Archive for November, 2009

ISC announces PRAWN changes, additional announcement pending

Monday, November 30th, 2009

For immediate release

As most know, the continuing loss of ISC World Tournament caliber teams is putting the tournament in jeopardy. Because of this, the ISC has been forced to make some major changes in rules and tournament operation for 2010 and future years. This release is one of two that will be issued this week, explaining the changes. The second change is currently being voted on by the ISC Board of Directors.

To fully explain the background of these changes, one must understand the economics of the ISC World Tournament. The World Tournament is a primary source of operational revenue for the ISC. The host city conducts the tournament with a financial commitment to ISC. The host city must have reasonable assurance of sufficient economic impact and revenue to make their operation viable and profitable. To successfully accomplish this, there must be a sufficient number of teams traveling to the host city and the tournament must be appealing to fans who attend the tournament games.

Perhaps most important is that the overall experience must be attractive to the teams and players to spend the necessary money to travel to and stay in the host city, take time away from work and families and to compete in the best club tournament in the world.

Last Friday, Larry Fisher and Blair Setford traveled to Michigan to meet with the Midland Tournament Directors for 2010 and explain our proposed changes. The Midland host committee has approved the change being announced today and the subsequent one to be announced later in the week.

The first announcement is the following change in our PRAWN rule:

For 2010, each team will be limited to six PRAWN players. Only one of the six may be a PRAWN pitcher. There will be no exceptions (grandfathering) for those players who have made PRAWN status and remained with their original team.

The above rule change has been approved by both the ISC Executive Committee and the ISC Board of Directors by a majority vote.

The primary intent of this rule change is to make more PRAWN players and pitchers available to more teams.

A PRAWN is a player who has been named to the ISC All-World Teams in the 2007, 2008 or 2009 ISC World Tournaments. There is no change in our previously announced rule of limiting PRAWN status only to those making All-World in the prior three years.

We plan to issue the second release later this week.

Ken Hackmeister
ISC Executive Director

North Island Men’s Classic

Monday, November 30th, 2009

O’Leary ponders Vikings success

FIRED UP: Fast Pitch pitcher Mario Herbert fires one in as back stop Matt Williams keeps his eye on the toe of the bat in the game against Hutt Valley yesterday during the North Island Men’s Classic at Akina Park, Hastings.

SportToday had to question Joe O’Leary’s wisdom in the wake of his decision to play in the weekend’s North Island Classic men’s softball tournament in Hastings.

After all, O’Leary’s Dodgers team didn’t enter the six-team event and his list of injuries isn’t exactly short.

“Take your pick … hamstring, ankle and shoulder,” replied O’Leary when quizzed on his injury tally.

“I was on crutches on Friday but threw them away so I could play,” said O’Leary who is back in the Bay after two seasons with the Wairarapa Giants side in the Hutt Valley competition.

“I couldn’t resist the temptation to play against some quality teams and particularly for Saints who my family have a strong association with,” said O’Leary, referring to the fact his late father Rob played for Saints in the late 1980s and early 90s.

The former Black Sox training squad member’s commitment paid off as he was last night named in the Central Vikings team to play in the National Fastpitch Championship in Christchurch from December 27-30.

It remains to be seen whether O’Leary, 31, who has represented Hawke’s Bay through the age groups to senior level will take a break and rid himself of his injuries before the showpiece of the domestic scene.

“I haven’t been able to take a spell because we don’t have that much depth at Dodgers. I’ll leave that call to Tom,” said O’Leary, pointing in the direction of his Dodgers and Central Vikings coach Tom Makea.

“It’s good to be back in the Bay playing for Tom as he put a lot of work in to me when I was young and there’s a good mix of experience and youth in the Vikings side,” said O’Leary.

He agreed it would be good for him and the Vikings if he could shake off his injuries and return to the form which had him close to selection for the 2004 World Series. O’Leary’s injuries restricted his success with the bat but he managed an automatic home run for Saints as they were beaten 11-6 by his former Giants side in yesterday’s plate final at the classic.

Top Hawke’s Bay side Fast Pitch again did the best of the three Hawke’s Bay teams in the Classic with a third placing.

