September 1st, 2017

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Successful season earns Yusef Davis a spot on USA Softball’s Pan American fastpitch team

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Possessing speed, quick hands, an aggressive style and commitment to the game, YUSEF DAVIS, JR., 23, of Long Beach, Calif. is well on his way to becoming a star in men’s fastpitch. Here he is seen playing for CR Bartels Farms of Portland, Ore. that won the NAFA AA-Major World Series, Aug. 11, 2017. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

LONG BEACH, Calif. – During the week, Yusef Davis, Jr. can be found near his Long Beach home either in the gym, at the batting cages, or engaged in any kind of sweat-filled labor that will help improve his fastpitch softball skills.

During most weekends, however, he’s anywhere but home.

A search could find him in fastpitch havens such as Wisconsin, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania or Michigan competing in high-caliber fastpitch tournaments.

Only 23 and in his fourth year playing fastpitch, the demand for his talents just keeps on growing.

    TWO GREAT TOURNAMENTS

Prime examples: During the NAFA World Series, he was in Fargo, North Dakota helping CR Bartel Farms, Portland, Ore. win the AA-Major World Series.

And soon after the championship game ended, he was off to Grand Rapids, Michigan to join his Bear Bottom Haymakers of Ephrata, Penn. for the most exclusive of open-caliber tournaments – the International Softball Congress World Tournament.

Those two tournaments were exhilarating for Davis, who possesses great speed both in the outfield and at the plate, and who is rapidly becoming recognized as one of the up-and-coming young stars of the game.

“The experience playing in the ISC and NAFA was breathtaking,” said Davis, who throws and bats left-sided. “Once you realize you’re on the same ballfield as some of the best players in the world, you just can’t help but be proud and humbled.”

CR Bartels swept through the NAFA AA-Major undefeated at 5-0, and the Bear Bottom Haymakers finished ninth in the 24-team ISC World Tournament at 4-2.

Bear Bottom Haymakers manager, Merlin High, was pleased how Davis played the entire year and at the ISC World Tournament for his squad.

“He’s a great defensive player, one of the best who ever played for me,” said High. “His speed is unmatched by anyone in the game, and he’s a good hitter too with some of those hits coming from his speed beating out ground balls. He’s a great teammate, upbeat and positive. I’m hoping he comes back with us next year.”

    SWEAT & TOIL TO BE BETTER

Though he played well and had a successful season, Davis acknowledges that there are areas that need improvement.

“If I could improve in two areas, it would be pitch selection when I’m in the batter’s box,” he said, “and getting even better jumps on the ball in the outfield. During the off season, I’m going to hit the batting cages even more and work on the fundamentals of hitting, and keep working on my slapping and bunting.”

But the off-season workouts will have to wait for he has one very important and prestigious tournament remaining: The World Baseball Softball Confederation X Pan American Fastpitch Championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sept. 15-24.

    PROUD FATHER, SEASONED MENTOR

When Davis got the word that he had been selected to the 15-man roster, he was ecstatic, and he called the one person he knew would be delighted about this honor.

“I called my dad and told him I had made the team,” Davis said. “I know it meant a lot to him. And it means so much for me to represent my country in the sport I have so much passion about.”

Leading up to the Pan Am games, Davis will be consulting with a veteran of USA Softball: Kevin Castillo, who is a teammate of Davis on Those Guys and Patricia’s Mexican restaurant ball clubs from Long Beach.

Castillo, and his father, Paul Castillo, were instrumental in bringing Davis into the sport and nurturing his development.

“Kevin’s always pushing me to be better,” Davis said, “I’ve gotten a lot of help from him on hitting lessons and strategy on defense. Just the confidence he gives me to play at my best is what’s so meaningful.”

    REACHING HIGH, SETTING GOALS

Though he’s still learning, growing, and going through the trials and successes that the sport both challenges and rewards, Davis has set some short-range and long-range goals as well.

In the immediate future, he wants to help USA Softball win the Pan American games, and then if it can be arranged, he would like to take a second trip to New Zealand for a season of “down-under” fastpitch with the Waitakere Bears.

And as for long-range?

“I would love to run softball clinics and coach kids and work with outfielders,” Davis said. “I would like to travel the world playing ball and make as many memories and impact as many young athletes to take the right path as I can – teach one, reach one.”

2017 USA SOFTBALL PAN AMERICAN ROSTER
Kevin Castillo
Jenner Christenson
Joel Cooley
Yusef Davis
Tyler Dudley
Derrick Kennedy
Jonathan Lynch
Tony Mancha
Nick Mullins
Travis Nevin
Jeff Nowacyzk
Erick Ochoa
Cameron Schiller
Chase Turner
Duane Weiler

COACHING STAFF
Gregg Leather, Head Coach
Greg Hicks, Assistant Coach
Nick McCurry
Assistant Coach

A Look Back In Time: Happy Chef in Mankato for sale, full of fastpitch softball memories

Friday, September 1st, 2017

The late Leroy Jolstad was a pitching mainstay for Mankato Happy Chef men’s fastpitch team.

By Patrick Reusse / August 23, 2015
StarTribune

MANKATO – The Happy Chef restaurant and adjoining property are for sale. It’s the original and surviving restaurant from a collection of 63 that were once operated in the Midwest by the Fredrick brothers.

“We’re still in business,” said Tom Fredrick, 81. “We’re going to stay in business.”

Mention Happy Chef and many people think of the towering, round Happy Chef figure that stood in front of numerous restaurants — and remains smiling today next to Hwy. 169 as you enter Mankato.

Mention Happy Chef to others and they think of something else near extinction: men’s fastpitch softball.

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Men’s Fastpitch Softball returns to Pipestone

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Scarlett’s of Sioux Falls, So. Dak., won the 2017 Pipestone Men’s Fastpitch Tournament. Photo / The Pipestone County Star

“You need pitching, though. You have to develop the pitchers, that’s the biggest thing. You can get the players, but you have to have the pitching to go along with the rest.” – Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director, and fastpitch player Robert Petersen

By KEVIN KYLE
Pipestone County Star
July 19, 2017

PIPESTONE, Minn. – Men’s fast pitch softball made a brief return to town Saturday and Sunday, as a pair of clubs from Minnesota and two teams from South Dakota squared off in a tournament at Harmon Park in Pipestone.

For most of the younger spectators, the Pipestone Fastpitch Softball Tournament offered a first glimpse of men competing in a sport that Pipestone Area High School has been so successful playing the last 15 years.
Many of their parents, however, recall the heyday of the sport in town in the 1980s and early 90s.

“We haven’t had this here for a long time,” said Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director Robert Petersen, who also plays with the Hennagar’s Plumbing & Heating team out of Lake Crystal. “We used to have a 16-team league here called the Tri-County League, and we had teams from Pipestone, Holland, Woodstock, Ruthton, Leota and Edgerton… played two nights a week. Each town would have a tournament on a weekend, but now it’s really a dying sport around here.”

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