Men’s Fastpitch Softball returns to Pipestone

Written by Bob on 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.”

In his fourth year on the Hennagar club, Petersen had looked into bringing the sport back to town well before the summer.

“They put us on the schedule, for the master list, for a tournament back in March; the dates were open, so we decided to run with it,” Petersen said. “We put a feeler out for teams, and we got four… get it back started again in Pipestone.

“I wanted to get it back, get some people to see it again, and maybe bring interest in fastpitch softball back to the area. It’s a fun game, a fast-paced game, and you’re in-and-out in about an hour-and-a-half for a game.”

The team from Hardwick, which features former PAS baseball players Nathan and Matt Haroldson – as well as a few Pipestone pick-ups for the weekend – opened the tournament’s pool play against the well-established Scarlets side from Sioux Falls, S.D.

Along with Petersen’s Hennagar team, and a club from Watertown, S.D., the four-team bracket moved from Saturday’s pool play to a seeded single-elimination format on Sunday.

In a thrilling eight-inning battle Sunday afternoon, the Sioux Falls Scarlets defeated Hennagar’s Plumbing & Heating 8-5 to emerge as tournament champions – earning the $200 payback check in the process.

While the tournament, which saw hundreds of viewers throughout the weekend line the diamond down the first and third baselines, was successful in giving locals a taste of nostalgia, Petersen hopes it will reignite the town’s passion for a sport that once drew many more to the ball fields – as players and spectators – on a regular basis.

“Guys are busy with this and that, and it’s harder to get a commitment these days,” he said. “There are a few out there still. Teams like Hardwick, that’s in a border league down south with Hills, Beaver Creek and some teams from northern Iowa, are around yet, and there’s a good league in Sioux Falls, but I’d like to get it back here. If we could get a team in Pipestone it might bring more interest back to the sport in this area. Maybe this will spark it a little bit.

“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.”

Petersen, who coaches the PAS squad with head coach Troy Bouman, had the rare opportunity to face his colleague on the diamond Saturday afternoon when his Hennagar side faced Hardwick.

“They called me yesterday, Friday, so I wasn’t really prepared to pitch,” Bouman said. “Like I told these guys, though, it’s just fun to get back and play. The biggest thing is getting yourself to go. I saw some guys in the first game I haven’t seen in a long time, since playing against them growing up, so it’s fun to see them again. Through softball, we know a lot of people from all over the world.”

Bouman saw Petersen twice drive his pitches quite a distance before turning foul, and in the end coaxed his assistant into a harmless pop up in their first head-to-head encounter.

“It’s fun and we’ve done this a lot in batting practice, but it’s batting practice so…” Bouman said. “I knew I couldn’t throw him anything in the middle of the plate because he’d hit it out. He’s an awesome hitter, and I know what he likes to hit, but I can’t throw what I want to right now – anyway. I just hope to get him out somehow.”

And the pair hope to get more out, to the ball park that is, as Petersen and Bouman ponder the notion of forming a fast pitch squad in town once more.

“He and I talked about that, and it’s a possibility down the road,” Bouman said. “We’ll see if we can get enough guys who can show up on a regular basis. It’s always a possibility.”

“We have a couple of the (PAS) girls working the score clock, and I see a few former players watching the games,” Petersen added. “Maybe we can get’em to come out and coach us! That’d be awesome.”

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