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Highly rated family garage a NAFA World Series champion

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

First baseman and manager, Jim Washenberger, admires the first place trophy presented to him after Len’s Automontive of St. Paul, Minn. won the NAFA A Division World Series championship. Photo By ANNE SATTERLEE

ST. PAUL, Minn. – On West 7th Street in St. Paul, there’s a small garage, family owned, called Len’s Automotive.

It’s owned and run by the Washenberger’s – mother Gail and sons Jim and Dave.

An Internet search reveals that Len’s Automotive has a 5.0 out of 5.5 star rating. Pretty impressive and a symbol of excellence.

But Len’s does much more than provide excellent automotive service. They play some pretty good men’s fastpitch softball too.

First a little background.

Brothers Jim and Dave attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School where they played baseball. After graduating, the boys took up softball – the slowpitch variety. (Hold the booing, please.)

All the while, there friends who were playing fastpitch, would stop by the garage and badger them to “give up lob ball,” said Joe Ganther, friend and fellow softball player.

“Finally,” said Ganther, “Paul Buzicky and George “Buzzy” Connors made Jim a late convert to the sport in 2000 when he was already in his mid-30s. After his first game, he was hooked.”

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Hennager fastpitch team of Lake Crystal, Minnesota is state runner-up

Monday, August 11th, 2014
The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Fastpitch Softball Team of Lake Crystal, Minn.: front row, from left: Dan Pawlek, Northfield; Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal; Eric Hood, Lake Crystal; Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal; Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal; Devon Hagge, Lake Crystal; Dave DeWitz, Good Thunder; Seth Anderson, Minnesota Lake; back frow, from left: Robert Peterson, Pipestone; Derek Meshke, Lake Crystal; Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal; Matt Peterson, Lake Crystal; Josh Sonnabend, Willmar; Aaron Lynch, Winsted; assistant coach Jeff Hohenstein, Garden City; and coach Blake Meshke, Lake Crystal. Photo By SHERYL MESHKE

The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Fastpitch Softball Team of Lake Crystal, Minn.: front row, from left: Dan Pawlek, Northfield; Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal; Eric Hood, Lake Crystal; Jake Dalton, Lake Crystal; Brandon Friedrichs, Lake Crystal; Devon Hagge, Lake Crystal; Dave DeWitz, Good Thunder; Seth Anderson, Minnesota Lake; back frow, from left: Robert Peterson, Pipestone; Derek Meshke, Lake Crystal; Josh Schroeder, Lake Crystal; Matt Peterson, Lake Crystal; Josh Sonnabend, Willmar; Aaron Lynch, Winsted; assistant coach Jeff Hohenstein, Garden City; and coach Blake Meshke, Lake Crystal. Photo By SHERYL MESHKE

By SHERYL MESHKE / LAKE CRYSTAL

LAKE CRYSTAL, Minn. – The Hennager Plumbing and Heating Fastpitch Softball Team of Lake Crystal, Minn., is the Minnesota Men’s Class C Fastpitch Tournament Runners-Up. The team secured the second-place finish with six wins and two losses this weekend at Caswell Park, North Mankato, Minn.

The team lost to Len’s Auto of West St. Paul, Minn., 5-6, in the championship game. Taking the circle for the fifth game of the day, Brent Meshke, Lake Crystal, gave up six hits, walked one and struck out four.

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Castle Rock’s Sunday surge stars in Hollywood

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

2014-CastleRock
The Castle Rock men’s fastpitch team of Castle Rock, Minn. Photo courtesy of Ken Schonning.

CASTLE ROCK, Minn. – On Saturday the results weren’t favorable, but come Sunday Castle Rock did a complete turnaround to win the Class C Division of the 10th Annual Hollywood Days Tournament.

Held at the Hollywood Sports Complex near Watertown, the tournament had 10 teams entered. After finishing 1-2 on Saturday and scoring just seven runs, Castle Rock qualified for Sunday’s C Division playoffs.

And that’s when the bats started heating up. Castle Rock outscored three opponents by a 32-14 margin starting with a 7-0 victory over Hollywood; followed by knocking off a tough Minnesota Computers / Scandia Fastpitch team, 11-5.

That set up a championship matchup with St. Paul Pawns, who beat Dawson 8-1 to advance. Castle Rock didn’t let their hot bats cool off, and erupted for a 14-9 win that improves the team’s record to 10-6.

The key to the ball club’s success, said manager and catcher Ken Schonning, is getting all his ball players together. When he’s got a full squad, they can cause some damage.

“We had all our players at the tournament,” said Schonning, who has managed the team for 36 of its 49 years. “We needed our sticks because we knew the Pawns are a good hitting team.”

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