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Boys high school softball vanishes after 24 years in Northwest Missouri

Monday, September 5th, 2016

By Cody Thorn / St. Joseph News-Press

ST. JOSEPH, MO – For the better part of a quarter century, Northwest Missouri offered a unique experience for student-athletes that attended smaller schools.

In many of the rural farming towns that lay between larger towns, football wasn’t offered, so each fall, the boys from those towns hit the diamond to play boys fastpitch softball.

During the fall of 1992, the sport became sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association and state championships were awarded. For 24 years, a total of 11 different towns throughout the area laid claim to winning a state title.

Jefferson defeated Winston 1-0 in the 2015 state championship game, and that turned out to be the final game played in the sport.

One year shy of the 25th anniversary of the sport, it vanished due to various reasons this fall.

Now, former standout athletes at those schools have moved onto other sports, but the legacy built over the years will live on with trophies, softballs with players signatures, and team photos taken over the years at the state tournament sites.

“The best athletes at these small farm towns would play softball. It was just expected,” said former Winston coach Eric Lewis. “Likely, the basketball coach was coaching the team, so they went out and played softball.

“It is very disappointing. I grew up playing high school fastpitch and I played with my father and I coached my sons and several of these young boys. I’ve been taking them to youth softball tournaments across the country.”

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St. Joseph, Missouri Still Alive In Men’s Fastpitch

Saturday, August 20th, 2016
John Younger, left, and his Son Brian Younger of St. Joseph, Missouri were at the ISC World Tournament in Moline, Il. John Younger, 68, still enjoys playing fastpitch in a league in St. Joseph. Photo By BOB OTTO

John Younger, left, and his Son Brian Younger of St. Joseph, Missouri were at the ISC World Tournament in Moline, Il. John Younger, 68, still enjoys playing fastpitch in a league in St. Joseph. Photo By BOB OTTO

ST. JOSEPH, MO – John Younger has played a lot of fastpitch in his 68 years, and he still does. In the St. Joseph League.

Amazingly, the league has been going since 1934, said Younger, and he’s been playing in it since 1955. That’s a long history for Younger and the league he loves playing in.

While fastpitch has died out in many towns and cities, the St. Joseph League continues to survive year after year.

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Young Craig Lewis sets high goals in fastpitch softball

Monday, November 10th, 2014
The Lewis family after winning the 2014 ASA Boys' 16-Under Fastpitch National Championship. From left, wife and mother, Deanna Lewis, Jacob, 13, Craig, 15, Brian, 10, and Eric Lewis. Contributed Photo.

The Lewis family after winning the 2014 ASA Boys’ 16-Under Fastpitch National Championship. From left, wife and mother, Deanna Lewis, Jacob, 13, Craig, 15, Brian, 10, and Eric Lewis. Contributed Photo.

WINSTON, Mo. – When he was a little tyke of 3 or 4, Craig Lewis was already wind-milling a softball and tagging along with his dad from one Missouri ball field to the next.

By first grade, he knew how to keep a scorebook.

And now at 15?

Well, let’s just say he’s too valuable on the field to have sitting on the bench scoring the game.


Craig Lewis had himself quite a high school fastpitch season this year. He pitched the defending champion Winston Redbirds to third place in the Missouri State High School Boys Fastpitch Tournament. This coming on the heels of pitching the Redbirds to the Harrison-Daviess-Caldwell (HDC) Conference championship (6-0, 16-2).

And he was a unanimous pick on the all-conference and all-state teams. Pretty good accomplishments for a 15-year-old sophomore, who had a 14-2 record. And just imagine the grief he’s going to give the competition with two more varsity years left.

So how did all this success come about?

No need to look any further than Craig’s dad, Eric Lewis.

“I grew up watching my dad pitch and I wanted to be just like him,” Craig said. He taught me to pitch and be mentally tough and not cave under pressure. He was always setting up games and taking my (boys’) team places to play, so we could be good in the future. He is the reason I have gotten into pitching.”

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Northwest Missouri Boys’ State Fastpitch Tournament Standings and Awards

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

WINSTON, MO – The Missouri Boys’ State Fastpitch Tournament has finished and the Jefferson Eagles went 3-0 to claim the championship, their 10th title since the tournament began in 1992.

