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Hennager men’s fastpitch softball team repeats as Minnesota state champs

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Men’s Fastpitch Softball Team repeated as Minnesota Class A Men’s  Fastpitch State Softball Champions, going 4-0 in last weekend’s tournament in Blaine, Minn. Team members include, front row, from left: Chris Bambenek, Minneapolis; Tyler Eickhoff, Fountain; Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal; Spencer Yackel, Rochester; Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal; and David Dewitz, Good Thunder. Back from, from left, is: Coach Blake Meshke, Lake Crystal; Brett Scheevel, Rochester; Ryan Scheevel, Rochester; Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal; Derek Meshke, Brookings, S.D.; Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal; and Robert Petersen, Pipestone. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

Walk-off home run wins repeat title for Lake Crystal ball club

By Sheryl Doering Meshke
Reporter / Photographer
Aug. 5, 2018

BLAINE, Minn. – The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Men’s Fastpitch Softball Team repeated as Minnesota Sports Federation Class A Men’s Fastpitch State Champions, going 4-0 this weekend at Aquatore Park in Blaine, Minn.

As defending champs, the Hennager team — “Plumbers” — received a first-round bye. In the opening game, the hometown team defeated the Bombers of Fargo, N.D., 6-2. Brent Meshke of Lake Crystal, Minn., took the win, with five strikeouts. Collecting base hits were Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal, and Robert Petersen, Pipestone, Minn. Brent Meshke added a solo homer.

Brent Meshke helped Hennager Plumbing and Heating of Lake Crystal win the 2018 Minnesota Men’s Class A State Fastpitch Championship, Aug. 5 in Blaine, Minn. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

Facing the St. Paul Pawns of St. Paul, Minn., the Hennager men won in a slugfest, 15-9. Brent Meshke and Ryan Scheevel, Rochester, Minn., shared duties on the mound. Collecting multiple hits for the Plumbers were Dalton; Brent Meshke; Petersen; Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal; and Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal. Petersen and Schroeder delivered home runs.

Following a sixth-inning home run to tie the championship game, Josh Schroeder receives accolades from team members Jake Dalton, center, and Brent Meshke. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

To reach the championship game, the Plumbers defeated Minnesota Computers, St. Paul, 3-1, with Scheevel taking the win. He gave up six hits and struck out one. Dalton and Scheevel went two for four at the plate, with Scheevel securing a solo home run.

In the championship game, the Plumbers defeated Striker’s Lanes of Baldwin, Wis., 6-4. Brent Meshke started in the circle. In the top of the first inning, the Strikers scored three runs. The Plumbers answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Strikers scored again in the top of the fifth, to take a one-run lead.

Scheevel relieved Brent Meshke in the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth, Schroeder hit a solo home run to tie the game, 4-4. With a final chance for the win in the bottom of the seventh inning, lead-off batter Dalton bunted for a single. Brent Meshke, in the third spot, hit a walk-off home run to win the title. Scheevel picked up the win.

As Brent Meshke rounds third base, coach Blake Meshke gives a high five for the walk-off home run to win the state men’s fastpitch softball championship. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

Ryan Scheevel of Rochester, Minn. fires a pitch during the 2018 Minnesota Class A Men’s State Fastpitch Softball Tournament. Scheevel picked up the win in the championship game in a 6-4 victory over Striker’s Lanes. Photo By Sheryl Doering Meshke

Men’s Fastpitch Softball returns to Pipestone

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Scarlett’s of Sioux Falls, So. Dak., won the 2017 Pipestone Men’s Fastpitch Tournament. Photo / The Pipestone County Star

“You need pitching, though. You have to develop the pitchers, that’s the biggest thing. You can get the players, but you have to have the pitching to go along with the rest.” – Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director, and fastpitch player Robert Petersen

By KEVIN KYLE
Pipestone County Star
July 19, 2017

PIPESTONE, Minn. – Men’s fast pitch softball made a brief return to town Saturday and Sunday, as a pair of clubs from Minnesota and two teams from South Dakota squared off in a tournament at Harmon Park in Pipestone.

