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Some of the greatest in Minnesota fastpitch history to receive the sport’s highest honor

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Meet the 2018 Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame class: Of these 19 slowpitch, modified and fastpitch inductees, 13 starred in the fastpitch game as either players, umpires, managers and coaches, promoters, sponsors, administrators, or in some cases, were involved in every facet of the game. Photo courtesy of Perry Coonce / Executive Director of the Minnesota Softball Federation

SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – Some like the late Walter Nelson were great fastpitch pitchers in leading their teams to state and regional championships. Others like Tom Niederkorn, Bill Olson and Dan Lee could belt the riser, drop and change-up as well as any hitter to ever step into the batter’s box.

And still others, made their mark in the sport in nearly every conceivable way possible. Including Jim Langowski and Jack Norman, who first excelled as players and then remained in the sport for years volunteering, managing, promoting and serving in any capacity needed in continuing the great legacy of Minnesota men’s fastpitch softball.

For the following 13 men, whose time in the game stretches as far back as six and seven decades, they will receive the highest honor possible in Minnesota softball lore: induction into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame during a ceremony banquet at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, Nov. 2nd, under the direction of the Minnesota Sports Federation.

    Meet The Outstanding 2018 Hall of Fame Fastpitch Class
  • Wayne Dahl, player, from Dawson
  • Gary “Meatball” Holtz, player, Hutchinson
  • Dick Erickson, player, Dawson
  • Dan Huisman, player, Ellsworth
  • Charlie Johnson, umpire / meritorious service, Detroit Lakes & Hitterdahl
  • Jim Langowski, player, manager, promoter, meritorious service, Winona
  • Dan Lee, player, Dawson
  • Dick McNally, player, St. Charles & Ridgeway
  • *Walter Nelson, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Tom “Weed” Niederkorn, player, Hastings & St. Paul
  • Jack Norman, volunteer, organizer, meritorious service, Mankato & Lake Crystal
  • Bill Olson, player, Duluth
  • Jim Prestholdt, player, sponsor, manager, meritorious service, Dawson
  • Many superlatives were spoken about the inductees, including this accolade from Wayne Dahl and Ken Club, who led the nomination of Jim Prestholdt.

    “In his career as a pitcher, Jim won over 450 games,” said Dahl. “(He) was always organizing fastpitch leagues, teams and games at his own time and expense! He started a four-team league in Dawson (pop. 1,600). He would implore players to participate, and they would. Jim raised $20,000 in a week for a new concessions stand at Prestholdt Fields in Dawson…Jim also coached and mentored many developing players in the local league, particularly pitchers.”

    And this from Stan Knopick, who nominated Jim Langowski, who starred as a pitcher for 15 years in Minnesota and five in Northern California.

    “Jim was a great pitcher and fine hitter,” said Knopick. “But Jim was very active off the softball field also. He arranged tournaments, started the Winona Softball Association and was a manager for over 15 years in Minnesota and five in California. Jim organized tournaments, hired the umpires, took care of the media work, selected volunteers to help at games and tournaments, helped prepare the fields, and used his knowledge to mentor young softball players, both boys and girls.”

    And the tributes for the others are just as inspiring.

    Rivals claim second consecutive Hingham tourney

    Thursday, August 9th, 2018

    The Rivals Fastpitch team includes Wayne Gaura, Michael Andrew Skora, Anthony Hall, Trevor Gaura, Jake Jasinski, Michael Feest, Ryan Dalton and Josh Pfleger.

    HINGHAM, Wisc.The Rivals Fastpitch team of Sheboygan won the 48th annual Hingham Men’s Fastpitch Tournament beating Countryside Remodeling in the final, 11-4.

    Rivals posted a 5-0 record to win their second championship in as many years.

    Wayne Gaura notched the win with five strikeouts, with Jerrod Dulmes and Mark Nelson splitting the pitching duties for Countryside. Nelson in relief struck out 8 Rivals batters.

  • The top hitters included Justin Zehel 2-for-3, Jerrod Dulmes 2-for-2 (Team MVP), Mike Skora 2-for-3, Tony Hall (Team MVP)
  • Trevor Gaura was selected the Tournament Offensive Most Valuable Player, while Wayne Gaura was named the Tournament Defensive MVP.

