filip Washington and Buddy Wolf traded diving catches in the outfield, and SIS middle man Luis Reyna made and incredible backhand from the grass in left center and bounced a throw across for an out! But the two teams went to the 7th inning with Resmondo down 47-44. Resmondo was the visiting team and put up 3 runs with 2 outs before Jeremy Yates and Bubba Mack combined for clutch home runs and Resmondo had a 6 run lead. To this point both teams had scored in every inning but in the bottom of the 7th the Resmondo defense closed the door with a nice infield play by shortstop Brett Rettenmeier, a nice catch by Wegman in left field on a diving knuckleball, and a grounder to 3rd where Bubba Mack fielded it clean but threw it high and 1st baseman Neil Haglund climbed the ladder to make a great catch and land on first base for the final out! Resmondo had won 53-47!
The loser's bracket at a tournament like this is impossible to keep up with and there were so many great games and matchups. Bay Area Legends made a little run beating Terrys, Baugh Ford, and Sports Reach. Pure Sports knocked off Nightmare and Pauer Sports. La Famiglia beat Insane, Xtreme, and Premier. And Riot Sports beat Chanticlear and Classic Glass. But all of those teams ran out of gas as the day went on and teams dropping down from the loser's bracket like Precision, Racks, All Out, and TDB all sent them packing. Then the "final 4" teams that lost dropped into the loser's bracket and won their Saturday night games – Rapid Fire beat Racks on a walk off homer by Chris Nann and Dan Smith run ruled All Out 43-26 out homering them 31-14 on field #4 to make it to Sunday.
On Sunday morning the "pecking order" was in full swing as Dan Smith hammered Rapid Fire in the loser's semifinal as they scored 12 in the 1st inning and 31 runs in the second inning – 26 of those were after a botched double play ball. So, the score was Dan Smith 43 and Rapid Fire 2 after 2 innings, prompting the Rapid Fire manager Mark Katz to jokingly ask the umpire if there was a 40 run rule after 2? Dan Smith won 52-7. Brungardt was 6-6 with 4 homers and 7 RBI.
Next in the loser's bracket finals Smash It Sports smoked Dan Smith 29-9 in 4 innings as Dan Smith scored just 1 run in the first 3 innings after scoring 52 runs the game before? Momentum in softball is a crazy animal… Purcell, Pearson, Riley, Briggs, and Washington all hit 2 or more homers in the win.
The championship game started a little early because of the previous run rules and it was 82 degrees at game time. Resmondo led 12-5 after one inning and scored 7 runs in the 3rd, 11 more in the 4th, and 15 runs in the 5th to put away Smash It Sports by the 20 run rule 49-29 to win the 50th Annual Smoky Mountain Classic. MVP Greg Connell was 6-6 in the game with 3 home runs and Resmondo out homered Smash It 29-18 in the game. Brian Wegman, Steele Lewis, and Buddy Wolf all hit 4 homers in the win and every player in the starting lineup homered at least once and 10 players had at least 2 homers each.
The tournament was run perfectly by a veteran staff of hard working people. The main field announcer Glenn, scorekeeper Alvin, ball man Chad, directors Chris Clark, Joe Huff, and Strojan Kennison and their site crews, and UIC Doc Beckwell and his Conference Umpires. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the game!
34 Teams Overall
27 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
3 Major Teams
8 'AA' Teams
15 'A' Teams
3 'B' Teams
5 'D' Teams
Sunday Championship between Resmondo in the blue and Smash It in the white.
