TOP Teams from the Pacific/West Region
Following is the first part in a multiple part series of articles that identifies the top 9u teams to watch, within each of the major regions across the nation, as the 2011 season gets into full swing. Part 1 looks at the teams from throughout the Pacific/Western states including California, Oregon, Washington and inland western states including Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. At this point, no ranking has been assigned to each of these teams. This will be left to discussions until TravelBallSelect releases its pre-season rankings for 2011. This is due out soon. Part 2 of this series will be preview the top teams emerging from the Southwestern States including; Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas to Missouri. Part 3 will cover teams emerging from the Southeast, while Part 4 will cover teams from the Atlantic/Northeast areas of the country.
Here are many good teams . . . . Let’s hear how you would rank them?
VSA Vipers of the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley, CA-S is a new team that has come together starting at the begining of the 2011 fall season. They went 8-0 in USSSA Fall play while winning 2 tournaments. They are now 14-0 after winning the MLK Super NIT in impressive fashion. Their 14-0 USSSA record against the best So CAL teams combined with 3 straight tough tournament wins put them among the best of the Elite teams of Southern California and the Pacific/West Region as the Spring season moves into full swing.
SGV Hustle (Azusa/San Gabriel Valley, CA), coached by Roberto Prieto, finished their Fall 2011 9U season with a 14-1 record. They Won 3 tournaments (1 USTSA, and 2 USSSA tournaments including the Southern California Super NIT). This team is playing like an Elite team that should be ranked high among teams from the Pacific/Western region, as well as, teams across the nation.
So CAL Owls of Oxard, CA, managed by Bobby Quirarte, built a 17-4 record before closing out their 2011 Fall/Winter season. They adjourned with a combined 17-4 record in USSSA play combined with USTSA play. This is a solid team to watch as 2011 season play moves into its Spring/Summer sessions.
Mashers of Chula Vista, CA – The Mashers are managed by Ernie Pulido and Coached by Eric Bruce and Carlos Michel. They have built a very good 13-1 record while wining 2 of the 3 Fall season tournaments that they entered. They are not only looking like the best team in the San Diego area, but also, one of the best teams across Southern California. Their performance so far that season has placed them on a path toward a top 20 level national ranking.
Mid Valley Warriors of Encino, CA are managed by David Patton. They were last years USSSA world series winner as 8U’s as they ran through the competition & defeating the SGV HUSTLE for that championship. Although their have had limited play this season, they were a competitive force at the Southern California Thanksgiving Super NIT, although - this time - they lost to the SGV Hustle in the finals. This is a team that will return strong. Look to them as fierce competitors - once they resume 2011 Spring/Summer play.
Tracy Rangers of Tracy, CA-N are managed by David Ditlevson and Coached by Casey Dibble and Steve Dzoan. They have opened their 2011 9U season and are playing like the top team from the Northern California area. Thus far, they have built an overall record of 28-3-1 with a win/loss record of 14-1-1 in USSSA play, combined with a 10-2 record in Nations/USTSA play, and 4-0 in SuperSeries play. This goes with their 7 tournament wins. They have made a strong case that they are not only the best team in NOR CAL, but also a team that can challenge the best from the Pacific/West and across the nation.
OC Sun Devils of Irvine, CA-S - the Sun Devils are managed by Bob Klein. They have gotten off to a strong start in their 9u 2011 season building a 9-1 record while winning 2 straight USSSA tournaments. The Sun Devils have are now taking a break in play. But they have shown that have the potential to be counted among the best. We look forward to seeing them after they return for the Spring/Summer stretch of the 2011 season.
Bombers Baseball of Kentfield, CA-N are managed by John Jakiemiec and coached by John Wandizlak. Thus far this season, they have established a 15-3 record to go along with winning a total of 4 Fall tournament Titles- including 2 SuperSeries and 2 USSSA tournaments.
