Category Archives: SPY Editorials

6-27-2014 Looking Ahead with Craig Cress

THE ROAD AHEAD WITH CRAIG CRESS

 

In a wide-ranging, 90 minute interview with Spy, on the margins of the Women’s College World Series, Executive Director Craig Cress sought to advance his positive outlook and to quell several rumors, particularly the rumor that he wants to return ASA to its slow pitch roots.  Not only is Cress a former baseball player who has played and umpired fast pitch, he says the future of ASA is with youth – and he sees youth fast pitch as the growth area for softball.  The main emphasis in the interview however was on the road ahead, and Cress, whom I have known for many years, is as always forward looking and optimistic.

 

 

The biggest challenge, says Craig Cress, reviewing his first year as the new executive director of ASA/USA Softball, is communications with a very diverse audience – not just with his Executive Board or the nearly 100 commissioners and directors who oversee vast parts of the domestic softball world, but with the players, coaches and managers who are the embodiment of the sport – fast and slow pitch.

 

There are so many levels and personalities, Cress sees a central task as ensuring that all ASA components receive and adhere to the same message.

 

Several observations are critical to this assessment.

 

Cress evinces a major change in ASA’s down-the-line attitude toward competition.  Cress considers competition good for all – ASA, PGF, USSSA, etc.  I reminded him of problems caused by ASA officials below the level of Executive Director (including remarks made in meetings observed by Spy).  A family illness kept him away from the 2013 NFCA national convention, where he had hoped to attend the travel ball caucus, but he affirmed his commitment to attend in 2014.  He wants to get to know the travel ball community.  His predecessor, Ron Radigonda,  attended to the benefit of ASA and travel ball.

 

While national team tryouts and participation will continue to be limited to players who have competed in ASA sanctioned tournaments, a major sticking point with the travel ball community, Cress said players can compete in ASA as well as other organizations and be considered for national team recruitment.

 

All those who sponsor tournaments, ASA included, have to offer a product people want, Cress added.  While he sees ASA appealing more to the masses, Cress said ASA will continue to reach out to elite players, eg, for Gold nationals.  And for the inaugural ASA 16 Gold.  He believes ASA has an advantage in central locations at all levels; he believes ASA has done a good job in his year aboard with ASA Gold qualifiers.

 

Cress agrees with many softball observers that tournaments have become too large, not just at the so-called exposure tournaments but in ASA and other competition.  A field of 96 teams is just too large, which is why 16 Gold will be limited to 48 teams.  And, 18 Gold will remain at 64.

 

Cress does not want any area to expand at the sufferance of another; he wants to see measurable progress in several areas which he concedes have been lagging. Like women’s majors.  We reminisced over a few great teams from the past of women’s majors, and showdowns which featured stars like Michelle Smith, Lisa Fernandez and Dot Richardson – plus a rafter of stars fielded by the Brakettes.  Cress evidenced an understanding of the hurdles faced by women’s majors – expenses, travel away from new jobs and families, facilities.  He showed no inclination to breathing new life into 23-Under.  ASA can provide facilities, umpires and balls for women’s majors, but will not pay stipends or travel costs, eg, a tournament in Mexico.

 

Cress is unsure of the participant ceiling on post-college softball – national teams, pro teams, women’s majors, ie, now many women want to play beyond college.  Cress is concerned that the product is diminishing.  He is determined to seek that level.

Many of those same challenges confront youth softball.    Cress realizes the financial burdens of youth softball are borne by parents – from the time their daughters play T-ball up to and usually including college –and by organized team activities.  And, he recognizes that travel ball is a path to college.  However, like many others, Cress is concerned that travel ball has gotten to be a big business, and worries about the quality of the product.  He has heard the concerns of college coaches about the time allocated to travel ball tournaments and the drain on budgets, and he understands why some college coaches prefer their own camps (which he is astute enough to realize that campus clinics transfer money from parents to colleges in lieu of travel ball tournaments).  The level of instruction, he realizes, varies from camp to camp and tournament to tournament, and urges greater focus on the quality rather than the quantity of instruction.  ASA did not take a formal position with NCAA on the various suggestions by some in NFCA who want to restrict the college/travel ball recruiting calendar, but would respond if asked.  There are other issues with respect to youth sports, eg, aggressive parents who cloud the picture with coaches and recruiting.

 

Cost is also very much a factor in international competition.  The budget for equipping the Bill Barber Park facility in Irvine for televising the upcoming IX World Cup is $300,000, almost all of it borne by General Tire and outside resources, with some contribution by ASA.  General Tire has come aboard as the principal sponsor but SPY does not know what expenses General Tire will cover.  SPY understands that the eight participating teams are responsible for their expenses.

 

Expenses for Team USA, which includes playing in Canada and Italy as well as the International Cup in the Netherlands, are traditionally paid in part by the USOC, and in part by funds earned through the tours and camps, and some ASA funds.  Team USA players receive daily per diem in addition to expenses.  Stipends were paid during Olympic years and USA winning teams were given $25,000 per player by USOC.

 

Cress participated in the inaugural congress of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, along with Dale McMann, the new president of the International Softball Federation.  Cress came back from Tunisia with a heightened sense of support building for softball and baseball to return to the Olympic program in 2020, not least because Japan is the host and both sports are wildly popular in Japan.  More, Japan has the facilities to host both.  A decisive vote on 2020 will be held by IOC in December. Some in IOC would like to add at least two more sports; Cress noted that IOC head Thomas Bach wants to keep the number of athletes level; more, Bach says some so-called winter sports should be moved to the fall, that the Winter Olympics should focus on events which require ice and snow.  Cress is encouraged that cities in the US are considering bids for the 2024 Games.

 

The IOC now recognizes WBSC as the spokeman for both sports; and they will no longer have separate seats at the IOC table.  But, McMann is the vice president for softball and will be heard.  Baseball and softball will continue to receive separate non-government organization allotments from the International Olympic Committee, which in the past has not directly benefitted the USA program budget but does support the international tournaments played by the USA.  Don Porter is out of ISF and WBSC but could be an informal liaison.  Cress said ISF headquarters will remain in Plant City, Florida.  No plans have been finalized for an executive director to manage day-to-day ISF activities.  (Recent Spy inquiries have been rerouted to Lausanne, where WBSC has its headquarters.)

