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Long Lost Milltown, Wisconsin Men’s Fastpitch Tournament Undergoes A Revival

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016
Men's fastpitch tournaments are held In Canada, Mexico and throughout much of the United States, including once again in Milltown, Wisconsin after a 26 year absence. Photo By BOB OTTO

Men’s fastpitch tournaments are held In Canada, Mexico and throughout much of the United States, including once again in Milltown, Wisconsin after a 26 year absence. Photo By BOB OTTO

MILLTOWN, Wisc. – When Cullen Hanson was six years old the Milltown men’s fastpitch tournament folded. That was 26 years a go. Hanson thought about that long drought and he began wondering: could the tournament be revived?

If he had asked skeptics, they’d have fed him the standard fare – “it’s too late, men’s fastpitch has one foot in the grave and it’s gasping for air. Don’t waste your time trying.”

But that kind of ‘stinkin-thinkin’ isn’t in 32-year-old Hanson’s fastpitch makeup. After all, his dad Scott Hanson played, his uncles played, and he grew to love the game as much as they did.

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12 TEAMS TO COMPETE IN 38th RICE LAKE AQUAFEST INVITATIONAL MEN’S FASTPITCH TOURNAMENT

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

rice.lake.8web Men’s fastpitch action takes place at the 38th Annual Rice Lake Invitational Men’s Fastpitch Tournament, June 10-12, in Rice Lake, Wisc. Photo By BOB OTTO

By RONN KOPP / NAFA President

RICE LAKE, Wisc. – Eight teams from Wisconsin and four from Minnesota make up the roster of teams for the 38th Rice Lake Invitational Men’s Fastpitch Tournament to be held June 10-12, once again as part of the city’s Aquafest celebration.

Defending champion Tin Cup of St. Paul returns as does last year’s runner-up Ostrander Images of Ostrander, Minnesota. Len’s Automotive of St. Paul is once again in the tourney field while Odin Fastpitch of Odin, Minnesota makes its initial Aquafest Tournament appearance.

The Rice Lake Orangemen, the only team to have played in all 37 previous events, will once again serve as host team.

Other Wisconsin entries include Saw Dust City of Eau Claire, Animal House La Crosse, Striker’s Lanes of Baldwin, C.J.’s Bar-Pleasantville Lions of the Whitehall-Pleasantville area, Dugout Bar and Grill of Cushing, Ben’s Northern Bar of Luck, and 2015 NAFA class A national runner-up Meister’s Dairy of Muscoda.

Play begins Friday evening at Rice Lake’s Tate Park with games at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. and continues all day Saturday with opening games at 9:30 a.m. and Sunday starting at 9:00 a.m. The event concludes early Sunday evening.

Ronn Kopp
ronnkopp@charter.net

Wayne Ball’s 45th Annual West St. Paul Tournament features strong teams

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

WestStPaulTourney.1lr West St. Paul tournament bracket.

WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. – The 45th Annual West St. Paul Men’s Fastpitch Tournament got underway Friday night, July 17 and finishes Sunday afternoon with the championship scheduled for 4:30 p.m. If a second game is needed to decide a champion in the double-elimination format, the game will begin shortly after.

The 12-team field includes several top Midwest teams.

(1) Gallaghers (2) Len’s Auto (3) Kegel Black Nights (4) The Bar (5) Tin Cup (6) Odin Fastpitch (7) Sizzler (8) Ostrander Fastpitch (9) Rice Lake Orangemen (10) Jordan Realty (11) Circle Tap (12) Sawdust City

Under the direction of Wayne Ball, the tournament is being held at the West St. Paul Sports Complex.

See Wayne Ball feature story written in 2012: Ball family supports Dad’s goal in West St. Paul Tournament

Injuries can’t keep Bryan Lathrop out of the circle

Friday, June 12th, 2015
Bryan Lathrop pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Rice Lake, Wisc. Orangemen. Photo By BOB OTTO

Bryan Lathrop pitching in the 2013 NAFA World Series for the Rice Lake, Wisc. Orangemen. Photo By BOB OTTO

DeForest, Wisc. – No one would blame fastpitch pitcher Bryan Lathrop if he up and quit the game. He’s had his share of injuries. Last year, he was sidelined the entire season from hip surgery. He’s also got an ankle that nags him now and then.

But over Memorial Day weekend at the Dugout tournament in Cushing, he took a shot to the head from a softball hit so hard that it knocked him flat and out of the game and rushed to the hospital.

“I took a direct blow on the left side (head) and had a hell of a concussion,” he said. “I didn’t even see the ball or have time to get the glove up. I want to keep playing, but my body might be telling me otherwise.”

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35th Annual Chopper’s Hollywood Tournament

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

WATERTOWN, Minn. – Chopper’s Hollywood Men’s Fastpitch Tournament is one of the longest running men’s fastpitch tournaments in Minnesota.

This weekend, July 12-13, marks the 35th consecutive year the popular tournament will be held at the Hollywood Sports Complex near Watertown.

Eight teams are competing in two pools, with a single elimination format on Sunday to crown a champion.

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Baldwin to host Wisconsin State Meet

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

NAFA.logo

By RONN KOPP / NAFA President & State Director / Treasurer

BALDWIN, Wisc. The 2014 state “A/”A-Major” championship of the Wisconsin chapter of the North American Men’s Fastpitch Association (NAFA) will be held at Mill Pond Park in Baldwin July 25-27.

Baldwin hosted the 2007 “A/”A-Major” and “AA/”AA-Major” state tourneys and drew a total of 23 teams. Hosting the “A/”A-Major” only in 2010 Baldwin attracted 14 squads.