SGV Cobras of San Gabriel Valley, CA are managed by Steve Burns. After a sluggish, but respectable start, finishing 3rd in their first two USSSA tournaments, they have picked up their play. They won the December 11th “Strike Out Hunger” USSSA Qualifier and moved on to Gilbert Arizona where they went 6-0 to win the Arizona USSSA Super NIT. This win extended their Fall/Winter season record to 15-3 as they closed out December play. Winning this Super NIT also gave them an Elite 32 berth and a huge boost to their momentum heading into 2011.
Sandlott All-Stars of Tempe, Az is managed by Brent Densmore. This is a solid 9U team that started their 2011 season by going 5-0 and winning the 9U Arizona USSSA Labor Day Kick Off NIT. From that point, they have only played 10U level events. Overall, they have won 2 of 7 tournaments that they have entered thus far in their Fall/Winter season. They have also finished as the “Runner-Up” in 2 other 10U events. Overall, these All-Stars have established a 27-10 record with 8 of their 10 loses coming at the hands of 10U teams. They finished 2nd to the SGV Cobras at the December 30th Arizona Super NIT. These results are sufficient for them to have earned them USSSA’s #2 power and points ranking among teams from the Pacific/Western Region. This team can bring a real tough game!
Beach Cyclones Beach Cyclones of Lakewood, CA-S are managed by Jesse Martinez. They are returning 10 players from last year’s team. In addition, they have added 4 new players. They finished their 2011 Fall Season play with an 11-1 record. They started out strong with 8 straight wins to take the title in 2 USSSSA Championships (Long Beach Open, Daylight Savings Duel). Next, they moved on to wrap-up their Fall 2011 season play after the USSSA Fall State Tournament. Although, they performed well at this event, they suffered their only loss (12-2 to the SGV Cobras). They are currently inactive, but once they return to Spring play, they could be a solid team that can move higher among the ranks of the best teams from the Pacific/West.
Team Rawlings of the San Clemente, CA-S is a new team that has come together at the begining of the 2011 fall season. They went 8-3 in USSSA Fall play while winning 1 tournament. Two of their loses have come in10U Majors competition. Normally, this record would place them among the top teams in the Pacific/West. But this team is looking very good. They are clearly a team to watch for as they could quickly move into the top list of Elite teams as the Spring season moves into swing.
Bakersville HEAT won the D1 Division Triple Crown Fall Nationals held near Las Vegas, NV. That is enough to prove that they are a team to watch out for.
Tomateros De California, managed by Alex Jemenez, always fields solid teams from top to bottom. As 8U’s, this team went 31-11 in USSSA play and won 4 tournaments. They finished last season with a respectable showing in the 8U world series - loosing to the Chino Hills Rays in pool play, and then loosing to the eventual Runner-Up, the SGV HUSTLE in quarter finals. However, they have not been very active this Fall/Winter season. But, once they return, expect them to be a solid competitive force down the stretch of this season.
Arizona Grinders of Chandler, AZ are managed by Anthony Tiedemann. They opened their Fall 2011 season play by going 6-3 and finishing as the Runner-Up in 2 USSSA events. Overall, they have built a 10-3 record in USSSA play including a 3-1 record against 10U teams. They recently won the USSSA “Toys for Tots” Christmas tournament going 4-0 to win this event.
Die Hards Baseball of Whittier, CA-S is managed by Saul Chavez. They were a solid team last year as 8U’s. They are expected be a strong competitor again this year. They have returned 11 players from last year’s scrappy team while adding one new player. They started this 2011 season by wining USTSA’s National Division Veterans Day Rings Classic in Fountain, Valley. They also earned a 2nd Place finish at the 2011 Fall State USSSA Championships. They did this with wins over solid teams - including the SGV Cobras and twice over So CAL United - before finally being edged out in a very close 6-5 loss to the VSA Vipers in the State Title game. So, look for this team to return in the Spring to challenge good teams. If so, they will move up in the Pacific/West rankings.