 

Cress intends to travel with Team USA to the international tournament in Holland (we discussed my many trips to Holland which was used as a base for other kinds of activities).  Cress is fully aware of Spy’s repeated assertion that there should be a different director of national teams; we did not discuss personalities but Cress did say all employees are subject to review.

 

All in all, a pleasant free-wheeling discussion between two old friends.

 

As much as anything else, I appreciated his openness to competition, and his belief that the challenge for ASA is not to limit or squelch that competition but to offer a better product.

 

Rayburn Hesse

 

2-13-2014 Historical Crimea

HISTORICAL CRIMEA

 

A reader sent this beautifully photographed video about Sochi – a reader who said she was tired of the negative press comments about hotel rooms and toilets..

 

Click on the photo.  It’s a Powerpoint presentation.
Then visit other parts of the Crimea, in particular Yalta, the historically most important city in the region.  Here, Russian nobles built great mansions and the superbly crafted Alexander Nevsky cathedral.  The mansions include Massandra Palace, used by Stalin and featuring a wax figure of Stalin at his desk.  But, the architectural and historical gem is Livadia, the palace built by Nicholas II.

 

The Europe much as we know it today was handshaped by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin – FDR gave away too much.  Nicholas had hoped to retire to Livadia after he abdicated but he and family were exiled to Ekaterinburg where they were assassinated.

 

Perhaps you noticed the crests on the uniforms worn by the Russian and German hockey teams – the double eagle of the Romanovs and the double eagle of the Prussian royal family.  A great deal of history is associated with those crests.  I have perhaps more interest in that history than some readers.  My great-grandfather was an officer in the Prussian cavalry under Bismarck.  I tried unsuccessfully to find a genealogical link to Princess Alice of Hesse, who became the Czarina Alexandra after her marriage to Nicholas.

 

A critical footnote to WWI, whose 100th anniversary is remembered through out Europe.  It was called the War of the Cousins because the King of England, the czar of Russia and the German Kaiser were all cousins, as was Princess Alice, all descendants of Queen Victoria.  Intermarriage was seen as a factor in the hemophilia of the Czarevich, Alexei.  A point well made by Robert Massie is that if there had been no hemophilia, there would have been no Rasputin; if there had been no Rasputin, there would have been no revolution.
2014WinterspielienSzocsi.pps (8.1mb)

2014WinterspiellienSzpcsi.pps

HISTORICAL CRIMEA

A reader sent this beautifully photographed video about Sochi – a reader who said she was tired of the negative press comments about hotel rooms and toilets..

Click on the photo.  It’s a Powerpoint presentation.
Then visit other parts of the Crimea, in particular Yalta, the historically most important city in the region.  Here, Russian nobles built great mansions and the superbly crafted Alexander Nevsky cathedral.  The mansions include Massandra Palace, used by Stalin and featuring a wax figure of Stalin at his desk.  But, the architectural and historical gem is Livadia, the palace built by Nicholas II.

The Europe much as we know it today was handshaped by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin – FDR gave away too much.  Nicholas had hoped to retire to Livadia after he abdicated but he and family were exiled to Ekaterinburg where they were assassinated.

Perhaps you noticed the crests on the uniforms worn by the Russian and German hockey teams – the double eagle of the Romanovs and the double eagle of the Prussian royal family.  A great deal of history is associated with those crests.  I have perhaps more interest in that history than some readers.  My great-grandfather was an officer in the Prussian cavalry under Bismarck.  I tried unsuccessfully to find a genealogical link to Princess Alice of Hesse, who became the Czarina Alexandra after her marriage to Nicholas.

A critical footnote to WWI, whose 100th anniversary is remembered through out Europe.  It was called the War of the Cousins because the King of England, the czar of Russia and the German Kaiser were all cousins, as was Princess Alice, all descendants of Queen Victoria.  Intermarriage was seen as a factor in the hemophilia of the Czarevich, Alexei.  A point well made by Robert Massie is that if there had been no hemophilia, there would have been no Rasputin; if there had been no Rasputin, there would have been no revolution.

2014WinterspielienSzocsi.pps (8.1mb)

2014WinterspiellienSzpcsi.pps

 

 

1-27-2014 Spy Preseason Preview

Preparing for 2014
January 27 2013

NFCA has published a pre-season poll, and the USA Softball pre-season poll is due out this week.  Spy begins its assessment of 2014 potential by posting the final 2013 poll – which reflected all 2013 games plus the post season NCAA tournament – then adding new players to returning rosters or subtracting key players from 2013 whose performances were critical to those final standings.

The NFCA generally projected teams to finish at or near 2013 levels, although NFCA pollsters pegged USF at #25, which did not make the 2013 Top 25 final list.  Hawaii finished last year at #25 but did not make the NFCA list.

As always, pre-season polls are at best probability assessments.  Hard analysis must await an umpire saying “play ball.” Ten more days.

Top of Form

ESPN.com/USA Softball 2013 Final

  • ESPN.com/USA Softball
  • USA Today/NFCA Coaches
  • NCAA Women’s Softball RPI

Bottom of Form

 

RANK SCHOOL RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS
1 Oklahoma (20)  Fall 8-0 57-4 500 1
2 Tennessee   Fall 8-0 52-12 480 5
3 Texas  Fall 51-10 445 7
4 Washington 45-17 427 9
5 Florida 48-9 419 2
6 Michigan 51-13 403 8
7 Arizona State 50-12 390 4
8 Nebraska 45-16 362 16
9 Oregon 50-11 342 3
10 Alabama 45-15 304 T10
11 Missouri 38-14 300 6
12 Kentucky 41-21 237 17
13 Texas A&M 42-18 234 20
14 Florida State 44-19 223 19
15 Louisiana-Lafayette 47-15 192 NR
16 LSU 42-16 160 T10
17 UAB 40-19 150 NR
18 South Alabama 48-9 130 15
19 UCLA 40-20 127 T13
20 Baylor 42-17 126 18
21 Stanford 39-21 113 T13
22 Georgia 40-21 91 21
23 Louisville 48-13 79 12
24 California 38-19 63 22
25 Hawaii 45-13 37

 

The SEC boasts three teams in the top 10 in No. 1 Tennessee, No.4 Florida and No. 6 Alabama. The SEC and Pac-12 each had three teams in the top 10 to tie for the lead among all conferences. The SEC has eight teams in the top 25 with Texas A&M ranking 11th, Kentucky at 12th, Missouri at 14th, LSU at 17th, and Georgia at 23rd.The SEC had eight teams ranked in the top 25, more than any other conference.