Hutt Valley Dodgers beat Johnsonville 6-1 in yesterday’s championship final. Former Maraenui Pumas and Hawke’s Bay age group players Mark and Jason Kelleher played for the Hutt Valley Dodgers side which lost 6-3 to Johnsonville in their first outing on Saturday but were unbeaten from then on.

Hutt Valley Dodgers second baseman Tyson Byrne, who gained International Softball Congress team selection earlier this year, was the Classic’s top batter with an average of 565. Former Hawke’s Bay and Junior Black Sox catcher Campbell Makea played for Johnsonville.

Editor’s note: Where is Hawkes Bay, you ask? Right about here:

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Excitement building for ISC World Tournament

Monday, November 30th, 2009

(click banner for original news story)
By John Kennett
jkennett (at)

With over 20,000 people expected to descend on Midland next Aug. 14-21 for the 2010 International Softball Congress World Championships, planning is paramount.

Fortunately, co-chairs Kyle Beane and Dave Lach of the host Midland Explorers Booster Club feel they have preparations well in hand.

“We’re in a pretty good spot,” said Beane, who plays for the Midland Explorers and is a product analyst for the General Motors Service and Parts Operation.

Two area hotels, the Midland Resort and Convention Center and the Valley Plaza Resort, have been chosen as the host hotels for the tournament.

“We’ll need a lot of meeting room space fro the ISC to conduct their business,” said Lach. “For instance, on Sunday morning (of the tournament), the ISC will hold a Hall of Fame breakfast for over 300 guests at the Valley Plaza.”

Along with the two host hotels, the H Hotel has agreed to be a partner while Sports Junction has signed on to be the tournament’s souvenir vendor.

With over $2 million expected to be pumped into the local economy, the host committee is raising the initial $30,000 of organizational money.

“Right now, we’re in the fundraising mode,” said Beane. “We’re contacting local businesses for funds. We want this to benefit the whole community.”

The process to hold next year’s tournament began over a year ago at the 2008 ISC World Championships in Kimberly, Wis.

“Typically, the host city is chosen two years prior by a bid process,” said Beane. “At Kimberly, nobody came forward for 2010, so we started talking to the ISC about hosting.”

After receiving details from the ISC about hosting the tournament, and then processing the information, the decision was made to move ahead with pursuing the 2010 tournament.

“We contacted the Midland Parks and (Recreation Department) along with the (Midland) Chamber of Commerce, and everyone was firmly behind it,” said Beane. “A verbal agreement was reached with the ISC late last year, and the contract was signed in July.”

Lach is impressed with the way the community has backed up its initial commitment.

“The openness and enthusiasm from the local community has been great,” said Lach, who works for Nexteer Automotive of Saginaw as a senior systems engineer. “Any business we’ve approached has given us a tremendous response. The (Midland) City Council, along with the (Midland) Parks and Rec, have provided us with everything we’ve needed. It’s been very rewarding to see everyone pull together.”

One change that fans will see in the 2010 ISC is the absence of perennial power The Farm Tavern of Madison, Wis. After 34 years and three World Championships, sponsor Rod Peterson decided to retire and disband the team.

“There was not a better sponsor than Rod,” said Beane. “I’m sorry to see him go.”

With the closure of The Farm, the Midland Explorers become the ISC team with the longest continuous sponsorship.

“We’ve been at every ISC Championship since 1987,” said Beane. “That’s 23 years. It really speaks highly of guys like Lefty Bartos and Lee Isenhart, who started the Explorers.”

August’s event will actually consist of three separate tournaments: the ISC Men’s Fast Pitch Tournament, ISC II Tournament of Champions, and the ISC Development Tournament (under-19).

All the games will take place at either Emerson Park or the Redcoat Softball Complex. The Explorers will be entered in the ISC Men’s Fast Pitch Tournament along with the best teams in the world.

“It’s kind of like the majors versus Triple-A,” said Beane of the difference between the ISC Men’s Fast Pitch Tournament and the ISC II Tournament. “The Fast Pitch Tournament has better players.”

Last year’s ISC Men’s Fast Pitch Championships drew 24 teams, while the ISC II Tournament had 40 teams.

