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A Step Back In Time: Mark Rako Joins Elite Company In Fastpitch Hall of Fame

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Mark “Vinnie” Rako poses with legendary U.S. Olympic softball player Dot Richardson during the University of Dubuque’s spring trip to Florida in March, 2013


Platteville pitcher to join SW Wisocnsin Fast Pitch Hall of Fame

By Jason Nihles
sports@theplattevillejournal.com
SWNEWS4u.com
POSTED June 5, 2013 2:27 p.m.

BOSCOBEL, Wisc. – Mark Rako’s fast-pitch softball career began 41 years ago as a 14-year-old boy on the old field in Arthur.

Over the course of a career that spanned five decades “Vinnie”, as he was better known by teammates and opponents alike, developed into one of the best pitchers in the area.

“I don’t think some people even know my real name,” Rako joked.

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Rice Lake, Wisc. Men’s Fastpitch Tournament Bracket

Friday, June 9th, 2017

RICE LAKE, Wisc. – The nine teams are poised at the starting line and at 8 Friday night the host Rice Lake Orangemen will square off with Strikers Lane of Baldwin to kick off the 39th Annual Rice Lake Men’s Invitational Fastpitch Tournament at Tate Park.

THE BRACKET


Bracket Courtesy of Jess Chevrette

2017 Annual Rice Lake Invitational in Rice Lake, Wisconsin

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

By RONN KOPP
NAFA President

RICE LAKE, Wisc. – The 39th Annual Rice Lake Invitational Men’s Fastpitch Tournament will be held June 9-11 at Fred Tate Memorial Park in Rice Lake.

    TOURNAMENT DETAILS
  • Team Classifications: NAFA “AA,” “A-Major,” and “A”
  • Tournament Size: 12 Teams (The first 12 to submit complete entries, including roster)
  • Tournament Format: NAFA 3-game guarantee
  • Entry Fee: $225 payable to Rice Lake Orangemen Fastpitch
  • **Send separate check for $35 to “Wisconsin NAFA” if year 2017 NAFA team registration is desired. This is not required for Invitational entry.**

  • Rosters: Teams may list a maximum of 18 players on their roster. Rosters MUST be on the attached form and completely filled out, and MUST be submitted along with the tournament entry fee for entry to be accepted.
  • AWARDS (Based on 12 team field)

    • 1st place $600 sponsor’s expense money plus trophy
    • 2nd $450 sponsor’s expense money plus trophy
    • 3rd $300 sponsor’s expense money plus trophy
    • 4th $150 sponsor’s expense money plus trophy
    • Individual trophies to tournament MVP and All-Tournament team selections
    • MAIL CHECKS TO

      Rice Lake Orangemen
      Post Office Box 202
      Rice Lake, WI 54868

      2017 TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR
      Loren Lathrop, Phone 608-422-5781 or 608-228-2430

    Bill Hopeman put Hingham, Wisc. on the fastpitch map

    Thursday, May 18th, 2017

    Since the late 1930s, hundreds of softball players have played fastpitch at the Hingham ballfields. Courtesy Photo

    “I have skipped class reunions and some marriages because of ball. It was probably wrong, but nothing was more important than playing ball. I just loved the game.” – Bill Hopeman

    HINGHAM, Wisc. – When he was six years old, Bill Hopeman got his first taste of fastpitch softball on Hingham’s grade school playground.

    Swinging a bat, catching and throwing a softball soon became a passion. His favorite position?

    “Anywhere they would let me play,” said Hopeman, who was younger than many of the school kids back in the early 1950s. “But mostly I played third base, shortstop and some first base.”

    But over the ensuing years, “let me play,” became a plea of sorts to “please pitch for us,” as Hopeman switched from infielder to pitcher. An outstanding one at that – who many claim the best to hurl a softball in the Hingham fastpitch league.

    Click to continue reading “Bill Hopeman put Hingham, Wisc. on the fastpitch map”

    Step Back In Time: Keg Bar Captures Prairie Du Chien Title

    Thursday, May 18th, 2017

    La Crosse Tribune
    June 6, 1972

    PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wisc. – The Keg Bar fastpitch softball team downed four straight opponents, including S&H of La Crosse to take the Prairie du Chien Minor Tournament title over the weekend.

    The Keg plundered three unknowns before facing S&H in the championship, rapping the La Crosse Classic League foes 8-4 for the crown.