Hard90 Power won 2x SuperSeries and 1x USSSA tournaments that were held in Northern, California during the Fall season. A few more solid wins can move them up in the rankings.
Las Vegas Chaos has played well enough to grab attention. They won 2 USSSA tournaments during their Fall. They would have been ranked in the top tier of teams in the Pacific/West had they not had a disappointing showing at the D1 Triple Crown Fall Nationals (placed 9th). Often such drops occur when a team is missing key players in a given event. So, we wait to track their progress once they return to Spring/Summer season play.
Arizona Bombers of Ahwatukee, Az beat the Grinders 9-3 to take the title at the USSSA “Strike Out Hunger” tournament during that November 13th “Qualifier” event.
River City Outlaws won the Nov 14th Northern California American Divison Fall SuperSeries beating TEAM Velocity.
So Cal United is a scrappy team that has not backed away from stiff competition. This is a new team that has been formed with many core players from last year's 8U's teams win the Chino Hills and surrounding areas. During Fall/Winter season play as 9U's, they played a challenging schedule that included 8 USSSA tournament appearances. Along the way, they have (thus far) compiled a 18-5 overall record playing against solid 9 and 10U teams. The United in a position to reap significant improvement this season as they are built on a number of good players that have come together from several different teams within their area. They picked up several players from last year’s 8U Chino Hills Storm, So Cal Outlaws, Dirtbags, and others. Look for this team to steadily improve as they come together as a unified team.
- By Ernie Rapiere
Beach Cyclones of Lakewood, CA-S are managed by Jesse Martinez. They are returning 10 players from last year’s team. In addition, they have added 4 new players to bolster their roster. These new player additions include; Jaden Orellano (up from the SO CAL Shockers, Anaheim, CA), Jacob Sharp (from last year’s 8U Oakley Stingrays), and Brett Wozniak (Los Alamitos Stampede). These additions give them a pool of 14 athletes that they can draw from to help them win in the tough, competitive tournaments.
They finished their 2011 Fall Season play with an impressive 11-1 record. They started out strong by rolling off 8 straight wins to take the title in 2 USSSSA Championships (Long Beach Open, Daylight Savings Duel). Next, they moved on to wrap-up their Fall 2011 season play after the USSSA Fall State Tournament. Although, they performed well at this event, they suffered their only loss. After opening the Fall State Championships with an easy win, they fell to the solid SGV Cobras of San Gabriel Valley are in Southern,CA. They lost to these Cobras by a score of 12-2 in the bracket rounds of play.
Still, they recovered with 2 straight wins to give them a 3-1 record in this event. However, they managed only a 6th place finish. This recovery shows that they have the potential to comeback and challenge the big time teams. If they return for their Spring 2011 season to perform well against a line-up of competition that includes more top tier teams and more top tournaments, then they will most certainly be ranked higher among the list of Elite teams from the Pacific/West.
These Cyclones have already shown that they are a very solid team. They are poised for ranking among the list of the Elite teams from the Pacific/Western region of the country. We look forward to seeing them return in the Spring with some impressive wins against top teams.
- By Ernie Rapiere
Updated Feb 15, 2011
SGV Cobras Black of San Gabriel Valley, CA located not far from Pasadena are Managed by Frank Martinez. This year, the Cobras are off to a very strong start having accumulated a record of 18-4 in USSSA play while competing against some of the best 9U teams in the country. As of mid February, they have won 3 straight USSSA events including the Arizona Winter Nationals Super NIT that has given them an early qualifying berth to the Elite 32 in Disney Florida late this Summer. They have also recently won the Winter NIT Classic held during January 22-24th.
The Cobras 9U organization fields different teams; SGV Cobras Red (who play exclusively in 9 and under tournaments. In addition, the SGV Cobras Black is their Elite (Premier) class team that is comprised of a strong nucleolus of 9 year olds that may often play up with the Cobras 10U team in higher age competition.