2014 SEC Preseason Poll – January 27, 2014

1 – Florida (10 First Place Votes)
2 – Tennessee (2 First Place Votes)
3 – Alabama (1 First Place Votes)
4 – Georgia
5 – Kentucky
6 – Missouri
7 – Texas A&M
8 – LSU
9 – Arkansas
10 – Auburn
11 – South Carolina
12 – Mississippi State
13 – Ole Miss

Spy Pre-season Analysis of the Top 25

1. Oklahoma.  The defending national champion Sooners  lost all-everything Keilani Ricketts and Michelle Gascoigne, the best 1-2 pitching combo in the nation, and very reliable catcher Jessica Shults, but OU swept through an 8-0 fall season using a cadre of sophomore pitchers like Dewberry Taylor, Maggie Ham, Leslie Miller, and Kelsey Stevens.  The Sooners still have a very powerful offense, led by the nation’s best home run hitter, Lauren Chamberlain, and other power bats in Shelby Pendley, Georgia Casey, and key role players like Destinee Martinez, Brittany Williams, Callie Parsons and some promising sophomores.  The Sooners scored 71 runs in the fall, giving up just 8.
Oklahoma’s 2014 schedule features 10 teams ranked in the preseason poll. After opening the season against No. 12 Kentucky on Feb. 7, the Sooners are also scheduled to face No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 9 Nebraska, No. 13 Louisiana Lafayette, No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 LSU and No. 21 UAB in out-of-conference contests. Within the Big 12, Texas opened at No. 10, while Baylor was ranked 18th. In addition, scheduled opponents Arkansas, Oregon State and Tulsa were all receiving votes in the preseason poll.
Oklahoma returns seven starters from last season’s national championship team that finished 57-4 overall and 15-2 in the Big 12 to earn its second straight conference title. Among those returning are USA Softball National Player of the Year finalist Lauren Chamberlain, Second-Team All-American Shelby Pendley and Second-Team All-Region honoree Destinee Martinez.

2.  Tennessee.  The Lady Vols have been ranked in the preseason top 16 each year dating back to 2005. UT’s previous highest preseason ranking was No. 2 in 2007. This year’s preseason ranking marks the sixth time UT has started the year ranked in the top 10, the fourth time it has been ranked in the top five and the third time it has started in the top three of the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll.  The Lady Vols enjoyed one of their finest seasons in program history in 2013, finishing as the national runner-up, making their sixth Women’s College World Series appearance in nine years and posting their eighth 50-win season with a final record of 52-12. UT returns several key players from its 2013 WCWS Championship Series run, including All-American seniors Ellen Renfroe (2011, 2012) and Madison Shipman (2012, 2013). With 11 returning veterans and seven exciting newcomers, Tennessee is primed for another big season and has goals that culminate in Oklahoma City.  The Lady Vols hit .339 as a team and outscored opponents, 63-6, with a 7-0 record in fall ball. Freshman Megan Geer hit .520 (13-for-25) with five homers, two doubles, one triple, 13 RBIs and 15 runs. Freshmen Taylor Koenig (.364 batting average, one homer, one double, five RBIs) and Annie Ale (.333 batting average, one homer, five doubles, nine RBIs).  Sophomores Rainey Gaffin and Lexi Overstreet also impressed in the fall; Gaffin hit .500 (1reet1-for-22) with four doubles, six RBIs and five stolen bases. Overstreet had two homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs, while hitting .389. UT pitchers combined for a 0.89 ERA and held batters to a .117 batting average. Senior ace Ellen Renfroe was 4-0 while throwing 25.0 shutout frames with 48 strikeouts and just four hits allowed. Gaffin saw some action in the circle, posting a 1.75 ERA and 12 strikeouts over eight innings.   Madison Shipman, Melissa Davin and Erin Gabriel will strengthen the Vols after recovering  from injuries.  Fall ball may not have answered a key question: in 2013, the Vols offense was heavily dependent on the three leadoff hitters; those graduates all could hit, slap or bunt.  Will the new lineup project the same offensive prowess?.

3.  Texas.  The Horns lost pitchers Blaire Luna and Kim Bruins.  Taylor Thom heads a list of strong hitters but they lost Taylor Hoagland’s power and clutch hitting. Smith, Kern, Slatten and Davis allowed no runs and no hits through 5.0 innings of one fall game, but the Horns lost to Texas State 6-4. Much tougher tests await in and out of conference.  The Horns, who dropped to #10 in the new NFCA poll, are projected as #3 in 2014 by the Big 12, coaches, behind Oklahoma and #20 Baylor.  A Top 10 finish nationally depends on a new pitching corps.

4.  Washington.  The Huskies were 5-0 in fall ball, and return a veteran lineup including ace Kaitlin Inglesby, senior pitcher Bryana Walker, and good fielding hitters like Victoria Hayward, Kylie Lahners, Courtney Gano and Hooch Fagaly.

5. Florida.  The Gators who received six first place votes in the NFCA poll and are projected #1 by SEC coaches swept eight fall games 127-0.  A redoubtable pitching staff of Hannah Rogers, Lauren Haeger, and Alyssa Bache was strengthened by freshman Delanie Gourley.  Haeger, Stephanie Tofft, and Kelsey Stewart provide solid hitting, all above .300 last year, topped by Haeger’s 18 homers.  Florida, the 2013 SEC regular season champion, was chosen to repeat with 10 of 13 first-place votes followed by national runner-up Tennessee with two first-place votes. Alabama was tabbed third and earned one first-place vote. Eight of the 13 SEC squads appear in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 preseason poll which was released last week.

6.  Michigan.  The Wolverines are a Top 10 projection by NFCA – #5. The Wolverines received one first-place vote and garnered 652 points in all for the inaugural poll of the 2014 campaign. It is the highest preseason ranking for the Maize and Blue since 2010 when the NFCA pegged U-M at No. 4. Michigan trails only fellow 2013 Women’s College World Series participants No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Washington and No. 4 Florida in the poll. The Wolverines are the highest-ranked Big Ten team, joined by No. 9 Nebraska in the top 10.