Bol’s Lanes of the host city will be back to defend the “A/”A-Major” crown they captured with an undefeated run at Middleton last season. Nearby teams expected to join them at this year’s event include Dugout Bar and Grill of Cushing, Bon Ton Bar of Luck, the Athletics of La Crosse, the Orangemen of Rice Lake, and Sawdust City of Eau Claire.

With the tournament open to teams from neighboring states as well as Wisconsin it is anticipated that some of Minnesota’s finest ball clubs will also take part. Grumpy’s Bar of Forest City, Iowa, a 2010 participant, has also indicated an interest in returning to Baldwin.

This year’s NAFA World Series will be played in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa from early to mid- August.

For more Wisconsin men’s fastpitch news, visit: Wisconsin Fastpitch.

Erick Chaparro, reaching for the top in men’s fastpitch

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

ChaparroErick Erick Chaparro of Venezuela is pitching for the Rice Lake Orangemen and has started the season strong. Courtesy Photo

RICE LAKE, Wisc. – Since the early 1980s, foreign fastpitch softball pitchers have been trekking to the U.S. hoping to improve their skills, hoping to raise their game to a higher level by competing against some of the best club teams in the world.

21-year-old Erick Chaparro of Maracaibo, Venezuela is one of them. He’s been coming stateside since he was 18.

This year he’s in Wisconsin pitching for the Rice Lake Orangemen. And with his past two tournament performances as a barometer, he’s off to a great start.

    A CHAMPIONSHIP AND A NO-NO

At the 10th Annual Hollywood Days Tournament, June 21-22, at the Hollywood Sports Complex in Watertown, Minn., Chaparro led the Rice Lake Orangemen to the championship, and finished with a personal 3-1 record.

His 5-2 victory over the Fargo, North Dakota Bombers on a three-hitter with four walks and five strikeouts in the championship was but one fine performance. He also hurled a no-hitter against Tin Cup of St. Paul in a 2-1 win.

The right-hander also pitched the Orangemen to the Rice Lake 36th Annual Aquafest Invitational title the week before and was selected the Most Valuable Player for both his pitching and his hitting.

Rice Lake manager Travis Thompson says Chaparro is having a superb year, and has come to the rescue after veteran Bryan Lathrop underwent hip surgery that has sidelined him until next season. He sees only an upside to the young pitcher’s future.

“He’s made big progress especially with the change-up,” said Thompson, who also catches Chaparro. “He shows mental toughness, throws hard, and he has that drive that most don’t have nowadays.”

So what’s propelled this young hurler off to such a good start?

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Rice Lake knocks off Fargo to take Hollywood tournament

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

chaparro.erick Erick Chaparro, 21, had a 3-1 record and pitched a no-hitter in helping the Rice Lake Orangemen win the 10th Annual Hollywood Days Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.

WATERTOWN, Minn. – Rice Lake’s bats, arms and gloves were in solid form and as a result the Orangemen won the 10th Annual Hollywood Days Men’s Fastpitch Tournament, June 21-22, at the Hollywood Sports Complex in Watertown.

The Orangemen defeated the Fargo Bombers 5-2 behind the three-hit pitching of 21-year-old Erick Chaparro, who walked four and struck out five to lead Rice Lake to its second tournament championship in consecutive weekends.

The Orangemen also won the Rice Lake Aquafest Invitational, June 13-15, the first such title for the ball club in the 36 years of the event.

Fargo stuck Chaparro with his lone loss (5-4) on Saturday in round-robin play, but the right-hander from Maracaibo, Venezuela bounced back in fine form in the second meeting.

“He threw much better the second game,” said Orangemen manager Travis Thompson, in his first year leading the ball club. “Erick has a lot of heart, drive and fire.”

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Orangemen win first ever 36th Annual Rice Lake Aquafest Invitational Title

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

RR.orangemen.8lr

By RONN KOPP / NAFA President and Tournament Director

RICE LAKE, Wisc. – After falling to Bol’s Lanes of Baldwin 3-2 in the winners bracket final, the Rice Lake Orangemen bounced back to bounce La Crosse Athletics 10-2 and then defeated Bol’s twice in championship play 7-6 and 2-1 in 9 innings to capture the championship of the 10-team 36th annual Rice Lake Aquafest Invitational men’s fastpitch tournament.

It was the first Aquafest championship for the Orangemen, the only team to have played in all 36 tourneys.

The Orangemen opened tournament play with a 6-2 victory over Sawdust City of Eau Claire, followed with a 2-0 win over Ostrander, Minnesota, and a 7-0 win over Morelli’s of St. Paul before coming up a run short in their first encounter with defending NAFA state A division champion Bol’s Lanes.

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Kegel rolls to West St. Paul tourney title

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

gervasutti.sebastian Led by the pitching of Sebastian Gervasutti (pictured above) and Gerald Muizelaar, the Kegel Black Knights of Fargo won the 2013 West St. Paul Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.

WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the NAFA World Series and ISC World Tournament two weeks away, this is the time for teams to start playing their best ball. The time to peak. And if their latest tournament is a forecast, then the Kegel Black Knights appear to be right on schedule.

The Black Knights swept through the 43rd Annual West St. Paul Men’s Fastpitch Tournament undefeated (5-0) and knocked off Wilber Lime of Galesville, Wisc. 8-0 in the final at the West St. Paul Sports Complex, July 19-21.

Sebastian Gervasutti threw a no-hitter with five strikeouts to pick up the game-shortened win for Kegel of Fargo, which is celebrating its 30th year in men’s fastpitch. The 28-year-old from Bilbao, Spain finished the tournament 2-0 with one hit allowed in 18 innings and 34 strikeouts.

“He throws hard with the up and down and some change up,” said Kegel player / coach Kyle Koterba.

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