Sand Springs field #4
Historic Smoky Mountain Classic Winning Teams List:
2018 Resmondo/RDD/H.Auto/All In/Sprizzi/Easton
2017 Smash It Sports/TDB/Miken/Worth
2016 Resmondo Specialty Tank Worth
2015 Smash IT Sports/Compound Athletics/H Auto/ASP/Laservision/Easton
2014 Resmondo Specialty Tank Worth
2013 Resmondo-Specialty Tank Worth
2012 Resmondo-specialty tank worth
2011 Resmondo-specialty tank / worth
2009 Resmondo-specialty tank-worth
2008 Resmondo/specialty tank/worth
2006 Resmondo – KME Softball
2005 Bell Corp/Backman/Taylor/Easton – Tampa, Florida
2003 Hague / Resmondo / Taylor Brothers
2002 Dan Smith / Backman / Menosse / Easton
2001 Long Haul / Taylor Bros. / Shen Corp. / TPS
2000 Team TPS/Louisville, KY
1999 Team TPS, Louisville, Kentucky
1998 Sierra/TPS, Reno, NV
1997 Ritch's/Superior/Tri Gems/Beloli/TPS, Windsor Locks, CT
1996 Sunbelt/Easton, Centerville, GA
1995 Ritch's/Superior/TPS, Windsor Locks, CT
1994 Ritch's/Superior/TPS, Windsor Locks, CT
1993 Ritch's/Superior, Windsor Locks, CT
1992 Bell Corp, Tampa, FL.
1991 Bell Corp, Tampa, FL.
1990 Steeles Silver Bullets, Grafton, OH
1989 Superior-Apollo, Windsor Locks, CT
1988 Starpath Systems, Monticello, KY
1987 Steeles Sports, Grafton, OH
1986 Steeles Sports, Grafton, OH
1985 Elite Coatings, Gordon, GA
1984 Elite Coatings, Gordon, GA
1983 Elite Coatings, Gordon, GA
1982 York/Ken Sanders, York, PA
1981 Howards Western Steer, Denver, NC
1980 Jerry's Caterers, Miami, FL.
1979 Campbell's Carpet, Concord, CA
1978 Dave Carroll Sports, Sherrills-Ford, NC
1977 Howards Furniture, Denver, NC
1976 Howards Furniture, Denver, NC
1975 Nelson Painting, Oklahoma City, OK
1974 Howards Furniture, Denver, NC
Dan Smith walked Ryan Harvey intentionally to get to Andy Purcell to start the loser's bracket finals?
Purcell hit a 3 run homer and it was all downhill for Dan Smith after that.
TDB shortstop Orlando Castillo makes a diving catch against Rapid Fire Saturday
Pure Sports left fielder robs a homer against Precision Saturday
Teams were using massive shifts against the home run hitters
Resmondo – 3B Bubba Mack, SS Brett Rettenmeir, MI Kevin Bazat, 2B Greg Connell
Dan Smith Left Fielder Jo Jo Bennett scales the fence
Sandy Springs field #3 – show field views and crowds
Sandy Springs field #4 crowd
Bat testing and Dudley Classic M balls
Long Bombers of the Tournament
Saturday night in the winner's bracket finals Smash Its John Williams hit what many thought was the longest home run of the tournament. Then the next batter Kyle Pearson clearly hit one further. And then the next batter Ryan Harvey hit one that was clearly even further then Pearsons. It was quite a display. The scorekeeper Alvin who scored every game on the show field, agreed that Harvey's Saturday night was the longest of the weekend. For the lefties it felt like Resmondo's Neil Haglund and Dan Smith's Davis Bilardello hit the longest homers but I'm not sure. Also Dan Smiths Argen Dodds hit some BOMBS on field #4 and Mike Brambilla hit the house in center field on field #1. And finally Brian Wegman of Resmondo gets a long bomber award for winning the Smoky home run derby on Thursday night, beating teammates Bryson Baker and Travis Clark in the finals.
I am giving a special Long Bomber award to Rapid Fire outfielder Hunter Young and All Out infielder Chris Anninos who both hit bombs and created a little buzz in the crowd for being able to hit such long homers for their size.
Smoky Major Final Standings and Awards
Final All Tournament Awards have not been turned in from the teams
but Rapid Fire did select slugger Jess Maloney and pitcher Cam Byars
Resmondos Greg Connell was MVP – 29-30 with 15 HR
Smash Its Kyle Pearson hit the most homers (23) with Strojan Kennison, Joe Huff, and Chris Clark
Point Standings after the Smoky