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I’m counting down to the NAFA World Series

Sunday, July 21st, 2013


DES MOINES, Iowa – Just 17 days remain before the first pitch of the 2013 NAFA World Series in Des Moines. With that first pitch comes non-stop action from August 7 to 18. For a sports reporter and photographer, that’s a long challenging haul covering dozens of games in five divisions – about 160 teams in all.

I covered the World Series in 2010 when it was also held in Des Moines. And when NAFA Executive Director Benjie Hedgecock asked me for a return engagement, I said yes. Although my wife had some trepidation over my taking up the challenge again. She reminded me how tired I was when I returned home to California.

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Ed Gasper inducted into NAFA Hall of Fame

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

MERCED, Calif. – Ed Gasper began playing city league fastpitch at the age of 25, and 23 years later the 48-year-old pitcher will be inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the NAFA World Series in Des Moines, Iowa.

His achievements in the World Series include:

  • 2002 – NAFA A-Division Most Valuable Pitcher
  • 2003 – NAFA All-World
  • 2005 – NAFA AA-Division First Team All-World
  • 2006 – NAFA 35-Over Masters champion and First Team All-World
  • 2011 – NAFA Masters MVP after winning the 45-Older championship
  • Other fastpitch achievements include finishing runner-up in the ISC II World Tournament and being named MVP of the tournament. And in 2012 he helped his team win the ASA West National Championship. He also pitched a perfect game in the 1999 ASA National Championship.

    “I feel honored to be with the likes of all who have been inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame,” said Gasper, who currently pitches and plays the outfield for Santa Rosa, Calif. Fastpitch,.

    By all standards, NAFA Open-Holm Classic a success

    Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

    FARGO, ND – If Benjie Hedgecock and Kyle Koterba were exuding an air of satisfaction following the 2013 NAFA Open-Holm Classic men’s fastpitch tournament, June 14-16, in Fargo, it’s well deserved.

    Hedgecock, executive director of the North American Fastpitch Association, and Koterba, tournament director for the NAFA Open-Holm Classic, collaborated to put on one of the most competitive NAFA Open’s in recent years. And Koterba, now in his second year running the tournament, deserves credit for raising the number of teams to ten this year.

    But as with any endeavor, there’s always room for improvement.

    “Just to have the live streaming video and send more top level umpires and to take it to 12 or 16 teams,” said Hedgecock, referring to just a few goals he and Koterba are striving for.


    The reason for the lack of live video coverage this year was because the tournament had to be moved from flood-ravaged Mickelson Field to Lindenwood Park. Mickelson had the resources to broadcast the games, while Lindenwood didn’t.

    But a new dike holding back Fargo’s notorious springtime floodwaters, should bring the tourney back to Mickelson next year. So next year look for the tournament back at its intended home field along with live viewing.


    …Speaking of NAFA World Series locations, Fargo appears ideal for the Open Division because of the city’s close proximity to Canada, which sent three teams to the event this year (Randy’s A’s and Sooke Loggers from British Columbia, and the Diamondbacks of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.)

    “I believe that with the number of Canadian teams we drew that we should keep it in Fargo,” Hedgecock said, “and get the other Midwest AA-major/Open teams to come and it will be perfect. So I am leaning towards keeping it in Fargo but I haven’t talked to Kyle yet. Kyle has suggested that we have a three-city rotation with Kimberly (Wisc.) and one other Midwest city, but we haven’t developed that thought yet.”

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    Teams wanted for Fargo NAFA tourney

    Wednesday, June 5th, 2013


    FARGO, ND – The annual Holm Men’s Faspitch Tournament is adding a special feature this year, a separate tournament for NAFA A and A-Major classified teams.

    The entry fee is just $200, with the winner guaranteed a free entry into the 2013 NAFA World Series in Des Moines, Iowa, that runs for all divisions, Aug. 8-18.

    “We are looking for a few teams for the NAFA A and A-Major tourney and we will be running it during the annual Holm tourney in Fargo (June 15-16),” said tournament organizer, Mike Oehlke. “It will be held at the same complex as the NAFA Open. This should be a fun weekend as there are some good teams to watch in the Holm.”

    Teams committed for the NAFA Open include:
    Saskatoon Diamondbacks, CA
    Randys A’s, BC, CA
    Circle Tap, Wisc
    Winnipeg Bullets, CA
    West Fargo Knights, ND
    Kegel Black Knights, ND
    Topeka Toros, Kansas
    Fargo Rooters Bar, ND
    Sooke Loggers, BC, CA
    Minnesota Angels, Minn

    URGENT, READ RECENT UPDATE: On Sunday June 9th, Oehlke writes that the NAFA A and A-Major tournament needs one more team on Saturday, June 15. And please note: It’s a three game guarantee with NO ENTRY FEE. That’s right, no entry fee. Please respond to Mike ASAP if interested.