This level of play has clearly proven to be a wining edge for the Cobra Black as they have already won several tournaments and have qualified with an Elite 32 berth, and the season has barely gotten underway.
Following is a quick look at the 2011 edition of the 9U SGV Cobras (Black) Roster:
#2 Anthony Martinez (OF/IF/C/P) – Very versatile player that can play any position well. Consistent bat that can provide a punch when needed. Solid behind the plate, and provides some spectacular highlight type plays on the field.
#5 Cameron Wheeler - IF/P/C – is a disciplined player w/tremendous upside/work ethic. He’s a selective hitter who combines power and average, very skilled as a base runner, Plus, he is a very hard throwing pitcher with outstanding ability to change velocity and locate with pinpoint precision.
#8 Will Coquillard (P/OF/IF) – Plays as big as he looks. Great command on the mound with a big stick at the plate.
#9 Angel Gabriel Sanchez - P/C/IF/OF - is an all around athlete who can play any position with ease. He can be a hard throwing pitcher, an agile catcher, or a play-making fielder. Gabriel is truly a dynamic baseball athlete who can hit for both power and average. Finally,
#10 Sebastian Alvarez (P/IF) – Very smooth player, pitches with great control, great glove in the infield, and hits for average.
#12 James “Tank” Espalin (OF/P) – Smart athlete that plays with a lot of heart. Capable of beating you with either his speed, bat, arm, or glove.
#13 Zach Feehan - P/IF/C - is an outstanding pitcher who commands the mound. He balances location and control with changes in velocity; has a broad pitching repertoire. A consistent infielder, hits for power and adapts exceptionally well to game changing situations
#15 Austin Aguilar (P/1B/OF) – Lefty pitcher that keeps hitters off balance, great glove and able to dig balls out of the dirt. Contact hitter that hits for average.
#24 Arturo Ruiz (IF/OF) – Exceptional overall athlete, his ability to play solid at any infield or outfield position along with a great bat makes him a huge asset.
#34 Jose Carlos Garate (P/C/1B/OF) – Work horse that is going to eat up innings on the bump or behind the dish and then provide power with his bat in the line-up.
#58 Jade Low (C/OF) – Hard working player that isn't afraid to use his catchers equipment or arm. Great hitter that can hurt you from both sides of the plate.
#77 Paul Sanchez (P/C/Utility) – A kid that you confidently put anywhere on the field. Swings a big bat and can break your heart with one swing.
- By Ernie Rapiere
Mid Valley Warriors of Encino, CA are managed by David Patton. They were last years USSSA world series winner as 8U’s as they ran through the competition & defeating SGV HUSTLE in that championship. While they lost two excellent players, the Comacho twins – who moved over to play with the North Valley Bulldogs, they have replaced them with 2 new excellent players including Gabrial Esquer and also Emilo Morales, an outstanding player from the SGV Cobras. They also return a total of 10 players from last year’s team.
This year, the Warriors have seen limited play. However, they made a strong return to play this season with an appearance at the Southern California Thanksgiving's Super NIT. In this event, they racked up 5 impressive wins including a 2-0 upset win in the semi-finals over an excellent the SO CAL Owls team. However, they lack of competitive Fall season play may have been the key factor that lead them to drop a 12-4 loss to the SGV Hustle in the championship. But even after having only limited play, they still finished as the Runner-up at USSSA Southern California Thanksgiving Super NIT shows why this team should be a tough foe once they return to full form in 2011. Look for this team to challenge.
- Ernie Rapiere
The Bombers Baseball of Kentfield, CA fields teams from 9U through 14U years. The 9U Bombers are managed by John Jakiemiec and coached by John Wandizlak.
The 9U Bombers are making a case for being one of the best 9u teams in the Northern California area that is emerging during the early part of the 2011 season. They have established a 15-3 record in early season play. Thus far, these Bombers have won a total of 4 Fall tournaments. Their wins include two SuperSeries and two USSSA tournaments (9U Labor Day Challenge and the 10U Tracy Fall Challenge).
