Month: April 2023

Last Steps Before Opening Day

Check your calendars

          May 9 is nearly here. As usual, we’ll be working on details until the flrst ball is pitched, but we’re all looking forward to playing softball again.

          The schedules have been sent to all managers, and we’ll post them online when we have access to our South Bend parks website. Also, we can send the schedules and 2023 rule changes to you, if you contact us by email.

          In the meantime, here are some things you might want to know:

Because of the byes required in a five-team division, the senior schedule needs 25 dates if every team plays 20 games. That means, except for the July 4 week, seniors will be playing every Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. from May 9 through August 8.

          A double-elimination tournament will be August 10, 15 and 17.

          For the juniors, there are no byes. Instead, we are excited to offer some doubleheaders for 2023. Four teams will play at 6:30, then the fifth team will play at 7:30 against one of those early four. This will be done on a rotating basis, so each team will play four doubleheaders during the season.

Juniors can count on playing every Tuesday and Thursday, except during the July 4 week, from May 9 through July 20. The double-elimination tournament will begin July 27 and end August 3 or August 8.

If you have questions, contact

We’re still working on contingencies for rainouts or other postponements. If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know.

Fees and waivers

          Here are some reminders. Player fees are $60 for a single division and $100 for those who play in both. Your team managers are responsible for collecting those fees, which are due before the season’s third game, on May 16.

          If you don’t have your money in, you won’t be allowed to play on May 16. Please don’t make your manager chase down the money. If you’re writing a check, the pay line should be to Michiana Senior Softball.

          You also will be required to sign a player waiver. The gist is that you understand there is a risk of injury in softball and that you agree not to sue the team, league, field owner, USA softball or any employees, agents, etc. if you get hurt. If you don’t sign, you can’t play.

Senior rosters

A softball season depends on a lot of details – schedules, uniform sizes, umpire assignments, etc.

The toughest challenge might be putting team rosters together, especially for this season. With a larger-than-normal turnover in players and a switch from six thin teams to five solid ones, we saw an opportunity to level out the competition in the senior division.

Steve Sporinsky was in charge of this process. With more than a dozen newcomers, every team should be better than they were in 2022.

Some small changes still may be required, but here are the rosters for the senior division. If we’ve missed someone who intends to play, please let us know by contacting

Brew Werks: Ron Wilson (manager), Mike Catanzarite, Tom Garman, John Kjoller, Al Kukla, Faron Lubbers, Dave Melander, Mike Pino, Joe Rager, Dan Reck, Randy Robertson, Bob Shaffer, Corky Towne, Fred VanDyke, Paul Wasowski, Paul Williams.

OC Hardware: Snookie Ferency (manager) Neil Andrews, Ken Bradford, John Hollerbach, Bobby Hughes, Bob Jamieson, Ed Jankowski, Bobby Knight, Don Millow, Mike Myers, Bill Schell, Kevin Sherbun, Kirby Sprouls, Bob Tajkowski, Mark Witkowski.

Prep & Polish: Ron Betzer (manager), John Albers, Tom Baiz, Ed Biggs, Joseph Caruso, Mike Clark, Xavier Creary, Keith Gordon, Doug Hann, George Hartman, Heinz Hayen, John Hess, Jerome Keller, Patrick Whisler, Bob White, Phil Zillman.

Unity Gardens: Gary Marcus (manager), Jerry AuFrance, Dale Coleman, John Coyle, Derek Dieter, Dennis Hartsell, Denis Hestad, Emery Hirschler, Russ Kintzele, Steve Klujsza, Gene Kwasniak, Randy Miller, Kelly Moyer, Richard Russell, Dan Thomas, Bob Torok, Don Torok.

Wesolowski Insurance: Rich Sparks (manager), Jimmy Arnett, Bruce Cernak, Gary Duddleson, Bob Fonseca, Jim Gannarelli, Terry Hayden, Jerry Hopkins, Curtis Kent, Bob Marcelli, Tod Moorhead, Keith Peczkowski, Ken Richmond, Steve Sporinsky, Dave Varner.

Most of the teams have 15 or 16 players. With vacations and the usual injuries, we shouldn’t have teams playing short-handed or forfeiting.

We’re grateful for the cooperation of team managers. This is a task that can’t be done without everyone working for the greater good.

Rosters for the junior division are in their final stages, and we hope to post those here in a few days.