    For more information about the Fargo NAFA A and A-Major tournament
    contact Mike Oehlke

    A hit to cherish

    Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

    Named to the NAFA AA-Major All World team were Manor’s Christopher Torres, Peter Saldana-Rodriguez (front row, far right), Jason Chagoya, and Corey Avery. From the Toros, Jaime Garcia, Jr., Boomer Berry, Kyle Brown, and Tony Buckley were selected All World. Avery was selected the Most Valuable Pitcher, while Buckley was named the Most Valuable Player.
    Photo By BOB OTTO

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    DES MOINES, WEST DES MOINES, IA – Peter Saldana-Rodriguez stepped into the right-side batter’s box. The bases were loaded. Tim Schultz was on third, Will Sandifer on second, Chris Torres on first.

    For over three hours, the Texas Manor Dirt Bags and New Image of Monfort, WI. were locked in a battle in the NAFA World Series “AA-Major” playoffs. The score was tied, 1-1, in the 14th inning.

    Like two iron-willed poker players playing for high stakes, the game had everything riding on it. The winner advances to the championship game. While the loser goes home.

    And all alone in the batter’s box stood Rodriguez with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 14th. He could hear his Manor Dirt Bag teammates imploring him to wait on the change up and just meet the ball.

    Click to continue reading “A hit to cherish”

    Fastpitch needs more Roccos

    Monday, September 27th, 2010

    Sawdust City, Ramsey Financial Services, Northwest Implement, and Jack Daniels started the A-Major Division of the NAFA World Series at 2:30 p.m., Thursday at Raccoon River Park Softball Complex
    Photos By BOB OTT0

    WEST DES MOINES, IA – For most softball managers, running one team is often enough work and enough headaches. But not for Rocco Ramsey of Bowen, Illinois.

    The 50-year-old fastpitch enthusiast entered four teams in four separate divisions in the 2010 NAFA World Series: An age 18-Under, 23-Under, A, and A-Major. And all four played under the banner of Ramsey Financial Services, which is owned by his brother, Ryan Ramsey.

    Now why would Rocco spend so much time running four ball clubs?

    “I just love the game,” said Rocco.

    All four of his teams based out of Bowen (population about 500) spend hours traveling to ball games and tournaments because there is but one team – besides his ball clubs – within 120 miles of Bowen.

    “We travel everywhere to find ball games,” he said.

    Rocco’s fastpitch career began in 1974 as a 15-year-old catcher. Then in 1980 he expanded his fastpitch horizons and embarked on a managing, coaching, and recruiting career that is still active today – 31 years later.

    “I started my own team in 1980 and was a player / manager until 2005 when I managed full time,” he said, adding that he also runs a 486-acre farm and coaches boy’s basketball from the fifth through the eighth grades.

    Now if that’s not enough work for one man, there’s also that recruiter job. During the baseball season, Rocco visits the local high school ball diamonds searching for talent he can recruit into the underhanded game.

    “I go around to the high schools looking for players,” he said. “I scout and talk to the kids’ parents about playing fastpitch and when they start playing they love it.”

    Fastpitch softball needs more Rocco Ramseys.

    For more on the 2010 NAFA World Series tournament, visit North American Fastpitch Association

    Calling all NAFA All World Players and MVP’s!

    Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

    To the All World players and Most Valuable Pitchers and Most Valuable Players of the six NAFA World Series divisional championships, I need your help!

    I’m in the process of producing a story / photo book about the World Series, and I want to include the tournament STATISTICS of the players named All World and MVP’s.

    If you can email me your stats that would be awesome, and then I can include that in my book. And for you readers, if you know any of the players I’m trying to reach, please give them a call, or pass this message on. Much appreciated.

    Just email to

    NAFA World Series photos, gallery eight

    Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

    Photos By BOB OTTO

    YUCAIPA, CA – More NAFA World Series photos of Goring Lawn Care, the Capitals (OH), Indios, Fargo Knights, WCL, Fender Cycle, and Waseda University of Tokyo, Japan.

    Enter Otto’s Photo Gallery

    NAFA World Series photos, gallery six

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    YUCAIPA, CA – Photos of the Omaha A’s, Keating Fitness, Thunderstruck, Ft. Collins, Liberty Fastpitch, Exit Diamond Realty, and Cerro Gordo.

    Enter Otto’s Photo Gallery

    That’s it for the day folks, the photo editor is packing up his lunch bucket. It’s quitin’ time…

    NAFA World Series photos, gallery five

    Monday, August 30th, 2010

    Photo By BOB OTTO

    YUCAIPA, CA – Primarily Wilkes-Barre, PA, Keating and Sioux Falls Sox photos during their winner’s bracket final.

    Enter Otto’s Photo Gallery