Comeback K-Club Claims NAFA World Series Title

Written by Bob on September 17th, 2018

MOSES LAKE, Wash. – Winning championships doesn’t come easy in any sport. And so it is in men’s fastpitch softball. Just ask the K-Club squad of Moses Lake, Washington.

For ten years K-Club has steadily grown into a respected ball club, winning or placing in the upper echelon of club tournaments throughout the northwest.

The 2018 season can be chalked up as a resounding success. K-Club’s 26-12 record includes two second-place finishes in the Newberg, Ore. and Mt. Vernon, Wash. tournaments. And in the prestigious North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) Seattle Invitational, K-Club claimed first place in the A-Major Division.

    Aiming High

But those tournaments were tune-ups of sorts. For the ultimate prize is winning a NAFA World Series championship – a destination K-Club has been aiming for ten long years.

And on Aug. 19 in Fargo, North Dakota, K-Club’s dream of a national championship was realized when they won five consecutive games to claim the 10-team, World Series AA-Division title.

“K-Club has progressively improved over the last nine years,” said co-manager Dan Kolda, who helped found the team with his sons Mike and Rickey. “We have had many successes, but the victory in the AA World Series, especially with all the comeback wins, has to be the most prestigious accomplishment for the program. The effort and contributions from each and every member of this team demonstrated what can be achieved when you have “heart!”

    No Quit K-Club

Comeback wins? Definitely.

Of those five victories, two certainly epitomize “comeback.” After an 8-1 opener, K-Club took on the Optimum Crush of Wisconsin and trailed 1-0 into the bottom of the seventh inning. Colby Miller brought the club racing and roaring out of the dugout after he evened the score by launching a solo home run over the left-centerfield wall, and in the eighth, shortstop Ryan Uribe drove in the game winner with a clean RBI single.

“There is no quit in this team,” said Sean McCauley, who had three hits and five RBI in the squad’s opening win, and was selected to the All-World team. “I’m not sure exactly, but we had quite a few comeback wins throughout the year, not just in Fargo. Our motto became, “breaking hearts.”

    Thrilling Comeback Over Bowen

And in their third game, K-Club pulled off another heartbreaker by downing Bowen Fastpitch of Illinois, 8-7. After falling behind by five runs, and eventually trailing 7-4 in the seventh, K-Club mounted its comeback. Miller again was a catalyst by belting a solo shot; then with a runner on board, Zach Watson hit an inside-the-park home run to even the sides. And in the bottom half of the eighth, Brandon Dixon drove in Robert Peterson for the game winner.

That huge win over Bowen – who won the A-Major title a year earlier – set up a winners bracket final with the Calahoo Chiefs. Peterson again came up huge. The right-side hitting catcher, who caught all five games, belted a grand slam over the centerfield fence in the fourth inning to give pitcher Eder Pineda (Venezuela) all the runs he would need in a 4-0 shutout.

    Left-hander Tough On Chiefs

The 35-year-old Pineda proved to be a one-man pitching staff as he threw all 37 innings in leading K-Club to the title. He was especially tough on the Chiefs, holding the Alberta, Canada club to four hits, no walks with eight strikeouts.

“It’s his ability to change speeds and spot his pitches that make him so effective,” said catcher and co-manager, Rickey Kolda. “Every pitch has movement and he topped out at 71 mph (but) he also throws his change-up for strikes and it froze batters.”

The Chiefs battled back through the losers bracket to face Pineda again and the left-hander was nearly untouchable with a four-hitter, no walks, and 12 strikeouts in a championship-clinching 3-0 victory.

    Triple Trouble Sticks

The batsmen supported Pineda with McCauley’s run-scoring double in the first inning, followed by his touching home plate in the fourth on Zach Watson’s triple, with Watson racing home on a passed ball for the final run.

“The cool thing was everyone contributed either with the bat or with the glove and all the victories were team wins,” said Rickey Kolda.

Playing and winning five games over 37 innings would prove a worthy accomplishment, right?

Well, K-Club came to Fargo to get its money’s worth as the ball club also competed in the 36-team, A-Division World Series, taking fourth place with a 4-2 mark. Adding it up, that’s 11 games in four days.

“We had planned to play in the A and AA (divisions) and were mentally ready to be at the ballpark for 12 hours a day,” Rickey Kolda said. “We were fortunate to win early in the tournament, or we could have been up against the schedule a lot more (games).”

    NAFA and K-Club Elite Performers

When the AA, All-World team was selected, Pineda garnered the Most Valuable Player award for his 1.32 ERA, 21 hits allowed, 7 earned runs, 7 walks and 57 strikeouts in 37 innings. Robert Peterson, Sean McCauley and Zach Watson were also named to the All-World Team.

According to NAFA stats, Peterson had a .364 batting average, 5 RBI and a home run, while McCauley also drove in 5 runs with a .357 average, and Watson was 5-for-14 for a .357 average with 3 RBI.

Pineda certainly dominated the pitching, but he proved he can swing the bat as well. He led ball club with a .375 average (6-for-16), and scored 4 runs.

    Marvelous Miller Makes His Mark

The versatile Colby Miller had great AA and A division performances. In the AA, he drove in 4 runs, homered twice and carried a .333 avg. (4-for-12). And in the A-Division, Miller (who recently moved from Missouri to Seattle) was assigned double duty: pitching and hitting.

For his outstanding performances (.375 avg.) and 3-1 pitching record, Miller earned his rightful place on the All-World team. Joining him was Zach Crumel, who had an incredible .643 avg. (9-for-14) with 5 RBI.

So K-Club ends its season with a phenomenal run in the NAFA World Series, on top of a successful regular season. What made it all possible?

    Special Team, Special Year

Several new players coming aboard that jelled with K-Club’s solid core, said McCauley, crediting the addition of Brad Branch, Brandon Dixon, Ryan Uribe, Cody Lyons, Colby Miller and Levi Tate for helping transform K-Club into a NAFA World Series champion.

“We added committed players and the chemistry happened right away,” McCauley said. “There definitely was something special about this team.”

    K-Club A and AA-division Roster

Rick Kolda, P/C; Dan Kolda, P; Sean McCauley, 3B; Colby Miller, P/DP; Brandon Dixon, CF; Ryan Uribe, SS; Brad Branch, 1B; Zach Crumal, 2B; Levi Tate, OF; Cody Lyons, OF; Zach Watson, OF; Jake Gardner, OF; Michael Tyacke, C; Brent Schick, OF; Eder Pineda, P, and Robert Peterson C.

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Benjie says:

    Bob Otto, a great story. Are you gonna keep otto in focus alive. We are going back to mankato next year and we would love to have you join us.

  2. Bob says:

    Hi Benjie, Yes, had a change of heart a couple months back and decided to keep it as active as possible. And since I went to school at Minnesota State Univ. eons a go (’73-’77), I think I can make Mankato!

Leave a Comment