Plan now for 2017 Las Vegas Road Trip X men’s fastpitch tournament

Written by Bob on December 3rd, 2016

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By JESSE ORTIZ /
Tournament Director
President, So. Calif. Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL)

BURBANK, Calif. – The tenth edition of the “Las Vegas Road Trip” men’s fast pitch tournament dates has been confirmed.

The event will be held April 7-9, 2017 with the first round games starting Friday at noon, and the Championship games scheduled for 3:00 PM on Sunday; the “IF” games will immediately follow if necessary.

    PLAN EARLY AND LATE

Teams flying in and out should make plans to be ready to play early on Friday and late on Sunday in the event the brackets are running late.

While this tournament is a NAFA sanctioned event, it is run by SCIFL. Any questions regarding this tournament must go through the SCIFL Tournament Director Jesse Ortiz.

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2017 Men’s National Team Selection Camp invitees announced

Written by Bob on December 1st, 2016

USASoftball

OKLAHOMA CITY – USA Softball, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced today that 34 athletes have accepted invitations to attend the 2017 USA Softball Men’s National Team (MNT) Selection Camp to be held January 20-22, 2017 in San Diego, Calif.

These athletes will vie for 17 spots on the 2017 USA Softball National Team roster that will compete at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Men’s World Championship in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.

SELECTION CAMP INVITEES

Mark Arands (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Freddy Carmona (San Antonio, Texas)
Dan Cevette (Elmira, N.Y.)
Nate Devine (Sonora, Calif.)
Jon Gwizdala (Bay City, Mich.)
Mike Hoadley (Worcester, Mass.)
Josh Johnson (El Paso, Texas)
Trevor Kelly (Marshall, Mich.)
Michael Lewis (Amboy, Minn.)
Tony Mancha (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Nick Mullins (Toms River, N.J.)
Jeff Nowaczyk (Midland, Mich.)
Matt Palazzo (Pleasant Hill, Iowa)
Gilbert Saenz (Denver, Colo.)
Cameron Schiller (Prescott, Ariz.)
Marcus Tan (Union City, Calif.)
Matt Thornton (Thornton, Colo.)
Chase Turner (San Jose, Calif.)
Duane Weiler (Bedford, Pa.)
Derrick Zechman (Watsontown, Pa.)
Tyler Dudley (Battle Creek, Mich.)
Chris Heinline (Columbia, Mo.)
BJ Hunhoff (Harrisburg, S.D.)
Bryce Kay (Jefferson, Mo.)
Derek Martin (Stevens, Pa.)
Jonathan Lynch (Cape Girardeau, Mo.)
Jeremy Manley (Fielding, New Zealand)
Travis Nevin (Indian Brook, Nova Scotia)
Eric Ochoa (Mexicali, Mexico)
Matt Ratliff (American Fork, Utah)
Pat Sagdal (Richland, Wash.)
Tyler Bouley (Champlin, Minn.)
Kevin Castillo (Long Beach, Calif.)
Jenner Christensen (Hayward, Calif.)

 

Hard throwing Stu Morrison inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame

Written by Bob on November 29th, 2016
STUART MORRISON of Cloquet, Minn. pitched his way into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame by winning two state championships, one regional title and winning over 450 games with over 4,500 strikeouts in an 19 year career from 1963 to 1981. Courtesy Photo

STUART MORRISON of Cloquet, Minn. pitched his way into the Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame by winning two state championships, one regional title and winning over 450 games with over 4,500 strikeouts in an 19 year career from 1963 to 1981. Courtesy Photo

CLOQUET, Minn. – Softball backstops measure upwards of 20 feet high and wide. Even at those dimensions, corralling Stuart Morrison’s pitches often proved futile.

“When I first started pitching in 1963 there wasn’t a backstop in Minnesota that could hold me,” said Morrison with a laugh. “I didn’t know where the ball was going to go.”

Morrison started playing fastpitch as a sophomore in high school, only because he got cut from his high school baseball team. The Scanlon fire department invited him and several other young players to give fastpitch a try. Morrison did and was hooked.

    A PITCHER IS BORN

Although he was a good hitter, he was intrigued by what he saw happening in the circle.

    “There was a good fastpitch league in Cloquet at the time,” he said. “I saw Craig Pollard pitching and I thought, ‘if he can do that, I’m going to give it a try.’”

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Will to win boosts Craig Brown into Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame

Written by Bob on November 26th, 2016
Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame members, Dan Nessler, left, and Craig Brown, who were inducted in 2016, and Jeff Nessler, Dan's brother, who was inducted in 2004. Courtesy Photo

Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame members, Dan Nessler, left, and Craig Brown, who were inducted in 2016, and Jeff Nessler, Dan’s brother, who was inducted in 2004. Courtesy Photo

St. James, Minn. – His speed wind-milling a softball? Average. His spin to make it rise, drop or curve? Good but not great. His physical stature? Not imposing.

Craig Brown may not have had all the physical tools to become a great fastpitch pitcher. But what Brown did have speaks to the internal rather than the external.

