Consistency is a valued trait in any athlete, and it’s also something widely appreciated in the world of fastpitch clubs, as organizations work harder every year to increase their national profile.
The final results from US Club Rankings for the 2016 season have been released; this is one of America’s most thorough and balanced assessments of team performance from January through mid-September. Both 18u and 16 results have been issued, as well as the inaugural posting of 14u results through US Club Rankings.
Nine of the top 10 18u teams from last year return to that level for 2016, with Firecrackers-Rico taking the top spot after finishing fourth in 2015.
These rankings blend a variety of factors, including results from tournaments, voting from coaches, and the historical ability of teams to place athletes into college programs. Extracting accurate results through the swirl of events from across the nation is no small task, but US Club Rankings identifies more refinements with each season.
“We are always evolving — as we move forward, participation by teams during the voting process keeps improving, and this year is no exception as we had the most ballots since our start in 2011,” said fastpitch rankings coordinator Alyson Morgenstern. “Our largest obstacle is making sure the correct finishes lie within a team’s profile; teams can help by insisting ALL tournament producers and governing bodies are consistent in listing teams in the bracket and order of finish. The goal is to ensure the right team gets the credit for on-field performance, no matter where they play.”
Visit links for full rankings:
Here’s a deeper look at the 18u top 10:
- Firecrackers-Rico (CA): Took the title at Premier National Championship; part of their impressive run included placing fifth in both TC/USA Nationals and TCS Fireworks Super 48.
- So Cal Athletics-Richardson: Finishing third in 2015, this team won the Independence Day tourney in Boulder, CO., and took fifth at Premier.
- Orange County Batbusters (CA): Last year’s rankings champs stayed in range by winning USSSA Elite Select and placing fifth at Independence Day.
- Beverly Bandits (IL): Just a minor step from No. 2 last year, the Bandits were fifth at Independence Day and seventh at Premier.
- Birmingham Thunderbolts (AL): Up from eighth in 2015, the ‘Bolts placed third at Premier and ninth at Independence Day.
- East Cobb Bullets (GA): Up a spot from a year ago; they won the USA Junior Olympic Cup, took third at Independence Day and 13th at TC/USA.
- Corona Angels (CA): Fifth a year ago, they got big points from placing third at Independence Day and 17th at Premier.
- Texas Blaze Gold-Slimp: This group vaulted up from 19th place in 2015; they won the TC/USA event and placed second at Independence Day.
- Texas Bombers Gold-Smith: Up a spot from last year, they won the Fireworks Super 48 and placed third at USSSA Elite Select.
- Texas Glory-Shelton: Down four spots from 2015, they took second at USSSA Elite Select and fifth at Fireworks Super 48.
Your top five teams in 16u are:
T1. East Cobb Bullets-Biele: Boosted by their title run at the Independence Day tourney; also took seventh at TC/USA and Premier.
T1. Beverly Bandits-Conroy: Muscled into a tie for first place, thanks to winning Premier and taking ninth at Independence Day.
3. Texas Bombers
4. AZ Suncats
5. Tulsa Elite 00-Jacks
And the top five teams in 14u:
- So Cal Athletics Mercado/Smith: This squad gave up one run in seven games in its march through Premier Nationals, and the Athletics went 11-0 in winning the TC Sparkler Juniors event.
- Tampa Mustangs: Tied for third at Sparkler Juniors.
- Birmingham Thunderbolts-Dorsett: Tied for third at Sparkler Juniors.
- CA Suncats: Second at Sparkler Juniors.
- Orange County Batbusters-Campbell: Winner of Broomfield tournament.
About the US Club Rankings
The rankings blend a variety of factors, including results from tournaments, votes from coaches, and the historical ability of programs to place athletes into college programs. The National Points System (on-field performance) drives 70 percent of the poll; balloting covers 28 percent, and the College Placement Index has the remaining 2 percent.