The 2013 Wolverines won the Big Ten title for the sixth consecutive year and earned a spot in the WCWS for the 10th time in program history.

U-M returns 16 letterwinners and adds four freshmen to this year’s squad. Sophomore All-America shortstop Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) headlines the returners along with a pair of NFCA All-Great Lakes Region performers in junior pitcher Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) and senior first baseman Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield). That trio of Wolverines, along with juniors Lauren Sweet (Corona, Calif./Santiago) and Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modeno) and sophomore Sierra Lawrence (Snellville, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian),was listed on the 2013 All-Big Ten team.  U-M opens the season with a pair of games against ranked opponents on Saturday, Feb. 8, in Tampa, Fla. The season opener features No. 4 Florida, with No. 25 USF capping off the doubleheader. In all, Michigan has games scheduled against nine ranked opponents. The Wolverines will travel to Lafayette, La., for the first time to play a pair against No. 13 Louisiana-Lafayette during the Ragin’ Cajun Invitational (Feb. 14-16).

7.  Arizona State.  The Sun Devils return much of the squad which won two national championships, led by Dallas Escobedo, who is ably backed on the mound by Mackenzie Popescue, with sophomores Alexis Cooper and Jenna Makis.  ASU will score in bunches but keep opponents at bay with talented players like Cheyenne Coyle, Alexis Johnson, Haley Steele and Elizabeth Caporuscio, with the formidable force of Amber Freeman behind the plate.

8. Nebraska.  The Huskers are one of two teams from the Big Ten Conference ranked in the top 10. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan was picked fifth and received one first-place vote. Florida State, which Nebraska will face twice in its opening weekend, came in at No. 15 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. Other 2014 Husker opponents appearing in the poll include: No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 16 UCLA. Nebraska will also face Arizona, Houston and Wisconsin, three teams that received votes in the preseason poll.

Nebraska is coming off a 45-16 season a year ago, in which the Huskers advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in school history and defeated No. 3 Oregon to earn the program’s seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series. NU returns seven starters, including its entire pitching staff, which ranked 12th nationally in wins and 15th in ERA last season. All-America twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards are back for their senior years, as Nebraska is one of only seven teams nationally with multiple All-Americans on its 2014 roster.

9. Oregon.  The Pac 12 defending champion Ducks return 14 letterwinners off last year’s record-setting team, including two pitchers and six position starters. Oregon brings back 69.8 percent of its runs scored, 73.1 percent of its RBIs, 76.3 percent of its home runs and 81.7 percent of its stolen bases from the 2013 roster.  Individually, the Ducks welcome back two NFCA All-Americans from last season in outfielder Janie Takeda and catcher/designated player Alexa Peterson. Oregon also loses two All-Americans in pitcher Jessica Moore and infielder Kaylan Howard.

10. Alabama.   Any team which features Jackie Traina in the circle, and at bat, is a contender.  The Tide is ranked higher in the NFCA poll than it finished 2013, but is considered third-best by SEC coaches, behind Florida and Tennessee.  Alabama’s 2014 schedule includes seven teams on the list. Out-of-conference opponents include No. 15 Florida State, No. 20 South Alabama and No. 21 UAB. Of the eight ranked SEC opponents, Alabama will play conference series against No. 4 Florida, No. 14 Missouri, No. 17 LSU and No. 23 Georgia.

Alabama is one of only two teams in the nation that returns three NFCA All-Americans from last season, along with seventh-ranked Arizona State. The Tide welcomes back senior pitcher Jackie Traina, senior infielder Kaila Hunt and sophomore outfielder Haylie McCleney.  But, the Tide has lost key players who were essential parts of those WXWS championship games: Kayla Braud, Amanda Locke, Cassie Reilly-Boccia, Courtney Con;ey, and Jazlyn Lunceford. The vote by their SEC peers reflects a question: can the 2014 team fill those gaps.

The Crimson Tide opens its season on Friday, Feb. 7 at the Troy Subway Invitational. There, Alabama will play five games over three days against Kennesaw State, North Florida, Northwestern State, Middle Tennessee State and Troy.

11.Missouri.  The Tigers lost ace Chelsea Thomas, one of the better 2013 pitchers, but still ranked #14 with NFCA.  Head coach Ehren Earleywine welcomes back several proven offensive contributors and a youthful pitching staff ( Tori Finucaine and Casey Stangel are freshmen) for his eighth season. Sophomore 2B/OF Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) returns after leading the 2013 squad with a .376 batting average, as well as spending this past summer playing with USA Softball’s Junior Women’s National Team. Junior 3B/C Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.) and junior 1B Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.) return after posting team bests in RBI (47) and home runs (16), respectively.  Sami  Fagan and Corrin Genovese are highly skilled on defense and offense.  That youthful pitching staff is reflected in an SEC projection to finish 6h.

12. Kentucky.  SEC coaches project Kentucky at #5.  Last week, Kentucky earned its highest preseason ranking in school history coming in at No. 12 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Preseason Top 25. The school-record preseason ranking bested the 2012 team’s No. 13 preseason ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25. UK, which was not ranked in last season’s preseason listing, finished the 2013 season with a school-record 41 wins en route to an appearance in an NCAA Super Regional and No. 14 final ranking. The Wildcats return 15 letterwinners from that accomplished squad, including eight starters and two starting pitchers, Lauren Cumbess and Kelsey Nunley.

13. Texas A&M.  The Aggies are projected at #7 in the SEC poll.  TAMU has real depth in the circle: Rachel Fox, Lauren Ainsley, Sara Mireles, and sophomores Katie Marks and Kristen Davenport.  The Aggies will miss May’s bat and glove.

14. Florida State.  Ranked #15 in the NFCA poll, the Seminoles will be tested early; they open the season against #8 Nebraska.  The `Noles are the only ACC school ranked in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll while FSU will take on three top-10 schools in 2014. The season opens against No. 9 Nebraska on February 7 at the Aggie Hotel Encanto Classic hosted by New Mexico State. The Seminoles will also travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the Easton Crimson Classic hosted by No. 6 Alabama from Feb. 28 to March 2. FSU will play No. 4 Florida in Gainesville on April 2 before hosting the Gators in Tallahassee on April 9.

