A rainy start gave way to blue skies and sunshine as over 280 of the top adult slow-pitch softball teams in Texas gathered in Bryan-College Station on May 5-6 for the 33rd Annual Budweiser Softball Festival. The award-winning event again proved why it continues to be the most popular softball tournament in Texas – fun, friends, food, competition, camaraderie and plenty of ice cold Budweiser beer.
The Budweiser Softball Festival began in 1986 with just 24 teams playing at the then-brand new Bryan Regional Athletic Complex in Bryan, Texas. But the event has grown to become the largest regular season USSSA adult slow-pitch tournament in the nation. Seventy-five percent of the Texas population lives within a two-and-a-half hour drive of Bryan-College Station, which makes it convenient for all the top teams to gather in one place on the same weekend.
Games were played on 17 fields at five complexes – Veterans Park, Central Park and Bee Creek Park in College Station and the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex and Haswell/Lions Park in Bryan. The tournament almost didn’t happen this year as rain showers passed through the area Friday afternoon causing the Men’s 35 & Over Division and the popular $1,000 Home Run Derby to be cancelled Friday night. But maintenance crews got the field playable by late morning on Saturday, then games ran non-stop around-the-clock until concluding late Sunday night.
“I continue to be both humbled and amazed by the consistent support that the teams of Texas show this tournament every year,” said tournament founder and USSSA Vice-President Greg Huchingson. “A lot of hard work and support from many people goes into making this event happen and when it all comes together and runs as smoothly as it did this year, it is very gratifying.”
Huchingson also credited Ron Longoria and Alan Bingham of Jack Hilliard Distributing Company, the Central Texas supplier of Anheuser-Busch products, for their continued support of the tournament. The Bryan-College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Parks Departments of the Cities of Bryan and College Station also helped make the event a huge success.
The highest division of the tournament was Men’s B/C, which drew 33 teams and was played at Veterans Park. The bracket featured three B teams, who were bracketed together, and 30 C teams. Defending champion GVMS/OldSchool/Steel/24-7 Softball from Houston was one of the three B teams entered, along with Playoff Performance/Goons from Pearland and Homebridge Financial from Colorado Springs, Co.
In the top half of the bracket, Big Apple/NYPD from Ft. Worth came out smoking to defeat Live Action from Pasadena (13-4), NTX Brewcrew from Weatherford (17-7), Thrive 254/Big Daddy Auctioneers from Gatesville (17-7) and GameOver/FindMyCompany from Austin (19-14) to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket. In the bottom half of the bracket, Whut It Dew from Austin knocked off Thundercat Gang Reloaded from Houston (20-8), Famous/A3AS from DeSoto (18-8) and Oilers/Allstate/Mojo/Southern Barrels from Beaumont (22-20) to set up a showdown with defending champion GVMS. In a thrilling game, Whut It Dew pulled out a one-run victory (17-16) to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket.
In a classic North vs. South showdown, Big Apple/NYPD clobbered Whut It Dew (21-7) to advance to the championship game. Whut It Dew dropped to the loser’s bracket and beat their cross-town rival GameOver (14-13) to get another shot at Big Apple/NYPD in the championship. Whut It Dew took the first game (17-8) then completed the double-dipping by winning game two (17-7) to claim a title in back-to-back years. In 2017, Whut It Dew took first place in the Men’s D division of the Budweiser Softball Festival.
The champion Whut It Dew finished with a 7-1 record while runnerup Big Apple/NYPD came in at 5-2. Game Over placed third at 5-2, GVMS/OldSchool/Steel was fourth at 6-2, and Playoff Performance/Goons tied with hometown favorite Dragon Wranglers from Bryan for fifth place. The rest of the Top 10 consisted of Oilers/Allstate/Mojo/Southern Barrels and T.L.S./3xtreme Sports from Wylie tied for seventh place, and Dirty Vegas Sports from Beaumont, Merica from Conroe, Washouts/Paul Ryan Windows from Spring and Thrive 254 all tied for ninth.
Brandon Cortez of Whut It Dew was named Most Valuable Player of Men’s B/C, while Ryan Tomasi of Big Apple/NYPD was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Vinny Segura, Sean Moriarity, Mike Cruz and Eric Cervantes, of Whut It Dew; Michael Holmes, Jacob Pokluda and Nick Reese, of Big Apple/NYPD; Benny Guerrero, Joel English and Frank Guerrero, of Game Over; and Kyle Tomlinson and Benino Pruneda, of GVMS/OldSchool.
In the Men’s D division, there were 64 teams and it was played primarily at Veterans Park, with only a few loser’s bracket games played at BRAC. Just like the Men’s B/C bracket, one team apiece from North Texas and South Texas emerged from their respective halves of the bracket.