“I expect there to be a real solid group of 20 teams this year in the Fast Pitch Tournament,” said Beane. “Due to some teams folding up, some of the (ISC) II teams will move up.”

With the re-signing of star pitcher Brian Urquhart, Beane expects the Explorers to have another strong showing after finishing ninth at the 2009 ISC, where Urquhart was named to the All-World Team.

“We’re trying to find another pitcher to go with Brian,” said Beane. “This time of year is when players typically move to other teams. We would like to make the Explorers as strong as we can, so we can make a deep run in this year’s tournament.”

For further information regarding the tournament, or to contact Beane or Lach, go to

Some readers comments from the news story appear after the jump. (more…)

Happy Birthday Vin Scully

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

We send along our birthday greetings to Hall of Fame Baseball announcer, Vin Scully, who celebrates his 82nd birthday today, with fifty-nine (59) years behind the mike for the Dodgers. His career as the Dodgers announcer started in 1950. Eight seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, fifty with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is as reliable as the seasons, a touchstone of life, as time goes by.

From his National Baseball Hall of Fame biography:

Scully’s remarkable tenure as the “Voice of the Dodgers” began in 1950 when he joined Red Barber as a member of the Brooklyn club’s radio team. Scully followed the Dodgers’ move west in 1958. As Scully recalled: “Red was my teacher … and my father. I don’t know—I might have been the son he never had. It wasn’t so much that he taught me how to broadcast. It was an attitude. Get to the park early. Do your homework. Be prepared. Be accurate. He was a stickler for that. He cared. He was very much a taskmaster, or I might have developed bad habits.”

Many adjectives have been used to describe Scully and his style since his declaration to a teacher at the age of eight of his ambition to become a sports announcer: entertaining, precise, proficient, charming, friendly, outgoing, smooth, relaxed, warm, knowledgeable, intelligent, literate, concise, well-prepared, colorful. Los Angeles Times columnist and J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner Jim Murray once called him “the Fordham Thrush with the .400 larynx.”

Scully has covered many of baseball’s most thrilling moments, including Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, Maury Wills’s 104 stolen bases, Don Drysdale’s and Orel Hershiser’s scoreless inning streaks, and Kirk Gibson’s dramatic home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series.

(He is an honorary member of the Ballparkradio broadcast crew)

Kelso couple donates $150,000 for softball field makeover

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

(click banner for original news story)
By Rick McCorkle

The days of tenuous cinderblock dugouts and leaning fences will soon be a thing of the past for the girls playing softball at Tam O’Shanter Park in Kelso.

The softball section of the park is getting a major overhaul, thanks to Kelso native David Heerensperger and his wife, Jill. The couple recently donated $150,000 to the city of Kelso to convert one of the softball fields at Tam O’Shanter Park into a stadium similar to the Stan Rister Stadium baseball field located at the front of the park.

In the late 1940s, a young Heerensperger played Little League baseball at Tam O’Shanter Park.

As he got older, Heerensperger’s interest shifted to playing men’s fastpitch softball and later sponsoring area teams. After graduating from Kelso High in 1954, he embarked on a business career that included buying and selling billion-dollar businesses and owning race horses.

With all of his business dealings, he never forgot his hometown roots.

“When we came to Kelso for David’s class reunion, we went to find his mother’s grave and couldn’t locate it,” Jill Heerensperger said by phone from their winter home in Arizona. “We wanted to do something in memory of his mother (Leona Bailey Heerensperger), and that’s where the idea came from.”

David Heerensperger declined to comment on the donation or the project.

“I’ll wait until it’s done because you never know what could happen along the way,” he said. “There’s a lot of loose ends yet, and I want to see that things get done in the proper way.”

Heerensperger’s foray into the business world shows he likes to get things moving. His dealings began in Longview in 1959 when businessmen Stan Thurman and Bob Grover of T&T Electric set him up in a store in Spokane called Eagle Electric and Plumbing. In 1969, T&T and Eagle, along with Heerensperger, was acquired by Pay ‘N Pak, which was founded by Thurman. A year later, a rift developed between Thurman, Heerensperger and another longtime T&T employee, John Headley, and Thurman left the group.

