2018 Nationwide Conference USSSA
Chattanooga Choo Major
Championship Sunday with Riot Sports rookie Taylor Nichols hitting against TG Brand!
Winner's bracket finals Sunday Riot Sports Scotty Langford hitting against TG Brand
The 19 team Chattanooga major started with everyone playing on Friday night. After the 7 PM play in games by the lower non-conference teams were over, the 12 Conference teams took to the fields. The cooler temperatures and light "top of the mountain air" led to high scores which were expected. Riot Sports/Broughton/Beckham/Worth a Florida 'AA' team jumped out to a 19-1 lead on Nally's/D&D/Beserk (MO-A) and beat them easily 26-4. The Smash It/Thunder Major team took some batting practice against MugShots Grill & Bar in a quick 32-12 win. Racks/Worth Astros (IN-AA) run ruled Primetime/Easton/Evolution (GA-A) 35-20 after Primetime had jumped out to a 16-3 lead. TG Brand (MI-A) out base hit Baugh Ford/Pure Sports/Kincaid (AL-TBD) 34-28. TDB/FAI/Klutch/Miken (NC-AA) run ruled an Indiana 'D' team called Pork Pistols 37-21. Nightmare/Miken (MO-AA) survived a legit scare from Southern Mayhem (GA-B) but held on to win 29-27. Xtreme/Miken/ASP/Athlon (MN-AA) crushed SNI/Easton/Dynasty (FL-TBD) 38-15. SNI actually had too many bats in the bucket so they would have had to pass the bat tester on all of their bats had they won. And in the game of the night Eagle Paint a tough Georgia 'C' team gave the Dan Smith Major team everything they could handle. Eagle Paint got off to a 26-4 lead, but Dan Smith fought back, and the game went to extra innings where Dan Smith hit two balls that could have been fielded but went through for hits and Dale Brungardt won the game with a walk off single for Dan Smith 38-37.
In the second round (round of 8) in the winner's bracket Xtreme and TDB were locked in a high scoring war that went 9 innings. In the 8th with a runner in scoring position and only 1 out, Xtreme shortstop Toby Letak made a diving stop which started a double play to force the 9th inning. Xtreme then scored 8 runs in the top of the 9th and held on to beat their 'AA' rival 54-51, a whopping 105 total runs scored! Xtreme hitters batted 9 times and Pat Ellwanger had 10 RBI. TG Brand meanwhile took it to Nightmare and never let off the gas in a 45-29 win. And then in the top of the bracket were the two marathon games on field #1. First Riot Sports shocked Smash It Sports Major team with a 21-15 lead after one inning. Riot then shut down Smash It 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the 4th with one of the outs being a diving catch by the new Riot right fielder Taylor Nichols. In the top of the 5th Riot Sports then scored 15 runs to cut the Smash It lead to 38-36. Riot would outscore Smash It 8-4 the rest of the way as both teams struggled without homer's and held on to win in extra innings 44-42. Next it was Dan Smiths turn to be upset as Racks Astros led 38-37 in the bottom of the 7th and got a comebacker to veteran pitcher Carl Blank, who was just picked up last week, to end the game!
So, the two Major teams were dropped to the same side of the loser's bracket and they met with Dan Smith beating Smash It Sports by 1 run on a safe slide at the plate in the last inning 44-43. There was a theme in these high scoring games and that was: 1) Every team fought to get as much as they could out of their 12-homer's early in the game. 2) You had to field hard shots, both line drives, and bad hop sizzlers in the infield. 3) You had to close out the game with base hitting. Solid ball striking up and down the lineup became a premium and the teams that got into a base hitting offensive rhythm when the homers were gone ended up winning. You must give credit to the teams, there were very few run rules and I didn't see many teams giving up even when down double digits.
In the final 4 of the winner's bracket meanwhile TG Brand handled Xtreme 29-19 after Xtreme had just scored 54 runs on the same field against TDB? And Riot Sports beat fellow 'AA' team Racks Astros 34-26. Then the winner's bracket final which was scheduled for 8 PM was moved up to 6 PM because of an incoming storm. Riot Sports and TG Brand were tied 26-26 after 5 innings and Riot got a big 3 run homer by Scotty Langford to finally take a lead and never looked back as they outscored TG Brand 10-3 in the last two innings to win 36-29.
In the loser's bracket Kut4/Sports/FBC/Worth a non-conference 'C' team from Alabama made an unlikely run as they beat Primetime 38-37, Eagle Paint 31-15, and Nightmare 27-24, before running out of gas against TDB 18-4. Kut4 was the highest finishing non-conference team as they tied for 7th. Xtreme jumped on Dan Smith and never let up in a 51-40 win. Racks Worth Astros sent home TDB 39-21. And then late Saturday night in the rain Xtreme surpassed the 50-run mark for the third time in the tournament as they beat Racks Astros 55-41 to advance to Sunday. Racks Astros finishing 4th. Colin Baartman was 8-9 with 3 HR and 11 RBI in the game for Xtreme.
