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New York Gremlins prove they deserve top billing

Monday, July 29th, 2013

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Sean Whitten hurled the New York Gremlins to the championship of the Ed McCormick Men’s Fastpitch Tournament by defeating Pennsylvania Power in the championship, Sunday July 28 in Erie, Pennsylvania.

ERIE, Penn. – The world’s four top-ranked teams met in a head-to-head showdown and the New York Gremlins proved they deserve top billing.

The Gremlins, ranked No. 1 by the International Softball Congress, swept through the fourth annual Ed McCormick Men’s Fastpitch Tournament unblemished (4-0) and finished off the July 27-28 weekend by defeating No. 4 ranked Pennsylvania Power of Harrisburg, PA 11-4 in the final.

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Ed McCormick Tournament showcases world’s top-ranked teams and pitchers

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

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Bill Hillhouse shown pitching here for the USA National Men’s Softball Team at a USA Softball camp in Chula Vista, Calif. April 15, 2000, has long been instrumental in helping organize the Ed McCormick Tournament. Hillhouse was also an ISC Commissioner-At-Large for many years, starting in 1997. He is currently pitching for the top-ranked Clifton Park, New York Gremlins. Photo By BOB OTTO

ERIE, PA – The annual Ed McCormich Tournament will be held July 27-28 at 1137 E. 11th St. with the International Softball Congress’s four top-ranked teams squaring off in what could be a prelude to the 2013 ISC World Tournament “final four” when the championship takes place Aug. 10-17 in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.

This should be a dandy matchup of the world’s top hitters and pitchers. In the circle for the Clifton Park, New York Gremlins will be Andrew Kirkpatrick, Sean Whitten and Bill Hillhouse.

The Jarvis Ontario Hallman Twins will counter with Paul Koert, Jeff Farion and Nik Hayes. The Pennsylvania Power will trot out Juan Potolicchio, Eric Fogel, and Karl Gollan, while the Six Nations Hill United Chiefs will counter with a small army of arms, including Adam Folkard, Mitch Hardy, Jason Hill, Mike Joseph, and Grant Patterson.

For fans of the pitching-dominant side of the sport, this “who’s who” of great pitchers should send them scrambling for birds’ eye view seating behind home plate.

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE WITH CURRENT WORLD TEAM RANKING

  • 9 a.m. No.1 New York Gremlins vs. No. 4 Pennsylvania Power of Harrisburg, PA
  • 11 a.m. No. 2 Jarvis Ontario Hallman Twins vs. No. 3 Six Nations Hill United Chiefs, Ontario, CA
  • 1 p.m. Gremlins vs. Jarvis
  • 3 p.m. Hill United vs. PA Power
  • 5 p.m. Special Olympics game (pending)
  • 6 p.m. PA Power vs. Jarvis
  • 8 p.m. Gremlins vs. Hill United
  • SUNDAY CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

  • 9 a.m. NO. 2 seed vs No. 3 (played at 12th and Hess field)
  • 9 a.m. No. 1 vs No. 4 (played at 11th and Hess field)
  • 11 a.m. championship game
  • New York Gremlins men’s fastpitch team finalizes roster

    Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

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    CLIFTON PARK, NY – The New York Gremlins are happy to announce that Sean Whitten, Jeff Goolagong and Tyson Byrne will be joining the squad for the 2013 season. (Whitten, one of fastball’s top pitchers, played for the Eugene, Oregon / California A’s in 2012.)

    The Gremlins, an annual threat to win an ISC World Tournament championship finished fourth ISC chronological order of finish in 2012 with a 4-2 record.

    The Gremlin roster:

    Andrew Kirkpatrick – P
    Sean Whitten – P
    Bill Hillhouse – P
    Bryan Abrey – C
    Blair Ezekiel – 1B
    Rhys Casley – 2B
    Tyson Byrne – 3B
    Todd Schultz – SS
    Travis Wilson – INF/DH
    Nick Mullins – INF/C
    Mathieu Roy – OF
    Jeff Goolagong – OF
    Derek Pukash – OF
    Wayne Laulu – OF
    Ben Wideman – OF
    Vahram Mateosian – C/DH
    Frank Perez – INF

    Denny Bruckert – MGR
    Gregg Leather – Coach
    Jeff Hook – Coach
    Peter Schmitt – Coach
    Greg Nydick – Scorekeeper
    Bruce Tanski – Sponsor
    Bob Nydick – Sponsor

    Gremlins Facebook
    Gremlins website

    Juan Potolicchio hurls Argentina over Canada in ISF World Championship

    Friday, March 8th, 2013

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    Argentina celebrates after defeating Canada 2-1 to advance in the 13th ISF World Championships.

    AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – It was a rematch, a chance for redemption. And Argentina didn’t waste the opportunity.

    Behind the three-hit pitching of right-handed Juan Potolicchio, the Argentinians defeated Canada, 2-1, to square an earlier (2-1) loss in round-robin play in Pool B.

    The right-hander with a hard rise ball as his go-to pitch, tossed a gem, allowing just the one run on three hits, while striking out nine, and walking just one batter.

    With the win, Argentina (2-0 playoffs, 6-2 overall) advances to take on defending 2009 ISF World Champion Australia in Saturday’s final playoff game.

    Though Canada (0-2, 6-2) was eliminated, right-fielder Jeff Ellsworth was philosophical about the loss and upbeat about the future of Softball Canada:

    “We weren’t able to hit and put runs on the board. We’ve got a lot of young guys and this was their first ISF. Now they’ve got a couple years to get ready (for the next ISF).”

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    Canada and New Zealand hitters feast in an ISF world championship classic

    Monday, March 4th, 2013

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    The New Zealand Black Sox perform the haka during the ISF World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo By Ben Campbell / World Softball Championships

    AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Fastball purists, those who relish a masterfully pitched, low-scoring game, would have turned away in disgust. But for those fans who delight in seeing softball bats smashing a yellow sphere all over a ball diamond – as well over the fence – they would have loved this classic matchup.

    And numbers crunchers would have glowed over these stats.

    The Canadian and New Zealand men’s national fastball teams combined for 26 hits, 16 runs, and five home runs on Monday night in the 13th International Softball Federation World Championship. See Box Score

    And when the bats were finally set-aside for the night, Canada had outslugged New Zealand 9-7 to win a marquee matchup at Rosedale Park in Albany.

    As for the pitching?

    It was a game of survival, of weathering a tornado of hot hitters. Eight pitchers toed the rubber – four on each side.

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    Best of the West and Santa Barbara, perfect partners for men’s fastpitch

    Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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    “The Best of the West bucks the trend of encouraging teams and (players) to play down and encourages them to play up and take on the best.” – Dave Blackburn, Best of the West tournament director for 13 years.

    SANTA BARBARA, CALIF – Many open level men’s fastpitch tournaments have vanished in Southern California. But there’s one that continues to survive, and many would say thrive: The Best of the West.

    Come the first weekend in June, the Best of the West will celebrate its 23rd consecutive year in offering a tournament for “all comers,” as former 13-year tournament director (1998-2010), Dave Blackburn would say. Ten teams entered last year, and Blackburn and current tournament director, Clyde Bennett, are expecting another strong field.

    But first a little background.

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    USA must begin developing “Made In America” men’s fastpitch pitchers

    Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


    Can the U.S. develop its own Made In America pitching such as New Zealand, Australia, or Canada does with Canadian pitchers like Sean Whitten, shown here pitching for the California A’s.

    YUCAIPA, CA – Name a couple of American-born fastpitch pitchers capable hurling the USA Men’s National Team to the championship in the 2013 International Softball Federation World Championship?

    Stumped? I couldn’t name any either. That’s because the U.S. doesn’t have any.

    I looked at Team USA’s roster and found pitchers Gerald Muizelaar and Travis Price listed. Both are Canadian born and now living in the U.S. And both are respectable pitchers, but capable of pitching the U.S. to a title? I hope so, but I don’t think so.

    Muizelaar pitched very well in the 2012 ISC World Tournament, earning a spot on the All-World second team with a 3-1 record, 1.09 ERA, while leading the Fargo Kegel Black Knights to fifth place. So of course, he’s a welcome addition to the USA squad.

