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Cal-State Builders claim third consecutive NAFA Masters West championship

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

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By Dave Carlton / Owner and Manager, Cal-State Builders

CARSON CITY, NEV – The Cal-State Builders made its annual trip to Carson City, Sept. 13-15, with hopes of retaining the NAFA Masters World Series West 40-Over crown. The same rag-tag group from the previous two years consisted of 12-men (with newcomer Scott Budnick, Bothell, WA, and veteran Mario Pereira, Roseville, CA) who put their skills to the test as tough competition loomed.

The Portland Brewers – narrowly defeated last year at the hands of Cal-State ace Kevin Kammueller (Shakopee, MN) – were hungry to redeem the loss. The Boston Seadogs, eliminated in 2012 by Portland in a dramatic extra-inning walk-off, were similarly eager to avenge the past.

Ten hopefuls entered the NAFA West Masters, with Cal-State, Portland, and Boston opposite each other in separate pools.

    Cal-State 11, SoCal Quakes 0

Rain and heavy wind suspended Friday’s games deep into the night. Game one slated for 8 p.m. finally got started around 10:30. The SoCal Quakes sent veteran Doug Rooney to the mound to face Cal-State’s iconic big-man Kammueller.

The Builders showed no ill effects from the rain delay as they quickly plated seven runs in the top of the first inning, sending 13 men to the plate. Dean Waltier highlighted a six-hit inning with a two-run blast to the right field corner. Both Randy “The Hammer” Bitterman and Darin Michael posted two hits each, while Mark Summers and Scott Budnick added walks.

Former Builder Mario Pereira, who took a few years off from the team, added a base hit, and Duane Christensen began his path to tournament MVP with a single.

Kammueller began where he left off at the ISC World Tournament (ISC II All-World pitcher) by pounding the strike zone with nasty corners and wicked movement. The Quakes mustered three hits in the mercy-shortened contest but could not score a run off the stingy Builder’s ace.

Former University of Arizona standout Debby Day, the only female pitcher to ever pitch at the men’s event, took over for Rooney in the top of the second and held off the Builders until the fourth, when pinch-hitter Larry Machado got a rally started with a clean single.

kammueller.kevin.246web Kevin Kammueller shows the form that earned him ISC II All-World and NAFA Masters All-World. Photo By BOB OTTO / June 2013 California Classic Fastpitch Tournament

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Remembering Gareau, Sorenson and Piechnik, legends of the ISC World Tournament

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

2013-Gareau.Piechnik.Sorenson.ISC.6web Photo By BOB OTTO

When fastpitch fans of the International Softball Congress start talking about “who were some of the best of all-time to play in the World Tournament,” three names are sure to surface – Canadian pitchers Korrey Gareau, left, Mike Piechnik, and New Zealand catcher and first baseman Mark Sorenson.

All three – now retired – had stellar careers in the ISC and in their native countries. Let’s learn a little about them. (And fans are welcome to weigh in with their comments.)

    THE BEST PLAYER EVER? HARD TO ARGUE

Let’s start with Sorenson. The right-side hitting and throwing New Zealander, who was recently named Head Coach of the New Zealand Black Sox National Team, was selected ISC All-World 16 times, placing him No. 2 on the all-time list behind Cleo Goyette with 16.

Sorenson also helped his teams win four ISC World Tournament championships, while being named the Most Valuable Player and RBI leader in 1988. Sorenson was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2010.

    FUTURE HALL OF FAMER

Korrey Gareau surged into the ISC World Tournament spotlight as a 24-year-old in 1997 when he hurled the Victoria BC Legends to second place in the world tournament in Victoria. From ’97 to 2008, Gareau went on to pitch for several outstanding U.S. ball clubs including the Tampa, Florida Smokers, Nebraska Travelers and Farm Tavern of Madison, Wisc.

Gareau helped the Farm win the World Tournament in 2007 and was selected the LeRoy Zimmerman Memorial Outstanding Pitcher.