For most of the younger spectators, the Pipestone Fastpitch Softball Tournament offered a first glimpse of men competing in a sport that Pipestone Area High School has been so successful playing the last 15 years.
Many of their parents, however, recall the heyday of the sport in town in the 1980s and early 90s.

“We haven’t had this here for a long time,” said Pipestone Parks & Recreation Director Robert Petersen, who also plays with the Hennagar’s Plumbing & Heating team out of Lake Crystal. “We used to have a 16-team league here called the Tri-County League, and we had teams from Pipestone, Holland, Woodstock, Ruthton, Leota and Edgerton… played two nights a week. Each town would have a tournament on a weekend, but now it’s really a dying sport around here.”

Click to continue reading “Men’s Fastpitch Softball returns to Pipestone”

Minnesota’s Hennager Plumbing and Heating wins NAFA World Series Championship

Sunday, August 14th, 2016
Hennager Plumbing and Heating, front row, from left: Assistant Coach Jeff Hohenstein, Curt Rogers, Robert Peterson, Lou Heller, Brent Meshke, Jake Dalton, Brandon Friedrichs and Blaid Friedrichs; back row, from left: Dusty Pfeiffer, Justin Davis, Ben Morrison, John Hohenstein, Dan Pawelk, Chris Bambenek, Derek Meshke, Josh Schroeder and Coach Blake Meshke. – Photo By Sheryl Meshke

Hennager Plumbing and Heating, front row, from left: Assistant Coach Jeff Hohenstein, Curt Rogers, Robert Peterson, Lou Heller, Brent Meshke, Jake Dalton, Brandon Friedrichs and Blaid Friedrichs; back row, from left: Dusty Pfeiffer, Justin Davis, Ben Morrison, John Hohenstein, Dan Pawelk, Chris Bambenek, Derek Meshke, Josh Schroeder and Coach Blake Meshke. – Photo By Sheryl Meshke

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – The small town of Lake Crystal (pop. 2,500) lies just 15 miles southwest of North Mankato. Easy traveling distance for the Hennager Plumbing and Heating men’s fastpitch team to travel to North Mankato’s Caswell Park. Easy traveling distance to win a World Series championship.

And that’s exactly what Hennager did.

Fueled by a 10-hit attack and the steady pitching of Brent Meshke, Hennager defeated Northern Merchants Fastpitch of New York, 10-1, in five innings to claim the NAFA A-Major World Series championship, Sunday.

Hennager rolled through the 20-team tournament undefeated at 5-0. They outscored their opponents 38-6, and never scored fewer than six runs in a game.

“Our team played solid defense,” said manager Blake Meshke. “Offensively, we went back to old-school softball and employed the bunt and run.”

The NAFA World Series has been held at Caswell Park three times – in 2005, 2008 and 2016. NAFA Executive Director, Benjie Hedgecock, has seen many good teams win championships over the years. And Hennager rates with some of the best.

“Hennager’s was impressive because of several factors, great coaching, great coacheable players, excellent team speed, and great chemistry,” said Hedgecock. “They had three tough pitchers in Brett Meschke, Lou Heller and Justin Davis.”

    FASTPITCH CITY USA

Lake Crystal has a long and distinguished history in men’s fastpitch, dating back to the early 1970s when brothers Ric and Ron Jones started the Lake Crystal Blues. The team won a ASA Class A state championship in the late 1970s.

And the younger players weren’t to be denied championships either. In 2011, the Lake Crystal boys’ fastpitch team won an ASA National Championship, and LeMay’s of Lake Crystal won the first age 23-Under NAFA World Series in 2005.

Now Hennager has stepped into the spotlight.

In the past two years, success has embraced the ball club twice. Along with the NAFA World Series title, Hennager won the 2015 Minnesota Sports Federation (MSF) Class B State Championship.