Call it what you may: guts, drive, intense desire. As his former teammates would attest, Brown possessed the one quality all great athletes have: a relentless will to win.

No one knew Brown any better than Dennis Johnson, St. James’ softball statistician, historian, and devoted fan of the town’s fastpitch teams.

“He was an intense competitor,” said Johnson, who holds memberships in the International Softball Congress and Minnesota Softball Federation hall of fames. “He wanted to prove that he could beat the good teams and prove his skeptics wrong. That motivated him. He just hated to lose.”

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Huge discount from Blurb on 2014 NAFA World Series Book

Written by Bob on November 25th, 2016

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YUCAIPA, Calif. – Book publisher Blurb notified me that the company is offering a 50-percent discount on my books. And that includes NAFA Men’s Fastpitch 2014 World Series that I wrote after the 2014 World Series in Moline, Illinois.

The book is in magazine format (8 1/2 x 11) and contains 147 pages of feature stories, color photos, Hall of Fame players, and ALL five divisional championship game stories (AA-Major, AA, A-Major, A, and 23-Under).

But Blurb is only extending this offer until Nov. 28, so if you want to order this book, you must act now.

I can order the book for you, and you can send me a check as reimbursement. I can have it shipped to your address.

The regular price is $40, but has been dropped to $25 (which includes $5 for shipping and handling).

If you want to place an order, send me an email confirmation at: botto3@verizon.net. Again, the deadline for the discount is Nov. 28. You can buy it after that date, but at full price.

  • To see the book on the Blurb website, go to: 2014 NAFA World Series
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    8th Annual Amigos Men’s Fastpitch Tournament Results

    Written by Bob on November 18th, 2016

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    Courtesy of Fred Williams, Ricky Sivilla, Marcus Tan

    HAYWARD, Calif. – The 8th Annual Amigos men’s Fastpitch Tournament was a huge success with teams and players from South America, Canada and the United States competing.

    Led by the pitching of Samuel Villalvazo, Mexico’s Electrica del Pacifico defeated Caballos (Calif.), 10-0, to take the championship, Sunday, Nov. 13 at Alden E. Oliver Sports Complex in Hayward.

    The tournament that featured 17 top-caliber teams, was coordinated by tournament director Fred Williams, with the assistance of Ricky Sivilla and Marcus Tan.

      SCORES FROM SUNDAY’S SINGLE ELIMINATION WINNERS BRACKET

    Team Tijuana(9) vs All Star Auto(3)
    WP Alexis Corona, LP Bobby Alvara
    CR Portland Bartels (5) vs KW Stockton Pirates (1) (8 innings)
    WP Jorge Segura, LP Brian Palmer
    J&B Bombers(8) vs Marin Pirates(0)
    WP Tony Mancha , LP Brandon Sharer
    Makule (2) vs Rio Grande Alliance(0)
    WP Shawn Koster, LP?

    QUARTERFINALS
    J&B Bombers (7) vs East Bay Bashers (0)
    WP Devon McCullough , LP Ramon Jones
    CR Portland Bartels(0) vs Electrica del Pacifico (8)
    WP Samuel Villalvazo, LP Juan Potolicchio
    A’1 Construction(3) vs Team Tijuana (4)
    WP Enoc Rodriguez , LP Caleb Keeshig
    Caballos (4) vs Makule(0)
    WP Derek Mayson , LP Shawn Koster

    SEMIFINALS
    Caballos (4) vs J&B Bombers(2)
    WP Derek Mayson , LP Tony Mancha
    Team Tijuana (2) vs Eléctrica del Pacifico(7)
    WP Adan Due?as , LP Alexis Corona

    CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
    Eléctrica del Pacifico(10) vs Caballos(0)
    WP Samuel Villalvazo, LP Derek Mayson

    TOURNAMENT AWARDS
    MV-Player Edgar “Pipilo” Lopez
    MV-Pitcher Samuel Villalvazo

    CONSOLATION GAME
    Rio Grande Alliance(10) vs NW Braves(7)

     

    Farmersville Haymakers overcome slow start, finish strong with Elkland and NAFA World Series titles

    Written by Bob on November 3rd, 2016
    2016 FARMERSVILLE HAYMAKERS, 2016 NAFA World Series, AA-Division Champions: The team includes James Gilbert, Dustin Rutt, Fernando Lombardo, Brandon Rutt, Justin Zimmerman, Kliff Zimmerman, Jerlin Rutt, Duane Weiler, Rich Sauder, Phil Zimmerman, Jake Rutt, Logan Rutt, and coach Merlin High. Courtesy Photo

    2016 FARMERSVILLE HAYMAKERS, 2016 NAFA World Series, AA-Division Champions: The team includes James Gilbert, Dustin Rutt, Fernando Lombardo, Brandon Rutt, Justin Zimmerman, Kliff Zimmerman, Jerlin Rutt, Duane Weiler, Rich Sauder, Phil Zimmerman, Jake Rutt, Logan Rutt, Matt Sheaffer and coach Merlin High. Courtesy Photo

    “The beginning of year it took us awhile to bond as a team and we weren’t playing the best, but by the end of the year we meshed as a team and finished out strong. It was a fun ride!” – Haymakers coach Merlin High

    EPHRATA, PA – Average. Ordinary. Mediocre. Not the kind of tags competitive athletes or teams want to be labeled with. It means you’re OK, but you’ve done nothing to distinguish yourself.

