‘Around the Horn’ at the 2017 NAFA World Series

Written by Bob on August 25th, 2017

FARGO – While reporting and photographing the 2017 NAFA World Series, I was fortunate to capture a few photos of the players and people who made the 25th Anniversary of the North American Fastpitch Association a special event.

DAVE MEYER finished with a 4-2 record in leading Duluth Fastpitch to runner-up in the 2017 NAFA A Division World Series. Meyer also pitched for Minnesota Computers / Coasters Bar in the A-Major Division, but didn’t record a decision. Photo By BOB OTTO

DAVE MEYER has been pitching for over 30 years, but the 56-year-old still gets the job done. In the NAFA A Division he had a 4-2 record in helping Duluth Fastpitch take second place. He also helped Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden compete in the rigorous A-Major Division.

His best pitch?

“He’s got a change-up rise ball that nobody else has ever had as good as his,” said Minnesota Computers Manager Richard Quigley. “He has three effective off-speeds, and when he’s fresh, his ball is moving.”

The Duluth native has pitched for some outstanding Minnesota ball clubs including Stewart Taylor of Duluth that won the 1988 ASA Class A National Championship.

“The pitch that everyone had trouble hitting was his change rise ball,” said former teammate Bill Olson of Duluth. “It was like an optical illusion.”

Well, nothing’s changed much since that glory year of 1988. Thirty years later, his change-up riser was still getting batters out at the NAFA World Series.

ALEJO MUNOZ, left, and TYLER MASKEY of Bowen (IL) Fastpitch are proud of the Gold Medals awarded them and their teammates for winning the 2017 NAFA A-Major World Series Championship. Photo By BOB OTTO

After Bowen Fastpitch won the A-Major World Series, the young ball club – many under the age of 20 – celebrated like giddy kids who had just found out they were going to Disneyland.

The ball club from Bowen, Ill., managed by Rocco Ramsey, a NAFA Hall of Famer, went undefeated at 5-0, with Munoz and Maskey selected to the All-World team for their contributions.

NAFA umpire CLIFF WHITSON poses with his plaque and jacket after he was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during opening ceremonies of the 2017 NAFA World Series at Northend Softball Complex, Thursday night. Whitson umpired in 12 NAFA World Series, along with umpiring for the Amateur Softball Association, along with over 30 years umpiring high school girls and college women’s softball. He will also be inducted into the St. Paul Old Timers Softball Association Hall of Fame in October. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

It was a special night for umpire Cliff Whitson as his fellow umpires honored him with high praise during his NAFA Hall of Fame induction at Northside Softball Complex in Fargo.

“I was so pleased he asked me to introduce him,” said NAFA umpire and friend Steve Vail. “We go back 15 to 20 years and I’ve never met an umpire more dedicated to softball than Cliff.”

CHASE SHORTLY, catching for Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden, was one of the few women to play in the NAFA World Series. In 2017 as a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. She had 40 RBI (tied for the team lead), hit four home runs and 20 doubles. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series, Fargo, N.D.

CHASE SHORTLY proved that athletic and talented women can play fastpitch right alongside the men as she did catching for Minnesota Computers / Coasters Beer Garden in the A-Major World Series. She has caught for the ball club throughout the season, including league play in St. Paul.

This veteran fastpitch player was teaching a young man the mechanics of pitching during the 2017 NAFA World Series. Within 10 minutes he was throwing to a catcher and with good form. Photo By BOB OTTO

Hopefully he’s a quick learner and soon will be playing in the NAFA World Series. Fastpitch certainly needs more young men like him learning to pitch.

ENEAS ERBES records the Bown Fastpitch NAFA A-Major championship game against R.M. Kurtz of Ephrata, Penn. Perhaps to show his countrymen in Argentina how the NAFA World Series was being played. ERBES earned All-World honors for helping Bowen Fastpitch go undefeated and claim the title. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series, Fargo, N.D.

Though he was busy playing for Bowen Fastpitch, ENEAS ERBES, of Argentina took time to rush over to a table on the third base side and check his shoe-held smart phone to make sure it was recording the championship game.

Boston, Mass. SeaDogs pitcher EVAN LYNDAKER, 23, pitched in the NAFA 23-Under World Series, helping Seadogs reach the semifinals. He had a 1-1 pitching record, and batted .400 with 2 RBI and 4 walks. Photo By BOB OTTO

When I talked with EVAN LYNDAKER, 23, he was enthused about the game of fastpitch and was pleased to once again compete for a 23-Under Division championship.

In 2016, he was selected the Most Valuable Player for helping the SeaDogs of Boston win the 23-Under title.

From Groghan, NY, Lyndaker started pitching at 14 all because he saw one spectacular performance he has always remembered.

“On my dad’s team, I saw Scott Kuloster pitch a perfect game,” he said. “I’ve been hooked on pitching ever since.”

The SeaDogs didn’t win a 23-Under championship this year, but Lyndaker had himself two productive tournaments.

Pitching for the East Coast Renegades in the A Division, he was 1-1, and in the 23-Under he had a 2-1 record.

In the A Division he beat the Saskatoon, Canada, Padres, 9-2, on a five-hitter with seven strikeouts and didn’t allow any earned runs.

Lyndaker pitched a strong game against eventual A Division runner-up Duluth Fastpitch, but lost 3-1; and again, he didn’t allow any earned runs, while giving up just five hits with seven strikeouts.

At the plate, he really excelled, batting .455 (5-for-11) with an RBI and three runs.

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