Havre men’s fastpitch

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Shaina’s Challenge is a summer fastpitch mainstay in Havre, Montana

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

2017 Shaina’s Challenge bracket includes nine teams, the highest number to play in the tournament since it started five years a go. Courtesy Photo

By CHRIS PETERSON
Havre Daily News

HAVRE, Mont. – There are a lot of great summer sports traditions in Havre, but one of the finest is undoubtedly becoming the Shaina’s Challenge Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.

Shaina’s Challenge, which was started five years ago, gets set for another incarnation of the tournament this weekend at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field. The festivities will get underway Friday night with the Blue Pony Alumni Softball game set to start at 6.

The tournament begins after that with Bear Paw Credit Union taking on Master Sports at 7:30, followed by Havre Ford against Missoula/Valley Furniture at 9 p.m. The final game Friday night will start at 10:30.

The tournament was started five years ago in memory of Shania Evans and back then, it started with six teams, five of which came from Havre. But this weekend, nine teams will be in attendance, making Shaina’s Challenge the largest fastpitch tournament in the state over the past five years according to tournament organizer Patch Wirtzberger. The proceeds go to Havre Girls Fastpitch and the Shaina’s Challenge Scholarship.

“It says a lot about the support we get from the community of Havre,” Wirtzberger said. “This couldn’t happen without all of our local sponsors, and the support of the fastpitch fans in our community. The last couple of years the interest from out of town teams has grown and that helps as well. Back when we started this tournament it was six teams with five of them being filled with local guys. Now it’s grown to nine teams with six of them being from out of Havre so it’s been quite the jump.”

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A fastpitch family keeps the sport alive in Havre, Montana

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

2013champs2web The Gallery Lounge Fastpitch Club of Havre, Montana has won four ASA state championships and finished runner-up five times since 2005. Contributed Photo

HAVRE, Mont. – If half the Gallery Lounge Men’s Fastpitch Club seems to know each others inclinations on a softball diamond, there’s good reason: genetics.

The pitcher and the utility player are uncles to the catcher and shortstop; the first baseman is the father of the catcher and shortstop, and standing close by on the sidelines is the orchestrator of this band of family fastpitch fanatics – 79-year-old Russell Evans.

He’s better known as dad and grandpa and coach.

On the ball diamond, his son Gary, 49, pitches, son Rusty, 55, fills in where needed, son-in-law Cal Wirtzberger, 52, plays first base.

And there’s the apples of grandpa’s eyes: his grandsons, 27-year-old Patrick “Patch” Wirtzberger, the catcher, and his brother Danny, 30, at shortstop.

“I’ve always loved the game,” said Russ Evans, who began playing in the 1950s while growing up in Wanda, Minn. “I got the kids (Gary and Rusty) started and they got to liking it and then my two grandsons Dan and Patch wanted to play. It’s in our blood, I guess.”

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The big-time tournament in small town Havre, Montana

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

evans.wirtzbergers.1web Russell Evans, back row middle, with grandson Danny Wirtzberger, front left, great grandson Tripp, grandson Patch Wirtzberger (holding Montana State ASA Championship trophy), and son Gary. Contributed Photo

HAVRE, Mont. – In 1968 Russell Evans and a few fastpitch promoters came up with an idea to raise scholarship money by bringing some of the best men’s fastpitch talent in the world to Havre.

They hosted an international tournament that drew some of the best teams from Canada and the U.S. It turned out to be a huge success, lasting nearly 25 years until the mid-1990s.

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Moe Smith men’s fastpitch tourney in Missoula this weekend

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

MISSOULA, MT – The 42nd Annual Moe Smith Men’s Fastpitch Softball Tournament is being held in Missoula July 13-15.

The tournament is pool play with a four-game guarantee and single elimination playoff off on Sunday.

Teams competing are classified as NAFA A and A-Major, as well as ASA Class C, and include the Clinton Clowns, Havre, Great Falls, the Spokane Generals, Silver Slipper, Desporado, N-Unit, Billings Express, and the Bonner Boys.

The Silver Dollar Bar in downtown Missoula is providing hospitality by hosting the teams with a meal. Tournament results will follow.