2014 State Tournament Order of Finish
1. Jefferson Eagles 11-2
2. Mercer Cardinals 11-7
3. Winston Redbirds 16-2
4. North Harrison Shamrocks 7-6
5. Grundy Panthers 5-6
5. East Harrison 4-8
5. Tri-County Mustangs 2-9
5. Newtown-Harris Tigers 0-14

All-State Fastpitch Team

Jed Galbraith, senior, unanimous selection
Ben Jermain, junior, unanimous
Bryce Deen, junior, unanimous
Corby Walker, junior

Drew Cox, senior, unanimous
Trey Wilson, junior, unanimous
Devin Purvis, senior

Chevy Calhoon, senior, unanimous
Craig Lewis, sophomore, unanimous
Ty Uthe, junior, unanimous
Kristchon Hisel, junior

Blake Emig, senior, unanimous
Colton Castleberry, senior

Mason Radcliff, junior

Slade Orndorff, senior

Northwest Royals of Winston, Missouri claim fifth ASA boys’ national championship

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

ASA Tournament 2014

By ERIC LEWIS / Head Coach Winston, Missouri Northwest Royals

ST. JOSEPH, MoCraig Lewis scattered six hits in leading the Northwest Royals of Winston, Mo. to an 8-3 victory over Northwest Implement of Conception Junction, Mo. to claim the ASA Boys’ 16-Under National Championship at Heritage Park in St. Joseph, Aug. 2.

The Royals have now won ASA boys’ national championships in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014.

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Winston Redbirds sweep through Missouri Boys State Fastpitch Tournament

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

2013-Winston.Boys.Fastpitch.webThe 2013 Missouri Boys State Fastpitch Champion Winston Redbirds include front row from left, Saxton Pliley, Ty Uthe, Stephen Evans, Chevy Calhoon, Dakota Hiley, Morgan Farrell, and Craig Lewis. Back row, left, assistant coach Jill West, Kristchon Hisel, Ethan Hiley, Jr. O’Dell, Zach O’Dell, Jordan Leonard, and head coach Eric Lewis. Not pictured, assistant coach Wayne Alexander and manager Jacob Lewis. Contributed Photo

WINSTON, MO – Led by superb pitching and an explosive offense, the Winston Redbirds swept through the 22nd annual Missouri Boys’ State Fastpitch Tournament undefeated by outscoring three opponents 42-3 to claim the title of the eight-team event held Oct. 4-5 at Danner Park in Chillicothe.

Winston opened with a 15-0 victory over Tina-Avalon, and followed that resounding offensive fireworks display by knocking off North Harrison 12-2 to set up a championship encounter with the Grundy County Panthers of Galt.

The Panthers (2-1) reached the finals by defeating East Harrison 17-2, and then pulled out a thrilling 9-7 victory over Jefferson. But the Panthers were no match for the Redbirds, who rolled to a 15-1 state championship victory – the first for Winston since the tournament began in 1992.

Winston enjoyed a dominating season by winning the HDC Conference title at 6-0, the HDC tournament championship and then capped off its season with a state title to finish 17-1.

And this may only be the start of a long championship run for the Redbirds as the entire roster is expected back next season, including freshman sensation pitcher, Craig Lewis, son of head coach Eric Lewis, who also serves as the school’s boys’ basketball coach and athletic director.

The Jefferson Eagles, 10-time state champions, claimed third with a 2-1 record, while North Harrison took fourth at 1-2. Newtown-Harris (2-1) claimed the consolation bracket by downing Mercer (1-2), 12-6.


1. Winston 6-0, 17-1
2. Grundy County 4-2, 9-4
2. Newtown-Harris 4-2, 7-9
2. North Harrison 4-2, 6-6
5. North Mercer 2-4, 7-12
6. East Harrison 1-5, 4-9
6. Tri-County 1-5, 1-7

    FIRST TEAM ALL-CONFERENCE (*denotes unanimous selection)

*Micah Busick, Sr. Newtown-Harris (U11,U12)
*Luke Stanley, Sr. North Harrison (AC11,U12)
*Gaige Blake, Sr. North Harrison (HM11,AC12)
*Reed Hallock, Jr. North Harrison
*Destin Gann, Sr. Grundy (HM11,U12)
*Clayton Radcliff, Sr. Grundy (U11,AC12)
*Cade Mullenix, Jr Grundy
*Chevy Calhoon, So. Winston (AC12)
*Craig Lewis, Fr. Winston
*Ty Uthe, So Winston
*Drew Cox, Jr. North Mercer (HM12)
Slade Orndorff, Jr. East Harrison (U12)
Matthew Craig, Sr. East Harrison (HM12)
Adam Crawford, Sr. Newtown-Harris (HM11,U12)
Grant Widner, Sr. North Mercer (U12)
Stuart Eller, Sr. Grundy

    Honorable Mention

Kristchon Hisel, So. Winston
Tanner Hudson, Jr. Grundy
Blake Emig, Jr. North Harrison
Trey Wilson, So. North Mercer
Nate Sutton, Sr. Tri-County

    Coach of the Year

Eric Lewis, Winston