West St. Paul men’s fastpitch league thriving in Minnesota

Written by Bob on July 30th, 2012

An overview of the West St. Paul Sports Center where 12 men’s teams are still able to play fastpitch softball.

WEST ST. PAUL, MN – Give us a place to play during the week.

That’s a plea that many men’s fastpitch players and teams champion throughout the U.S. But finding a city league that offers weeknight games has become difficult throughout the U.S. as the men’s game has fallen off over the past two decades.

But not so in West St. Paul.

The city that borders the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis has offered a city league, well, as long as any of the current crop of players can remember. And this year is no exception.

The West St. Paul League has 12 teams competing – from the “A” classified Minnesota Angels (ISC and ASA Major team) to several “B” and “C” ranked teams.

During the course of the season, which runs from April to August, the teams crossover and play each other.

Scott Emerson plays for the Blvd team, a C-team managed by Mike Fink. He’s a Wisconsin native who has played in his share of leagues. He likes what West St. Paul has to offer.

“The WSP is a 12 team league that is split up into two divisions,” he said. “There’s six B and higher teams and six C teams. I have played in Wisconsin and Minnesota and I would say this is the most competitive league I have played in. All of the teams are tough.”

Although many veteran players fill the teams’ rosters, Jerry Ball, 41, who catches his brother Dan, 44, for PBI (Pate Bonding, Inc.) says he’s seeing some newcomers.

“We’re getting some younger players, ages 21, 22 and 20 starting to come in the league,” he said. “But most of them are position players. I’d love to see a lot more because it’s a fabulous game, and everybody needs pitching.”

Ah yes, young pitching. The one commodity so sorely lacking in the men’s game.

Wayne Ball, father of Jerry and Dan, has been in the game for about 60 years. He loves the league. He knows it’s good for the sport. But what he would like to see is more of an effort to train U.S. born talent.

“We are bringing in so many good (foreign-born) pitchers that we don’t develop them anymore,” said Wayne Ball, who manages PBI.

And could there be any better place to develop youngsters than the West St. Paul League with its upper and lower division teams? And for young aspiring pitchers – and position players as well – to latch on to role models.

Several veteran hurlers pitch in the league including Kevin Kammueller of Jordan Realty; Joel Cooley of Goring Lawn Care and Mike Fink of the Boulevard, Emerson said. One pitcher with a bright future is Mark Mohar of the Liberty Mutual Mudhens, a “C” team, added Emerson.

“Mark has worked very hard to make the big improvements he has made over the last two to three years,” Emerson said. “He is someone to watch for.”

As for the position players, Emerson said that Zach and Lucas Goring of Goring Lawn Care (sons of veteran player Darrell Goring), “are always tough outs and Brett Legler (Ostrander) is known to be a good hitter. (But) each team has some top hitters.”

The teams in the league listed by classification and manager:

    Minnesota Angels (A), Ed Matacynski
    The Boulevard (B), B.J. Gulick
    Liberty Mutual Mudhens (B), Shane Sparks
    Ostrander (B), Brett Legler
    Jordan Realty (B), Kevin Kammueller
    GLC Goring Lawn Care (B) Jack Rowan
    Blvd (C), Mike Fink
    Kestrel Consulting (C), Jim Washenberger
    Dunhams (C), John Hohenstein
    Gallaghers (C) Dave Vandenbosch
    PBI (C), Wayne Ball
    St. Paul Fastpitch (C), Dave Zschokke

The League plays Wednesday nights with games starting at 6:15 and 8 p.m. at the West St. Paul Sports Center, 1650 Oakdale, West St. Paul, MN. The final game is scheduled for Aug. 8.

For more information about joining the league, contact Dave Schletty, West St. Paul Parks & Recreation Manager by email: dschletty(a)cityofwsp.org. Or you can reach him by phone at 651-552-4152.

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