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Top fastpitch teams coming to Erie

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

hillhouse.bill.1webFastpitch softball pitcher and Ed McCormick Fastpitch Tournament Director Bill Hillhouse. ROB ENGELHARDT//ERIE TIMES-NEWS


ERIE, Penn – Four of the world’s elite fastpitch softball teams will collide July 27-28 in the fourth annual Ed McCormick Fastpitch Tournament, to be played at 11th and Hess.

And while four teams might not seem like a lot, it’s actually twice as many teams as currently exist in Erie’s once-thriving men’s City Rec fastpitch softball league.

That’s a far cry from the 1980s and ’90s, according to Bill Hillhouse, a world-class pitcher who has competed internationally since 1990 and who plays for the New York Gremlins, the world’s No. 1-ranked team and one of the clubs locked and loaded for the McCormick Tournament.

Fastpitch softball, Hillhouse said, used to be the game in town.

So many men wanted to play that the city had a morning league for those who worked third shift.

Now, he said, it’s a struggle to find 18 players to fill out two teams for the City Rec’s informal Tuesday evening fastpitch league.

“People used to go down to the ballpark to watch games on Tuesdays and Thursdays — that was their form of entertainment,” Hillhouse said. “But now they can stay home and watch the Indians on TV every night.

“And it’s just not softball that’s suffering. Drive by any city park and you don’t see kids outside playing. Every sport is suffering. But we don’t have the numbers to make up the difference like the other sports have.” Continue reading

New Zealand Black Sox set to pull in the crowds

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Black Sox perform the haka.

By Chris Rattue / The New Zealand Herald original story

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The Black Sox will be backed by some of this country’s biggest softball crowds as they set about grabbing the world title from Australia over the weekend.

The eight-team finals system begins today, with Eddie Kohlhase’s men facing the Aussie Steelers in a double-life clash this evening. The impressive Canadians face Venezuela in the other top clash. The winners of those two games meet tomorrow, with the winner going to Sunday’s grand final at Rosedale Park in Albany.

The rebuilt ground, which can hold 3500 for these championships, is a sellout tomorrow and Sunday, and the “full” sign will very likely go up for today’s action as well. It might sound like small beer compared to major sports, but it’s champagne-opening time for softball.

“We had always hoped, but this is really beyond our dreams and makes the tournament an outstanding success,” said organising chairwoman Fay Freeman, one of the North Harbour softball stalwarts.

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USA Men’s National Team in Pool A of softball World Championship

Sunday, February 10th, 2013


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The 13th International Softball Federation Men’s World Championship is just a few weeks away (March 1-10) and will be held at Rosedale Park in Auckland’s North Shore.

And TEAM USA will be competing. The schedule Pool Play Draw has been released, and the U.S. squad will compete in Pool A, which includes:

    United States
    Great Britain
    Czech Republic
    South Africa

Team USA’s National Team roster opening game on Mar. 1 won’t be an easy one as the Americans play defending world champion, Australia.

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Softball: Kiwi pitches happily on foreign turf after switcheroo

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

By Chris Rattue / The New Zealand Herald

BRISBANE, AUS – Kere Johanson headed to Australia on a hunch that hit a bullseye.

The Black Sox infielder on four world series teams including two winners always chased the game. Even as a youthful optical technician in Palmerston North, his visions were about being a fulltime softballer.

Shortly after the 2000 world series, the Poneke-Kilbirnie stalwart headed to Perth. Within a decade he had taken charge of the Australian women’s team and assisted men’s head coach Bob Harrow in the historic 2009 world title triumph.

“I came to Australia on a lifestyle decision but thought I might fall into something with the game,” says Johanson, who received a cheeky text from Kiwi great Mark Sorenson “blaming” him for upending the Black Sox in the 2009 final.

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World championship win – one year on

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

(Newspaper reporter and columnist, and former Australian national team player, Mark Long, who also played with the Denmark, Wisconsin Dukes (1999 and 2000) in the ISC World Tournament is writing a five article series about the Aussie Steelers men’s fastpitch softball team. This is the first of his five articles.)

Camden (Australia) Advertiser

July 2010 – A year ago this week, Australia was competing at the International Softball Federation’s 12th Men’s World Championship.

Coming off the back of their first ever medal, a bronze at the previous event in 2004, the team was gaining momentum in their pursuit of international glory.

Meticulous planning and significant personal financial contributions by those involved appeared to be paying off as the event progressed.

Far from a forgone conclusion, Aussie tenacity would eventually topple the three-time defending world champions, the New Zealand Black Sox, in front of a jam packed stadium in Canada to win gold…

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