    NAFA World Series fast approaching, here’s the latest information

    Thursday, June 21st, 2018

    PAUL BRUHA of Animal House, LaCrosse, Wis. rips into a pitch during the 2017 NAFA A Division World Series at Northside Softball Complex in Fargo, Thursday, in the opening day of the 38-team event that runs through Sunday. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series

    FARGO, No. Dak. – For information about the 2018 NAFA World Series, including hotels, division competition dates, current listing of teams participating, and more, visit NAFA website.

    Newberg NAFA tourney wraps up Sunday

    Sunday, May 27th, 2018

    Shayne Arndt is a NAFA Director for the Northwest Region. Courtesy Photo / Shayne Arndt

    By SHAYNE ARNDT
    NAFA Director of Northwest Region

    NEWBERG, Ore. – The President Hoover Memorial Day Men’s Fastpitch Tournament, May 26-27, being played a Crater Park wraps up Sunday with the playoffs starting at 8:30 a.m., with the title and consolation games scheduled for 11:50.

      Saturday’s Schedule (scores not available)

    8:30 a.m.
    C1 Desparados vs All Star

    10:10
    C1 Desparados vs Braves

    11:50
    C1 All Star vs Cleons
    C2 Braves vs K Club

    1:30 p.m.
    C1 All Star vs Braves
    C2 K Club vs Cleons

    3:10
    C1 Cleons vs Jack’s

    4:50
    C1 K Club vs Jack’s

    6:30
    C1 Desparados vs Jacks

      Sunday Playoffs

    8:30 a.m.
    C1 seed 6 vs seed 3
    C2 seed 5 vs seed 4

    10:10
    C1 seed 3/6 vs seed 1
    C2 seed 4/5 vs seed 2

    11:50
    C1 Championship
    C2 Consolation game

    2018 President Hoover Men’s Fastpitch Tournament

    Monday, April 16th, 2018

    By SHAYNE ARNDT
    NAFA Northwest Director

    Play men’s fastpitch in the great Northwest state of Oregon!

    TOURNAMENT DETAILS

    When: May 26-27 (Saturday and Sunday only)
    Where: Crater Elementary School, 203 West Foothills Drive, Newberg, Ore. 97132
    Entry Fee: $400 due by May 7th, 2018. Make check payable to Creating Conquerors
    Awards: Trophies for first and second place. Awards for MVP Pitcher, MVP Player, and All Star team
    Concessions: On site, but the tournament site is an alcohol-free school zone.

    Contact: Shayne Arndt, NAFA NW Director at 541-561-1613.

    NAFA A-Major MVPs and All-World Players

    Friday, August 18th, 2017

    Bowen Fastpitch pitcher, JULIAN FERNANDEZ, 19, was selected the Most Valuable Pitcher of the 2017 NAFA A-Major World Series for leading Bowen to the championship in the 30-team tournament. Photo By BOB OTTO

    BY BENJIE HEDGECOCK
    NAFA Executive Director

    FARGO – The top honorees earning post-tournament NAFA awards from the 30-team A-Major Division have been released in three categories – most valuable performers, pitchers and batters.

      MOST VALUABLE PITCHER

    Julian Fernandez, Bowen Fastpitch

      MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

    Facundo Gonzales, Bowen Fastpitch

      PITCHERS

    Derek Martin, R.M. Kurtz
    Brandon Peck, Fleetwood Marlins
    Tom Haver Northern Merchants, New York
    Dave Stokes, Elanco Blackhawks
    Kyle Koterba, Dempsey’s
    Dave Drotzman, Lacey A’s
    Bryan Lathrop, Stoneyard
    Lumar Goss, Calif. Buzzards (pitcher and batter)

    Click to continue reading “NAFA A-Major MVPs and All-World Players”

    Bombers keep the fastpitch tradition alive in Bee

    Friday, August 18th, 2017

    BEE Bombers shortstop RYAN DOLEZAL focuses on the batter during a NAFA A World Series game. Photo By BOB OTTO

    FARGO – At first glance and thought, the word BEE spelled out in bold, black letters on the front of their bright, red uniforms might lead one to think this men’s fastpitch team has a connection to the bee industry. Perhaps a sponsor with a honey-related business.

