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Successful season earns Yusef Davis a spot on USA Softball’s Pan American fastpitch team

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Possessing speed, quick hands, an aggressive style and commitment to the game, YUSEF DAVIS, JR., 23, of Long Beach, Calif. is well on his way to becoming a star in men’s fastpitch. Here he is seen playing for CR Bartels Farms of Portland, Ore. that won the NAFA AA-Major World Series, Aug. 11, 2017. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

LONG BEACH, Calif. – During the week, Yusef Davis, Jr. can be found near his Long Beach home either in the gym, at the batting cages, or engaged in any kind of sweat-filled labor that will help improve his fastpitch softball skills.

During most weekends, however, he’s anywhere but home.

A search could find him in fastpitch havens such as Wisconsin, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania or Michigan competing in high-caliber fastpitch tournaments.

Only 23 and in his fourth year playing fastpitch, the demand for his talents just keeps on growing.

    TWO GREAT TOURNAMENTS

Prime examples: During the NAFA World Series, he was in Fargo, North Dakota helping CR Bartel Farms, Portland, Ore. win the AA-Major World Series.

And soon after the championship game ended, he was off to Grand Rapids, Michigan to join his Bear Bottom Haymakers of Ephrata, Penn. for the most exclusive of open-caliber tournaments – the International Softball Congress World Tournament.

Those two tournaments were exhilarating for Davis, who possesses great speed both in the outfield and at the plate, and who is rapidly becoming recognized as one of the up-and-coming young stars of the game.

“The experience playing in the ISC and NAFA was breathtaking,” said Davis, who throws and bats left-sided. “Once you realize you’re on the same ballfield as some of the best players in the world, you just can’t help but be proud and humbled.”

CR Bartels swept through the NAFA AA-Major undefeated at 5-0, and the Bear Bottom Haymakers finished ninth in the 24-team ISC World Tournament at 4-2.

Bear Bottom Haymakers manager, Merlin High, was pleased how Davis played the entire year and at the ISC World Tournament for his squad.

“He’s a great defensive player, one of the best who ever played for me,” said High. “His speed is unmatched by anyone in the game, and he’s a good hitter too with some of those hits coming from his speed beating out ground balls. He’s a great teammate, upbeat and positive. I’m hoping he comes back with us next year.”

    SWEAT & TOIL TO BE BETTER

Though he played well and had a successful season, Davis acknowledges that there are areas that need improvement.

“If I could improve in two areas, it would be pitch selection when I’m in the batter’s box,” he said, “and getting even better jumps on the ball in the outfield. During the off season, I’m going to hit the batting cages even more and work on the fundamentals of hitting, and keep working on my slapping and bunting.”

But the off-season workouts will have to wait for he has one very important and prestigious tournament remaining: The World Baseball Softball Confederation X Pan American Fastpitch Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 15-24.

    PROUD FATHER, SEASONED MENTOR

When Davis got the word that he had been selected to the 15-man roster, he was ecstatic, and he called the one person he knew would be delighted about this honor.

“I called my dad and told him I had made the team,” Davis said. “I know it meant a lot to him. And it means so much for me to represent my country in the sport I have so much passion about.”

Leading up to the Pan Am games, Davis will be consulting with a veteran of USA Softball: Kevin Castillo, who is a teammate of Davis on Those Guys and Patricia’s Mexican restaurant ball clubs from Long Beach.

Castillo, and his father, Paul Castillo, were instrumental in bringing Davis into the sport and nurturing his development.

“Kevin’s always pushing me to be better,” Davis said, “I’ve gotten a lot of help from him on hitting lessons and strategy on defense. Just the confidence he gives me to play at my best is what’s so meaningful.”

    REACHING HIGH, SETTING GOALS

Though he’s still learning, growing, and going through the trials and successes that the sport both challenges and rewards, Davis has set some short-range and long-range goals as well.

In the immediate future, he wants to help USA Softball win the Pan American games, and then if it can be arranged, he would like to take a second trip to New Zealand for a season of “down-under” fastpitch with the Waitakere Bears.

