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Stepping Back In Time: Tim McGuire numbers among the best for Bloomington Beer Nuts

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

TIM McGUIRE had a successful pitching career with the Bloomington (IL) Beer Nuts, a major-caliber team from Bloomington, Illinois. Photo / The Pantograph

“I was wild as all get out. I might strike out 10, but I would walk 15 or 16.” – Tim McGuire

By RANDY KINDRED
Pantograph staff
June 25, 1986

BLOOMINGTON, IL – The numbers don’t lie. A 22-3 record, 1.01 earned run average, 175 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 151 innings.

Without question, they add up to the best start of Tim McGuire’s softball pitching career. That, he says, is what worries him.

“The book on me is I usually throw better in July and August (than May and June),” the Bloomington Beer Nuts right-hander told a reporter at O’Neil Park, his home away from home.

Click to continue reading “Stepping Back In Time: Tim McGuire numbers among the best for Bloomington Beer Nuts”

Bud Olson helps foster the revival of men’s fastpitch in La Crosse

Monday, March 20th, 2017

BUD OLSON, NAFA Hall of Fame member (2014), is helping lead the effort to revive men’s fastpitch in LaCrosse, Wisc. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2014 NAFA World Series

LA CROSSE, Wisc. – Some call them diehards. Some call them loyalists. Some call them movers and shakers. They’re the backbone of any worthy cause who roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

And when it comes to men’s fastpitch, Ronn Kopp, Loren Lathrop and Bud Olson fit those labels perfectly.

While many have long since given up, these three men continue the mission to revive the sport in Wisconsin. Maybe that’s why the state is the North American Fastpitch Association’s (NAFA) leader in team registration within the organization.

Kopp is the NAFA president and Lathrop a vice president. Both have been with the organization since its inception in 1993. They run NAFA Wisconsin affairs, conduct tournaments and leagues, and help run one of the most successful national tournaments in the sport: the NAFA World Series.

No doubt, they are true warriors.

Though Olson isn’t a NAFA official, he’s leading an admirable effort to revive fastpitch in the La Crosse area: he runs a team, he recruits younger players and helps form leagues, he encourages city officials to support fastpitch, and he will be hosting the NAFA state tournament for the next three years.

If every state had this type of commitment, the sport would be in much better shape.

Olson grew up on a Wisconsin farm, attended a country school where he began playing fastpitch in first grade. At 14 he was playing in a 4-H league. By 15 his burgeoning talent landed him a spot on the Sioux Creek Farmers team in a men’s league.

“I got my first hit when I was 10 against Bob Davis one of the top pitchers in the Barron County traveling League,” said Olson. “I made Chetek’s traveling team as a 16-year-old shortstop. When our 4-H team entered the Sand Creek Sunday Night league, I was playing four nights a week.”

Click to continue reading “Bud Olson helps foster the revival of men’s fastpitch in La Crosse”

Register now for 2017 NAFA Boys World Series

Monday, March 13th, 2017

VASSAR, Mich. – Contact Corey Haubenstricker for information on how to register your boys’ team in the North American Fastpitch Association World Series.

  • Corey@irdhomes.com
  • 989-529-9184
  • 321 Prospect St.
    Vassar, MI 48768
  • A Step Back In Time: Scandia honors local Fastpitch Hall of Famer Wayne Erickson

    Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

    SOFTBALL CHAMPS – Scandia, Minn. defeated River Falls, Wisc. 8-6, in nine innings Sunday night, July 24, 1967, at Eau Claire’s Carson Park to win the first Open Softball Tournament. Members of the championship team were front row, left to right: Choc Junker, Tom Thompson, Barney Barnholdt, Jim Lindberg, Wayne Erickson and Joe Junker. Back row, George Lindgren, Dean Carlson, Dennis Lofboom, Greg Benson, Phil Anderson, Manager Don Seguin, and Dan Jacobson. Staff Photo / Eau Claire Leader

    SCANDIA, Minn. – For the thousands of batters who faced Wayne Erickson, it was most-often a frustrating and fruitless endeavor. But his teammates? They loved him. After all Erickson was a huge factor in helping Scandia win four state men’s fastpitch championships.

