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Looking forward to the 2016 ISC World Tournament

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
Wonderful, nostalgic Phil Welch Stadium with its covered wooden bleachers in St. Joseph, Missouri, hosted the 2000 ISC World Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

Wonderful, nostalgic Phil Welch Stadium with its covered wooden bleachers in St. Joseph, Missouri, hosted the 2000 ISC World Tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

MOLINE, Ill. – It’s been 17 years since I attented an ISC World Tournament, and that was at St. Joseph, Missouri in 2000 where the Decatur (IL) Pride won the championship by defeating the Broken Bow (Neb.) Travelers 2-1 at Phil Welch Stadium.

But after this long hiatus, I’ll be heading to Moline, Ill. and Green Valley Sports Complex to watch the final three days of the tournament as the best club teams the sport has to offer battle from Aug. 13-20 for the 2016 ISC World Championship.

The great Peter Meredith of Salt Lake City Larry Miller Toyota fires a pitch during the 2000 ISC World Tournament at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph, Missouri. Meredith's ISC career extended from 1980-2001. He finished No. 2  all-time in world tournament victories with 60. Photo By BOB OTTO

The great Peter Meredith of Salt Lake City Larry Miller Toyota fires a pitch during the 2000 ISC World Tournament at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph, Missouri. Meredith’s ISC career extended from 1980-2001. He finished No. 2 all-time in world tournament victories with 60. Photo By BOB OTTO

The players I once photographed have since left the game. No longer do White, Algar, Meredith, Rychcik, Abbot, Sorenson, Martin, Middleton, Boys, Zack, Wahl, Martie, Miljavac, Walford, Tangaroa, Schott, Seaman, Makea, Wallin and Wiebe…and so many other great stars of fastball of a bygone era thrill fans with their amazing talent.

But the current stars, of this new era are every bit as talented as the old guard. Stars such as Folkard, Jones, McCullough, Shailes, Kronk, Zechman, Mata, Cleary, Ellsworth, Ezekiel, Johnson and Mancha…will try with every ounce of their talent and toughness to win a world championship for their teams.

Let the games begin!

At the 2000 ISC World Tournament, a then young Billy Sizemore got St. Joseph Meierhoffer pitcher Chris Bigelow to autograph his softball. Bigelow (2-2, 0.88 ERA) helped St. Joseph finish fourth at 6-2 in the 48 team tournament.  Photo By BOB OTTO

At the 2000 ISC World Tournament, a then young Billy Sizemore got St. Joseph Meierhoffer pitcher Chris Bigelow to autograph his softball. Bigelow (2-2, 0.88 ERA) helped St. Joseph finish fourth at 6-2 in the 48 team tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

Someone to know: Dean Holoien, Canadian fastball star

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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Dean Holoien pitching in the 2000 ISC World Tournament for the Edmonton (Alberta) Express had a 4-1 record in 35 1/3 innings with 64 strikeouts and a 1.39 ERA. He led the Express to ninth place in the 48-team tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

“Fastpitch softball was lucky to have him and I was grateful that I got a front row seat for a lot of years.” – Todd Martin about former teammate Dean Holoien

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN – Dean Holoien knows where to give credit for his long and successful fastball career – his father Doug. If not for dad’s insistence that “it’s time to practice,” fastball may not have enjoyed the exploits of one of the sport’s greatest pitchers and hitters.

“I remember pitching in the yard to dad until the moon came out,” Dean Holoien said. “There were many times when I would have rather did other things, but he had me pitching. But I’m sure glad he did.”

Holoien retired after the 2012 season, finishing a 20-year fastball career at the elite level. His talent carried him far – throughout Canada and the United States playing for elite club teams – and on to the worldwide stage, competing in the International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championship.

His former teammate and pitcher, Todd Martin, knows Holoien well – since 1993 when they started playing together for the Camrose Merchants. Then they teamed up with the Farm Tavern of Madison, Wisconsin (2002 to 2004), and also played on Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team (1997-2009).

