Hey, softball fans this week’s article is going to address a bit of different topic. We are going to talk about one of the best players in the game today. We are going to talk about the current Male Athlete of the year, Dale “Bubba” Brungardt.
Dale “Bubba” Brungardt, USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch Athlete of the Year 2018. On this honor Dale said “Just being on Team USA and being able to wear those letters across my chest means the world to me,” “I’ve been truly blessed with great people around me and in my corner to be able to make that possible for the last four years now. Receiving an award like this and to join the company of previous winners is an incredible honor. I’ve had some of the best guidance any player could receive from some of the truly great ambassadors of our game. Playing the game the right way and for the good of the team has been instilled in me, so to be able to receive an individual award like this is very humbling. I want to thank the USA Softball family for such a prestigious honor and Wilson/DeMarini for supporting me since day one.” This past year Brungardt played every game in the Border Battle IX, and going a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate to help, lead team USA to the win.
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Recently in a phone interview with Dale, I had the great pleasure of getting to know him and the wonderful example he is of a true-blue softball player. He mentioned several times that, as softball players, we need to remember where we came from in our sport. Respect those that came before us, those that showed us the way. Dale specifically mentioned players like Jean Shoppe, Dan Smith, Mike Macenko and others that many of the games new players should pattern their mannerism of play after.
I asked him about all the tournaments he plays in a year and wondered which is his favorite? Dale said, “That’s a tough one because there are so many great tournaments out there.” Dale mentioned, of course, Nationals and Border Battle, but said his favorite, because of the nature of the tournament being “Old School,” is The Smoky Mountain Classic. That’s mainly because of how involved the community gets into this tournament. “For the town it is not just a softball tournament. It is an event.”
Dale gave some great advice for those young players with ambitions to move up in the softball ranks. “Keep your game simple. Look at how the older people you play with are playing the game and how they respect their teammates. Remember that your personal accolades are nice, but you have teammates to think of as well. Hitting a 300-foot home runs looks great and gets the crowd going but sometimes it is not the right time. Think about what could happen if you have a hitter on deck. That one-run could become two runs. Work hard and dedicate yourself to always being the best you can be.”
Regarding workouts, Dale’s advice to young players is to keep flexible and not try to get too big. Having large muscles looks good but can slow you down. You want to stay strong but be flexible as well, having a good combination will allow you to be able to run down balls and still hit the towering homeruns.
One of the things Dale enjoys about being involved with DeMarini is his work with the research and development team. As part of the new D-Lab effort with DeMarini’s Material Science Division, Dale has been part of creating two great new slowpitch bats that have just hit the market, the Vizion and Nautalai. “It’s the way DeMarini bats are going to be made going forward, with players completely involved in design, testing, and data gathering, helping new products get to market faster,” Dale said.
The Vizion bat Dale was involved with through D-Lab has DeMarini’s Adjustable on Demand (AOD) technology that gives players the ability to interchange end caps with variable weights, allowing for fully-customizable distributions of bat weight. The result is a bat with a swing weight and feel that can be optimized for each individual player.
He also was part of D-Lab’s innovation of the Natulai, DeMarini’s first bat with Continuous Fiber Barrel Construction, that he and DeMarini believe will be a game-changer. The new wall construction method provides more consistent performance throughout the life of the bat and provides less variation from bat to bat in the manufacturing process. It’s also lighter thanks to the continuous fiber, and is hot out of the wrapper.
Dale proudly notes that these DeMarini bats are designed and assembled in the USA. To learn more about DeMarini’s D-Lab that Dale is part of, visit www.demarini,com and look under the Explore button.
Dale promised he would send some footage of some demo days that he’s going to be a part of, so readers you have some solid reviews coming your way about the new DeMarini product line. As for this writer, I cannot wait to hit them.
I’ll wrap this up by saying that Dale is a complete gentleman. He took time out of his busy day to talk to me and pass on some great words of wisdom not just to the young players but us older players as well. He reminded us how important our game is and how to have a great time at playing the best game in the sun. Dale, here is to another great year in the sun. Best of luck with all your Team USA events and with spending time with your family.