Six other opponents, including ACC foes NC State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and UNC are receiving votes in this year’s preseason poll. The ACC could be more competitive with Notre Dame and Virginia Tech in the mix. The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference.

15. Louisiana Lafayette.  The Ragin Cajuns are ranked 13th in the NFCA poll.  The Cajuns face six top-25 teams on the 2014 regular season schedule, accounting for 17 games.  No. 2 Oklahoma (March 14-15), No. 5 Michigan (Feb. 14-15), No. 10 Texas (Feb. 7-8), No. 18 Baylor (Feb. 28 & April 22), No. 20 South Alabama (April 12-13) and No. 25 USF (Feb. 22) are all on the Cajuns’ schedule, with Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas and South Alabama each making trips to Lamson Park.

The Cajuns maintained a top-25 ranking, despite losing several key players from 2013, including All-Americans Nerissa Myers, Brianna Cherry and Sarah Draheim. Louisiana returns All-Sun Belt selections Natalie Fernandez, Jordan Wallace and Shellie Landry, to compliment a young team entering the season.

The Cajuns open the 2014 season on Feb. 7 for the 28th Annual Louisiana Classics with Northern Iowa at Lamson Park.  First pitch for the season is scheduled for 2 p.m.

16. LSU.  LSU, projected to finish 8th in the SEC and 17th by NFCA, won the final SEC Western Division title and finished in a fourth-place tie en route to a 42-16 record during the 2013 season, the program’s 15th 40-win season since softball was reinstated in 1997.  The Tigers returned 14 letterwinners led by a trio of All-SEC honorees in A.J. Andrews, Bianka Bell and Jacee Blades. Andrews was a NFCA All-American Third-Team selection, while Bell was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year. Four members of LSU’s six-player freshman class collected NFCA or Max Preps All-American status during their prep careers. But they have to overcome the loss of All American Rachelle Fico, a national leader in ERA.  The Tigers open with #10 Texas.

17. UAB.  NFCA pollsters projected UAB to finish down at #21. The Blazers are the only Conference USA team to appear in the poll, while Tulsa received 23 votes. UAB is coming off its best season in program history after claiming its first Conference USA regular season title and finishing the year 40-19. The Blazers capped off 2013 by defeating No. 16 UCLA in 13 innings in the NCAA Louisville Regional, and advancing to their first ever NCAA Super Regional, where they fell to Florida in two games.  But the Blazers play five of the top 25 teams including Oklahoma, Alabama, Baylor, South Alabama and Georgia.

18. South Alabama.  The Jaguars are the defending Sun Belt champion.  To keep their ranking, they will compete against UAB, Georgia, Baylor and Louisiana-Lafayette.  USA returns seven starters.

19. UCLA.  NFCA projects a slight upgrade to #16 but Spy suggests the veteran-laden Bruins c ould go much higher.  Very experienced pitching corps includes Ally Carda, Jessica Hall, Courtney Rivera and Paige McDuffey.  Carda and Stephanie LaRosa have proven hitting chops, and the Bruins will get quality play from Mysha Sataraka, Brittany Moeal, and newcomer Delaney Spaulding, but someone besides Carda and LaRosa has to replace the production lost when BB Bates graduated.

20. Baylor.   The Bears are projected as second in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma.  The Bears return 15 players from last year’s team including eight starters. Among the returnees are senior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion, senior first baseman Holly Holl, junior outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann and sophomore third baseman Sarah Smith.  Canion was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection while Thumann and Smith were second-team selections. Canion and Holl were also named to the Second-Team All-NFCA All-Central Region Team.

21. Stanford.  Stanford was one of six Pac-12 schools ranked in the preseason poll, second to only the Southeastern Conference’s eight. Washington led the way with a third-place ranking, followed by No. 7 Arizona State, No. 8 Oregon, No. 16 UCLA, Stanford and No. 24 California.

Stanford will play some of the nation’s best this spring, including 33 games against 17 teams that participated in 2013 NCAA Regional competition. The Cardinal will play 19 games against teams ranked in the preseason top 25.

Stanford will play a challenging nonconference schedule, highlighted by a Feb. 23 matchup against 2013 NCAA runner-up Tennessee at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., before embarking on another tough Pac-12 schedule that includes seven NCAA Tournament teams from last season.

The Cardinal have two very promising freshmen pitchers: Madi Schreyer and Carly Hoover.

22. Georgia.  The SEC coaches have a higher opinion than the NFCA, ranking 4th in the exceedingly tough SEC.  Georgia is coming off a 40-21 season that saw it earn the program’s 12th-straight NCAA Tournament bid. The Bulldogs return several key players, including seven position starters and two starting pitchers for 2014.

Among the returners is a NFCA All-American, three Easton All-Americans, three All-Southeast Region selections, the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, three SEC All-Freshman honorees, two First Team All-SEC selections and two members of the SEC All-Tournament team.  The group includes Gerri Ann Glasco, a talent on both sides of the plate.

In all, the Bulldogs will face seven teams that appear in the 2014 preseason poll, including No. 6 Alabama, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 14 Missouri, No. 17 LSU, No. 20 South Alabama and No. 21 UAB.  Georgia kicks off its 2014 campaign when it hosts the Seventh Annual Red and Black Showcase February 7-9, welcoming Winthrop, North Texas, and James Madison to Jack Turner Stadium.

23. Louisville. Last season, the Cards debuted at No. 18 and went on to tie their program high at No. 8 on April 23. The Cards’ spent three weeks in the top 10 and five weeks at No. 11 in 2013. This marks the 33rd straight time Louisville has appeared in the NFCA top 25 rankings dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season. UofL’s 2014 roster includes eight letter winners from last year’s team, including 2013 All-America selection Katie Keller, All-BIG EAST team members: Whitney Arion, Caralisa Connell, Hannah Kiyohara, Rachel LeCoq and Maggie Ruckenbrod; and 2012 All-American selection Taner Fowler. The Cardinals also welcome 10 newcomers to this season’s squad. Louisville will open the 2014 season in Boca Raton, Fla., at the FAU “Kickoff” Classic Feb. 7-9.