    That was the kind of season the Farmersville Haymakers were having, hovering around .500, finishing third at 13-12 in the Stevens’ Northend Softball League, third in the league playoffs…you get the picture.

    As coach Merlin High said, at the start of the year, “we weren’t playing the best.”

    But as the sporting cliché goes: it’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts. And what a finish, what a stunning turnaround the Haymakers pulled off.

      WEILER CLICKS, WINNING STREAK STARTS

    And it all started at the NAFA World Series in North Mankato, Minnesota where the Haymakers delivered some big blows to go 5-0 and win the AA-Division championship.

    “Things started to click at the start of the NAFA World Series,” said player / pitcher Justin Zimmerman.

    And in fastpitch, “to click” starts with pitching. And with Duane Weiler as a late- season addition, the Haymakers fortunes shot upward like a NASA rocket.

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    Getting the great “Nellie” into the Minnesota Sports Federation Hall of Fame.

    Written by Bob on November 1st, 2016

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    HASTINGS, Minn. – When I was 17 years old in 1967, I pitched against one of Minnesota’s all-time best pitchers, Walt “Nellie” Nelson of Hastings, Minn. Nellie pitched Loesch’s Bar of Hastings to back-to-back state championships in 1964 and ’65; a second place in ’62, and fourth in ’66. (See related story: Remembering my idol, Walt “Nellie” Nelson

    When my good friend Craig Brown was nominated and subquently inducted into the Hall of Fame, Oct. 29, I thought: surely Nellie must have been inducted. But in searching through the MSF records, I found he was not.

    So, I contacted the Hastings Star Gazette newspaper to run a brief asking anyone connected with that team to contact me. Low and behold, Steve Nelson, Nellie’s son called me. He had some sad news, though. His father passed away in 2003 at the age of 71.

    But on the bright side, we are on a mission to get Nellie inducted into the MSF Hall of Fame in the next round of induction in 2018. Fortunately, some of the Losche’s guys he played with are still with us: Tom Niederkorn, Tom Swanson and Don Amy, among others.

    So, they are going to help piece together a resume of Nellie’s career.

    What I’m asking is, if any of you Minnesota players on this group played in the era of the early 1960s to 1972 when Walt Nelson retired, and you remember playing with or against him, and can furnish information of a particular game or tournament or league in which you recall his skill, please contact me. Email: botto3@verizon.net.

    Unfortunately, career records are not kept for many players, so it will take recalling “memories” of Nellie for a chance to get him inducted. We’ve got two years to get this done, but as we sadly know, we are losing more and more of us older guys as the years pass by. And then, of course, the history of a player of team is lost forever.

    That’s why I’m stressing the urgency to do this as quickly as possible. Thank you.

     

    Casey salutes its fast-pitch softball heritage with museum

    Written by Bob on October 5th, 2016

    BOB FALLSTROM – Herald & Review Community News Editor
    Originally published Sep 9, 2008

    DECATUR, IL – The wonderful world of fast-pitch softball was remembered at the Casey Popcorn Festival over Labor Day weekend,

    Fast-pitch softball was my favorite during 40 years of sports reporting. I was hooked as a skinny lad of 10 while chasing foul balls at the airport diamond in Dixon, my hometown. I received 10 cents for outmaneuvering several other boys to corral the foul ball and return it.

    This was while my uncle was playing in a league game. He was a big guy, a catcher. They called him Fatty.

    Read Fallstroms’ story about Casey Softball Museum and Hall of Honor

     

    From ‘rag tags,’ Casey Truckers reach ASA Hall of Fame

    Written by Bob on October 5th, 2016

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    Journal Gazette & Times Courier
    BY BRIAN NIELSEN / Sports Editor
    Originally published Jan. 25, 2009

    CASEY, IL – Even before the surprised opponents had to put money where their doubts were, former Casey Trucker Sam White knew what they were thinking.

    “We were just a bunch of rag tags,” White said. “We got in that tournament at Terre Haute. Nobody had heard much about us. We beat Wayne Meyers’ team for the tournament championship. It was a money tournament. If I remember right it took them a while to come up with the money. I think we beat them 1-0. We kind of fooled them. They didn’t think we could beat them. I think they had to take up a collection to get the money.”

    Before long, men’s fastpitch softball powers were not so surprised by the success of the small town guys of Casey, a team whose journeys eventually included a 1979 trip to Stockton, Calif., for a the Amateur Softball Association (ASA Class A National Championship) nationals.

    Casey also played host to softball’s version of college basketball’s NIT – the National ASA Invitational.

    “That’s Joe Snedeker,” White said. “Casey was a hotbed for softball back then and Joe Snedeker was behind all that.”

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