In 1997, Gareau earned his first of six All-World honors with the Victoria Legends for his world tournament 5-2 record, 38 innings, 39 hits, 16 earned runs, 64 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA. Gareau’s six all-world selections ties him with nine other players, including the likes of Todd Budke (ISC Hall of Fame 2012), Dean Holoien, and Richie Stephen (ISC Hall of Fame 1979).

Gareau will surely be up for Hall of Fame nomination when he becomes eligible.

    BEST LEFTY ALL-TIME? HARD TO IGNORE

In an International Softball Congress career spanning 1985 to 2000, left-handed flame throwing Mike Piechnik – known for a great rise ball – earned ISC World Tournament All-World honors nine times. That puts him in a class with other great pitchers, including Canadians Todd Martin and Darren Zack (ISC Hall of Fame 2010).

Piechnik, who was inducted into the ISC Hall of Fame in 2009, has some incredible performances on his pitching resume: In the ISC World Tournament, he threw four perfect games (1985, 1993, 1998, 2002), along with six no-hitters.

In 1993, he became the first pitcher to throw perfect games at the ISC World Tournament, the Canadian Championships, and the ASA Major National Championship in a three week span.

    SHARE YOUR MEMORIES
  • As a player, did you ever play with or against these three men?
  • As fan, did you ever see them play?
  • Can you recall some memories that stand out about their performances?
  • If so, we invite you to share them with your fellow fastpitch fans?
  • Todd Budke, from the bleachers to the ISC Hall of Fame

    Thursday, September 15th, 2011

    LANCASTER, CA – Back in the early 1990s, Todd Budke sat in the bleachers at a Palmdale city league game dressed in attire more befitting a day at the beach than on the ball diamond. Then came the call. A team on the field was short a player.

    “You want to play?” the manager asked him.

    Budke thought, hey, why not.

    “They pulled me out of the stands and I was wearing shorts and flip-flops,” Budke says with a chuckle. “The first batter was a slapper and he hit me with the ball. I had three at bats and did put the ball in play, so they asked me back.”

    From that less than stellar start, Budke went on to become one of the most feared and respected hitters in International Softball Congress (ISC) World Tournament history.

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    The Farm Tavern’s Rod Peterson, he’s a good farmer

    Wednesday, September 14th, 2011


    Rod Peterson, sponsor and manager of the Farm Tavern men’s fastpitch team.
    By BOB OTTO / 1999 ISC World Tournament

    MADISON, WI – Rod Peterson sponsored and managed the Farm Tavern men’s fastpitch softball team from 1975 to 2008. He didn’t saddle his ballplayers with a long list of rules – primarily just one: Be a team player.

    Players who could abide by that simple rule received the ultimate compliment from Peterson, who farms 800 acres of corn and soybeans near Madison: that of, “he’s a good farmer.”

    “If we had a bad apple, we got rid of him,” Peterson said. “Guys had to fit in. Our personalities all flowed together. We had quite a few players who were good farmers.”

    Those good farmers won several national championships for Peterson. Including three International Softball Congress (ISC) World Tournament titles in 1997, ’99 and 2007.

    From 1996 to 2008, The Farm finished among the top four in 12 of 13 ISC World Tournaments. Peterson’s Farm also won three Amateur Softball Association (ASA) national titles, along with six runner-up finishes.

    For his contributions to the ISC, Peterson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994. And in ceremonies later this year, he along with Brian Martie, a former Farm Tavern star, will be inducted into the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Hall of Fame.

    For six years, Canadian pitcher Todd Martin toed the rubber for Peterson. He says he stayed with the Farm because of Peterson and the kind of man he is.


    Todd Martin, left, and Colin Abbott were two of the finest players to wear the Farm Tavern uniform.

    “Rod is one of my favorite people that I’ve ever met on this earth,” Martin said. “He has the biggest heart in the game. It’s because of Rod that I kept coming back. You wanted to win for him and not embarrass the uniform. He had a great bunch (of players). You had to fit the mold and be ‘farm material.’”

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