 

24. California.  NFCA pollsters also reflected questions about the Bears’ fate without Jolene Henderson, projecting Cal at #24.  The Bears are one of six Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 25, with the Huskies leading the way at No. 3. Arizona State (No. 7), Oregon (8), UCLA (16) and Stanford (22) are also ranked. Conference foes Arizona and Oregon State also received votes toward the rankings.

Aside from the Pac-12 schools, Cal will face two more opponents ranked in the preseason poll. The Bears are scheduled for meetings with No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 18 Baylor, both at the high-powered Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs from Feb. 21-23.

Cal welcomes back three 2013 NFCA All-Pacific Region honorees in juniors Danielle Henderson (first team) and Cheyenne Cordes (second team) and senior Victoria Jones (second team). Cordes was also an All-Pac-12 second-team selection while Jones and Henderson were All-Pac-12 honorable mentions. The Bears also added several new faces to the roster in the offseason, including standout pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch from Glencoe High School in Oregon and 2013 Ms. Softball State Player of the Year Kylie Reed.

25. Hawaii.  The days of Sam Ricketts and Parnaby are history and the Wahine will compete with a very young pitching staff against such powers as UCLA and California.

A number of other teams drew votes in the pre-season poll and will at the least try to take that 25th spot, including South Florida, Arizona (45), Arkansas (28), Hofstra (27), Tulsa (23), Wisconsin (21), N.C. State (16), Auburn (10), Long Beach State (8), Notre Dame (8), Virginia Tech (8), Houston (6), BYU (5), Oregon State (3), North Carolina (2), Western Kentucky (1)

RFH

 

12-12-2013 Mandela

MANDELA

Although I had experience in Africa, and was thus allowed a space in the State Department’s flag lobby when Nelson Mandela was quickly ushered in, under heavy security for a meeting with the Secretary of State, I saw but did not meet him.

But, I had come to some grief in 1972, when Mandela was still in prison, for defending him.

The government of South Africa convened a conference on drug abuse in Capetown in November 1972.  I was among the better known “experts” on drug abuse at the time, and had authored a chapter on the international aspects of the problem in a well-received book Addiction. 

Because of the official US position on apartheid, the US did not want to send a high-ranking official from State, Justice or Treasury.  However, I had been invited as a delegate of the International Council on Alcoholism and the Addictions, based in Switzerland.

Fine, an official of the US Embassy said; the US needed to be seen at a first-ever conference at which there would be representatives of the three South African populations: white (heavily Dutch), black and colored (mixed).  But, immediately upon my arrival, the Ambassador wanted to know what, if anything, I would say about apartheid and especially about Mandela.  I was urged to confine my remarks to drugs.

After a week of being shown such positives as the hospital where Dr Barnard conducted the first heart transplant, and learning that black and colored doctors received the same training there as whites, and the impressive wine industry, I had also met with black and colored doctors, separately, and learned about the horrors of the shabeens, bars in shacks where men and boys succumbed to home brew and especially a variety of marijuana much more powerful than that consumed in the USA.

While driving around the Capetown area, I also saw the pervasive poverty, and the demarcation between white, black and colored housing areas.

I did not want to offend my hosts, who had staged an elaborate birthday party for me at the Cape, I also knew that the final press conference at the Heerengrascht hotel  would be followed by a press conference.  Knowing that the black and colored delegates were in that landmark hotel for the first time, and that I was the first American many had met, I knew I had to address apartheid, drawing on experiences as a reporter covering the civil rights movement in the USA.

An Embassy official stood off to one side as I told the delegates that their racial problems could not be resolved by the US or European powers, but had to come internally.  More, the majority African population had to find a democratic way of gaining political power, to partake in the vibrant South African economy without destroying it.

Looking directly at my white hosts, I concluded by saying, “You must take the first two steps.  Abolish your apartheid laws.  Free Nelson Mandela.”  The Africans of color cheered.  The press amplified my remarks.

Back in Washington, people only remembered that final comment.

 

9-12-2013 Spy;s Revised Recoomendations to USOC

PETITION TO USOC (revised)
This petition was revised on September 12 to reflect decisions by the International Olympic Committee meeting this past week in Buenos Aires. The petition has been submitted to USOC.

 

The revised version contains several recommendations by Spy on the future of softball.

 

As a professional news organization accredited by the IOC, USOC, ISF and ASA, Spy Softball petitions USOC to consider several issues attendant upon a central question: should ASA continue as the USOC-designated national governing body?

 

The question is timely.

 

The nominal leaders of the world of fastpitch softball are changing, and the global nexus has changed.

 

The September 8 decision by the IOC on the program for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics will have wide-ranging implications at all levels of the sport. The IOC elected a new president, Dr Thomas Bach of Germany, who has stated reviewing the composition of the Olympic program has a high priority. Presumably, the executive director of ISF, Don Porter, could retire after the IOC Executive Board voted on the program for the 2020 Olympiad, selecting wrestling.  However, if a drive to add baseball/softball materializes for consideration at Sochi, few would be surprised if Porter partakes of that process.  (Wrestling was the odds-on favorite among the nominees; there were no USA officials on the Executive Board until Anita de Frantz was elected this week, and anti-American sentiment among Europeans was said to be ramping up in anticipation of a US-led military strike against Syria.).  The executive director of ASA/USA Softball, Ron Radigonda, retires in October, and his successor Craig Cress has been chosen.  Not least, on September 7, the IOC selected Tokyo as host city for 2020.  The candidates were Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul.

 

In the wake of the decision on wrestling, Japan is said to be willing to explore opportunities to add baseball and softball to the 2020 program; both have wide followings in Japan.  The IOC has authorized 28 sports and now has 26.  Any changes sought by Bach and the Executive Board could be considered during IOC meetings in Sochi, on the margins of the Winter Olympics Feb 7-23.

 

The portent of these changes for fastpitch softball can only be speculated.  But, surely, the relevant authorities have made contingency plans on how they envision going forward.

 

Thus, it is an opportune time for USOC to revisit the decades-old decision to name ASA the governing body of softball.  Fastpitch softball in particular is a very different sport today than it was when USOC decided to award such sweeping authority to what was then and still remains an organization whose deepest roots are in men and women’s slow pitch softball.

