Len’s Automotive fastpitch

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Highly rated family garage a NAFA World Series champion

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

First baseman and manager, Jim Washenberger, admires the first place trophy presented to him after Len’s Automontive of St. Paul, Minn. won the NAFA A Division World Series championship. Photo By ANNE SATTERLEE

ST. PAUL, Minn. – On West 7th Street in St. Paul, there’s a small garage, family owned, called Len’s Automotive.

It’s owned and run by the Washenberger’s – mother Gail and sons Jim and Dave.

An Internet search reveals that Len’s Automotive has a 5.0 out of 5.5 star rating. Pretty impressive and a symbol of excellence.

But Len’s does much more than provide excellent automotive service. They play some pretty good men’s fastpitch softball too.

First a little background.

Brothers Jim and Dave attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School where they played baseball. After graduating, the boys took up softball – the slowpitch variety. (Hold the booing, please.)

All the while, there friends who were playing fastpitch, would stop by the garage and badger them to “give up lob ball,” said Joe Ganther, friend and fellow softball player.

“Finally,” said Ganther, “Paul Buzicky and George “Buzzy” Connors made Jim a late convert to the sport in 2000 when he was already in his mid-30s. After his first game, he was hooked.”

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Inspired Len’s Automotive defeats Duluth Fastpitch to claim NAFA A Division World Series

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

2017 NAFA A Division World Series Champion Len’s Automotive of St. Paul, Minn. includes back row from left, Alex Farber, shortstop and NAFA A MVP, West St Paul;  Pat Hoban, right-field, St. Paul; Joe Ganther, pitcher, NAFA A Honorable Mention, Apple Valley; Tim Schuhwerck, pitcher and co-Most Outstanding Pitcher, St. Paul; Justin Olson, first base, St. Paul; Jim Washenberger first base and manager, St. Paul; Nick Leach, third base, Burnsville. Front Row, from left, Corey Noren, catcher and NAFA A Honorable Mention, St. Paul; Willie Faricy, second base and NAFA A All-World, Rosemount; Dave Zschokke, catcher, Little Canada; Chad Washenberger, pitcher and NAFA A All-World, St. Paul;  Kyle Pobanz, centerfielder and NAFA A All-World, St. Paul, and Chris Bogie, left-fielder, St. Paul. Photo By ANNIE SATTERLEE

FARGO – At the start of the season, Len’s Automotive was searching for some sort of positive message that would unite and inspire the team in every game, in every inning.

Kyle Pobanz and Nick Leach fashioned just the right slogans for the St. Paul squad to rally around.

“The start for each day was Kyle Pobanz telling the team, “why not us, why not now,” said Joe Ganther, who pitches and plays the infield. “And the rally cry for every inning was Nick Leach bellowing, “we’re winning every inning!”

    DOMINATING PERFORMANCE

Len’s Auto responded to the inspiring mantras by rolling through the NAFA A Division World Series undefeated and defeating Duluth Fastpitch, 5-1, in the title game at Northside Softball Complex, Sunday, Aug. 20.

Len’s clung to a 1-0 lead in the early going before breaking the game open with three runs in the fourth inning and a solo in the sixth.

In the fourth, Justin Olson got the offense started with a single, followed by Willie Faricy’s double and Nick Leach’s hit, with all three batsmen driving in a run.

    RELIEVER PUTS THE FIRE OUT

Duluth responded by loading the bases in the sixth on two hit batters and a single. A third hit batter brought in a run, but Tim Schuhwerck, called on to relieve starter Chad Washenberger, stopped the hemorrhaging by spinning a drop ball and getting a double play to end the inning.

Len’s got the run back in its half of the sixth on Olson’s sacrifice fly to deep centerfield that sent Pat Hoban trotting home. Hoban opened the inning with a triple to the base of the right-field fence.

Schuhwerck hurled a clean seventh and after his last pitch, Len’s Auto commenced to celebrating. In the previous five years of competing in the World Series, the highest Len’s Auto had ever finished was ninth.

Living up to Pobanz and Leach’s slogans surely helped in an inspirational way, but to win NAFA championships takes skillful gloves, arms and bats.

    LINEUP OF TOUGH OUTS

“We’ve always been strong on defense and pitching,” said first baseman and manager Jim Washenberger, “it’s the backbone of the team. But our hitting got hot here.”

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Ganther stifles Balboa on a two-hitter

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

lens.automotive.ganther.105web Joe Ganther tossed a two-hit shutout in leading Len’s Automotive of Minnesota to a first round win in the NAFA A World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

URBANDALE – Len’s Automotive of Minnesota got a strong performance in the circle from Joe Ganther as the right-hander shutout the Balboa Fastpitch Club of California, 7-0, Thursday, in the opening day of the NAFA A World Series.

Ganther allowed but two hits and struck out two in going the distance.

Alex Farber belted a three-run homer and Pat Hoban was 3 for 3 to lead Len’s Automotive. For Balboa, Celio Smalling, Jr. had a triple and K.C. Shaw single.