In the top half, Bad Apples from Dallas-Fort Worth posted one-run wins over their first three opponents in Gotham Knights from Ft. Worth (15-14), Frank’s Country Store from Bryan (13-12) and Panty Droppers from Charleston, South Carolina (10-9). Bad Apples then beat Plan B from Irving (14-12) and H-Town Knockers from Houston (16-9) to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket. In the bottom half, 8th Wonder/BaaBaaBrew/The Company from Richmond defeated Ol’ Skool Softball from San Antonio (16-11), STX Disciples/Team Tayden from Katy (17-9), Team Run It/GMB from Houston (11-9), Scared Hitless from Houston (13-4) and Hard Luck from Corpus Christi (23-8) to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket.
In the King Seat game, 8th Wonder knocked off Bad Apples (16-6) sending them to the loser’s bracket. Bad Apples had a tough struggle with the Hooliganz from Houston before winning a close game (14-12) to advance to the championship. But well-rested 8th Wonder held to win the title (15-9).
The champion 8th Wonder/BaaBaaBrew/The Company finished the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record, while runnerup Bad Apples checked in at 5-2. Amazingly, Bad Apples only out-scored their seven opponents 101-100 which illustrates their ability to prevail in close games. Hooliganz finished third at 7-2, Plan B finished fourth at 6-2, while Hard Luck and the H-Town Knockers tied for fifth place, both at 4-2.
The rest of the Top 10 in the massive 64-team division consisted of Texas Natives from Houston and Primetime from Liberty tied for seventh place, and Fully Loaded from Combine, SETX Inglorious Batters from Beaumont, Scared Hitless from Houston and Team Run It/GMB from Houston all tied for ninth.
Brian Rike of 8th Wonder was named Most Valuable Player of Men’s D, while Gabe Anzar was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Travis Keel, Ryan Dalton, Matt Parker and E.J. Zalewski, of 8th Wonder; Tommy Schreck, Josh Vander Heiden and Aaron Light, of Bad Apples; Jeffrey Jordan Nolan, Albert Castaneda and Christopher Camp, of Hooliganz; and Richard Burley and Ross Blondin, of Plan B.
The largest bracket of the tournament was Men’s E, with 87 teams. Games were played at the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex and Central Park. Space Monkey Mafia made the long trip from Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the tournament and made it worth their while by winning first place. Space Monkey Mafia won their opening two games in style over Dilly Dilly from Galveston (14-5) and STX Regulators from Weslaco (16-1). Things got tight in the next two as they narrowly defeated MoneyBall from Waller (11-10) and Manac USA from Houston (9-8). Next, Space Monkey Mafia knocked off Dew Whut? From Burleson (12-3) to advance to the finals of the winner’s bracket where they beat All Washed Up from Houston (15-8).
All Washed Up came into the tournament with a 10-8 record on the season. Their best finish of the year had been a tie for fifth place at the Official Budfest Warmup and tie for seventh place at South Texas Winter Worlds. But at Budweiser, All Washed Up defeated the B-CS Jokers from Bryan (13-3), Goodfellas from Corpus Christi (16-1), Stealth from Houston (14-10), CTX Cash/Berserk Athletics from Austin (8-7) and SmasHers/GSG Sportswear from San Antonio (14-2) to advance to the winner’s bracket finals.
In the King Seat game, Space Monkey Mafia jumped out early to take the victory (15-8). All Washed Up dropped to the loser’s bracket and crushed Dew Whut? (18-2) to advance to the championship game. In the first game, All Washed Up won the rematch against Space Monkey Mafia (14-6) to force an “If” game, but Space Monkey Mafia rallied to win the rubber match (18-4) and took the first place trophy with them back to Louisiana.
The champion Space Monkey Mafia finished with a 7-1 record, while runnerup All Washed Up came in at 7-2. Third place finisher Dew Whut? also went 7-2 while fourth place High Life from League City went 6-2, and MoneyBall and SmasHers/GSG Sportswear tied for fifth place. Manac USA from Houston and Dirty Tribe from Baytown tied for seventh place and No Clue from Missouri City, BroSox/ArkFabrication from Burleson, CTX Cash from Austin and STX Regulators from Weslaco all tied for ninth.
Other top finishers in the 87-team bracket were Texas Royals from Houston, Black Ops from Tomball, Heavy’s Bar-B-Que from D’Hanis and Yank-Deez/BBNG from New Braunfels tied for 13th place, and New Breed/KD Logo from San Antonio, Stealth from Houston, Austin Hitmen from Austin, 2 Pump Chumps from Texas City, Los Mismos from San Antonio, Sealy KC Steel Knights from Sealy, STX Juggernauts from San Antonio and T.A. Empire from Central Texas all tied for 17th.