 

Certainly, the IOC vote will have major implications for ISF and ASA/USA Softball – whatever the outcome of future deliberations with Japan – on both the scope of their international programs and the funding to support them.  Indeed, they should have made contingency plans not predicated on Olympic status.

 

It is not too soon to inquire about what contingency plans have been made. The USOC has a vested interest in knowing the plans of these organizations post the IOC decision on 2020 venues – not just funding but structuring the forward program.

 

Moreover, parallel to this inquiry about the future, USOC, as the controlling body, should examine ASA’s discharge of its obligations as the USOC-designated national governing body of softball.  USOC should consult a diverse array of organizations, not just ASA.

 

USOC should convene a hearing in which representatives of the major organizations in girls and women’s fastpitch can not only provide their recommended guidance for the future of the sport but provide an answer to the penultimate question: should ASA continue as the national governing body of softball.  At minimum, USOC should hear presentations by ISF, ASA, NFCA, Premier Girls Fastpitch, USSSA.and NPF.

 

Should the Executive Board explore a possible addition  of the joint baseball/softball program, baseball people should be heard from, and answer questions such as the role of Major League Baseball, the construct of a single facility to house both sports, and how many teams would be qualified and how they would be chosen.  The combined baseball/softball consortium has had many months to prepare answers to these and other critical questions.  The answers should not be deferred to the Congress that the combined organization anticipates in 2014.

 

A parallel question for USOC:  should the domestic and international governing body authority be vested in two separate organizations.  And, should the governing authority for softball be divided into adult and youth entities.

 

Examine ASA’s conjoined mission statements which are appended to every press release:

About ASA
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 200,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles as well as claimed six World Cup of Softball titles.

Mission statements notwithstanding, ASA is not the monolithic organization it once was, certainly not with respect to girls/women’s fastpitch softball – at the domestic or international level.  Granted, ASA manages a wide variety of softball programs, fastpitch and slow pitch, and awards more than a dozen national championships involving adults and youth..  The focus in this editorial is on girls/women’sfastpitch.

 

Domestic Fastpitch Softball

The public image of softball is a girl in pigtails playing fastpitch.
While ASA is the rulemaking body, and sponsors more than two dozen tournaments for men, women and youth, at its core, ASA is organizationally focused on slow pitch softball, which is the primary focus of its 90+ commissioners, the majority of whom in the past have been umpires, given those posts for life; there should be term limits.  To the extent that ASA focuses on fastpitch, that supervision is only indirectly provided by its Junior Olympic commissioners and its Executive Council.  Instead, it is vested in ASA headquarters staff, none of whom have any background in fastpitch, and the Women’s National Team Selection Committee, whose independence has long been forfeited to ASA staff.

 

The coaches/managers and players in youth fastpitch have little influence over ASA decisions.
Moreover, virtually all funding of youth fastpitch is underwritten by parents or travel ball organizations, with no real dollar input by ASA.

Over time, this ruling-from-above has resulted in an erosion of ASA influence over girls fastpitch, and most certainly over management of the sport, and particularly not at what is called the Gold or premium and senior levels.

Today, at least two other organizations also have national championships, and, sponsor competition at the 12-14-16-18 age levels. Indeed this past month the top youth teams in the country competed in the tournaments of Premier Girls Fastpitch, A number of these teams also competed in the multi-tiered competition sponsored by USSSA Pride.  A few teams competed at both Premier and ASA. The divining mark is quality of competition.   Perhaps ten of the 64 teams who competed ASA Gold would have been successful at Premier.

 

Other factors notwithstanding, the attraction PGF and Pride offer is the quality of the competition.

 

Another factor particularly with respect to PGF is that the organization is owned and controlled by travel ball coaches.  USSSA is reported to involve more fastpitch players than ASA; its Pride team just won the NPF national championship.

 

While travel ball per se is not within the USOC purview, USOC must be sensitive to the fact that travel ball is the wellspring for all USA national teams.  A case can be made that ASA stands in violation of the Olympic ideal of inclusion by its decision to limit participation in USA national teams to players who participate in ASA tournaments.  At both the junior and senior levels, this  decision has precluded many of the nation’s top players from trying out for USA teams.  Moreover, players on NPF teams are considered by ASA to be ineligible for national teams, although the teams they meet in international competition include professional players.

 

Therefore, the USOC review should also embrace USA team selection procedures.

 

USOC should also evaluate the rule-making authority of ASA, which is vested in the Council.  Although umpires have a defined organizational emphasis, no comparable grouping exists for travel ball.  For several years, responsibility within ASA for travel ball has been vested in a junior ASA staffer, often with decisions made which do not reflect input from the travel ball community.  When the Council votes each year on changes in code and playing rules, no travel ball people are on the floor, and few if any travel ball people see the proposed changes in advance.  A few ASA Commissioners will share some information beforehand, but there is no systemic effort to consult with or listen to the people who play the game.

 

Given the diversity of travel ball and highschool organizations, it is difficult to project a single organization to manage code and playing rules. NFCA has more than 800 travel ball members, but pays them little heed.  If ASA continues to have domestic softball jurisdiction, it should be vested with the clear understanding that ASA will create a stand-alone travel ball unit to oversee changes in code and playing rules, answerable to the ASA Director.

 

In keeping with Olympic ideals, ASA should be expressly forbidden to link ASA participation to national team selection procedures.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL SOFTBALL

The Canadian Open Fastpitch organization tells Spy that more than 100,000 people attended its recent week-long event. Granted, this total includes many levels of play: international, women’s elite, and various junior levels.  Still, the video images from the multi-team international division showed a full stadium.  The empty seats at USA’s recent four-team World Cup were embarrassing.  Similarly, the Canadian Open featured just six teams including a one-off team of USA college players.

 

Both events were hailed by ISF as demonstrations that softball is an international sport worthy of being included in the Olympics.  ASA stripped its Hall of Fame Stadium of the bleachers, which were filled to capacity for the recent College World Series.  Even the regular seats down the left and right field foul lines were mostly empty at the World Cup.  By contrast, an estimated 1300 people filled the Manning Stadium at Bill Barber Park for the PGF Premiere-level championship.  An estimated 1300 people attended the NPF championship, which was televised.

