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Aussies having a summer of fastpitch fun

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Blackshaw.Andy.McQuens.41web Australian pitcher Andrew Blackshaw, 23, is spending the summer in the U.S. pitching fastpitch softball. In the 2013 NAFA World Series, he was pitching for McQuen’s Pub of Des Moines. Photo By BOB OTTO

DES MOINES – Five young men sat in the top bleachers watching Winterset, Iowa battle the Rice Lake Orangemen of Wisconsin in a AA / AA-Major pool play game Wednesday night.

I noticed they had a decidedly different accent than your standard Midwesterner.

So curious, I asked, “where you all from?”

Australia came the answer from Shaun Goffer. I learned Goffer is a young man of 23 who plays outfield for the Bloomington (IL) Stix. He and his pals – James Todhunter, 23, Jesse Taws, 20, Aaron Boccardo, 23, Damien Nairn, 23, Andrew Blackshaw, 23, Nathan Dickinson, 19, Adam Pearce, 25, and Marshall Kronk, 19 – are spending an enjoyable time in the states playing a little fastpitch.

“This is good fun and a different atmosphere than back home,” Goffer said.

How so? “You have more fans here.”

True, there was a decent turnout for the opening night of the 2013 NAFA World Series at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex.

All these Aussies are position players except for Kronk, who was pitching for Winterset (and got the win over Rice Lake in AA / AA-Major pool play), and Blackshaw, who pitched well but took a 3-0 loss for McCuen’s Pub against Willkomm Mobil.

These Aussie international traveling stars had about enough numbers to form their own team for the NAFA World Series, but instead were scattered about playing for various teams. Most of them will also play in the ISC World Tournament in the Quad Cities starting Aug. 10-17.

I had to ask the obvious question: what’s the difference between U.S. fastpitch and the Australian brand called “fastball?” Seems we in the states tend to “coddle” our young a bit.

“There’s a different philosophy here in the U.S.,” said Todhunter. “Here you wait for (young players) to develop. Back home we throw them in the deep end and see if they can go.”

Hard work pays off with NAFA 20th anniversary honor for Rebels, SuperChief ace

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

David Beets, North American Fastpitch Association 20th Year Anniversary pitcher and player.

By DON CAMERON / Freelance Writer

ANADARKO, OK – The Dave Beets Shortstop Project took a detour many years ago when the starting pitcher for his Oklahoma men’s fastpitch team injured his knee and Beets was involuntarily thrust into the circle.

“It was the best thing that ever happened,” said Beets, 44, who was recently named to the NAFA 20th Anniversary Team that will be honored in Topeka, Kansas.

The 6-foot-3 right-hander has earned a national reputation for his workmanlike efforts in steering the Rocky Mountain Rebels (Boulder, Colorado) and SuperChief (Anadarko, Oklahoma) to tournament milestones.

“He’s an unbelievable warrior,” said Dave Parker, coach and pitcher for the Rocky Mountain Rebels. “He goes out and gives it everything he’s got, whether he’s healthy or hurt. He’s thrown against the best in the world and beaten them, and it’s not always with the best team in the world behind him.”

“What a tremendous athlete, and an even better person. It’s been truly a pleasure to have him on the Rebels, and a true honor for all of us on the Rebels that he was honored on the NAFA 20th anniversary team,” added Parker.

Beets has come a long way since the days of watching his dad play fastpitch and begging to get on a team. After converting from shortstop to pitcher, he matured as a ballplayer under the likes of Wiley Washington, Jim Horse, W.G. Bushyhead and P.A. Wetselline.

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