Tanner Crosby of SpaceMonkeyMafia was named Most Valuable Player of Men’s E, while Emilio Estrada of All Washed Up was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Jack Palermo, Steve Marchand, Chase Babin and Gage Wilkinson, of SpaceMonkeyMafia; Jarrod Harmon, Chris Darmond and Taylor Turley, of All Washed Up; Matthew Davis, Tony Sharpless and Andrew Sharpless, of Dew Whut?; and Waldo Velez and Shayne Witt, of High Life.
The two Women’s divisions were played at Bee Creek Park in College Station on Saturday, with Women’s Upper moving to nearby Central Park on Sunday. There were 15 teams in the Women’s A/B/C and 19 teams in Women’s D/E.
In the Women’s Upper, Texas Sports/Armor Gel/Mizuno from Spring came into the tournament as one of the top teams in the nation. The Class A team was 18-2 on the year with their only two losses coming by one run each in games against out-of-state opponents. Despite being at a disadvantage of having to spot runs every game, manager Kenny Scobee’s squad defeated Do Work from San Antonio (14-9), Lady Oops from Houston (10-4) and Rub & Tug BBQ from Austin (12-11) to advance to the championship game undefeated.
Famous Freaks/Powerhouse Sportz from Denton won their first two games over Suicide Squad/Team Tayden from Houston (9-6) and Suicide Squad from Yoakum (13-3) before losing to Rub & Tug BBQ (10-9). Famous Freaks dropped to the loser’s bracket and beat Ultra from Austin (6-3), Tx Queens from Dallas (8-6) and Rub & Tug BBQ in a rematch (15-3) to advance to the championship game. Thanks to their three-run spot, Famous Freaks won the first game (5-4) and then completed the double-dipping by taking the “If” game (5-1) to claim the crown.
The champion Famous Freaks finished the tournament with a 7-1 record, while runnerup Texas Sports/Mizuno came in at 3-2. Rub & Tug BBQ took 3rd with a 3-2 record, Tx Queens was fourth at 4-2 and Lady Oops and Ultra tied for fifth. The rest of the Top 10 was Lady Whackers from Austin and Do Work tied for seventh, and Texas Elite from League City, Lackland Lady Warhawks from San Antonio, Suicide Squad from Yoakum and Suicide Squad/Team Tayden from Houston all tied for ninth.
Destani Linamen of Famous Freaks was named Most Valuable Player of the Women’s Upper, while Wesley Guerrero of Texas Sports/Mizuno was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Jennifer Hull, Jordan Walters, Kim Whitaker and Jana Melton, of Famous Freaks; Terra Gonzales-Brown, Mya McRae and Courtney Rigamonti, of Texas Sports/Mizuno; Shelby Savony, Ashley Verver and Riz Ruvalcaba, of Rub & Tug BBQ; and DeMiracle Biggs and Cynthia Williams, of Tx Queens.
In the Women’s D/E bracket, Lady YNK from Rosenberg posted wins over Hell On Wheels from Crosby (14-1), LadyWorthIt/PermianPipeline/S2N from Houston (7-0), Lady Blue Jays from San Antonio (7-5) and NTX Crush from Dallas (2-0) to advance to the championship game undefeated. NTX Crush had opened with wins over Lady Tribe from Alvin (16-0), Bat $hit Crazy from San Antonio (17-5) and Lady Hard Shots from Houston (19-6) before losing to Lady YNK.
After the loss, NTX Crush dropped to the loser’s bracket and crushed Lady Hard Shots again (19-0) to set up another North vs. South championship matchup. Then, just like Men’s Upper and Women’s Upper, the team coming out of the loser’s bracket pulled a two-scooping with NTX Crush winning the first championship game (11-4) then the “If” game (11-3) to claim the crown.
The champion NTX Crush finished with a 6-1 record, while runnerup Lady YNK came in at 4-2. Lady Hard Shots took third place with a 4-2 record, Lady Blue Jays finished fourth with a 3-2 record, and Bat $hit Crazy and Rockford Peaches from Arlington tied for fifth place. The rest of the Top 10 included Absolut Mess from Porter and Lady Worth It tied for seventh, and Eye Candy from Killeen, Fully Loaded from Seagoville, Hottmess from Corpus Christi and Lady Tribe from Baytown all tied for ninth.
Brianne Wojtowicz of NTX Crush was named Most Valuable Player of the Women’s Lower, while Shelly Walker of Lady YNK was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Candy Lopez, Gemma Lopez, Taylor Bowers and Paula Coleman, of NTX Crush; Shelby Cannon, Deborah Barta and Danielle Mendiola, of Lady YNK; Maries Ruiz, Nicole Peake and Patricia Macias, of Lady Hard Shots; and Alexandra Benavides and Rebecca Avila, of Lady Blue Jays.
