Those Guys men’s fastpitch

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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

Buzzards hold off WAH to take Palm Springs Classic Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

THE TAFT (CA) BUZZARDS claimed the 2017 Palm Springs Classic Men’s Fastpitch Tounament at DeMuth Park in Palm Springs, March 25-26. The tournament was the season opener for the So. California Independent Fastpitch League’s (SCIFL) series of Alliance tournaments. Courtesy Photo / Jesse Ortiz, SCIFL President.

By JESSE ORTIZ
SCIFL President

PALMS SPRINGS, Calif. – The So Calif. Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL) opened its 2017 season at DeMuth Park in Palm Springs on March 25-26. Ten teams took part in the Palm Springs Classic, led by long-time men’s fastpitch advocate and tournament director, Vickie Oltean.

After Saturday’s round-robin play, WAH of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Taft (CA) Buzzards emerged as the No. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. Both powerhouses rolled through Sunday’s single-elimination playoffs undefeated into the championship.

Led by the pitching of starter Eloy Montoya, who went three innings, and closer Sonny Perkins, the Buzzards held off WAH, 3-2, in eight innings to claim SCIFL’s first Alliance tournament of the season.

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In The Spotlight: Yusef Davis, Southern California’s fast-rising star in men’s fastpitch

Saturday, August 27th, 2016
Yusef Davis of Long Beach, Calif. played in the ISC World Tournament with the New York Peligro Gremlins, and also in the NAFA A-Division World Series for the Beaumont, Calif. Coyotes. He batted .375 in the world Tournament, and was selected to the NAFA All-World Team. Courtesy Photo

Yusef Davis of Long Beach, Calif. played in the ISC World Tournament with the New York Peligro Gremlins, and also in the NAFA A-Division World Series for the Beaumont, Calif. Coyotes. He batted .375 in the world Tournament, and was selected to the NAFA All-World Team. Courtesy Photo

LONG BEACH, Calif. – He’s young, he’s fast, he can drop down a bunt, slap or send a stinging line drive into the gap, and with his speed, he can cover the outfield like a cheetah.

Oh, one other thing, Yusef Davis in his few short years playing men’s fastpitch, has been smitten by the game. So much so, that earlier in the season, he paid his own way to play in the USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio in June.

The money he spent has paid dividends: He made second-team, All-Tournament and caught the eye of the New York Peligro Gremlins, a major men’s fastpitch team that finished the season ranked No. 8 by the International Softball Congres.

Peligro picked him up for the ISC World Tournament in Moline, IL, and the 22-year-old played very well. In his first game, he went 3-for-3 and drove in two runs, and overall, finished the tournament with a .375 average. Peligro went 2-2 and finished 16th in the 36-team field.

He was disappointed the the tournament came to an end in a 2-0 loss to the Kegel Black Knights of Fargo, ND. But he’s grateful for the experience and plans for more world tournament’s in his future. He added that facing the world’s top pitchers was quite an eye opener.

“The experience was unbelievable,” said Davis. “It’s a tournament I’ll never forget. The pitching was unreal. I faced Sebastian Gervasutti from Circle Tap Dukes and he threw really well, and had a good curve pitch and a sneaky drop pitch.”

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Morongo Hitmen Slugfest Paves Way To Beaumont Tourney Title

Monday, July 4th, 2016
The Hitmen won four consecutive games to take the championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

The Hitmen won four consecutive games to take the championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

BEAUMONT, Calif. – The Hitmen of the Morongo Indian Reservation displayed all the skills of a good fastpitch team – speed, power, defense and pitching – to claim the 39th Annual Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at Valdivia Field late Sunday night.

Led by the pitching of Vince Nelson, a 26-year-old right-hander from the La Jolla and Rincon Indian reservations in San Diego County, the Hitmen went 4-0, culminating with a 13-1 victory over the Corona Chicanos in the championship.

Leading up to the championship, the Hitmen beat the Pala Braves 4-3, Colton Dirtbags 2-0, and Those Guys of Long Beach 6-0.

Hitmen's Vince Nelson led  his team to the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men's Fastpitch Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

Hitmen’s Vince Nelson led his team to the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Men’s Fastpitch Tournament championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

NELSON TOUGH TO BEAT

Nelson won all four games and was selected to the all-tournament team. In the championship, he allowed a run in the second inning, but shut out the Chicanos the rest of the way on five hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

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Wertz Pitches Those Guys Past Coyotes in Beaumont 4th of July Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016
Those Guys pitcher Cory Wertz shutout the Beaumont Coyotes, 5-0, in the semifinals of the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Tournament, Saturday. Photo By BOB OTTO

Those Guys pitcher Cory Wertz shutout the Beaumont Coyotes, 5-0, in the semifinals of the Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Tournament, Saturday. Photo By BOB OTTO

BEAUMONT, Calif. – About the third inning, fans were wondering and asking, who’s that guy? Well, that guy would be Cory Wertz pitching for Those Guys of Long Beach.