    And for Erickson’s great exploits for Scandia fastpitch, the city renamed its softball field (simply called “Scandia lighted ball field”) to Wayne Erickson Memorial Ball Park, in 2011.

    Erickson is the only Minnesota Sports Federation Softball Hall of Fame (1984) member to come from Scandia.

    In his youth, Erickson played baseball, but at age 16 he began pitching fastpitch for Scandia, and continued throwing for his hometown team for the next twenty years.

    FOUR TIMES CHAMPS

    Those attending the dedication remembered Wayne for his perfection of the art of pitching that helped take the Scandia team to four ASA Class A state championships in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968.

    “I’m one of four ball players from Scandia that got to play with and against Wayne Erickson in his prime,” Doniver Ahlm said. “Before playing with Wayne I played against him. I had the opportunity to strike out against every type of pitch he threw.”

    Click to continue reading “A Step Back In Time: Scandia honors local Fastpitch Hall of Famer Wayne Erickson”

    Nicholas Mercer: The violence of throwing a softball

    Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
    FIVE-TIME ISC TOP PITCHER - Adam Folkard has won five ISC Most Outstanding Pitcher awards, and has led Australia to titles in the ISF and WBSC World Championships. In 2016, he pitched the Hill United Chiefs of Ontario, Canada to runner-up in the ISC World Tournament and was named an All-World pitcher for a eighth time.  His 4-1 record gives him 39 wins all-time in ISC World Tournament play. Photo By BOB OTTO

    FIVE-TIME ISC TOP PITCHER – Adam Folkard has won five ISC Most Outstanding Pitcher awards, and has led Australia to titles in the ISF and WBSC World Championships. In 2016, he pitched the Hill United Chiefs of Ontario, Canada to runner-up in the ISC World Tournament and was named an All-World pitcher for a eighth time. His 4-1 record gives him 39 wins all-time in ISC World Tournament play. Photo By BOB OTTO

    The Telegram Sports
    By Nicholas Mercer
    Sept. 12, 2016

    ST. JOHNS, NL – Seeing high-level fastpitch softball play out on a computer screen over a webcast doesn’t do the game justice.

    Nor does it allow the average fan to appreciate just what goes into throwing the softball very hard at the plate.

    When you’re watching the game 20-feet from the pitching rubber, it’s easy to see the webcast sells the act incredibly short.

    A hush falls over the crowd as the pitcher takes his signs from the catcher. They’re counting on seeing something great with every pitch.

    That sense of anticipation only heightens when the pitcher rocks back before leaping towards the plate and uncoiling a ball that travels at ungodly speeds.

    Continue Reading in The Telegram

    Important links to the 2016 NAFA World Series

    Monday, August 15th, 2016
    Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minnesota is hosting the 2016 NAFA World Series, Aug. 11-21.

    Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minnesota is hosting the 2016 NAFA World Series, Aug. 11-21.

    NORTH MANKATO, Minn. – Want to know who’s winning? Who’s leading the tournament in pitching, hitting, and fielding?

      For all things concerning the NAFA World Series at Caswell Park in North Mankato, visit these important links

  • World Series Divisions
  • Playnafa Results and Stats
  • NAFA Website
  • Caswell Park
  • Caswell Park Sports
  • Thank You,
    Benjie Hedgecock
    NAFA Executive Director
    503-559-5398
    Nafafastpitch@gmail.com

    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.

    Devotion to men’s fastpitch ushers Bob Chapel into the NAFA Hall of Fame

    Thursday, August 11th, 2016

    “I just keep going because I love it.” – Bob Chapel

    chapel.nafa.web
    Bob Chapel puts the radar gun on the pitchers at the 2010 NAFA World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

    BAKERSFIELD, CALIF – When it comes to job security, Bob Chapel knows he’s safe. Knows that few, if any, will rush forward eager to take his place running men’s fastpitch tournaments in northern and central California.