The two Co-ed divisions were also divided into separate brackets, with 12 teams in the Mixed B/C and a whopping 36 teams in the Mixed D/E. Games were played at Haswell/Lions Park in Bryan and Central Park in College Station. In the Mixed Upper,
Escobar Body Shop/3xtreme Sports from Carrollton came into the tournaments as one of the top Mixed B teams in the nation, having won first place at both the huge North vs. South XII in Houston and the equally prestigious Tripp Roth Classic in Louisiana.
Escobar Body Shop posted wins over La Onda from San Antonio (18-17), Tha Outsiderz from Sugar Land (9-8) and GTX-Hustle from Galveston (12-8) to advance to the championship game undefeated. GTX-Hustle had beaten FSU from Arlington (12-0), defending champion Coed Connection from San Antonio (20-15) and Suicide Squad from LaGrange (16-1) before losing to Escobar. GTX-Hustle dropped to the loser’s bracket and eliminated Too Live Crew/VSP from Baytown (14-10) to set up yet another North. vs. South championship game. And just like three other divisions, GTX-Hustle came out of the loser’s bracket to double-dip Escobar by winning the first game (14-2) and then the “If” game (14-4) to capture the championship.
The champions GTX-Hustle finished the tournament with a 6-1 record and runnerup Escobar Body Shop came in at 3-2. Too Live Crew took third place with a 3-2 record, Tha Outsiderz placed fourth at 3-2 while Coed Connection and Suicide Squad tied for fifth. Platinum Team Sports from Houston and La Onda from San Antonio tied for seventh.
Aaron Cervenka of GTX-Hustle was named Most Valuable Player of the Mixed Upper, while Lindsay Fallen of Escobar Body Shop was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Sean Hughes, Faith Barajas, Shelby Fellers and Matthews Ferguson, of GTX-Hustle; Brandon Young, Joshua Trimm and Vanessa Vice, of Escobar Body Shop; Ethan Maresh, Brian Bohanon and Frank Cruz, of Too Live Crew; and Larry Juarez and Amanda Lacourse, of Tha Outsiderz.
In the Mixed D/E bracket, H4B/Margie’s Bar from Stockdale went undefeated through six games to capture the championship. H4B defeated Kings & Queen from Holland (17-10), defending champion Milk Duds from Chester (16-12), Infamous from Harker Heights (14-9), Amigos De Tu Mama from (McAllen) and Faith Ain’t No Joke from Dallas (10-3) to advance to the championship game. After losing to H4B, Amigos De Tu Mama dropped to the loser’s bracket and eliminated Bosworth/Texas Twisted from Kerrville (8-6), Shots Fired from Austin (16-11) and Faith Ain’t No Joke (14-11) to make it all the way to the finals. But H4B/Margie’s Bar held on to win the championship game (13-7).
The champion H4B/Margie’s Bar finished the tournament at 6-0 and runnerup Amigos De Tu Mama came in at 6-2. Faith Ain’t No Joke came in third at 4-2, Shots Fired was fourth at 7-2 and Bosworth/Texas twisted and Overlooked from Stafford tied for fifth. The rest of the Top 10 consisted of Odor’s Fight Club from Austin and Show Time from Stephenville tied for seventh, and Cobra Kai from Edinburg, Partycrashers from Galveston, Ath-Elites/Cen-Tex Adult Sports from Whitney and Infamous from Harker heights all tied for ninth.
Pete Vela of H4B/Margie’s Bar was named Most Valuable Player of the Mixed Lower, while Francisco Martinez of Amigos De Tu Mama was the Gold Glove winner. Others named to the All-Tournament team were Sammy Perez, Derrick Sassenhagen, Stephanie Arguello and Lauro Flores, of H4B/Margie’s Bar; Noe Calvillo, Mona Ramirez and Jose Aguilar, of Amigos De Tu Mama; Lindy Kennedy, Brandon Benay and Michael Blevins, of Faith Ain’t No Joke; Drew Myers and Kerry Kreitman, of Shots Fired.
A lot of coordination goes into putting on an event of this size. The Tournament Director at Veterans Park was Roy Dean, while the Umpire-In-Chief was Ben Templeton. The Tournament Director at the Bryan Regional Athletic Complex was Scott Duffy, while the UIC was Phillip Wheeler. The Tournament Director and UIC at Bee Creek Park was Bennie Scott; the Tournament Director and UIC at Central Park was Rene Hinojosa; and the Tournament Director and UIC at Haswell/Lions Park was Jeff Neill.
The Parks & Recreation Departments from the Cities of Bryan and College Station got the fields in excellent playing condition after the rain on Friday and maintained them for the duration of the tournament. And the gigantic crew of quality USSSA umpires from across Texas pitched in to help make the event a huge success.