Mike Piechnik

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Remembering Tampa Bay Smokers Jason Hanson and his ISC World Tournament heroics

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

1996.ISC.WT.Hanson.1web Tampa Bay Smokers No. 9 hitter Jason Hanson hit a dramatic, walk off home run in the 1996 ISC World Tournament that gave the Smokers a 4-2 victory over the Green Bay All-Car Roadrunners. Photo By BOB OTTO

KIMBERLY, WISC. – I doubt Jason Hanson will ever forget the 1996 ISC World Tournament. If we take the liberty of calling athletes “heroes,” then Hanson certainly qualifies.

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Remembering Gareau, Sorenson and Piechnik, legends of the ISC World Tournament

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

2013-Gareau.Piechnik.Sorenson.ISC.6web Photo By BOB OTTO

When fastpitch fans of the International Softball Congress start talking about “who were some of the best of all-time to play in the World Tournament,” three names are sure to surface – Canadian pitchers Korrey Gareau, left, Mike Piechnik, and New Zealand catcher and first baseman Mark Sorenson.

All three – now retired – had stellar careers in the ISC and in their native countries. Let’s learn a little about them. (And fans are welcome to weigh in with their comments.)

    THE BEST PLAYER EVER? HARD TO ARGUE

Let’s start with Sorenson. The right-side hitting and throwing New Zealander, who was recently named Head Coach of the New Zealand Black Sox National Team, was selected ISC All-World 16 times, placing him No. 2 on the all-time list behind Cleo Goyette with 16.

Sorenson also helped his teams win four ISC World Tournament championships, while being named the Most Valuable Player and RBI leader in 1988. Sorenson was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2010.

    FUTURE HALL OF FAMER

Korrey Gareau surged into the ISC World Tournament spotlight as a 24-year-old in 1997 when he hurled the Victoria BC Legends to second place in the world tournament in Victoria. From ’97 to 2008, Gareau went on to pitch for several outstanding U.S. ball clubs including the Tampa, Florida Smokers, Nebraska Travelers and Farm Tavern of Madison, Wisc.

Gareau helped the Farm win the World Tournament in 2007 and was selected the LeRoy Zimmerman Memorial Outstanding Pitcher.

In 1997, Gareau earned his first of six All-World honors with the Victoria Legends for his world tournament 5-2 record, 38 innings, 39 hits, 16 earned runs, 64 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA. Gareau’s six all-world selections ties him with nine other players, including the likes of Todd Budke (ISC Hall of Fame 2012), Dean Holoien, and Richie Stephen (ISC Hall of Fame 1979).

Gareau will surely be up for Hall of Fame nomination when he becomes eligible.

    BEST LEFTY ALL-TIME? HARD TO IGNORE

In an International Softball Congress career spanning 1985 to 2000, left-handed flame throwing Mike Piechnik – known for a great rise ball – earned ISC World Tournament All-World honors nine times. That puts him in a class with other great pitchers, including Canadians Todd Martin and Darren Zack (ISC Hall of Fame 2010).

Piechnik, who was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009, has some incredible performances on his pitching resume: In the ISC World Tournament, he threw four perfect games (1985, 1993, 1998, 2002), along with six no-hitters.

In 1993, he became the first pitcher to throw perfect games at the ISC World Tournament, the Canadian Championships, and the ASA Major National Championship in a three week span.

    SHARE YOUR MEMORIES
  • As a player, did you ever play with or against these three men?
  • As fan, did you ever see them play?
  • Can you recall some memories that stand out about their performances?
  • If so, we invite you to share them with your fellow fastpitch fans?