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Hill United Chiefs open fastball season in Peter Hallman classic that features six ISC top-ranked teams

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

FIVE-TIME ISC TOP PITCHER – Adam Folkard has won five ISC Most Outstanding Pitcher awards. In 2016, he pitched the Hill United Chiefs of Ontario, Canada to runner-up in the ISC World Tournament and was named an All-World pitcher for a eighth time. His 4-1 record gives him 39 wins all-time in ISC World Tournament play. Photo By BOB OTTO

SIX NATIONS, ONTARIO, CA – The No. 1 ranked Hill United Chiefs opens its fastball season at the 2017 Peter Hallman Memorial Fastball Tournament in St. Clements, Ontario, June 23-25.

Topping the International Softball Congress (ISC) early-season poll, the Chiefs return with a star-studded lineup that includes the world’s top pitcher, Australian right-hander Adam Folkard, who has led the team to ISC World Tournament championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Along with runner-up in 2016.

Click to continue reading “Hill United Chiefs open fastball season in Peter Hallman classic that features six ISC top-ranked teams”

NAFA World Series A Division championship tournament set to begin

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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Greg “Chopper” Lammers will be one of the pitchers wind-milling his assortment of risers, drops and change-ups to the plate in the NAFA World Series A Division tournament, Aug. 14-17. Photo By BOB OTTO

QUAD CITIES, IA/IL – At 11 a.m. Thursday, 44 teams will start competing for the NAFA World Series A Division championship.

The action takes place at the Green Valley Sports Complex in Moline.

Teams are coming from Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowas and from our great neighbor to the north, Canada.

Canada is sending the Kakebeka Red Ants, and Kelvington PDC.

Will they be as successful as the Pepperjacks of Novia Scotia? Or the the Lloydminster Dodgers of Alberta? These two great ball clubs battled over three games to determine a champion in the AA Division with the Pepperjacks finally prevailing.

If the A Division championship play-down is as exciting as last week’s A-Major, AA, and AA-Major, then this will be a great tournament.

But only time will tell in the three day event that runs through Sunday with the championship scheduled for 1:15 p.m., with a second “if necessary” game at 3 p.m. if needed in the double knockout format.

See printable bracket: 2014-NAFA A Bracket

AAU Men’s International Fastpitch Championship fast approaching

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

AAU_Softball_Logo

ORLANDO, FL – The 2013 AAU International Men’s Fastpitch Championship will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, Jan. 24-27.

Currently, 23 teams are entered coming from throughout North and South America, with 12 teams expressing their intent to play.

“It started 14 years a go with an eight-team tournament and it’s grown to above 40 in some years,” said Ken Hackmeister, AAU Tournament Director. “It’s growing in popularity because of a combination of location, Florida weather in January, and the diversity of teams is a draw …”

For more information about travel directions, competition venues, admission and registration, visit: AAU International Men’s Fastpitch

USA must begin developing “Made In America” men’s fastpitch pitchers

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


Can the U.S. develop its own Made In America pitching such as New Zealand, Australia, or Canada does with Canadian pitchers like Sean Whitten, shown here pitching for the California A’s.

YUCAIPA, CA – Name a couple of American-born fastpitch pitchers capable hurling the USA Men’s National Team to the championship in the 2013 International Softball Federation World Championship?

Stumped? I couldn’t name any either. That’s because the U.S. doesn’t have any.

I looked at Team USA’s roster and found pitchers Gerald Muizelaar and Travis Price listed. Both are Canadian born and now living in the U.S. And both are respectable pitchers, but capable of pitching the U.S. to a title? I hope so, but I don’t think so.

Muizelaar pitched very well in the 2012 ISC World Tournament, earning a spot on the All-World second team with a 3-1 record, 1.09 ERA, while leading the Fargo Kegel Black Knights to fifth place. So of course, he’s a welcome addition to the USA squad.

But I wonder about Price. He’s a USA team veteran, but really, he’s at the most a mid-range Major pitcher and top Intermediate pitcher. Sure, he can beat some of the lesser world’s teams. But Canada? New Zealand? Australia? I think that’s expecting too much.

So unless there’s a later addition of some world-caliber pitcher we don’t know about, USA Head Coach Peter Turner will be handing the game ball to Muizelaar most of the time.

In the 2009 ISF World Championship in Saskatoon, Canada, the USA squad finished fourth behind Canada, runner-up New Zealand, and Gold Medalist Australia.

One stat in particular stands out about Team USA 2009. In runs allowed, they gave up 45 in 10 games (7-3 record). In comparison, Australia allowed but 12 runs (9-1), New Zealand 26 runs (9-2), and Canada gave up 28 (8-2).

In fact, among the 16 teams entered, Team USA finished seventh in runs allowed. Teams such as Japan, which finished sixth, allowed 43 runs; Argentina 42. Even the Czeck Republic and the Philippines allowed fewer runs than the U.S. squad with 36 each.

This means of course, that a big part of the runs allowed problem is due to pitching. I’m not knocking the guys toeing the rubber for Team USA. But the pitching stats don’t lie. And they often tell why a team wins or loses against the best in the world.

None-the-less, Men’s National Team selection committee member Warren Jones stated on the USA Softball website:

“I think we’re going to have a really competitive (2013) team. We’ve got some new, young faces that have made a name for themselves in the fastpitch softball world and we’ve got some older guys who have been around and know the ropes.”

