International stars make up a third of players
By Mark Ridolfi, NSP Assistant Editor
Bob Berger is stoked for victory in Eldridge with a team full of American, Canadian and South American all-stars itching to take on fast-pitch softball rivals packing just as much heat.
Berger is a Los Angeles custom painting contractor who also manages the JB Bombers. He has plenty of respect for the 21 other teams arriving in Eldridge this week for the International Softball Congress tournament opening Saturday at Sheridan Meadows.
It won’t be just all fun at the ballpark.
“I’m there to kick the **** out of everybody,” he said.
“Our team hasn’t been together in two years, and we’re looking forward to the best players in the world,” he said. While many played elsewhere, Berger said they didn’t face ISC-level competition.
In Eldridge, he’ll face the world’s best:
2018 tournament MVP outfielder Bryan Abrey of the Gremlins will be here.
So will 2017 MVP Nico Carril of Hill United Chiefs, Six Nations, Ontario.
Team USA veteran Alex Ibarra arrives this week to pitch for the Walcott Lampliters. He’ll be staying with Lampliter tavern and team owner Clint Kutcher through the tournament, before heading to LSU where he helps coach softball.
The ISC tournament Aug. 14-21 at Sheridan Meadows brings hundreds of players obsessed with a game that once ruled eastern Iowa. Through the 1980s, the Q-C region had four fast-pitch leagues and at least 80 teams competing from almost every town, Kutcher said. Now there are just four traveling fast-pitch teams.
It’s a game where many pitchers leap airborne hurling a 12-inch-round, 6.25-ounce ball 43 feet. Around here, it’s a ferocious girls’ game in most high schools. This week, about 350 men will be arriving in Eldridge this week, about a third of them from overseas.
108 Foreign Born Players in this year’s ISC World Tournament
The ISC earns its international distinction with at least 108 foreign-born players on this tournament roster. ISC director Dean Oscar recited the list:
6 New Zealanders
Editor’s Notes: Great preview article by Mark Ridolfi, NSP Assistant Editor of the local paper, North Scott Press. Hope they will continue coverage of the tournament. Click the link above to read the complete story. It captures the local feel of the tournament, with the optimism that flows freely the day before the games begin — when everyone is unbeaten and untied.
The only critique I have is the lead photo for the article, a pitcher, shown pitching in jeans and boots. From a photographer’s standpoint, it’s a great shot, taken at a peak moment in the delivery. Just thought that it doesn’t convey the feel of a tournament hosting some of the worlds best players, played at the highest level. Especially as the article seems aimed at encouraging the local fans to come out and see a sport they might not have viewed before. OK, off my soapbox.
Love the breakdown of the home countries of the foreign born players. No surprise to see Canada leading the way, though I was surprised to see that Argentina was just one player behind. Over three dozen players each from both Canada and Argentina. I’d love to see the names of the players from each of these countries posted. Anyone want to help out? Peruse those rosters and email me if you know. jim [at] fastpitchwest.com.