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West St. Paul men’s fastpitch league thriving in Minnesota

Monday, July 30th, 2012

An overview of the West St. Paul Sports Center where 12 men’s teams are still able to play fastpitch softball.

WEST ST. PAUL, MN – Give us a place to play during the week.

That’s a plea that many men’s fastpitch players and teams champion throughout the U.S. But finding a city league that offers weeknight games has become difficult throughout the U.S. as the men’s game has fallen off over the past two decades.

But not so in West St. Paul.

The city that borders the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis has offered a city league, well, as long as any of the current crop of players can remember. And this year is no exception.

The West St. Paul League has 12 teams competing – from the “A” classified Minnesota Angels (ISC and ASA Major team) to several “B” and “C” ranked teams.

During the course of the season, which runs from April to August, the teams crossover and play each other.

Scott Emerson plays for the Blvd team, a C-team managed by Mike Fink. He’s a Wisconsin native who has played in his share of leagues. He likes what West St. Paul has to offer.

“The WSP is a 12 team league that is split up into two divisions,” he said. “There’s six B and higher teams and six C teams. I have played in Wisconsin and Minnesota and I would say this is the most competitive league I have played in. All of the teams are tough.”

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Men of Steel win NAFA World Series championship

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

El Paso Steel celebrates winning the NAFA World Series A-Major championship, Sunday, at Raccoon River Park Softball Complex in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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WEST DES MOINES, DES MOINES, IA – When the pitching toughens and the bats heat up a softball team can be hard to beat.

And on Sunday, the El Paso Steel pitched and slugged their way to the 2010 NAFA World Series A-Major National Championship with a double-knockout of Goring Lawn Care of St. Paul, MN at Raccoon River Park Softball Complex.

In the first championship game, Antonio Mancha was on top of his game hurling the Steel to an 8-3 victory, and in the ‘if necessary’ game co-managers, Robert Erivez and Albert Gomez handed the game ball right back to Mancha.

And the right-hander – who finished with a 5-1 record – kept the hard-hitting Goring squad in check for a 7-3 win.

For his efforts, Mancha was chosen the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“He was a workhorse,” said Erivez.

El Paso Steel, 2010 NAFA World Series A-Major National Champions

Though no statistics are yet available, Mancha also swung a lethal bat for El Paso, hitting for over a .500 average.

But the big right-hander – who was also the Most Valuable Player of the ASA Class C National Tournament in Salem, OR – deferred credit for the championship to his teammates, especially shortstop, Lauro Felix, who brought raves from players and fans alike for his fielding prowess.

“Lauro Felix is unbelievable,” Mancha said. “He makes great plays and that gives me confidence to have a defense like that.”

Goring Lawn Care blasted El Paso, 10-3, in the winners bracket final on Saturday, and Mancha took the loss – his only loss of the tournament.

The Steel jumped on Goring Lawn Care for five runs in the first inning of the if necessary game, and that proved to be the difference. The big blow came from a two-run homer by Jorge Correa.

Goring Lawn Care of St. Paul, MN

“After we got beat Saturday (by Goring), we had a team meeting,” said coach Gomez. “We said we came here to play some ball and we didn’t come to finish second. This is a dream come true.”

Goring manager, Jack Rowan, said that El Paso getting the early, big leads in both championship games was just too much to overcome.

“They got on us early like we did (in the winners bracket final) and we couldn’t come back,” Rowan said. “They are a good hitting team and Mancha was mixing his speeds well and hitting his spots. He’s a very good pitcher. If we played 10 times, I think we would split 5 and 5.”

For Goring, this is the team’s highest finish in NAFA World Series play. They finished fifth in the NAFA “A” World Series in 2002.

Felix, the Steel shortstop, played 13 years of professional baseball with the Oakland A’s, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, and in the Mexican Baseball League.

Time and again he made great plays to keep Goring off the bases.

“We discussed what happened to us last night and we said tomorrow’s a new day,” Felix said.

In deed it was. A championship kind of day.

For more World Series information, visit the NAFA website:North American Fastpitch Association