    But I wonder about Price. He’s a USA team veteran, but really, he’s at the most a mid-range Major pitcher and top Intermediate pitcher. Sure, he can beat some of the lesser world’s teams. But Canada? New Zealand? Australia? I think that’s expecting too much.

    So unless there’s a later addition of some world-caliber pitcher we don’t know about, USA Head Coach Peter Turner will be handing the game ball to Muizelaar most of the time.

    In the 2009 ISF World Championship in Saskatoon, Canada, the USA squad finished fourth behind Canada, runner-up New Zealand, and Gold Medalist Australia.

    One stat in particular stands out about Team USA 2009. In runs allowed, they gave up 45 in 10 games (7-3 record). In comparison, Australia allowed but 12 runs (9-1), New Zealand 26 runs (9-2), and Canada gave up 28 (8-2).

    In fact, among the 16 teams entered, Team USA finished seventh in runs allowed. Teams such as Japan, which finished sixth, allowed 43 runs; Argentina 42. Even the Czeck Republic and the Philippines allowed fewer runs than the U.S. squad with 36 each.

    This means of course, that a big part of the runs allowed problem is due to pitching. I’m not knocking the guys toeing the rubber for Team USA. But the pitching stats don’t lie. And they often tell why a team wins or loses against the best in the world.

    None-the-less, Men’s National Team selection committee member Warren Jones stated on the USA Softball website:

    “I think we’re going to have a really competitive (2013) team. We’ve got some new, young faces that have made a name for themselves in the fastpitch softball world and we’ve got some older guys who have been around and know the ropes.”

    Unfortunately for U.S. men’s major fastpitch those new, young faces that Jones refers to don’t include U.S. born pitchers.

    So how do we turn around our problem of a lack of “Made In America” pitchers?

    First of all, I think it’s critical that the USA National Team become the top priority for everyone involved in the sport. And that includes the three organizations governing men’s fastpitch in the U.S.: the Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the International Softball Congress (ISC), and the North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA).

    The three organizations should form a joint pitching committee with one overriding priority – identify gifted athletes and get them on the rubber. That means any talented fastpitch (or baseball) athlete with the physical tools needs to be steered to the rubber (hogtie and force the shy types if need be).

    Here’s an example: Let’s say a team has an outfielder – big, strong and blessed with a powerful throwing arm – on its roster. He’s content to bat third in the lineup, content to hit home runs and drive in runs, and earn his All-World awards.

    I would say, “Sorry young man, but your country needs you. And it’s not in the batter’s box. It’s in the circle.”

    Some of you are muttering, “you can’t force an athlete to become a fastpitch pitcher; they have to want it!”

    True, desire is absolutely a critical attribute to becoming a pitcher. But think for a minute. I bet most of you can recall a pitcher or two, who started at shortstop (Anyone remember ISC Hall of Fame pitcher, Jimmy Moore?) or the outfield, or behind the plate, who when encouraged, took up pitching.

    Another ISC All-World pitcher comes to mind – Darwin Tolzin, who pitched St. Paul All-American Bar to the 1976 ISC World Tournament title. I believe he started as a position player and only took up pitching when his team at the time needed a pitcher.

    No doubt, U.S. men’s fastpitch is in a serious decline, losing more teams each year. So as far as that goes, all LEVELS of TEAMS should be targeting its top athletes and encouraging, demanding, pleading – whatever it takes – to get them in the circle.

    Sure, it’s going to take a few years before our pitching prospects develop to the best of their ability. But at this point, what do we have to lose by trying to cultivate “Made in America” pitching? The only other alternative is to hope that top foreign pitchers take up residence in the U.S. like Muizelaar and Price. But what does that say about our fortitude to develop our own talent?

    So to USA Softball, the ASA, ISC and NAFA we ask:

    “Can you set aside any differences you may have and form a joint pitching committee that identifies the sport’s best athletes and targets them for the circle?”

    New York’s heavy-hitting lineup too much for Oregon / California

    Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

    MIDLAND, MI – The Gremlins from Clifton Park New York showed why they are the number one ranked team in the International Softball Congress. One-through-nine, they come out swinging.

    And their pitching? That’s world-class as well with Andrew Kirkpatrick in the circle.

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