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Following In Dad’s Footsteps

Friday, December 18th, 2009

The Hunhoff family of South Dakota and California has a long tradition of men’s fastpitch softball pitching.
Courtesy Photos / Lori Hunhoff

HARRISBURG, SOUTH DAKOTA – If he were to call it quits and chuck his bat, glove and spikes in the closet and say, “I’ve been there and done that,” no one could really blame him.

For after all, Benjamin “BJ” Hunhoff – in the lingo of fastpitch softball – indeed has been there and done that.

He’s played and won at the international, national, and state championship levels. He’s collected a showcase full of most valuable pitcher and player awards.

By now if you’re thinking, let’s let the “old man,” ease back into his recliner and enjoy his well-deserved retirement, here’s the catch:

BJ Hunhoff is just 20-years-old. His fastpitch rocket is nowhere near leveling off, much less coming to a landing.

His thirst to compete, his drive to improve, his love of the game, and his desire to follow in his dad’s footsteps remain as strong as ever.

And it all started with John Hunhoff. BJ’s dad and the man he calls, “my hero.”

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South Dakota team on a championship run

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Photos furnished by Sport Pix. To see more photos of the tournament by Sports Pix, click on the link at the end of the story.

HARTFORD, SOUTH DAKOTA – When spring rolls around and Mitch Warne steps on to the softball diamond, he has but one goal – winning another national championship with the Hartford Explosion.

And this team has won a few national championships. Eight in all. Beginning in 2001 when Warne and his teammates were all age 10 or under, they claimed their first Amateur Softball Association (ASA) National Championship.

And those championships just keep on coming: The ASA 12-Under, 2003; 14-Under, 2005; 16-Under, 2007; and the 18-Under in 2008.

But 2009 was something special. The Explosion took top honors in both the ASA and North American Fastpitch Association (NAFA) national championships in the age 23-Under division.

The secret to their success? Good old fashioned American work ethic.

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In The Fastpitch Spotlight: Al and Jim Hartman

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

HARTFORD, SOUTH DAKOTA – As with most fathers and sons, the Hartman’s, Al the father and Jim the son, differ on a few things. But when it comes to sports, they agree on at least one thing.

Fastpitch softball reigns at the top of their list.

Al had never played fastpitch, but when the call came that a coach was needed for his son’s team, he stepped forth. Little did he know at the time what a big, time-consuming step that would be.

But a rewarding one.

“Fastpitch one way or another has been our summer for the past 15 years,” Al Hartman said. “It’s brought us closer together and even now Matt and Greg (two older sons) come to watch Jim (19-years-old) play. We enjoy it and have had a lot of good experiences.”

And good experiences in winning national championships.

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