Heerensperger developed Eagle Hardware and Garden, and later retired as the chief executive officer of both Pay ‘N Pak and Eagle. He sold Eagle to Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse for an estimated $1 billion, and later founded the Bellevue-based World Lighting.

In addition, he’s also part-owner of the Emerald Downs horse race track in Auburn and Woods Creek Farm in Bellevue. His interest in horses started in the late 1970s when he and his wife purchased a trip to the Kentucky Derby at a charity auction. They later bought horses which ran and placed in the Breeder’s Cup and Kentucky Derby

Heerensperger also dabbled in hydroplane racing as owner of the Pay ‘n Pak and Miss Eagle Electric boats, and was the first Unlimited class owner to win a race with turbine power in 1982.

“This guy’s a real go-getter,” Kelso Parks and Recreation Director Tim Mackin said. “He used to sponsor men’s fastpitch teams, and softball was an easy gift for him when he realized the fields were more than 30 years old with tilting fences and old wooden bleachers.”

The cinder block dugouts used by hundreds of teams though the years will also be replaced.

“When a couple of volunteers came in and took the roof off one of the dugouts, the sides collapsed,” Mackin said. “We’ll also get new dugouts along with fencing, a backstop, new irrigation system for the field and bleachers to seat 500 people. There will also be a plaza where you’ll walk through a gate to get in, like at Stan Rister Stadium.”

The stadium will enable the Kelso Girls Softball Association to bid on major weekend summer tournaments, including state championships in different age levels.

“An average of 40-50 teams will play in a four-day tournament, and that’s about $150,000 in revenue for area businesses,” KGSA treasurer John Reichert said. “This is the second phase of a project we started a few years ago to upgrade the fields at the park.”

The first phase of the park improvement project was construction of a building for the group’s clubhouse, restrooms and storage.

“We applied to the city for money to rebuild the restrooms,” Reichert said. “With a combination of volunteer help, donations of materials and funding from the city and KGSA, we were able to complete the project.”

Reichert said the group needs to raise about $40,000 to upgrade the other softball field adjacent to the new stadium.

“If we can get the money raised soon, we can get the supplies needed at the same time as for the other field so we can purchase at a discount,” he said.

In addition to KYSA, the Lower Columbia College softball team which also plays its home games at Tam O’Shanter Park, will benefit from the field renovation.

“It’s a big bonus for me being the coach of the team because it’s really hard, we’ve got to take just whatever the league can provide for us as far as the field,” Mackin said. “The college provides a rental fee for its use of the field because they have no field on campus.”

Reichert said the field work is scheduled to be completed by March 1 when LCC begins its season.

“We’d like to have a celebration when the field is opened but we haven’t picked a date yet,” he said. “KGSA has its kickoff tournament in mid-April, and we’d like to tie the celebration in with the beginning of our season.”

Honours even on diamond

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

(click logo for original news story)

CLOSE CALL: Howick senior men’s team catcher Hayden Wildbore looks to tag-out a Roosters batter sliding in at home base. Times photo Wayne Martin.• Howick and Pakuranga Times

A CLASSY softball victory was followed by a loss as Howick’s senior men’s batters showed their skills and the side’s youthful potential last Saturday.

Although North Harbour side Roosters managed nine runs at Meadowland Reserve, Howick’s 13 hits ensured a comprehensive 17-9 win as every player managed at least one safe hit, with Rhys Mau and Todd Wilson leading the way with home runs.

Hayden Wildbore, Troy Pirie and Yoshi Suzuki had two hits each with youngster Josh Miller hitting a triple and gaining a walk. Wilson also hit a two-base shot to show the way to the less experienced players.

Allowing batters to walk gave Roosters too many chances, giving the losers five runs.

The joy of the win for Howick faded later on Saturday against Auckland Fastpitch Championship leaders Waitakere Bears, with the Bears attacking right from the start, scoring three in the first turn at bat and seven in the second inning to go on to an 11-2 victory.