They closed out their Fall season by wining the Davis Halloween Challenge. This year, they have returned 7 players from last season’s roster while drawing upon the talents of 12 new players to round out their 19 player roster.
This large roster has given them depth and flexibility with both position and pitcher rotation. They are one of the top teams from the Northern California area.
- By Ernie Rapiere
The Sandlott All-Stars of Tempe, Az is managed by Brent Densmore. This is a solid 9U team that is part of the winning Sandlott Organization that is building a tradition of producing excellent teams at each age level. Last year, the 2010 editio of the 9U Sandlott All-Stars won the Arizona USSSA Super NIT. They are following up with an all new 9U team for 2011. Like their predecessor, this team was one of the teams favored to repeat again this year as the 9U the Arizona USSSA Super NIT Champions that was held Dec 27-30th. They finished as the Runner-up in this event where they went 5-2 with both loses coming at the bats of Southern Calfiornia's SGV Cobras who won by a score of 9-4 in the finals of that event. Still, this All-Stars team is very solid and you better have your "A" game when you face them as they can play.
They started their 2011 season by going 5-0 and winning the 9U Arizona USSSA Labor Day Kick Off NIT. From that point, they have only played 10U level events. Overall, they have won 2 of the 7 tournaments that they have entered thus far in their Fall/Winter season. They have also finished as the “Runner-Up” in 2 other 10U events.
Overall, these All-Stars have established a 24-8 record with all 8 loses coming at the hands of 10U teams. These results are sufficient to have earned them USSSA’s #2 ranking among 9U teams from the Pacific/Western Region. This ranking is based on USSSA’s composite index that combines both their USSSA Power and Points accumulated thus far this season.
This year’s team returns 6 players from last year’s 8U team while adding 7 new All-Star players from other 9u teams within the Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe, Arizona areas. Noteworthy additions include; Jacob Berry from the Shawdow Mountain Scorpions, Jax Chapman and Dylan Cuenca from the Arizona Bombers, Dustin Crenshaw from the AZ Legacy, Shawn Walker from the AZ Extreme (10AA), and Clay Wilkes from the Desert Dawgs. In prior years, this team has a tradition of breaking up to play local Recreation League Park ball. However, they could not only be a major challenger in the Pacific/Western region, but also a worthy contender for top 20 national ranking – if they remain together and play a full Spring/Summer season schedule.
- Ernie Rapiere
So CAL Owls of
Thus far in their 2011 season, they have built a 17-4 record in competitive tournament play. The Owls opened their 2011 season at the USSSA Labor Day Classic held at Big League Park in
They followed this performance by winning 4 straight to take the USSSA Fall Classic held in
Next, they returned to Big League Park in
The Owls finished off with another strong 4-1 showing at the Thanksgiving Super NIT, before being eliminated by a margin of 2-0 in the semi-finals by the Mid Valley Warriors in a very close a score of 2-0. The Warriors are another very solid team. This win advanced the Warriors to the finals where they dropped a 12-4 loss to the SGV Hustle who won this Super NIT title.
The Owls wrapped up their 2011 Fall/Winter season play at the USTSA Veterans Day Classic held November 13-14th in
- By Ernie Rapiere
The OC Sun Devils of Irvine, California are managed by Bob Klein. They a composite of players merged from the Irvine Vipers. Approximately half of their team have played as Vipers.
This Fall, they picked up where they left off during their successful 8u year 2010 season where they closed out with 4 tournament wins and a 4th Place finish at the 8u USSSA World Series.
Thus far in 2011 season play, they have gotten off to a strong start in their 9u 2011 season by building a 9-1 record while winning 2 straight USSSA tournaments including the 2011 Season Opener and Labor Day Classic. In the Labor Day Classic, they showed poise as they came back from deficits of 5-2 and 6-5 to beat a very solid SoCal Owls team from Oxnard, CA by a score of 7-6, This win earned them their second 9u Championship title win.