On Sunday morning in the loser's bracket finals at 8 am, Xtreme had a 2 out rally in the top of the 1st as Matt McGowan hit a big homer and they grabbed 6-4 after 1 inning. TG then went up 21-16 after 4 innings when they scored 10 runs. In the top of the 5th Xtreme's Joe Skyles hit a clutch 3 run homer after a little chirping between the two teams which gave Xtreme a 22-21 lead. Xtremes Pat Ellwanger added a 2 out 3 run homer to increase the lead to 6 and a nice catch by Colin Baartman in center field held TG Brand scoreless in the bottom of the 6th. In the top of the 7th with both teams having 3 homers to hit, Xtreme scored just 3 runs and TG Brand needing 9 to win got on an offensive roll and Justin Geiner hit a walk off homer to send TG Brand to the championship.
In the first game of the championship Riot Sports who had to be beaten twice grabbed a 9-3 lead after one inning but used 6 homers to do it. Then TG Brand scored 16 runs in the 2nd to take a 19-9 lead on 7 homers and got a 1-10-3 double play on Riot to hold them scoreless. Riot would hit into a number of double plays trying to conserve homers and never could catch up as TG Brand added grand slams from Josh Kirsten in the 4th and Nate King in the 5th to force the "if" necessary game 39-18.
In the final game Riot Sports scored 9 on just 2 homers in the first inning and TG Brand scored 10 on 3 as Josh Kirsten hit a 2 out 3 run homer to give them the lead, and it was 15-13 Riot Sports after 2 complete innings. But it was all Riot Sports the rest of the way as they led 22-13 after 3 innings and run ruled TG Brand 35-14 in the 4th to win their first Conference tournament ever!
The tournament was full of hard hitting smash mouth softball as I mentioned it would be in the preview. The games were long, high scoring, and felt different – unlike any other softball played anywhere in the country. The high altitude made the 300-foot fences play 270, infielders had to contend with nasty grounders, pitchers had to survive the laser like middle shots, and teams had to play the game and basehit when the homers were gone. And to their credit all of the teams bought in to the style of play that was needed and gave a great effort.
TG Brands Justin Geiner hits a walk off homer to beat Xtreme in the loser's final
19 Teams Overall
12 Nationwide Conference USSSA Teams
2 Major Teams
5 'AA' Teams
4 'A' Teams
3 'B' Teams
5 'C/D' Teams
The men's tournament used the quad at the top of the picture
All fields were 300 feet
TG Brand manager John Golich gives the "just keep having fun speech".
Riot Sports manager Dal Beggs gives the "play with heart" speech.
First pitch Sunday morning TG Brand and Xtreme
Riot Sports gets the last out in their 44-42 win over Smash It Sports
Racks Astros pitcher Carl Blank backhands a hot shot to secure the 38-37 win over Dan Smith
Dan Smith's Mike Nino singles to center field for the game winner.
The throw home beat Dunn to the plate but a nice slide made him safe and gave Dan Smith a 44-43 win!
Dan Smith was down 26-4 against Eagle Paint but Dale Brungardts single up the middle capped a 38-37 come back win for DS!
Xtreme's Cory Large hits against TDB's Faron Miller in in their 54-51 extra innings win.
Below Xtreme shortstop Toby Letak makes a diving stop to turn a double play to force another extra inning.
Late Saturday Xtreme pitches to and beats Racks Astros 55-41 to advance to Sunday
The Classic M is too much ball for Chattanooga's light air but we already knew that
Chattanooga Major Final Standings and Awards
Riot Sports pitcher Dan Sanchez was MVP
TG Brand outfielder/lead off hitter Ryan Morrow was Offensive MVP
Riot Sports rookie outfielder Taylor Nichols was Defensive MVP
Chattanooga Women's Major
In the 15 team Womens Major Bryant Express/OA (AR-AA) went undefeated beating OH Heating/Headlines/LF/Miken/Worth (OH-AA) in the championship game 13-9 Sunday after knocking off Smash It Sports/Miken (VA-AA) 17-7 in the winner's final Saturday. Smash It ended up 3rd and TDB/Bounty Hunters (GA-A) was 4th.
1st Place – Bryant Express/OA
2nd Place – OH Heating/Headlines/LF/Miken/Worth
3rd Place – Smash It Sports/Miken
4th Place – TDB/Bounty Hunters