 

There is support for fastpitch softball across the breadth of the United States.  ASA doesn’t seem to know how to maximize it.  Rather than stare at empty World Cup seats, ASA should have required each of its 90+ commissioners to attend, and filled the wings with young travel ball teams, even without paid admission.  Empty seats would not impress the IOC.

 

True, baseball has drawn substantial audiences, but Spy doubts that even Lincoln could save this union between baseball and softball.

 

ISF should be asked what plans it has made for choosing a successor to Porter, as well as the program it proposes in lieu of an Olympic platform, eg, its international cup..

 

QUESTIONS USOC SHOULD ASK ALL RESPONDENTS

 

If softball is truly an internationally-supported sport, why were only four teams in the World Cup?  To what extent were team finances a limiting factor in team participation at the World Cup or Canadian Open?

 

In previous years, the USA national team played exhibitions at numerous locations around the USA to build up support – which might result in larger audience attendance at major events..

At one time, the USA national team played teams from National Pro Fastpitch.  Was ASA embarrassed by losses?  ASA’s director of national teams reportedly made a virtually unilateral decision that players under contract to NPF could not play on the USA national team – which became a collage of college players competing against professionals from other countries. Similarly, the director limited tryouts for junior  national teams to players who had competed in ASA tournaments.  Will the new ASA leadership continue his policies?

 

If finances were a limiting factor, how does the new ASA leadership propose to raise enough money for a full-fledged international program like those in the past?  ASA commissioners have pointedly rejected calls to share their funds from registration, tournaments etc.  Yet, a number of those commissioners have attended the Olympics and other events at ASA expense,

 

European club teams just concluded a well-attended championship.  Why don’t more of those countries have national teams which play in the World Cup?  A few, like Great Britain and Italy have played in previous Canada Cups.

 

Given that Europe has 53 members of the IOC, the USA has three (the USOC president has just become the fourth), knowledgable observers have long promoted sending a US team to play selected European club teams to build ties and expand the sport.  USOC should ask what plans, if any, the participants have for forging stronger links with Europe.  What plans do you (all) have for generating more participation by European teams in international competition?

 

What promotional plans do you (all) have to increase the number of teams in the World Cup?  The Canadian open? The ISF International Championship in 2012 featured 16 teams from five ISF regions; why aren’t more of these teams competing in the World Cup and Canadian Open?

 

What promotional plans do you (all) have to increase attendance at the World Cup?  The ISF International Championship?  The Canadian Open?

 

Are there plans to revive the ASA Women’s Majors?  The ISF University games?

 

What steps would you recommend for inter-connecting NPF and USA Softball (or its successor)? Would you abolish the current USA Softball prohibition against NPF players being chosen for USA national teams?  Would you consider a schedule for USA teams to compete against NPF teams?

 

What format should be used to select players for US national teams?  How would you restructure the Women’s National Team Selection Committee?  (In recent years, the WNTSC has become the handmaiden of the ASA director of national teams)

 

Should the USA team conduct a domestic tour to broaden support, playing college and NPF?

 

What plans do you have for generating funding? For youth softball? For national teams?
How do you account for the fact that the WCWS fills the ASA Hall of Fame stadium, even when Oklahoma is not playing, but the World Cup played to virtually an empty stadium except when Team USA played.?

 

USSSA has the resources to manage the international program, if split off from USA Softball.  They should be asked about player selection, training, tours, competition events to enter, etc.

Finally, the rumor is that Tokyo would consider having a stand-alone softball and baseball tournament, parallel to the Olympics.  Tokyo has the experience and infrastructure.  Would USOC contribute funds to enter a USA team in such a tournament?  Would ISF contribute?  There is a precedent; China hosted a separate wushu tournament at the time of the Beijing Olympics.

 

SPY RECOMMENDS

 

As a first order of business, the USA, seconded by other Olympic competitors like Canada and Australia, should determine with finality whether Japan, as the 2020 host, will formally propose to the IOC the addition of baseball/softball to the 2020 program, a decision which could be quickly affirmed by the IOC Executive Board and ratified by the IOC at Socchi in February.

 

A meeting with Japanese Olympic officials should be immediate.

 

In that process, thought should be given to the confederation of softball and baseball, well before the confederation’s meeting in 2014.  Press coverage from Buenos Aires indicates a number of IOC members thought baseball was an albatross around softball’s neck; moreover, that baseball does not have the kind of MLB approvals to make them viable at the Olympic level.  Spy suggests that the IOC go forward with just softball, but there is also great Japanese passion for baseball, and a continued combined effort may be inevitable.

 

The composition of the international delegation meeting with Japan for this purpose could be critical.  Spy believes that ISF President Don Porter should announce his resignation as president at the ISF meeting in October, instead assuming the role of chairman emeritus, holding the latter post until Socchi.  While ISF would elect a new president in October, operational control over ISF should be vested in a new position of executive director, preferably Ron Radigonda would be appointed to this post.

 

While Spy believes Porter has become ineffective in the international politics of softball, Porter has devoted many years to promoting the sport.  If there is any possibility of softball being reinstated at Socchi, Porter deserves to be there and his efforts acknowledged.

 

Spy believes that the governing authority for international softball should be taken away from USA Softball, regardless of the outcome of future deliberations with IOC and Japan.

 

USOC should designate a national governing body for international competition, and a separate governing body for domestic softball.  By default, ASA is best positioned to continue governance of men and women’s slow pitch softball, but a new entity should be created for international competition.  Spy believes the US international program would benefit greatly by having Arizona coach Mike Candrea being named commissioner for international competition.  USA Softball could be restructured, but there are other organizations like USSSA which are structurally and financially capable of managing the USA international effort.  Spy hopes that retiring ASA Director Ron Radigonda will be offered the leadership of ISF.

 

If it is to retain authority over domestic fastpitch, ASA governance should be restructured so that all the organizations have a voice in decisions, not just the Council or ASA Executive Board.  If this does not occur, organizations like USSSA, Premier, Triple Crown will continue their stand-alone programs, without deference to ASA.  Frankly, they no longer need ASA.

 

There should be agreement among the affected organizations on a uniform bat standard.

 

SPY also believes that USA national teams should be permitted to scrimmage against college and professional teams.  Spy also believes that umpires accredited by ASA should be allowed to serve games sponsored by other organizations.

 

In a few well-chosen words, where are we going?

 

Rayburn F Hesse