Softball and baseball’s favorite newspaper since 1987
The baseball/softball season is finally here!
By Don Bowman
Let’s Play Softball Columnist
Better late than never, FINALLY, ball fields are drying up. Let the games begin! Many local league and early bird tournaments took a beating both in the youth and adult levels.
Look for make-up games galore!
Pioneers win Polar Classic
Hill-Murray defeated North St. Paul for championship hardware at the big Polar Classic varsity fastpitch tournament held the last weekend of April. Despite this, the North St. Polars are rated No. 1 heading to sectionals this week! The Polars got revenge last week in 10-running the Pioneers on a return trip conference game, thus clinching the Classic Suburban crown! For the record, next year, both teams will be competing in the newly named East Metro Conference.
Gophers win Big Ten/Regional crowns
The Golden Gopher women’s softball club came on VERY strong at the end of the year, and now are playing like they can beat anybody!
Two weeks ago at the Big Ten tourney in Evanston, Ill., the Gophers stunned No. 1 seed Michigan and won the Big Ten title game 3-2 on a single in the bottom of the seventh by Sam Macken of Rochester, Minn.
The win advanced them to the NCAA regionals in Minneapolis on May 16-18, at cozy Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, their home field.
In the regionals the U came out swinging, and clobbered Wisconsin-Green Bay 10-1, then knocked off North Dakota State 4-1, and wrapped things up with a thrilling 8-6 win over Auburn in the “if” game!
Once again Macken was the hero, knocking out a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to lead the Gophers to victory!
With the regional win, the team now advances to the super regionals May 24-26 vs. No. 1 rated Oregon. Should be fun!
The team was led during the year by a GREAT pitching staff of senior Sara Moulton (Eagan, Minn.), and Big Ten Pitcher of the year Sara Groenwegen (Canada), one of the BEST pitching staffs in the land!
Kudos to head coach Jessica Allister and her staff for a job WELL DONE! The team returns everybody next year except Moulton. Check this team out next spring if you haven’t caught the fever yet!
Local squads earn 2013 world titles
Several local softball teams won world championships late last year (2013), after Lets Play Softball/Baseball went to press with its last issue of the season.
JK Fossils of IA/MN won the men’s 60 AAA worlds in Las Vegas, as did Jimmy’s Gold 70/80’s, who also won at the AAA level in Vegas, too. The MN Masters/Ancell White 60’s major club won a trifecta of world titles last year, collecting championship hardware at the ISF, SPA and SSUSA world championships all in one season!
Dudley Classic set for June 20-22
The Dudley Classic is back for 2014, and is slated for June 20-22 at Central Park Fields in Brooklyn Center! New this year will be a BIG preliminary showcase of softball on Thursday, June 19, as a kickoff to the Dudley. Included will be an exhibition Hall of Fame softball game, an all-star game featuring the state’s top two conference teams – H. Auto and Extreme – who will do battle against the Dudley all-stars comprised of some of the best players this state has to offer!
Last but not least, the home run contest is back! This event will not only feature Minnesota’s top sluggers, but the very best players in the land as well. The bombs will be flying!
Mosquitoland begins next week
The Midwest’s top senior slow pitch tournament, the Steve Simmons/Mosquitoland Classic, is slated for May 29-June 1 at beautiful Pioneer Park in Little Canada! Thirty of the top men’s senior 50-80 year olds will participate, four of whom won World Championship late last year! The Viagra will be flowing!
Geno Buck playing 4 the Fallen
Red Wing super star Geno Buck is playing the for the “4 the Fallen” major softball club out of Las Vegas this year! With Geno and legendary home run king Denny Crine on the squad, these guys are something see! Hopefully they will be making an appearance at the Dudley.
Speaking of the Dudley, the 2014 Classic is slated for June 20-22, and will feature the nation’s FOUR top rated teams – Resmondo Sod/Worth/FL (#1), Combat/WA, Laservision/Easton/NY and Backman/Shoppe/Louisville Slugger/TN.
RIP Terry Haltiner & Chuck Rabbe
Terry Haltiner, a highly-regarded pitcher/hitter for the North St. Paul Tap and Grill and others, passed away after a long illness on May 18. Also passing in recent months, Chuck Rabbe who played with the MN Masters and High Five. Let’s Play Sofball and the entire softball community offers their sincere condolences to both families!
USSSA Hall of Fame inductees
Scott Brown (Dan Smith/Combat) and Belinda Strobel (MN Ice) led a strong group of MN USSSA Hall of Fame inductees into this year’s hall of fame this past January! Congrats to all who were nominated!
Big fastpitch tourneys set for June 7-8
Two popular youth (NAFA/ASA) fastpitch tournaments are taking place on June 7-8 in the Twin Cities. The Rookies Classic will be held at various St. Paul locations, and the 15th Annual Little Canada Fast Pitch Classic will be held at Pioneer Park. There are still limited openings in 12s and 14s. For more info call 651-208-3909!
Tommies advance to NCAA finals
Both the St. Thomas men’s baseball AND women’s softball teams are heading to the final 8 in their NCAA Division III national tournament championship quests! Good luck to the purple!
Resmondo wins in Texas
Resmondo/Worth (FL) won the Texas Legends Major NIT last weekend, putting a whoopin on Backman/Shoppe (TN) 40-9 in the finals! Resmondo’s Jimmy Salas tabbed MVP honors.
Long Haul Bombers stop in Houston
The Long Haul Bomber tour made a stop at Minutemaid Park, home of the Houston Astros, last weekend. Chris Larsen (DeMarini) and Scott Kirby (Easton) topped the leader board with 13 points apiece!