Howick’s batters lost their composure, despite valiant efforts from Pirie, who maintained his recent form with another two hits, including a three-base shot. Wilson also managed another hit with Simon Edwards gaining the side’s fourth.

Edwards and Mau shared the pitching duties.

Howick travels to Glenora this Saturday for a game that should be an easier assignment.

Meanwhile, Howick’s senior women’s team had a stirring battle against Hibiscus Coast last Sunday, taking the game all the way only to lose 9-8, with Louise Mullin poised on third base when the last batter went out.

Both sides struggled for hits despite the high score, but Coast’s batters had longer shots. Mullin, Breanna Gibson and Heidi Leathart showed patience and batting skills for Howick.

However, deflated after the loss, they had to face the powerful Bears right after.

It was a one-way match, with Bears pitchers allowing no hits and just three well-separated walks to Howick in their 12-0 win. There were 12 Bears hits against Howick’s three pitchers.

This Saturday, the Howick senior women’s team travels to Otahuhu’s Sturges Park to play the strong local side there and will have to start in style to have a chance. Otahuhu lost its unbeaten record to the Bears in a 9-0 loss last Sunday.

Auckland Fastpitch Softball Championships

Senior men’s points: Waitakere Bears 16 (8 games), United 14 (7), Ramblers 10 (7), Eden Roskill 8 (7), Marist 8 (7), Northcote 6 (6), Hibiscus Coast 4 (6), Howick 4 (7), Glenora Bears 2 (7), Roosters 2 (9).

Senior women’s points: Ramblers 14 (7 games), Otahuhu 14 (8), Waitakere Bears 14 (9), Marist 10 (9), Hibiscus 6 (8), Western Magpies 6 (9), Howick 4 (9), Metro 0 (9).

Local umpire reaches top level at young age

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

From the Truro News, Nova Scotia
(click link for original news story)

The Truro Daily News

TRURO – There’s a big difference between Clinton Harvey and other Level 5 umpires in

He’s about half the age of his counterparts.

The 28-year-old Tatamagouche resident achieved the mark, the highest an umpire can get in Canada, recently after receiving a successful assessment following the Canadian Senior Men’s Softball Championship in St. Thomas, Ont.

“I always looked up to the Level 5 guys and thought it would be neat to get there,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he’s heard of other umpires in their 20s achieving Level 5 status, but most who do are in their 40s or 50s. Most who do are former players who typically end their playing days in their mid-30s. It then takes another 10 to 15 years to go from a beginner umpire to Level 5.
It took Harvey 13 years.

“I really love the game,” he said. “But it got to a point where I wasn’t good enough to play at the higher levels so this was a way for me to get involved in the high levels of the sport.”
The certification allows him to move on to international umpiring status. He can do so through an international school put on by Softball Canada which includes on-field and classroom components.

The certification also permits him to be umpire in chief at any Canadian championship tournament where he will evaluate fellow umpires and assign them to games.
While he’s looking forward to doing so, the coming season will probably be too busy for Harvey to jump right in.

He’ll be finishing a masters program through the summer and is a member of the organizing committee for the junior men’s Canadian championship in St. Croix in August.

“So I’ll be pretty busy when all the Canadian championships are happening,” Harvey said.

Kohlhase likely to return to Black Sox

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

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By TONY SMITH – The Press

Incumbent coach Eddie Kohlhase has been offered another chance to lead the Black Sox back to the world men’s softball championship title.

Kohlhase beat out a bid by recently retired longtime Black Sox pitcher Marty Grant.

The Press understands Kohlhase was offered the position earlier this week. His appointment is set to be officially confirmed next Tuesday at a function in Wellington when Softball New Zealand launches the new National Fastpitch Championship.

Softball New Zealand (SNZ) general manager Dane Dougan was only prepared to say yesterday that “a person has been offered the role. We are just working out the contracting [details] now”.

Kohlhase had hoped to guide the Black Sox to a record fourth consecutive world championship title in Saskatoon, Canada last July after stepping up to the plate as head coach following two successful campaigns as Don Tricker’s assistant in 2000 and 2004.

But the Black Sox lost the Saskatoon final 0-5 to Australia after losing 0-7 to their trans-Tasman rivals in the first round of the playoff series.