And as for long-range?

“I would love to run softball clinics and coach kids and work with outfielders,” Davis said. “I would like to travel the world playing ball and make as many memories and impact as many young athletes to take the right path as I can – teach one, reach one.”

2017 USA SOFTBALL PAN AMERICAN ROSTER
Kevin Castillo
Jenner Christenson
Joel Cooley
Yusef Davis
Tyler Dudley
Derrick Kennedy
Jonathan Lynch
Tony Mancha
Nick Mullins
Travis Nevin
Jeff Nowacyzk
Erick Ochoa
Cameron Schiller
Chase Turner
Duane Weiler

COACHING STAFF
Gregg Leather, Head Coach
Greg Hicks, Assistant Coach
Nick McCurry
Assistant Coach

In The Spotlight: Matt Ratliff of the USA Softball Men’s National Team

Friday, July 14th, 2017

MATT RATLIFF made this amazing catch to rob Canada’s BRANDON HORN of a two-run homer in the fifth inning, and though the USA lost 7-1, Ratliff’s catch will long be remembered by his teammates and fastpitch fans worldwide as one of the greatest of the tournament, if not in the long history of the Men’s Softball World Championship. WBSC Photo

WHITEHORSE, YK, Canada – Outfielder Matt Ratliff’s stock in men’s fastpitch took a sizable leap the past few days as he displayed his talent at the plate and in the field during the 2017 Men’s Softball World Championship.

Playing in his first world championship for Team USA, Ratliff seized opportune moments to show just why he earned a spot on the squad.

In the fifth inning against Canada in an early-round pool play game, Ratliff playing right-field, made one of the most spectacular catches in world tournament history by leaping, catching and crashing into and over the fence to rob Canada’s Brandon Horn of a two-run homer during a Pool A game, Sunday, July 17.

If you think that was spectacular, it gets even better.

Trailing the Republic of South Africa, 3-1, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Ratliff, who leads off and bats from the left-side, launched a two-run homer deep over the centerfield fence to pull Team USA even, and sending the game into extra innings which Team USA rallied to win, 4-3.

Ratliff’s home run was huge as it helped the USA (5-2) finish in the top-eight of the 16 teams to qualify for chance at winning a medal – Gold, Silver or Bronze.

To read about Ratliff’s journey in men’s fastpitch click on: Ratliff Aiming For USA Softball Men’s National Team

In its first playoff game, Team USA takes on Venezuela (6-1), Friday, at 2 p.m. To watch the game, click on Sports Canada TV.

Mancha, Kay and double-play sends Team USA into Vancouver Challenge championship

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

TYLER DUDLEY an infielder for the USA Men’s National Team is one of the bright young stars helping to elevate the national team back to worldwide prominance in men’s faspitch softball. In the Vancouver Challenge, he turned a game-ending double play to give Team USA a 2-1 victory over the South Hill Giants to send the Americans into the championship game. Courtesy Photo USA Softball

VANCOUVER, BC, Canada – Team USA needed a big game from someone in the circle. And they got it from Tony Mancha.

The right-hander from Las Cruces, New Mexico delivered an inspiring, extra-inning, 2-1, victory over the tough South Hill Giants in the Vancouver Challenge, Sunday.

The win sends Team USA into the championship, where they will battle either Canada (5-0) or New Zealand (4-1), who square off in the final playoff game to determine who will face the Americans for the title.

Certainly, Mancha was the man of the hour. But in this sparse run-scoring contest, someone also had to step up big at the plate: Bryce Kay answered the call big time, hitting safely in all three trips to the plate.

Click to continue reading “Mancha, Kay and double-play sends Team USA into Vancouver Challenge championship”

Team USA extends win streak in Vancouver Challenge

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA – It wasn’t pretty, but in the scorebook it counts as a win.

The USA Men’s National Softball Team took advantage of three errors, while collecting six hits, to defeat the Sooke Loggers, 4-0, in the opening game of the Vancouver Challenge.

