August 25 2011
The Elite College and Beyond League (UCBL) has completed its first season and director Mickey Dean told Spy today he is optimistic about an expanded league for 2012. As many as 15 teams have contacted him about playing next season.
SPY did not receive individual game reports from the league or its six teams, so we asked Dean for a review following the completion of its first season..
The league allows current and past College softball players a chance to play against competitively during the summer. It also allows the players that no longer have any college eligibility to be exposed to the NPF [National Professional League]. The UCBL is governed by USSSA and the USSSA Fastpitch Elite National Committee. The UCBL follows NCAA Fastpitch Playing rules and abide by any restrictions regarding college athletes as outlined in the current NCAA Constitution Operating Bylaws and Administrative Bylaws and any other Collegiate Governing Body.
UCBL established 6 teams:
1. Wilson Select Georgia Larry Barnes email@example.com
2. Carolina Elite South Carolina Neal Hopper firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Grand Slam North Carolina Charlie Dobbins email@example.com
4. SO Cal Scorpions California Darryl Joynt firstname.lastname@example.org
5. USSSA Pride Virginia Rick Anderson email@example.com
6. Wagner Maryland Dean Wassmann firstname.lastname@example.org
The original plan called for the top 4 teams of the UCBL to play in Sulfur, Louisiana in August in conjunction with the NPF playoff series. That plan was scrapped because of conflicts with school dates.
While Spy did not have reports throughout the UCBL season, Dean sent us a summary report prepared by Rick Anderson, USSSA Pride:
“We had a great season and finished up 14 and 3. We won the Virginia State Commonwealth Games, with 14 teams participating, including 2 other UCBL teams, the Grand Slam from Raleigh, NC and the Wagner Bandits from Maryland. We had a lot of good comments from parents, kids and teams watching the games and the Virginia Pride girls were even asked to sign autographs. We went 6 and 0 this tournament and the stands were full every time we hit the field. The local news channel came out and highlighted clips of our team playing the championship with the Grand Slam, where we won 6-0. Attached are some pictures of this championship game.
“We also played the UCBL qualifier with all five teams in Kingsport, TN and had full support from their community and Chamber of Commerce. We were interviewed for a half hour by their local news channel and aired on their 6 and 11 o’clock news broadcasts. Mickey Dean, Larry Barnes, with the Wilson Select team, and I spoke in detail about the NPF, NCAA and the NFCA endorsing the UCBL, allowing college girls and others that have exhausted their college eligibility to continue to play during summer tournaments. We won this tournament 3 and 1. That Friday afternoon, all 5 teams participated in a camp where 100 area kids attended. This generated much support from parents and the community. At the conclusion of the camp was a home run derby where the kids were able to cheer on their favorite players, followed by a BBQ hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. It was a great weekend.
“We played one other tournament without 5 of the regular players due to their summer school schedules. We finished second in this tournament, with the championship going the full 7 innings and us losing 6-5. It was a great game considering the other team was loaded with 8 current and former all Americans.
“The season ended with a USSSA Virginia Pride camp at the Sports Complex in Botetourt County, which generated 50 campers from Maine down to North Carolina. Our players and College coaches from Radford, VA Tech, Georgia Southern and Roanoke participated. It was such a success that they are looking forward to next year’s camp and each wore their Pride t-shirt proudly!
“In looking over this season, I believe we need to finish up by the first week in August due to the girls needing to get back to school. This caused a problem for the other teams and our team being able to go to the Nationals in Louisiana. Other than this, we feel it was a successful year with all the exposure we received and the team’s interaction with all the young girls in their enthusiasm for softball.”
SPY also received comments from players and parents, several of whom believe UCBL fills the summer void for a national program for college and-post college (non-pro) players. The following comments from Virginia Tech’s softball staff about the participation of their players are typical of the post-season comments we received:
• Junior Courtney Liddle, freshman Bailey Liddle, sophomore Dani Anderson, senior Marra Hvozdovic and junior Bkaye Smith played for the Wagner Bandits while junior Betty Rose and former players Misty Hall and Whitney Davis played for the Virginia Pride. Both teams are part of the UCBL league. USSSA has formed an Elite College and Beyond League (UCBL) to serve as a “minor league” support system for the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league.
• In that league Courtney Liddle, Rose, Hall and Davis were named ASA All-Americans.
• Rose, Hall and Davis’ squad won the Commonwealth Games, the UCBL Qualifier and finished second in ASA East Nationals. The Liddles, Anderson, Hvozdovic and Smith’s squad finished third in the Commonwealth Games, second in the UCBL Qualifier, and fourth in ASA East Nationals.
Spy notes that ASA’s 23U and Women’s Majors programs were intended to create such opportunities for many players in this age/education group but both have struggled. We look forward to the next phase of UCBL.