The tall right-hander pitched a gem of a ball game. He allowed just four hits with eight strikeouts, a pair of walks and a hit batter in helping Those Guys defeat the hometown Coyotes, 5-0, in the 39th Annual Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Classic at Valdivia Field, Sunday night.

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Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Tournament Bracket

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

BEAUMONT, Calif. – Nine teams from Southern California will battle for the championship of the 39th Annual Coyotes 4th of July Tournament, July 1-3, at Beaumont’s Valdivia Field in Rangel Park.

2016 Coyotoes Tourn Brkt.1lr.

Yusef Davis Gets His Chance

Saturday, June 18th, 2016
Yusef Davis Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., was selected second-team, all-tournament at the 2016 USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 11-12. Courtesy Photo

Yusef Davis Jr., of Long Beach, Calif., was selected second-team, all-tournament at the 2016 USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament in Ashland, Ohio, June 11-12. Courtesy Photo

LONG BEACH, Calif. – All Yusef Davis Jr. wanted was a chance. He got it and he made the most of it.

Davis heard about the USA Softball Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament being held June 11-12. It was an opportunity for U.S. players to be evaluated by the USA men’s coaching staff and the USA national team selection committee.

It was an opportunity Davis couldn’t pass up. If he played well and impressed the evaluators, it just might earn him an invite to a USA national team tryout camp.

FOOTING THE BILL

That was all it took for the 21 year old Davis to pay his own airfare to Ashland, Ohio where the tournament was being held.

The experience?

“It was incredible,” said Davis, who grew up playing soccer, football, basketball and baseball in youth and high school. “I was nervous. I knew a lot of talent would be there. I wanted to play against that talent and be seen.”

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Those Guys Bringing Young Guys Into Fastpitch

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016
Those Guys fastpitch team of Long Beach, Calif., has five high school players on its roster, along with a good veteran core. In early April, the team finished runner-up to J & B Painting (an ISC caliber team) in a So. Calif. Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL) tournament. Courtesy photo / SCIFL

Those Guys fastpitch team of Long Beach, Calif., has five high school players on its roster, along with a good veteran core. In early April, the team finished runner-up to J & B Painting (an ISC caliber team) in a So. Calif. Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL) tournament. Courtesy photo / SCIFL

LONG BEACH, Calif. – In the late 1970s, Paul Castillo and a few of his fastpitch buddies decided to start a team. But what to name it? How about Those Guys, suggested Castillo.

Approval was given, and now almost 40 years later, Those Guys are still playing the game they love in So. Calif.

In the early years, veterans made up a good share of the roster. But over the past several years, Castillo has made a concerted effort to bring young players into the fold.

Most ball clubs prefer veterans over untested rookies. After all, there’s no training involved with proven veterans; whereas with many rookies, it can be a struggle to learn the nuances of a new sport.

    GIVING THE KIDS A CHANCE

And besides, Castillo, now 58, remembers as a teenager he was given the opportunity to play.

“When I was 18, I was given a chance to play,” said Castillo. “It’s the reason I give my young guys a chance. There’s teams that want all veterans, but we’ve got to develop kids (for the sport to grow), and they need somewhere to play.”

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Love leads Lumar Goss to fastpitch softball

Monday, April 11th, 2016

14-HitmenGossLumar.51lr Lumar Goss pitching in the 2014 Beaumont Coyotes 4th of July Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

LONG BEACH, Calif. – As a youngster, Lumar Goss played two sports, football and basketball. He loved hitting people and putting a ball through the hoop. Baseball? No, he never played the sport.

So it stands to reason that fastpitch softball wasn’t even on his radar. That is, until he met the love of his life, Julie Castillo, and her fastpitch-passionate father Paul Castillo. Just 19 at the time, young Lumar had to make a choice: play a sport he never heard of, or give up the girl.

    LOVE ON CONDITION

“My wife’s father gave me the ultimatum, play fastpitch or I couldn’t date his daughter,” said Lumar with a chuckle.

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J & B Painting Blasts Way to SCIFL Alliance Championship in Santa Fe Springs

Monday, March 28th, 2016
J & B Painting won the SCIFL Alliance tournament, Mar. 19-20, at Little Lake Park in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Courtesy photo

J & B Painting won the SCIFL Alliance tournament, Mar. 19-20, at Little Lake Park in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. Courtesy photo

By JESSE ORTIZ / SCIFL President

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. – Ten teams competed in a So. Calif. Independant Fastpitch League (SCIFL) Alliance tournament, Mar. 19-20, at Little Lake Park in Santa Fe Springs under ideal playing conditions with the weather a balmy low-70s.

After Saturday’s pool play and Sunday’s single elimination playoff, J & B Painting emerged the champion by defeating Those Guys 8-3 in the title game. Rob Schweyer picked up the win, with Jesse Martinez taking the loss.

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