Team USA plated a single run in the fourth, and sealed the win with three more in the fifth to down the Loggers, one of Canada’s stronger major teams. Only one of the runs was earned.

Tony Mancha fired a one-hitter in Team USA’s victory over the Sooke Loggers. Photo By BOB OTTO

Meanwhile, right-hander Tony Mancha hurled a beauty, holding the Loggers to just one hit, a single by Ben Edgington, along with nine strikeouts and a walk.

The win keeps Team USA perfect at 14-0 in its pre-world championship tournament schedule in preparation for the XV World Softball Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, July 7-16.

In the win over the Loggers, Erick Ochoa, led the attack going 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Derrick Zechman, Tyler Dudley, Nick Mullins and Gil Saenz had hits off Loggers’ hard-throwing right-hander, Scott Leiph, who struck out seven, walked two, and allowed an earned run.

Team USA returns to the ball diamond at 5 p.m. (PT) against CR Bartel Farms and then squares off with the Canadian national team at 7.

To follow the action, click on this link: Team USA / Vancouver Challenge.

Pools, Schedule announced for 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

WHITEHORSE, Canada — The World Baseball Softball Confederation today announced the pools and official tournament schedule of the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship taking place in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada from 7-16 July.

NEW ZEALAND will once again be a contender to win the 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship in Whitehorse, Canada, July 7-16, after finishing runner-up in 2015 to Canada. New Zealand leads all countries in the medal count with 12 gold, silver and bronze, including tops in gold with six, while Canada is a close second with 11 total medals, and No. 2 in the gold count with four. WBSC Photo

The 15th edition of the men’s flagship softball event will showcase more than 80 games — 64 games taking place in the round robin over the first seven days, followed by three days of playoff action.

The participating nations in the WBSC Men’s Softball Championship represent a global reach that spans across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania.

Nations will be divided into two pools to compete in a challenging round-robin, with the top four finishers from each pool advancing to the double page playoff round. The remaining teams will compete in the placement round.

    Pool A

No. 3 Argentina
No. 5 Australia
No. 4 Canada
No. 11 Dominican Republic
Hong Kong
India
No. 14 South Africa
No. 6 USA

USA Men’s National Team pitcher Duane Weiler of Bedford, Penn. hurls a pitch during the USA Softball Men’s National Invitational Fast Pitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 9-11. Photo courtesy of USA Softball

    Pool B

No. 19 Botswana
No. 8 Czech Republic
No. 13 Denmark
No. 10 Great Britain
No. 20 Indonesia
No. 2 Japan
No. 1 New Zealand
Turkey
No. 7 Venezuela

Click to continue reading “Pools, Schedule announced for 2017 WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship”

United States routs Dominican Republic in 2015 Pan American Games

Monday, July 13th, 2015

antonio.mancha.44 Tony Mancha (El Paso, Texas) fired a no-hitter and had two hits in leading the United States to victory in the opening game of the 2015 Pan American Games, Sunday.

TORONTO – The United States Men’s National Softball Team played nearly flawless fastpitch softball in overpowering the Dominican Republic 10-0 in its first game of the Pan American Games at President’s Choice Ajax Pan Am Ballpark, Sunday.

Led by Tony Mancha’s no-hitter and an offense that pounded out 11 hits, Team USA was never threatened in its lopsided victory over one of the world’s most powerful softball teams.

Click to continue reading “United States routs Dominican Republic in 2015 Pan American Games”

United States claims consolation title in ISF Men’s World Softball Championship

Saturday, July 4th, 2015
Nick Mullins powered Team USA to the ISF Men's World Softball Championship, Consolation Title, with a home run in the sixth inning.

Nick Mullins powered Team USA to the ISF Men’s World Softball Championship, Consolation Title, with a home run in the sixth inning.

SASKATOON, SK, Canada – With one powerful swing of his bat, Nick Mullins erased a stalemate with Mexico and gave the United States the Consolation Championship of the ISF Men’s World Softball Championship at Gordon Howe Softball Park, Saturday.

