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Long Beach Wolfpack hungry for another NAFA World Series title

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

wolfpack.2.trophy.280web
The Long Beach Wolfpack won the 2013 NAFA World Series A-Division and are eager to see what they can do after moving up to the A-Major Division that runs from Aug. 7-10 in the Quad Cities, Ill / Ia. Here second base Steve Parks celebrates with last year’s A-Division trophy. Photo By BOB OTTO

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Twelve months a go, the Long Beach Wolfpack won the NAFA A Division World Series championship in Des Moines, Iowa.

They were a first-year ball club playing in their first NAFA World Series. And they came away with their first World Series championship.

But that was last year; it’s time to move one; time to challenge for back-to-back titles.

Wolfpack manager Jesse Mullen believes if his team plays up to its potential, they should be in the hunt.

“We are balanced offensively and defensively,” said Mullen, who is also the team’s catcher. “As a team, we believe in each other and we want to keep progressing and moving up.”

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Check out Fastpitchwest scores and more of 2014 Calif. Classic Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Day Named Co-Most Valuable Pitcher of NAFA World Series

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

wolfpack.doom.debbie.322web Pitcher Debby Day helped the Long Beach Wolfpack win the 2013 NAFA A World Series in Des Moines and Urbandale, Iowa, Aug. 18, 2013. Photo By BOB OTTO / www.ottoinfocus.com

Release by Tracy Maple

URBANDALE, Iowa – Debby Day is no stranger to the softball diamond in the NCAA. For the last two summers she has made her mark by trading her coaching shoes for playing cleats, taking her talents to the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA), an organization that hosts the largest men’s fastpitch softball tournament in the world.

Not only has she defied the gender barrier, but in 2013 she was named the NAFA A World Series co-Most Valuable Pitcher for her performance in the circle for the World Series Champion Long Beach Wolfpack.

Undeterred from the fact that it is a men’s league, Day has proven her ability to not only play with and against the competition of her male opponents, but to succeed. During the week, Day produced an overall record of 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 30 innings with 14 strike outs.

Though the environment was hostile last year, it was a completely different atmosphere this time around.

“Honestly, it was one of the coolest playing experiences I have had in a while,” she shared. “Not only were the opposing teams and fans accepting, but having the other Southern California teams out there watching us on Sunday was really incredible and we were very appreciative of that support.”

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Long Beach Wolfpack’s hitting comes alive to take NAFA championship

Monday, August 19th, 2013

wolfpack.celebrate.254web The Long Beach Wolfpack celebrate their 7-3 NAFA A World Series victory over the Kansas City Outlaws, Sunday, at Urbandale’s Walker-Johnstoton Softball Complex. Photo By BOB OTTO

URBANDALE, IOWA – Getting shutout doesn’t sit so well with the Long Beach, California Wolfpack. Especially after averaging nearly nine runs in reaching the championship game of the NAFA A World Series with a 5-0 record.

But then they ran into a wall. An 18-year-old wall named Ethan Johnston pitching for the Kansas City Outlaws.

The right-hander from New Zealand who turned 18 in the World Series, saddled the Wolfpack with a three-hit, 6-0 loss in Sunday’s first meeting. Now with one loss a piece in the double-knockout tournament, the two ball clubs played a second game to decide who would wear the crown of “World Series champions.”

    SECOND TIME A CHARM

This time around though, Long Beach prevailed as their bats came alive. The Wolfpack pounded out 12 hits in defeating Johnston and the Outlaws 7-3 late Sunday at Urbandale’s Walker-Johnston Softball Complex.

“I think we were pressing in the first game,” said Wolfpack manager and catcher, Jesse Mullen. “We were a little too excited and not relaxed. In the second game, we went in loose and I think we got to (Johnston’s) rise ball. He had to throw other pitches, and when he did we were able to hit the ball.”

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Big comeback and homer puts Long Beach Wolfpack into NAFA A championship

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

wolfpack.17.Mich.207web Wolfpack catcher Jesse Mullen blocks the plate and tags out Northern Michigan’s Dylan Cuddahee trying to score the winning run with the game tied, 8-8, in the botton of the seventh in the winners bracket semifinals, Saturday, at Walker-Johnston Softball Compex in Urbandale. The Wolfpack cameback to win the game 10-9 in extra innings. Photo By BOB OTTO

URBANDALE, IOWA – They’re called the Long Beach Wolfpack, but a name change might be in order, such as the “Comeback Kids.” For the second consecutive game, the Wolfpack rallied to pull out a win.

This time a big one in the semifinals of the winners bracket in the 40-team NAFA A World Series, Saturday, at Walker-Johnston Softball Complex in Urbandale.

In what seemed more like a heavy weight fight than fastpitch softball, the Wolfpack pulled out a 10-9 victory over a Northern Michigan team (3-1) that scored 19 runs in its previous game.

“We haven’t seen hitting like this ever,” said Wolfpack manager and catcher Jesse Mullen. “Everybody’s crushing the ball and we have to crush it with them.”

    IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS

The two clubs combined for 27 hits – the Wolfpack leading with 17. And they cleared the fences with five home runs, four by Northern Michigan’s Tom Tryban, Joe Barnette, Randy Wheelock, and Devin Milheim; and one by the Wolfpack’s Luis Perez.

No.Mich.10HR.55web Northern Michigan’s Devin Milheim is greeted by his teammates after hitting a three-run home run in the second that gave his team a 3-1 lead. Photo By BOB OTTO

After slugging it out for seven innings in which there were three ties and four lead changes, the game came down to the eighth inning tied, 8-8.

    ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE

In the top of the eighth, the Wolfpack put the game in the win column by scoring twice on Joe Janicke’s RBI single that plated Dave Hess, who walked, with the go-ahead run, followed by Dave Waco’s hit up the middle that brought home Perez, who reached safely with a single.

About the Wolfpack’s clutch hitting, Mullen said, “if one guy doesn’t do the job, the next guy will. We believe in each other.”

wolfpack4.mich10.178web Wolfpacks first baseman Dave Waco, front, and Northern Micigan’s Joe Barnette collide and are sent sprawling. Photo by BOB OTTO

Now leading by a pair of runs, a big question loomed: could pitcher Debby Day get three outs and seal the win? Yes, but not without some trouble.

Day got two ground ball outs to start the inning. But then Barnette blasted a homer deep over the centerfield fence to cut the lead to one. And Wheelock kept Northern Michigan’s hopes alive when he singled to left.

But Day got Dylan Cuddahee on a strikeout to end the game and send the Wolfpack into the winners bracket final against the Kansas City Outlaws (See story below).

    DAY TOUGH COMPETITOR

Day, who improved to 4-0, finished by allowing nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits, four walks and two strikeouts. Though Northern Michigan roughed her up some, Mullen was impressed with her tenacity in facing such a good hitting ball club.

day.mullen.jub.234webA Wolfpack pitcher Debby Day gets a big hug from catcher Jesse Mullen after striking out the final batter and getting the win for the Wolfpack. Photo By BOB OTTO

“She’s gritty and doesn’t give up,” he said. “If something happens, she just blows it off and goes right back at them. She’s stone-faced, you can’t tell if she gave up a home run or struck two people out in a row.”

Northern Michigan trailed 8-7 going into the bottom of the seventh. And only a huge play by Mullen at the plate denied them the win. The inning started with Wheelock reaching first on an infield throwing error.

Then Day issued walks to Cuddahee and Lee Wykcoff to load the bases for Guy Thorston. And the right-side hitter came through with a clutch single to centerfield that scored Wheelock to tie the game.

    SO CLOSE TO VICTORY

On Thorston’s hit, Cuddahee kept churning around third base trying to score the winning run. But centerfielder Aaron Breslow gunned a strong throw to Mullen blocking the plate to cut down the sliding Cuddahee and deny Northern Michigan the walk-off victory.

“It’s just been heartbreak after heartbreak for the other teams I think,” Mullen said. “These comebacks (were made) by all our guys.”

    Wolfpack down Kansas City Outlaws to reach championship game

Batting cleanup, Luis Perez belted a walk-off solo home run that sailed 300 feet over the slowpitch fence in deep centerfield to give the Wolfpack a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Outlaws in the winners bracket final on Saturday night.

perez.luis.HR.281web Luis Perez belted a solo homer that gave the Wolfpack the walk-off victory in the winners bracket final over the Kansas City Outlaws. Photo By BOB OTTO

Perez, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs, also hit a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Wolfpack up 2-1. The Outlaws tied the game two-all in the second on Mark Whitworth’s groundout, but Joe Janicke’s solo shot in the third put the Wolfpack back on top, 3-2.

And in the fifth, Janicke (2 for 3, double, home run) led off with a double and eventually scored on two passed balls to push the Wolfpack ahead, 4-2, a lead they carried into the seventh.

wolfpack.mcdougall.catch.315web Wolfpack left-fielder Tom McDougall made the play of the game when he made a diving catch to rob the Outlaws of a hit. Photo By BOB OTTO

The Wolfpack could have won the game in the top of the seventh, but the Outlaws scored twice on a walk and two infield errors and Matt Springston’s RBI single that tied the game.

The Wolfpack’s Andrew Ysais came on in relief in the fourth to pick up the win. The right-hander pitched well, allowing two runs (none earned) on five hits, one walk and one strikeout.

Outlaws’ 18-year-old New Zealand pitcher, Ethan Johnston, went the distance allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits (three homers), one walk, and five strikeouts.

The win puts the Wolfpack in the championship game scheduled for Sunday at 1:15 p.m. at Walker-Johnston Softball Complex. Meanwhile, the Outlaws must win an 11:30 losers bracket final for a second shot at the Wolfpack.

Day hurls Wolfpack over Kansas City Angels

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

wolfpack.doom.debbie.322web Debby Day, one of two female pitchers in the 40-team NAFA A World Series, pitched the Long Beach, Calif. Wolfpack to a first-round win, Thursday, at Walker-Johnston Softball Complex in Urbandale. Photo By Bob Otto

URBANDALE – The Wolfpack took an 8-5 victory over the Kansas City Angels with Debby Day, a former University of Arizona All-American pitcher, getting the victory.

The right-hander allowed five earned runs on six hits, two walks with three strikeouts in a complete game effort. Aaron Breslow led all hitters going 3 for 4, four runs, with two RBIs. Jesse Mullen was 3 for 4, and Steve Parks, Joe Janicke, Joe Herrera and Tom McDougall had one hit each.

For the Angels, Eddie Diaz, Fernando Esquivel, Mike Brown, Gary Calhoun, Mike Gomez, and Kevin Shaw all had a hit apiece.

    OTHER SCORES

Grumpy’s Bar 9, Minnesota PJ’s 0
Capital Fastpitch, 11, California Rude Pac 0
Long Beach Black Sox 8, Herzog, Missouri 0

For more opening day scores, visit: NAFA A Winners Bracket