Martin says no one was any tougher or fierce a competitor in the circle than Holoien. His will to win and his hard spinning rise ball elevated him to the top of the sport. But adds Martin, with a bat in his hand, Holoien was a terror in the batter’s box as well.

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In 1998, Todd Martin, pitching for the Tampa Smokers of Florida was awarded the ISC World Tournament Most Outstanding Pitcher for leading the Smokers to the championship. In his career, Martin has been selected a Most Outstanding Pitcher three times. Photo By BOB OTTO

“He had a ton of huge hits over the course of his career,” said Martin, a three-time Most Valuable Pitcher in the ISC World Tournament. “Not many guys are capable of throwing a shutout and hitting a bomb to win a game 1-0. But that was Deano.”

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Thomas Makea’s fastpitch career ends in full circle fairytale

Monday, April 8th, 2013

makea.thomas Thomas Makea

By PAUL TAYLOR / Hawke’s Bay TODAY

HASTINGS, NEW ZEALAND – Hawke’s Bay’s four-time world champion and Softball New Zealand’s player of the last decade Thomas Makea left his cleats on the main diamond at Akina Park, Hastings, after the Fun in the Sun tournament final on Sunday.

“This is where I wanted to announce my retirement from international play. Here at Akina Park surrounded by whanau where my career began,” Makea explained as a young souvenir hunter scampered on to the diamond and claimed the cleats.

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New Zealand Black Sox victory glow will reflect on Nelson

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

“We’re very lucky in Nelson because we’re very proactive in what we do. Our sport (men’s fast-pitch softball) is reasonably well accepted in our community, which is positive. I don’t think it’ll be forgotten about.” – Derryn French, Chief Executive, Nelson Softball Association

grant.martyHERE TO HELP: Marty Grant says he’s sticking around to help young Nelson players head for the top. Marion Van DIJK / FAIRFAX, NZ

By Wayne Martin / Nelsonmail.co.nz

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND – Some of Nelson’s softball hierarchy were in Auckland at the weekend to witness the Black Sox claim their sixth world championship crown.

For former Black Sox pitcher Marty Grant, who won three world championship rings from five campaigns, it allowed him to relive the glory days of past triumphs.

And for Nelson Softball Association (est. 1962) chief executive Derryn French, it signalled another positive step towards developing and promoting the game throughout the region.

Both were among the elated band of New Zealand supporters who helped to celebrate the 4-1 win over Venezuela in Sunday’s final.

While obviously delighted with the result, Grant said his overriding emotion was one of respect for the coaching staff and for a Black Sox squad that many had written off prior to the tournament.

“I felt respect for the coaches and for the guys who wanted to stick around and be a part of it, especially those guys who have been my team-mates in the past, people like Jarrad [Martin] and Thomas Makea especially, who’d battled to keep themselves in some sort of physical condition and form so that they could be a part of it,” Grant said.

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New Zealand Black Sox must bounce back against Argentina

Monday, March 4th, 2013

By Tony Smith / Stuff.co.nz

Softball World Champs - New Zealand v Japan, 3 March 2013
Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase must get his side up after their loss to Canada as they face a must-win tonight against Argentina.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – The Black Sox coaching staff claim the plate umpire’s “tight zone” was a factor in their pitchers giving up a massive 17 safe hits in last night’s 9-7 world championship tiebreaker loss to Canada.

Head coach Eddie Kohlhase and pitching coach Chubb Tangaroa said the pitchers were forced to come in over the middle of the plate because they were not getting the corners called in the 3hr-25min marathon.

Tangaroa, a former world champion pitcher, said he was not blaming plate umpire Randall McLamb because he was “consistent for both teams.”

Canada’s four pitchers also gave up nine hits in a 26-hit slugfest that featured five automatic home runs (three to the Black Sox – two to Brad Rona and another by Donny Hale – and two to Canada).

But Kohlhase said the umpire “had a very tight zone” and “one or two calls in the field probably didn’t go our way as well.”

“I’d like to view the tape and have a good look at our zone, but certainly some of our better hitters…we’ll just leave it at that, I think…”

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