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Cal-State Builders claim third consecutive NAFA Masters West championship

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


By Dave Carlton / Owner and Manager, Cal-State Builders

CARSON CITY, NEV – The Cal-State Builders made its annual trip to Carson City, Sept. 13-15, with hopes of retaining the NAFA Masters World Series West 40-Over crown. The same rag-tag group from the previous two years consisted of 12-men (with newcomer Scott Budnick, Bothell, WA, and veteran Mario Pereira, Roseville, CA) who put their skills to the test as tough competition loomed.

The Portland Brewers – narrowly defeated last year at the hands of Cal-State ace Kevin Kammueller (Shakopee, MN) – were hungry to redeem the loss. The Boston Seadogs, eliminated in 2012 by Portland in a dramatic extra-inning walk-off, were similarly eager to avenge the past.

Ten hopefuls entered the NAFA West Masters, with Cal-State, Portland, and Boston opposite each other in separate pools.

    Cal-State 11, SoCal Quakes 0

Rain and heavy wind suspended Friday’s games deep into the night. Game one slated for 8 p.m. finally got started around 10:30. The SoCal Quakes sent veteran Doug Rooney to the mound to face Cal-State’s iconic big-man Kammueller.

The Builders showed no ill effects from the rain delay as they quickly plated seven runs in the top of the first inning, sending 13 men to the plate. Dean Waltier highlighted a six-hit inning with a two-run blast to the right field corner. Both Randy “The Hammer” Bitterman and Darin Michael posted two hits each, while Mark Summers and Scott Budnick added walks.

Former Builder Mario Pereira, who took a few years off from the team, added a base hit, and Duane Christensen began his path to tournament MVP with a single.

Kammueller began where he left off at the ISC World Tournament (ISC II All-World pitcher) by pounding the strike zone with nasty corners and wicked movement. The Quakes mustered three hits in the mercy-shortened contest but could not score a run off the stingy Builder’s ace.

Former University of Arizona standout Debby Day, the only female pitcher to ever pitch at the men’s event, took over for Rooney in the top of the second and held off the Builders until the fourth, when pinch-hitter Larry Machado got a rally started with a clean single.

kammueller.kevin.246web Kevin Kammueller shows the form that earned him ISC II All-World and NAFA Masters All-World. Photo By BOB OTTO / June 2013 California Classic Fastpitch Tournament

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NAFA’s opening day highlighted by Hall of Fame ceremonies

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Matt Palazzo, Josh Johnson and Jeff Jahn were inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during ceremonies, Wednesday. Photo By BOB OTTO

DES MOINES – NAFA inducted several of its top performers and contributors into the Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the Greater Des Moines Softball Complex, Wednesday night.

Matt Palazzo of Des Moines; Josh Johnson, Brooklyn, Wisc.; Jeff Jahn, Oregon, Wisc.; Eric Steinbeck, Hermann, MO.; Darin Michael, Lacey, Wash., and Mark Miller, Appleton, Wisc. were all inducted.

Darin Michael, left, was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame, and presented by Lacey A’s manager and NAFA Founder, Pat Bucknell, Wednesday night. Photo By BOB OTTO

Talented speedster selected to NAFA Hall of Fame

Monday, July 8th, 2013

“He has pinpoint accuracy with his slap bunts and has the speed to match. He has taught me to always be one play ahead of what is happening in the outfield.” – Lacey A’s Pat Sagdal on teammate Darin Michael, Hall of Fame inductee.

OLYMPIA, WA – In 1981, a 14-year-old boy raced on to a softball diamond as a fill-in for his dad’s fastpitch team. Now 33 years later, Darin Michael’s talent and speed have carried him to the highest of honors.

In August, Michael will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during the World Series in Des Moines, Iowa. He joins just 32 players who have been inducted since NAFA’s founding in 1993.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to the NAFA Hall of Fame,” said the 45-year-old Michael. “Fastpitch has been a way of life for me and I am truly blessed to still compete at the level I do.”

Michael plays the outfield and bats leadoff for the Lacey A’s (WA), a NAFA AA-Major ball club. Remember now, he’s 45. An age when most players are past their prime in running down and diving for line drives.

But time has treated Michael kindly. His skills have remained in tact, says his manager Pat Bucknell, who has known Michael most of his life. Bucknell cites Michael’s ability: a switch-hitting slapper who can also drive the ball from the right side; an outfielder with a strong arm.

But one skill stands out – speed.

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The 2013 NAFA Hall of Famers, an exceptional class

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Josh Johnson, an outstanding hitter and pitcher from Wisconsin, who was on the 2013 USA Men’s National Team, will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the NAFA World Series in Des Moins, Iowa, Aug. 7-18. Photo By BOB OTTO

NAFA NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS – The North American Fastpitch Association began in 1993. In those 21 years of offering men’s fastpitch national tournaments, hundreds of great sponsors, managers, players, directors and umpires have participated under the NAFA banner.

But there’s a select few who have risen to the top of the sport – we call them the “best of the best.”

Since 1999, NAFA has inducted 46 players, managers, sponsors, umpires and contributors into its Hall of Fame – legendary players such as Todd Malnory (WI) in 2007; manager Leo Blakley (MO) in 2012; sponsors Merna and Elmer Wilber (WI) in ’12; and NAFA founder Pat Bucknell (WA) in 1999.

As in the past, this year’s class is exceptional. All nine will be inducted during the NAFA World Series in Des Moines, Iowa from Aug. 7 to 18.

palazzo.matt.361web Matt Palazzo of Iowa will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the NAFA World Series. Palazzo was a 2013 USA Men’s National Team member.

    Meet NAFA’s 2013 Hall of Fame class:
  • Mark Miller, sponsor, Appleton, WI
  • Matt Palazzo, player, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Jeff “Teddy” Jahn, player, Oregon, WI
  • Eric Steinbeck, player, Hermann, MO
  • Josh Johnson, player, Brooklyn, WI
  • Darin Michael, player, Olympia, WA
  • Rick Radloff, player, Madison, WI
  • Ed Gasper, player, Stockton, CA
  • Tadashi Yoshimura, Coach, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
    Stories and bios about the Hall of Famers will be published until the NAFA World Series starts on August 7. If you have played with or against, or know these gentlemen, please post comments about your memories of them.