NAFA 20th Year Anniversary Team

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Team effort helps NAFA pitcher John Desaulniers achieve special honor

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

“Being selected to the 20th Anniversary Team is a true honor that I can’t accept alone because there have been so many players, coaches, managers and sponsors that have helped me out…” – Johnny Desaulniers


In 2012, Johnny Desaulniers was selected to the NAFA 20th Year Anniversary Team. Contributed Photo

PINEWOOD, ONTARIO, CA – Johnny Desaulniers remembers his early fastpitch days when as a 12-year-old new to the sport, he did a lot of sitting. But he didn’t idle his time away. He soaked in the action on the ball diamond, and it has paid handsome returns.

“I spent lots of time on the bench watching and learning from my peers how to play the game,” said Desaulniers, 38. “I was always waiting for the opportunity to get an inning in, or to pinch run. I had lots of people to look up to at the start of my journey in this game, but two men stand out. They are George Oltsher and Bryan Bonot.

“These two men gave myself and lots of other kids a place and a chance to play. I consider them to be responsible for what I have become as a player today.”

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Loyal teammate makes NAFA’s 20th Year Anniversary Team

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

“We would have more teams in the fastpitch world if players would try to improve their own team rather than jumping to a better team just to win a few games and a trophy.” – Black Gold pitcher Eric Steinbeck

HERMANN, MO – If he wanted, Eric Steinbeck could peddle his right arm on the fastpitch market and most likely land himself on a top-flight ball club; one capable of winning a NAFA World Series title or three.

Hey, that’s what many pitchers do. Why not him?

Well, if you know Steinbeck, then you know jumping from ball club to ball club always in search of a “better team” isn’t in his makeup.

But loyalty certainly is.

Steinbeck pitches for Black Gold of Hermann, Missouri. It’s the only team he has ever known.

“Showing up with my own team – with my friends – on a consistent basis is what is most important to me,” he said. “(More so) than the performance on the field.”

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Chucking pitches against dugout lands Ryan Nichols on elite NAFA team

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

HASTINGS, MI – Ryan Nichols’ journey to the fastpitch rubber began as a youngster throwing pitches against the dugout at the local ball diamond where his dad played. Then when he was 14, he got his big break. His dad’s team came up short fielding a team, so the eager Nichols was beckoned on to the ball diamond.

And he has never left.

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North Dakota’s Scott Collins receives NAFA’s top honors

Friday, July 27th, 2012


Scott Collins was one of NAFA’s top players in the organization’s 20-year existence from 1993 to present time. Contributed photo

MINOT, ND – Scott Collins has received many honors during his fastpitch career from the three major fastpitch softball organizations: the Amateur Softball Association, the International Softball Congress, and the North American Fastpitch Association.

As for NAFA, Collins is one of the rare players to receive all three honors the organization offers.

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Hardnosed Mike Smith, NAFA Hall of Famer and 20th Year Anniversary selection

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

“…He’s an absolute fighter.” – Matt Dailey

ALLENTOWN, PA – He’s been called tough and hardnosed. The kind of guy every ball club needs: determined, driven. A winner.

That sums up Mike Smith.

“He’s a grinder,” says Mike “Kusy” Kusmuk, who teamed with Smith for several years on D.C. Tire and the Reading (PA) Sunners.

“He’s a tremendous competitor who plays to win, and he’s hardnosed.”

Kusy remembers just how tough Smith can be. It was in an Allentown tournament when they first met over 25 years a go. Kusy’s team against Smith’s team. Kusy’s swinging a hot bat and goes 2 for 3 off Smith.

And Smith didn’t much like it.

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Iowa fastpitch star selected on NAFA’s anniversary team

Friday, July 20th, 2012

DES MOINES, IA – Matt Palazzo has reached some pretty impressive heights in his fastpitch career. The left-side hitting infielder is a member of the USA Men’s National Team. Selected in 2007, he helped the team finish second in the inaugural 2007 International Softball Federation World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. USA Softball

In the World Cup, Palazzo hit a respectable .286 batting average, scored five runs, along with two RBI’s. And in the 2005 and 2006 ASA Men’s Major National Championships, he’s been named twice as a second-team All-American at second base and shortstop.

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Mike Mueller’s fastpitch journey lands him on the NAFA 20th Year Anniversary team

Friday, July 20th, 2012


Mike Mueller of the Sioux Falls Chiefs and Sioux Falls Sox was recently selected by NAFA for its 1993-2012, 20th Year Anniversary team. Contributed photo

SIOUX FALLS, SD – Never played any serious baseball? For Mike Mueller of South Dakota, the answer comes without any regret. No. That is outside of a tryout for the Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs baseball team in his college days (1991-1995).

“The head baseball coach needed a left-handed stick, so he asked me (because) he had heard that I had won the ASA national tournament with Hasvold Vending,” Mueller said, “and he thought I might enjoy it.”

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NAFA 20-Year Anniversary Team biographies

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012


Bryan Lathrop of the Rice Lake (Wisc) Orangemen was selected to the NAFA 20th Year Anniversary Team.

NAFA has announced the 36 players of its 20th Anniversary Team from 1993 – 2012. But I would like to expand upon this honor. So I’m putting together biographies of each player’s career – brief and to the point.

Basic information that I need the players to answer:

    1. When and how did you get started playing fastpitch?
    2. What did you achieve (how many division championships and all-world honors) while playing in NAFA World Series tournaments? If you know your NAFA and career stats, include them.
    3. How do you feel about being selected to the 20th Year Anniversary Team?
    4. What one memory stands out about playing in the NAFA World Series? Perhaps a game-winning hit, defensive play, or pitching a win that you’ve always considered a highlight of your career.
    5. Position(s) you play? Bat / throw left or right? Age? Are you still playing and if so, with what team?

That’s it. With this brief information, I can put together pages of bios for as many players as want to participate. I would like to finish this project before the start of the 2012 NAFA World Series in Topeka, KS. So your earliest replies are greatly appreciated.

Managers and teammates: If you coached any of these players, or were a teammate or opponent, please weigh in with a comment. It will make the story much more interesting.

One final request. If you have pictures of yourself for your bio, that would be great. Just send them and your responses to my email address at: botto3@verizon.net.