The much-vaunted Black Sox batting lineup – obsessed as they were with longball hitting – failed to score a run off ace Australian pitcher Adam Folkard in two games.

The Black Sox’s campaign was reviewed by a committee comprising Kohlhase, team manager Wayne Small, Dougan and SNZ chairman Rex Capil.

Dougan said yesterday SNZ’s board supported the committee’s six key recommendations.

These include more focus on high-performance programmes and better definition of management roles.

Softball New Zealand will work with the International Softball Federation and other national federations to set up a “sanctioned and recognised” international programme.

SNZ will look to develop a national team for “men in between the Junior Black Sox [under-19 squad] and the Black Sox”. “Whether this is an under-23 [team] or a New Zealand A concept is still to be explored,” Dougan said.

Islander to play softball with New York team

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

From The Guardian, Prince Edward Island
(click link for original news story)

Ellsworth sets sights on return to national team
Transcontinental Media

BROOKLYN — Another busy summer of competitive ball awaits Jeff Ellsworth.

The Brooklyn, P.E.I., resident recently signed to play for the Broken Bow Patsy’s out of New York City for the 2010 season.

The team finished second in the International Softball Congress world championship last year, up from fourth the previous year.
Ellsworth is also very interested in continuing playing with Canada’s senior men’s team.

“I’ll definitely be sticking around,” said Ellsworth.

Team Canada is currently in the midst of selecting a new coaching staff and a new players’ pool will subsequently be created.

“I’d expect the old players will be getting a call right away to see what their interest is,” Ellsworth suggested.

At the end of the 2009 season, Ellsworth indicated he would take some time to decide his future in the sport. Changes in the International Softball Federation’s schedule are working to Ellsworth’s advantage. Previously, the ISF held a world championship every four years but has since changed that to every two years.

“That’s more attractive for older players,” said Ellsworth.

Ellsworth, known for his strong play in the outfield, sound batting and swift base-running, will be one of two Canadians on a Patsy’s roster loaded with international talent. There are only two Americans signed with the team.

He also plans to play for the Charlottetown Fawcetts in the Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship in Charlottetown in August. The last time the Canadian championship was on P.E.I., Ellsworth was just starting out in senior ball, and playing for the host Summerside Twins. That was nine years ago and he has been all over the map with his sport since then.

Festive season no-go zone for Black Sox

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

The Dominion Post

Player apathy is threatening the national men’s softball competition as Black Sox representatives vote with their feet.

Hutt Valley internationals Jeremy and Regan Manley, Rhys Casley and Tyson Byrne have said they are not prepared to play in the premier domestic competition, the National Fastpitch championships from December 27-30.

Softball NZ is so concerned it has scheduled a meeting with provincial associations on Saturday to discuss teething problems with the revamped format.

This season the national body reverted to a four-day tournament as was used six years ago, replacing the former national league played over three weekends.

Hutt Valley Softball chairman Garry Davidson said the choice of the Christmas holiday period had proved unpopular.

Hutt Valley were national champions in 2007-08 and were fifth last season, but now faced sending a second-string team.

“I just don’t think Christmas and New Year is the right time,” Davidson said. “In the old days that was great because everyone shut down for the holiday period.

“But I became aware there were very few players that were going to be available either through work, or holiday time, or wives saying this is family time.”

Softball NZ business development manager Glen Roff said the change was made to reduce costs and to eliminate interference with local club competitions.

“One of the main reasons is we see ourselves as a family sport,” Roff said.

“Having it around Christmas offers the opportunity for families to go to the tournament. That was always something that was considered a key component in the past.”

Roff said there were few alternatives because the calendar was congested between January and April with the more popular national interclub championships.

He admitted the Black Sox players were probably tired after last year’s world championships. They would not be pressured to play at the nationals by Softball NZ, even though most are carded athletes, whose training is funded by Sparc through the Academy of Sport.

“They’ve just come off a five-year campaign and they just want to take a wee bit of a break,” Roff said.

Wellington have also struggled to field a men’s team and their officials will meet today with Softball NZ. Roff said Softball NZ was working on a solution.