    Click to continue reading “Step Back In Time: Keg Bar Captures Prairie Du Chien Title”

    Bud Olson, Wisconsin NAFA Manager of The Year

    Monday, May 8th, 2017

    Bud Olson, left, was inducted into the NAFA Hall of Fame in 2014 and was presented by NAFA Vice President Mike Watson (2015 NAFA Hall of Famer). Photo By BOB OTTO

    LA CROSSE, Wisc. – Most managers are quick to down play their contribution when their team has a winning season.

    They usually spin it like, “I was fortunate to have great players,” or “we played well together,” or “we had good leadership on the field,” or “everybody knew their job and went out and did it.”

    You get the point. Taking credit for winning is not in most manager’s character. And that includes Bud Olson of La Crosse Animal House, who was selected Wisconsin NAFA 2016 Manager of The Year.

    “Over the years, I’ve learned managing is easier when you get runs and your pitcher shuts them down,” said Olson, 72. “It takes good players and I’ve been very fortunate to have players that have stayed around a long time.”

    Click to continue reading “Bud Olson, Wisconsin NAFA Manager of The Year”

    TJ Nereng selected Wisconsin’s player of the year

    Thursday, May 4th, 2017

    2016 NAFA WOPLD SERIES, A Division All-World selections from Animal House of La Crosse are, from left, Brian Leonhard, Ethan Ringlien and TJ Nereng. The three award winners helped Animal House finish third in the A Division with a 7-2 record. After losing its opener, Animal House won seven games straight before falling in the losers bracket final. Courtesy Photo.

    “T.J. could have jumped ship and played with stronger teams, but chose to stay and help us grow.” – Animal House Manger Bud Olson

    LA CROSSE, Wisc. – To make Bud Olson’s ball club takes more than just talent. His measuring stick extends yards beyond just physical skills into what lies within the heart, soul and mind of any player wishing to wear the Animal House uniform.

    Mention the name T.J. Nearing and a smile spreads across Olson’s face. He has known T.J. – now in his 30s – since he was a youngster. He watched him evolve into a good athlete in football, basketball and finally fastpitch softball.

    “T.J. is the totally consulate unselfish player,” said Olson. “He is willing to play where we have our greatest need. We value character, too, because it plays a huge role in the overall success of any team.”

    Click to continue reading “TJ Nereng selected Wisconsin’s player of the year”

    2017 Wisconsin NAFA Men’s Fastpitch State Tournament

    Thursday, May 4th, 2017

    Todd Lubkeman selected Wisconsin NAFA Pitcher of The Year

    Thursday, May 4th, 2017

    Todd Lubkeman has been the mainstay of the Willkomm Mobil pitching staff since 1992 and has helped the team achieve great success in NAFA World Series competition. In 2016 he was selected “Wisconsin NAFA Pitcher of The Year.” Photo By BOB OTTO

    BRISTOL, Wisc. – Over 130 men’s softball teams play the fastpitch version in Wisconsin, and on those teams, the anchor is the pitcher. Without a pitcher, there is no fastpitch team.

    And if a team has a hurler with talent that usually transpires into success.

    For many years, Willkomm Mobil of Kenosha has been fortunate to have Todd Lubkeman anchoring its pitching staff. The big right-hander – about 6-foot-6, throws the ball hard with all the accompanying assortment of batter-baffling spinners – riser, curve, drop and change-up.

    Over the years, Lubkeman has been as productive a pitcher as any Wisconsin has ever produced. 2016 was no exception.

    Click to continue reading “Todd Lubkeman selected Wisconsin NAFA Pitcher of The Year”

    Animal House of LaCrosse plans busy fastpitch season

    Thursday, April 13th, 2017

    LaCrosse, Wisc. – From May to August, Animal House ball players had best set aside most of their weekends. Because they will be playing a lot of fastpitch softball.

    BUD OLSON has arranged a busy schedule with 12 tournaments slated – highlighted by a grand finale come August in the NAFA World Series.

    Animal House will be traveling a bit to neighboring Minnesota and Illinois. Why the out-of-state excursions?

    “Fastpitch has gotten to the point that neighboring states need to come together to make quality tournaments happen,” said Olson, 71. “simply put, ‘if we expect to take, we better be ready to give.'”

    Click to continue reading “Animal House of LaCrosse plans busy fastpitch season”