The victory over the Northern Merchants marked the second time the two ball clubs met. In the winner’s bracket final, Hennager came out on top, 7-2, sending the Merchants into the loser’s bracket where they defeated Bowen Fastpitch (IL), 7-1, for a second chance at the championship.

But it was not to be.

And largely do to the pitching of Meshke, who spun a two-hitter with seven strikeouts, while allowing one earned run. The win improved Meshke to 3-0 in the tournament. His totals read: 15 innings, eight hits allowed, one earned run, with two walks and 21 strikeouts for a miniscule 0.47 ERA.

Brent Meshke led Hennager with a 3-0 record and was selected the NAFA A-Major World Series Most Valuable Pitcher. Photo By Sheryl Meshke

Brent Meshke led Hennager with a 3-0 record and was selected the NAFA A-Major World Series Most Valuable Pitcher. Photo By Sheryl Meshke

    THE MVP

Meshke earned the Most Valuable Pitcher award, his second such honor, as he was selected the MV-Pitcher in the 2015 NAFA World Series by helping the West Fargo Bombers win the A Division championship. And his brother Derek was an All-World pick.

It was satisfying to help West Fargo win the title last year, but even more special in bringing a championship home to Lake Crystal.

“It’s a big accomplishment for the Hennager team,” said Meshke. “The teams we played were tough and the pitching we faced was good.”

Though his 0.47 ERA indicates dominance in the circle, the Hennager batsmen were equally impressive in the batters box, especially when it counted most: in the championship game.

    SWINGING A HOT BAT

Batting in the leadoff spot, Jake Dalton went 2-for-4 with two runs in the title game, and throughout the tournament his bat sizzled. In 20 trips to the plate, he smacked 13 hits for an incredible .650 average. He also scored 11 runs and had two RBI.

Jake Dalton was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 NAFA A-Major World Series. Photo By Sheryl Meshke

Jake Dalton was selected the Most Valuable Player of the 2016 NAFA A-Major World Series. Photo By Sheryl Meshke

Dalton’s selection as the World Series Most Valuable Player was an easy choice.

But he wasn’t the only batter pounding out the hits. In the championship game Dan Pawelk, was clutch in the RBI department, driving in four runs on 2-of-3 at bats, followed by Derek Meshke’s, 2-for-3, with two RBI. Brandon Friedrichs was 2-for-3, Ben Morrison, 1-for-2, and John Hohenstein, 1-for-3.

    WORLD CLASS TALENT

Also having an outstanding World Series, and named to the All-World team were pitcher Justin Davis, Chris Bambenek and Dan Pawelk. Davis was 1-0 in 10 innings with four strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA. Davis pitched superbly in Lake Crystal’s 7-2 win in winner’s bracket final over the Merchants.

Bambanek drove in four runs, scored six, and had a .286 average (4-for-14), while Pawelk led the team in RBI with five, and carried a .300 average (3-for-10).

In the championship, Northern Merchants’ leadoff batter Wayne Haver and Tyler Mann had the two hits Meshke allowed. Finishing runner-up in this prestigious tournament that draws teams from throughout the United States is a mark to be proud of. And the Merchants should feel good about finishing 4-2 in the four-day classic.

Hennager’s Plumbing & Heating of Lake Crystal reaches NAFA A-Major Winner’s Bracket Final

Friday, August 12th, 2016

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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – The small town of Lake Crystal is about 15 miles southwest of the cities of Mankato / North Mankato. Lake Crystal may be small in numbers (pop. 2,500), but it is big in men’s fastpitch softball – especially the Hennager Plumbing and Heating team.

In 2015 Hennager won the Minnesota Sports Federation Class B State Championship, and is a threat to take the 2016 NAFA World Series A-Major Division title after winning three consecutive games in the 20 team tournament being held at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Aug. 11-14.

Hennager opened with a 7-0 victory over Sawdust City (WI), then defeated RM Kurtz 6-2, and Weezer’s Fastpitch 8-1 to reach the winners bracket final scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.

Click here for the A-Major bracket.