    Not even close.

    There’s a town in Nebraska named Bee. Population about 200 and located northwest of Lincoln about 40 miles, and halfway between Omaha and Grand Island.

    This little village on the prairie farmland of Nebraska doesn’t raise bees or produce honey, but it does produce some talented fastpitch players. Many with familial ties two and three generations deep.

    Men’s fastpitch goes back 64 years in Bee, says Roger Dolezal, who was keeping score for the Bee Bombers during a recent NAFA A Division game.

    Milo Navratil started it in the 1950s,” he said. “He’s 94 now, but he was running it and keeping the game alive until 2000. Then we took over and are keeping it rolling. Our young men want to play ball.”

    BEE Bombers right-fielder, DELTON WERTH catches a fly ball in a NAFA A Division World Series game. Photo By BOB OTTO

    Milo did quite a job keeping it alive and with some great success.

    “We have won ten (ASA) state championships,” Dolezal said, “and all the players have local ties. Some played Legion, high school and college baseball and now play fastpitch.”

    Bee plays in the South League against teams around the Lincoln area. And the Bombers continue to play on their home field, appropriately named Milo Navratil Field.

    “We run the ball field and take care of it,” Dolezal said. “We have a lot of pride in it. Our ball players grew up on the ball field with their dads.”

    BEE Bombers pitcher RYAN HELGOTH hurls a pitch in the NAFA A Division World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO

    The 2017 BEE Bombers NAFA World Series roster: Evan Sisel, Shane Sisel, Michael Hofpar, Aaron Pierce, Shane Johnson, Ryan Helgoth, Brandon Chapek, Ryan Dolezal, Jeremy Cihal, Blake Marquardt, Logan Mahalek, Jordan Odvody, Tyler Dolezal, Delton Werth and Roger Dolezal.

    FM Fastpitch Association set to host World Series in Fargo

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

    Justin Feist help organize this week’s NAFA tournament to be held at the Northside softball complex. David Samson / The Forum

    By Eric Peterson / Forum News Service
    Aug 8, 2017

    FARGO – Justin Feist was asked to play on a fall fastpitch softball team nine years ago not knowing what to expect. Feist had played baseball in high school, but didn’t know much about fastpitch.

    He got hooked.

    “I really enjoyed it,” said the 28-year-old Feist, now the president of the Fargo Moorhead Fastpitch Association. “I’ve played ever since.”

    Click to continue reading “FM Fastpitch Association set to host World Series in Fargo”

    Important Information about 2017 NAFA World Series in Fargo, North Dakota

    Saturday, July 8th, 2017

    FARGO, ND – For teams, players and fans, please read this important information about the NAFA World Series that will be held in Fargo, Aug. 9-20.

  • Northside Softball Complex.
  • Hector International Airport
  • Traveling Amtrak
  • Hotel Reservations (Contact Rachel at housing@fargomoorhead.org for more information.)
  • Click to continue reading “Important Information about 2017 NAFA World Series in Fargo, North Dakota”

    Minnesota Men’s Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

    Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

    Kevin Kammueller of Eagle Pack was a workhorse in the 2016 International Softball Congress (ISC) Legends tourament pitching five games and finishing 4-1 to earn All-Tournament honors. Kammueller is rated a Class B pitcher for 2017 according to the Minnesota Sports Federation. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2016 ISC Legends Tournament

    SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Sports Federation rates men’s fastpitc pitchers according to their ability from D to B skill levels. The MSF has no pitchers rated at the Class A or Open level.

    Click to check out the Minnesota Fastpitch Pitcher Classification List

      MSF MEN’S FASTPITCH STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
  • Class B & D, Aug. 4-6, Coon Rapids, Minn.
  • Class C, Aug. 11-13, North Mankato, Minn.
  • Modified Pitch, Aug. 26-27, Hollywood / New Germany, Minn.