Unfortunately for U.S. men’s major fastpitch those new, young faces that Jones refers to don’t include U.S. born pitchers.

So how do we turn around our problem of a lack of “Made In America” pitchers?

First of all, I think it’s critical that the USA National Team become the top priority for everyone involved in the sport. And that includes the three organizations governing men’s fastpitch in the U.S.: the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the International Softball Congress (ISC), and the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA).

The three organizations should form a joint pitching committee with one overriding priority – identify gifted athletes and get them on the rubber. That means any talented fastpitch (or baseball) athlete with the physical tools needs to be steered to the rubber (hogtie and force the shy types if need be).

Here’s an example: Let’s say a team has an outfielder – big, strong and blessed with a powerful throwing arm – on its roster. He’s content to bat third in the lineup, content to hit home runs and drive in runs, and earn his All-World awards.

I would say, “Sorry young man, but your country needs you. And it’s not in the batter’s box. It’s in the circle.”

Some of you are muttering, “you can’t force an athlete to become a fastpitch pitcher; they have to want it!”

True, desire is absolutely a critical attribute to becoming a pitcher. But think for a minute. I bet most of you can recall a pitcher or two, who started at shortstop (Anyone remember ISC Hall of Fame pitcher, Jimmy Moore?) or the outfield, or behind the plate, who when encouraged, took up pitching.

Another ISC All-World pitcher comes to mind – Darwin Tolzin, who pitched St. Paul All-American Bar to the 1976 ISC World Tournament title. I believe he started as a position player and only took up pitching when his team at the time needed a pitcher.

No doubt, U.S. men’s fastpitch is in a serious decline, losing more teams each year. So as far as that goes, all LEVELS of TEAMS should be targeting its top athletes and encouraging, demanding, pleading – whatever it takes – to get them in the circle.

Sure, it’s going to take a few years before our pitching prospects develop to the best of their ability. But at this point, what do we have to lose by trying to cultivate “Made in America” pitching? The only other alternative is to hope that top foreign pitchers take up residence in the U.S. like Muizelaar and Price. But what does that say about our fortitude to develop our own talent?

So to USA Softball, the ASA, ISC and NAFA we ask:

“Can you set aside any differences you may have and form a joint pitching committee that identifies the sport’s best athletes and targets them for the circle?”

NAFA A-Major, many teams, only one champion

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012


Which team and players will be celebrating a NAFA A-Major Division championship as Waseda University of Tokyo, Japan did in 2010? Will it be Northwest Implement, the K-Club, Liberty Fastpitch, Thunderstruck, the Wizards…this looks like a wide-open, anyone-can-win championship.

TOPEKA, KS – A look at the NAFA A-Major bracket NAFA Fastpitch finds it filled with 32 teams, competing from Aug. 9-12 in the 20th Anniversary of the North American Fastpitch Association World Series, which was founded in 1993.

All games take place at the Shawnee North and Rueger Park Complex ball fields in Topeka, Kansas. MVFE Bronx from Saskatchewan, Canada and Jefferson City Fastpitch of Jefferson City, Missouri open the tournament on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 12:30 p.m.

For a complete bracket, visit the NAFA Fastpitch link above.

The 32 A-Major teams:

1. MVFE Bronx, Saskatchewan, CA
2. Jefferson City Fastpitch, MO
3. K-Club, WA
4. Home Federal, NE
5. Wessell’s Coors Light, IL
6. IWS, OH
7. Kelso Fastpitch, MO
8. Dragon’s Rage, CO
9. Bedford Fastpitch, PA
10. The Bar, WI
11. Franny’s Ole Irish Pub, IL
12. Geo Per, TX
13. Thunderstruck, PA
14. Kreke Tree Service, IL
15. Sydney Cardinals, Nova Scotia, CA
16. Wizards of Oz, KS
17. Liberty Fastpitch, So. Calif.
18. Mazon Fastpitch, IL
19. CPI, NY
20. Kansas Indians, OK
21. Wabash Elite, IN
22. Fort Collins Knights, CO
23. Northwest Implement, MO
24. Belleville Stallions, IL
25. Winnipeg Bullets, Manitoba, CA
26. R.M. Kurtz, PA
27. Bruna Implement, KS
28. Ramsey Financial, IL
29. West Fargo Knights, ND
30. Central Illinois Knights, IL
31. Native Power, OK
32. KC Indios, KS

For more NAFA news and 2012 NAFA World Series information Vist NAFA Fastpitch

Winnipeg Bullets, “A” NAFA World Series Champions!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

YUCAIPA, CA – It’s a rare, very rare occasion when an athlete can proclaim that they are a “World Series” champion. In a short seven games, either the San Francisco Giants or the Texas Rangers will soon have the title bestowed on them.

But for the Winnipeg Bullets, they’ve already earned it as the 2010 NAFA World Series Champions. Congratulations Bullets!

Meet the World Series Champions:

From front row left, Stephen Ceslak, Guy Levesque, Kyle Koterba, Tyler Bruner, Luke Koterba, Bryan Erstad. Top row from left, Bob Lanoie, Stew Sabiston, Brad Popik, Joe Vannett, Dean Govereau, Jared Purdy.