Hello, fellow softball players. This is the first of our off-season newsletters for players in our junior division. We hope to keep everyone informed as we prepare for the 2023 season. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you have email and would prefer to get these updates that way, please send me that address.
Commissioners stay busy
The new commissioner for the junior division is Adam Kroemer. He joins Ken Bradford (me) and Steve Latzke, who are holdovers from 2022.
At our organizational meeting, we divided our duties into thirds. Steve will be in charge of most of our business-related issues, including coordinating with sponsors. He also will lead the planning for our annual banquet and explore the possibilities of monthly cookouts.
Adam will take charge of competition issues, including rosters, tryouts, the annual draft and playoffs.
My main focus will be in communicating with players, managers and the South Bend park staff. I’ll also coordinate the home run derby again and maybe an all-star game. We also can explore the possibility of a travel team if there is enough interest.
An important reminder: Commissioners are elected for three-year terms. Our main goal is to keep the league running smoothly so players can simply show up and enjoy the games.
Another year in South Bend
There have been discussions about moving our league back to the Mishawaka parks. As you may know, the decision to leave Mishawaka after the 2021 season was not unanimous. The vote was 76-56 in favor of the move. In our discussions with John Walczewski, the South Bend softball commissioner, we made a two-year commitment to the Byers Complex.
We know that some players still favor the Mishawaka parks, but the junior division will honor our commitment to South Bend. The crew there has been open to any concerns we’ve raised, and the Mishawaka parks staff cannot make a long-term promise that we’ll be able to play at Normain and Henry Frank parks. We likely will have a large-group discussion during the middle of this summer and may have another vote to decide for the 2024 season.
The senior division also agreed to the two-year commitment but may decide not to honor it. If that happens, we may end up having to split the league in two. There is no way players would be able compete in seniors at Normain at 5 and in juniors at Belleville at 6:30. So those junior-senior players, including me, would have to choose one or the other. If the senior leadership indeed chooses a return to Mishawaka but enough senior-eligible players prefer to stay at Byers instead, it’s possible we could put together a new four-team senior division there. We hope that this is resolved soon.
It is not good for the league to split, but it isn’t under our control.
PowerHouse Electric reclaimed the junior division title with a 13-2 win over Access Sports Apparel.
John Albers led the champs with three hits and four RBI. His two-run double gave PowerHouse a 5-0 lead in the first inning. Jim Ridenour added a two-run double in the sixth to close the scoring. Access had three rallies snuffed by double-play grounders.
PowerHouse, which entered the playoffs a league-best 20-3 record, previously won tournaments under the sponsorship of Wilson and Nowicki Ceramic Tile.
In the semifinals, PowerHouse eliminated Putt Putt, 11-5, and Access overwhelmed TAG, 13-1. This was the first single-elimination tournament in league history.
In the senior division, Mike Gray’s two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted AIM Water Treatment to a 15-14 win over Wesolowski Insurance in the championship game.
AIM had entered the do-or-die inning with a 14-11 deficit. Dick Helfman and Mark Williams had run-scoring hits before Gray’s game-winner. Nate Matthews had a three-run homer in AIM’s five-run first inning.
For Wesolowski, Ken Richmond had two hits, driving in three runs. Wesolowski was attempting to claim the title from the loser’s bracket and had forced a final showdown with a win over AIM the previous week.
Also, at the banquet last month, the league presented its annual Service Award to Bobby Lute. He has been a great asset to senior softball as a player, manager and friend to all who attend games here.
Two other longtime players – James Beldon and Emery Hirschler – were presented with special shirts as the league’s only players older than age 80. Both played in the senior division this season – James with Wesolowski Insurance and Emery with H.G. Christman.
A case of Murphey’s Law?
The weather forecast? Zero percent chance of rain. But as Dan Murphey prepared to throw out the opening pitch at a South Bend Cubs game, the skies opened up. A rainout.
The sudden storm had caught the grounds crew totally unprepared. By the time the tarp was in place, the infield was totally soaked.
Dan earned the S.B. Cubs honor by winning our league’s Home Run Derby in July. A couple dozen league members showed up to watch. We sat through a one-hour rain delay and then learned the game would be postponed.
Haven’t heard of Murphy’s Law? It states, “If something can go wrong, it will.” We’re hoping to reschedule the pitch in the spring.