The 2012 Conference Championship were held in their traditional location, the Osceola County Stadium, home of the Houston Astros spring training.
The tournament featured the top 16 teams in the Conference according to the league point standings which earned throughout the season at 22 separate events. The Conference Championships are broken up into 3 brackets. The top 16 teams in the Conference, regard¬less of team classification, start in the “Open” division on Friday night. Seeds 9-16 begin in round 1. The 4 winners move on to round 2 to face seeds 5-8. The 4 winners from round 2 move on to face seeds 1-4. The loser’s of round 1 and 2 drop into the “Lower” bracket and start a new double elimination tourna¬ment of their own over at the Fortune Road softball complex on Saturday. The top 4 seeds in the “Open” division and the 4 teams that win their way into the “Open” division “final 8”, square off in a double elimination tournament to determine the Conference Champion! The third bracket is the ‘B’ Conference Championship and that consisted of 5 ‘B’ teams squaring off in a 3 game guar¬antee bracket at Fortune Road.
The weekend was hot and humid but it never did rain. The ball used on the baseball fields was the stadium ZN and it was not flying all that well on the stadium or on field #1 where the wind was blowing in. It flew a little better and scores were higher on field #2 where the wind was blowing out. On Friday night the upsets were early and often as 3 major teams all lost their first game. Team Combat, Resmondo, and Laservision all lost and Nordkap/Desert Falls just barely pulled out a late inning win against Team 454.
It quickly became evident that infield defense was the key to winning and one team stood out in that category – TYJA-Suncoast Reebok. With Dennis Rulli at third, Luis “The Acrobat” Reyna at short, Matt Crawford up the middle, Victor Cordova at second base, and Jason Baxter at first, they were holding teams to less than 10 runs on a regular basis. The pitching combo of TJ Thompson and Perry Hensley along with their 3 left handed and speedy outfielders David Kessler, Sid Stephany, and Neil Haglund chipped in to hold their opponents to just 58 runs over 6 games. Less than 10 runs a game!
When the games finished on Saturday night, Nordkap/Desert Falls was the only top 4 seed left in the winner’s bracket and they were joined by the 3 best ‘A’ teams in the game TYJA-Suncoast Reebok, R&M Metals (who recently won the ‘A’ Worlds), and Shoppe.
On Saturday morning TYJA and Nordkap both advanced behind some big defensive plays and TYJA came out in the winner’s bracket finals and beat Nordkap 27-16 to be the undefeated team.
Meanwhile R&M Metals ran through the losers bracket and held off Nordkap 27-22 to make it to the championship where they scored 3 runs in the top of the 7th and held TYJA scoreless to force an “if” game 9-8.
In the final game, R&M Metals scored on a 2 run homer by Keith Anderson in the first inning and a 2 run homer by Reggie Schulte in the 2nd to take a 4-3 lead. Then TYJA was sparked by run scoring triples by Neil Haglund and Sid Stephany which led to a 9 run bottom of the 2nd and a 12-5 lead. David Kessler then hit a home run in the bottom of the 4th for TYJA which led to a 6 run 4th and TYJA went on to win the Conference Championships by the run rule over R&M Metals 24-9!
TYJA-Suncoast Reebok becomes the first ‘A’ team to win the Conference Championships in its 7 year history!
Here is a list of past Conference Champions:
– 2012 TYJA-Suncoast Reebok
– 2011 Resmondo-Specialty Tank / Worth
– 2010 Dan Smith/Menosse
– 2009 Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth
– 2008 Resmondo/Specialty Tank/Worth
– 2007 Resmondo Softball
– 2006 Bell Corp/Taylor/Belcher/Easton
Meanwhile in the “Lower” bracket Linedrive Sportz/SSS Softball out of Michigan beat Down2EarthSports, Buzinisports, and Reds Astros to make it to the Championship game unde¬feated. Reds Astros came out of the losers bracket and beat Linedrive on Sunday morning to force an “if” game where Linedrive won the Championship of the “Lower” bracket 15-9.
In the ‘B’ Division Magic / S&S / TYJA / Easton defeated B&B / Sears / N&N Finishing 24-13 in the “if” game to win it.
Some interesting notes on the tournament:
– The visiting team in each game was automatically the lower ranked team in conference points.
– 85% of the wins on the stadium field were upsets.
– Major teams had a 2-9 record on the weekend.
– There were only 4 run rule games out of 38 games in the “Open” and “Lower” brackets.
The Nationwide Conference USSSA men’s slow-pitch softball league just completed another successful season of growth and unprecedented parity! The league began back in 2006 and was formed by USSSA in an effort to save the Major level of softball which was suffering from a lack of organized tour¬naments and tournaments that were seeing a diminishing number of quality teams participating. Sponsors were tired of flying their Major teams into tournaments that had 4 or 5 teams in them and others that would be cancelled at the last minute due to a lack of teams. So the Nationwide Conference USSSA was formed. In its inaugural year, 2006, the league had 18 teams from 13 different states and played a 14 tourna¬ment schedule. The teams earn points based on their finishing position in each tournament and the standings at the end of the season “seeds” the teams into the USSSA Major World Series! That first year BellCorp/Taylor/Belcher/Easton won the Conference Championship and Resmondo-KME Softball won the Major World Series.
Each year since 2006, the Nationwide Conference USSSA teams and tournaments have grown in both quantity and quality.
2006 – 18 Teams – 20 Tournaments with 8 different winners
2007 – 32 Teams – 20 Tournaments with 8 different winners
2008 – 34 Teams – 24 Tournaments with 7 different winners
2009 – 37 Teams – 25 Tournaments with 12 different winners
2010 – 34 Teams – 27 Tournaments with 13 different winners
2011 – 40 Teams – 27 Tournaments with 10 different winners
2012 – 40 Teams – 28 Tournaments with 13 different winners
The 2013 season looks to build upon the unprecedented parity of competition that the Conference witnessed in 2012. The best tournament in the nation on any given weekend is the Conference USSSA tournament wherever that happens to be held – starting at the end of March with the Las Vegas “Sin City Classic”, through the “Music City Classic” in Nashville in May, the “Windy City Classic” in Chicago, to the famous 31st Dudley in Minnesota in June, and the 45th annual Smoky Mountain Classic in Maryville, Tennessee in July. And all of these great tournaments in between lead up to the Conference Championships, ‘A’ and ‘B’ World Tournaments, and finally culminate in the USSSA Major World Series which is played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Kissimmee, Florida in September of each year. That tournament crowns the best team in softball!
The league uses some unique rules for slow pitch softball. If a Major classified team plays another Major classified team, each team can hit 16 home runs. In Major vs non-Major games, both teams can hit 12 home runs. And in non-Major vs non- Major games, the teams can hit 8 home runs apiece. There is no foul ball allowed after the first strike in Conference play. The pitchers have to be touching the rubber when they pitch. And the league uses a group of “conference” umpires that travel the nation in order to give players a uniform and consis¬tent strike zone and quality game management.
The Conference USSSA is covered by live broadcasts on USSSALive.com and covered by reports in magazines like USSSAToday, and websites like ConferenceUSSSA.com and SoftballCenter.com. You can follow all of the action, statistics, league standings, and tournament brackets in these websites and publications. The Major World Series was even broadcast in its entirety online, including a couple of games and the pres¬tigious home run derby which were on ESPN!
In 2013 the Conference USSSA looks to expand its team base and the number of Major level teams that are in the program. They will also add some new events in the west and east coasts, and add some new corporate sponsorship as well as more ESPN coverage!
About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
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!