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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.”

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Remembering Peters Packers of Eau Claire, one of Wisconsin’s best in the 1960s

Monday, February 13th, 2017

1963 PETERS PACKERS won the Wisconsin State Championship with its roster, front row from left, Don Lee, Ron Buckli, Larry Bergh, Ted Lahner, Jim Peuse, John Schaaf and DeBug Johnson. Back row, left, equipment manager Merrill Semingson, manager Duke Severson, Jim Bollinger Harv Tomter, Jon Wensel, Gene Golden, Al Mitchell, Coach Jim Warden, Don Amundson, Bobo Johnson. Missing is Tex Brooks. Photo Green Bay Press-Gazette / Sat. Aug. 24, 1963

AUSTIN, Minn. – Peters Packers tries for a fourth straight championship in the fifth annual 1965 Midwest Invitational Softball Tournament Saturday and Sunday at Austin, Minn.

Peters faces Loesch’s Bar of Hastings, Minn., in its opening game Saturday at 9:30 a.m. In all, there are 32 teams entered from five states. The tournament is considered one of the finest in the Midwest. Peters won the previous three titles, defeating Scandia in the finals last year.

Peters, 21-8 for the season, will count on the slants of Gary Watland, Al Mitchell and Tex Brooks. Manager Diz Kronenberg is back at the helm.

    TOP TEAMS ENTERED

Some of the other top teams include: Scandia, Austin Moose, Sioux Falls, S.D. Truckers, Ft. Dodge, Iowa Hormel and Minneapolis King of Clubs.

Catcher Don Amundson will miss the tournament due to an injury, but leads the team with 8 home runs, and 21 RBI.

JON WENSEL has taken over the club’s batting lead, rapping .359 on 23 hits in 64 trips. Fred Golden is second with a .353 average and five home runs.

BROOKS, unbeaten in five games, has an 0.23 ERA to lead the pitchers, while notching two, two-hitters. Watland, 9-5, has a 0.83 ERA with 140 strikeouts in 93 inning. He has thrown a no-hitter, one-hitter, and two-hitter. Mitchell is 7-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 76 innings.