    Since 1982, the 69-year-old has been a tournament director. Starting in March, Chapel’s weekends are spent on softball fields in Bakersfield, Stockton, Sonora or Reno running tournaments. Over 150 and climbing, he figures, in those 31 years.

    Back in 1982 when he directed his very first tournament – an ASA event – 32 teams were entered. It wasn’t all that difficult finding teams since the sport was booming in California’s central valley. The scene has changed over the years with far fewer teams playing the sport.

    But that doesn’t stop him from fighting to keep the sport alive in his part of the country. Why does he carry on when so many of his generation have left fastpitch in the rearview mirror?

    “I do it because I love doing it,” said Chapel, who splits time between homes in Bakersfield and Billings, Montana. “The guys keep asking me back. And who is going to take over if I step away?”

    Click to continue reading “Devotion to men’s fastpitch ushers Bob Chapel into the NAFA Hall of Fame”

    Still time to play in the 2016 NAFA World Series

    Thursday, August 4th, 2016

    DAYTON, Ore. – For teams and players who have yet to register to play in the 2016 NAFA World Series in North Mankato, Minnesota, you can still do so. But time is running short.

    “We would love to have (more teams) come and participate in our World Series,” said Hedgecock. “Or if you want to play, but don’t have a team, let us know and we will find you one.”

    The three divisions still open for registration

  • Aug. 18-21 Men’s “A” (lowest level)
  • Aug. 19-21 Men’s “AA”
  • Aug. 19-21 “23-Under” (no time conflicts with other divisions on Friday or Saturday nights)
  • Contact NAFA Executive Director Benjie Hedgecock and register now.
    Phone: 503-559-5398
    Email: Nafafastpitch@gmail.com

    NAFA Announces 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

    Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
    The North American Fastpitch Association offers World Series tournaments for all caliber of players - from age 23-Under to Masters, 65-over. Visit www.nafafastpitch.com for information to register your team.

    The North American Fastpitch Association offers World Series tournaments for all caliber of players – from age 23-Under to Masters, 65-over. Visit www.nafafastpitch.com for information to register your team.

    DAYTON, OR – The North American Fastpitch Association announced that eight individuals – six players, one umpire and a coach / sponsor – will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame at ceremonies held at various World Series during the 2016 season.

    2016 HALL OF FAME MEMBERS

    Umpire

  • Steve Komoroski, Wisc.
  • Coach / Sponsor

  • Doug Smith, New Jersey
  • Players

  • Kyle Goslee, Minn.
  • Chad Osterman, Minn.
  • Colin McKenzie, BC, Canada
  • Trevor Knight, Wash.
  • Duane Clarkson, Manitoba, Canada
  • Mario Pereira, Calif.
  • The 2016 NAFA World Series

  • Open World Series, Fife (Seattle), Wash., July 22-24
  • Boys Youth, Vassar, Mich., July 30-31
  • AA-Major, Quad Cities, IA/IL, Aug. 19-21
  • A-Major, Mankato / North Mankato, Minn., Aug. 11-14
  • Wood Bat Nationals Upper Midwest, Mankato / North Mankato, Aug. 12-14
  • Wood Bat Nationals Lower Midwest, Newton, KS, July 30-31
  • Wood Bat Nationals West, Albuquerque, NM, Aug. 27-28
  • A and AA Divsions, Mankato / North Mankato, Aug. 18-21
  • 23-Under, Mankato / North Mankato, Aug. 19-21
  • Masters East, Niagara Falls, NY, Aug. 26-28
  • Masters Midwest, Quad Cities, Sept. 9-11
  • Masters West, Carson City, NV, Sept. 16-18
  • NAFA CONTACT INFORMATION
    Benjie Hedgecock, Executive Director
    email: Nafafastpitch@gmail.com
    cell: 503-559-5398
    work: 503-864-4487
    fax: 503-864-3939
    P.O. Box 566
    Dayton, OR 97114