Mullins came to the plate with two out in the bottom of the sixth and blasted a solo shot over the left field fence breaking a 3-all tie. All pitcher Tony Mancha had to do was close out Mexico in the seventh. And he did, ending the game with a ground ball to give Team USA a 4-3 victory and the consolation title.

Team USA finishes 3-0 in the consolation playoffs and 4-3 in Pool B, good for fifth place.

    EXPLOSIVE START FOR USA

Team USA jumped out to commanding start in the first inning, sending eight batters to the plate. And before the inning ended, the Americans had Mexico on the ropes, leading 3-0.

Chris Miljavic started things off by working Mexico’s Samuel Vilalvazo for a walk. Kris Bogach followed with a single putting runners at first and third, and Josh Johnson brought home Miljavic with an RBI single.

But Team USA wasn’t finished as Derrick Zechman drilled a single chasing in two more runs.

    LOPEZ BLASTS MANCHA

Mexico fought back to tie the game 3-3 on Alex Garcia’s RBI single in the second, and Edgar Lopez’s two-run homer in the fourth.

Then after a scoreless fifth inning, Mullins came to the plate in the sixth with two out. And he didn’t disappoint his teammates, blasting the game-winning home run to send the Americans home with a title.

    GAME’S BEST PLAYER

For his efforts (1-for-3, RBI, run) Mullins was selected the “Player of The Game” by the Ballpark Radio broadcasting crew.

Along with Mullins’ production, Nate Devine was 1-for-4, run; Chase Turner 1-for-3, Zechman 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Bogach 1-for-2, and Johnson went 1-for-2, RBI, run.

    MANCHA SOLID IN WORLD SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

USA’s Tony Mancha pitched seven innings, allowing three earned runs on just four hits, with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

The right-hander from El Paso, Texas finishes the world softball championship with a 3-2 record over 27 2/3 innings. He allowed 12 hits, 12 walks with 45 strikeouts for a 2.37 ERA.

FINAL CONSOLATION STANDINGS
United States 3-0
Mexico 2-1
Guatemala 1-1
Great Britain 1-1
Netherlands 0-1
Philippines 0-1
Denmark 0-1
Indonesia 0-0

Horses carrying Team USA in IX Pan Am games

Monday, October 27th, 2014

PARANA, ARGENTINA – There’s a saying in fastpitch when a pitcher’s hot that goes something like this: “We’ll ride our big horse to the championship.”

Meaning of course, that the pitcher is throwing so well that the team climbs on his back and rides him to a tournament or league title.

Well, fortunately for the USA Men’s National Fastpitch Team, they have three big horses to ride. And all three of them – Tony Mancha, Josh Johnson, and Gerald Muiselaar – are pitching extraordinarily well in the IX Pan Am games.

Click to continue reading “Horses carrying Team USA in IX Pan Am games”

Plaza’s blast all the runs Team USA needs

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

By ERIC PAUL JOHNSON / STAFF WRITER

IRVINE, Calif. – IRVINE – Jessica Plaza was looking for a pitch she could square up. When it finally came, Plaza didn’t miss her chance.

Plaza crushed a two-run home run to left field in the top of the sixth inning as USA defeated Venezuela, 5-0, in its World Cup of Softball IX pool-play opener Tuesday at Bill Barber Park.

“I was just looking for a good pitch, one that I could hit for a line drive,” said Plaza, who graduated from Huntington Beach Edison and plays at Stanford. “We popped up way too many balls, including myself, so it felt good to get a hold of one.”

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COLUMN: Softball’s Olympic dreams remain uncertain

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

JULY 8, 2014 BY JIM ALEXANDER

IRVINE, Calif. — There are anthems, flags and, to some degree, national pride involved here this week, where World Cup of Softball IX has relocated in a one-year hiatus from its Oklahoma City home.

And while watching this international event in expanded, 2,000-seat Deanna Manning Stadium — normally the home of CIF championship and national travel ball tournament final games — you can’t help but think that this sport and this atmosphere deserve a bigger, grander stage.

You know, the one with the five interlocking rings. Continue Reading