NAFA World Series

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Jesse Ortiz, pitching in for NAFA and his league

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

JESSE ORTIZ is kept busy at the NAFA World Series checking bats to certifiy that they meet NAFA specifications. Ortiz is in his third year assisting at the NAFA World Series. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2017 NAFA World Series.

FARGO – At his home ballpark in Southern California, Jesse Ortiz can be found hustling from one field to another. He’s an administrator, a resolver of disputes, he oversees the scorekeepers, and he even does some field maintenance when the need arises.

Ortiz is the executive director of the Southern California Independent Fastpitch League (SCIFL). It’s a job with a lot of duties and some headaches, but he sets all of that aside when it’s his turn to pitch.

He works diligently for long hours on several weekends throughout the fastpitch season to ensure that SCIFL Alliance tournaments run smoothly.

“The SCIFL tournaments went well this year,” said Ortiz, 42. “We did have to cut back on some tournaments because of a conflict with the city (Santa Fe Springs). We had one tournament at Camp Pendleton (Marine Corps Base) and that went well.”

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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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TJ Nereng selected Wisconsin’s player of the year

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

2016 NAFA WOPLD SERIES, A Division All-World selections from Animal House of La Crosse are, from left, Brian Leonhard, Ethan Ringlien and TJ Nereng. The three award winners helped Animal House finish third in the A Division with a 7-2 record. After losing its opener, Animal House won seven games straight before falling in the losers bracket final. Courtesy Photo.

“T.J. could have jumped ship and played with stronger teams, but chose to stay and help us grow.” – Animal House Manger Bud Olson

LA CROSSE, Wisc. – To make Bud Olson’s ball club takes more than just talent. His measuring stick extends yards beyond just physical skills into what lies within the heart, soul and mind of any player wishing to wear the Animal House uniform.

Mention the name T.J. Nearing and a smile spreads across Olson’s face. He has known T.J. – now in his 30s – since he was a youngster. He watched him evolve into a good athlete in football, basketball and finally fastpitch softball.

“T.J. is the totally consulate unselfish player,” said Olson. “He is willing to play where we have our greatest need. We value character, too, because it plays a huge role in the overall success of any team.”

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25th Anniversary of NAFA World Series Heads To North Dakota

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

Founded in 1993, NAFA will celebrate its 25th anniversary by holding its 2017 World Series at the new Northside Softball Complex in Fargo, North Dakota, Aug. 9-20.

FARGO, N.D. – The North American Fastpitch Association was formed in 1993, offering a World Series for boys’ and men’s fastpitch softball teams of all skill levels.

2017 marks the 25th year the organization has hosted championship tournaments in six divisions: Young men (age 23-under), Open, AA-Major, AA, A-Major and A. And new this year, will be a recreation division for ball clubs recent to the sport.

The North Dakota cities of FargoWest Fargo and Moorhead, Minn. have the honor and are proud to host the event at its new softball facility: Northside Softball Complex.

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Yusef Davis Heads Down Under To Hone His Fastpitch Skills

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Yusef Davis Jr., reaches up and slaps a high rise ball off BC A’s pitcher Gregg Garrity and reaches safely on an infield single. Photo By BOB OTTO / 2016 SCIFL Tournament

LONG BEACH, Calif. – For many people, their Christmas wish-list is often filled with requests for material things: like an iPhone 7, a car, or new clothes and jewelry.

Just like the rest of us, 22-year-old Yusef Davis appreciates the finer things in life, too.

But the young man from Long Beach wanted more than material things. And he got his Christmas wish and then some with a trip “Down Under” to expand his fastpitch softball horizons.

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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?”

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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 World Series Bracketing Information

    Thursday, August 4th, 2016

    DAYTON, Ore– The NAFA World Series brackets for the A, A-Major, 23-under, AA and AA-Major divisions will have fast updates to their brackets during the tournaments being held at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minnesota, Aug. 10-21, and in Rock Island, Ill. for the AA-Major, Aug. 19-21.

    Coaches, managers and media, inform your players and fans of the link to this application: NAFA World Series Brackets.

    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