They closed out their Fall play at the USTSA Grand Slam Classic held in Huntington Beach, CA. They finished with a with a 2-1 showing in this event. The Sun Devils have are now taking a break in play and are not playing in Winter season tournaments. But they have already shown that they are a capable team. If they return to competitive play in the Spring, and continue at their Fall pace, then they are capable of not only ranking among the best teams in California - but also - they could establish themselves as one of the top 10 teams in the Pacific/Western region and perhaps even one to the top 25 teams in the country.
- Ernie Rapiere
The Tracy Rangers of Tracy, CA-N are managed by David Ditlevson and Coached by Casey Dibble and Steve Dzoan. They have opened their 2011 9U season and are playing like the top team from the Northern California area.
Thus far in this early period of 2011 season play, they have built an overall record of 28-3-1. This includes a win/loss record of 14-1-1 while playing in USSSA events. They have also combined to achieve a 10-2 record while playing in Nations/USTSA tournaments. These Ranges also have achieved a 4-0 run in SuperSeries play.
Thus, adding all tournaments wins for each of the above series play, during this Fall/Winter season, they have won a total of 7 tournaments. All of these wins came in the Northern California area. This list includes 3 of the 4 USSSA tournaments they entered, to go with 3 Nations/USTSA wins plus 1 SuperSeries tournament win. In the SuperSeries, they beat a good Hard90 Power team in the finals to take that championship title. Over the course of their Fall season, the Rangers played a number of good teams from their area. In addition to the Hard90 Power, they also play such teams as;
Hit and Run Baseball
Back Yard Sports Academy
River City Outlaws
They are starting with a solid core by returning 8 of 11 players from their 2010 8U-KP season. In addition, they have added 3 new players to fill out their 2011 team roster.
Next up, they are slated to compete at the February USSSA Super NIT that is coming up in Big League Park in Manteca, California. They are on track to rank as one of the top teams coming from the Pacific/West this year.
- By Ernie Rapiere
SGV Hustle (Azusa/San Gabriel Valley, CA), coached by Roberto Prieto, are returning strong after last year's dominating 8U-KP season in which they built a 42-7 record in USSSA play. Along that path, they won 6 of 10 USSSA tournaments that culminated by winning the USSSA World Series. They also finished as the Runner-up in all but one of their other 4 USSSA appearances. This was a dominating team by any measure.
This year as 9U's, the are off to a good start during the 2011 Fall/Winter season. They have proven that they are a team that ranks, not only, among the elite teams in Southern California, but also they looking like one of the top 10 teams in the nation. They wrapped up the 2011 Fall season play with a 10-1 record against good teams in USSSA play.
Thus far in their 2011 Fall/Winter season, they have won the USTSA Grand Slam Beach Classic and have earned USTSA’s #3 national ranking. In addition, they also won 2 USSSA tournaments including; the Columbus Day Classic Qualifier. In this event, they beat the Chino Hills Storm by a margin of 15-7 before moving on to edge past a very good So CAL Owlz team of Oxnard, CA to take this title by a score of 9-8.
Finally, they were very impressive in a major championship. They won the Southerna California USSSA Thanksgiving Super NIT held at Big League Dreams Park held in West Covina, CA. In this event, they chalked up 7 straight wins. Along their path, they smashed the Norwalk Stingrays (18-1), and then edged past a solid So CAL United team (by a 10-9 margin) before advancing to face a very solid Mid Valley Warriors team of Encino, CA in the finals. They beat the Warriors by a margin of 12-4 in the Championship game.
They are playing like a top caliber team that one might face on a top level national stage. USSSA ranks them as their #12 team in the nation according their system of Power Rankings. If they continue at this pace, look for them to be ranked as our #1 team in the Pacific/West Region. This would also put them on target for being ranke among TravelBallSelect’s top 5-10 teams in the nation once the season gets into full swing.