Michiana Senior Softball League, April 3, 2023, Ken Bradford, Steve Sporinsky, Mark Witkowski, Adam Kroemer, Steve Latzke

Busy times

It’s finally time to break out the practice gear. If you haven’t heard from your team manager yet, you will soon.

We’ll have 10 teams this year – five in each division. Thanks to a lot of folks reaching out to their friends and neighbors, we’ll have almost exactly the same number of players as we had in 2022.

We reduced the number of teams from six to five because we want to make them stronger. Last season, several teams played short-handed and a couple teams actually forfeited because they didn’t have enough players.

Most teams should have approximately 15 rostered players. With only four of the five teams playing at any given time, the bye team’s players will be available to substitute on short-handed teams. We want every game to be good.

The plan is for juniors to play a 24-game schedule that includes four doubleheaders for each team. This is an experiment to see if doubleheaders should be worked into our routine in future seasons. The seniors will play 20 games, and will have a bye every fifth game. This will make better sense when the schedules are posted in the next couple of weeks.

The opening night is Tuesday, May 9. Let’s hope for great weather and a good time for all involved.

Uniform shirts

All teams had new shirts last season, and I hope you haven’t worn yours while changing the oil on your snowmobile this past winter.

Shirts traditionally are a two-year purchase. We will be buying new ones this year only for those teams with new sponsors. Those would be Bowlers Country Club, which is replacing Access, in the junior division, and Unity Gardens, Prep & Polish and South Bend Brew Werks, which are replacing Christman’s, Builders Store and AIM in the senior division.

Depending on how many new players are added to Palmer Funeral Homes, we may end up with shirts for the newcomers there.

If you’re on one of those teams, your manager will need your shirt size in the next week. We want to place our order with our new vendor early enough that our shirts can arrive by opening day.

The Byers complex has removed a long-standing rule that teams need to wear matching shirts. Frankly, the rule was rarely enforced and was there in part so it was easier to spot teams that were trying to sneak non-rostered players on the diamond.

No player has to wear a hat. If you do, you need to wear it with the bill pointing forward, unless you are pitching or catching. This is a city and national rule that will be enforced this season.

We won’t be buying hats in this league. It  will be nice to see as many uniform shirts out there as often as we can. It’s especially nice for our sponsors.

About umpires

Speaking of rules, the Byers Complex umpires were handed a new list this spring, and we need to be aware of the changes. The umpires have been asked to address slow play by enforcing a 60-minute time limit. No inning will be allowed to begin once the 60 minutes are up. The belief is that we just need to keep a good pace, on offense and defense. In some cases, we may end up with six-inning games.

When your team is batting, know who you follow and keep an eye on your fielding glove. If you’re going to be a courtesy runner, be prepared. Move quickly on and off the field on defense. It’s simple stuff.

John Walczewski, the South Bend coordinator, also wants umpires to pay closer attention to poor sportsmanship. If a batter throws his bat against a fence, for example, he will be declared out and will be ejected from the game. We can’t let a moment of anger endanger teammates or spectators.

Profanity also will be punished. If a batter swears after making an out, the following batter in his lineup also will be declared out. If profanity is directed toward an umpire, the player will be ejected.

Steve Sporinsky is compiling rules for our league as well and is working with managers on the final list. Knowing that sometimes players don’t hear what our managers tell them, our goal will be to make sure every player has access to our rules.


One of our longtime league members, John Cook, passed away March 25 at age 88. He stayed active as a coach and helper on the Wesolowski team until age 85. Survivors included his daughter, Debbie, and son-in-law Rich Sparks, the Wesolowski coach.

Services were Friday at Hahn Funeral Home in Mishawaka.

Four more sponsors

We are fortunate to have sponsorships from four local business owners who are players in our league.

The latest addition is Ed Biggs and his Prep & Polish. Ed, who has played on the Holy Smokes team, is stepping up as the sponsor of the former Builders Store team in the senior division. Prep & Polish, based in Osceola, offers concrete protection and beautification services through surface preparation and coatings. To contact Prep & Polish, call (574) 360-0801 or email

Jerry AuFrance is returning to the junior division with his Holy Smokes Pizza team. As the story goes, Jerry was making pizza in the kitchen at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church a decade ago when one of his friends exclaimed, “Holy Smokes, that’s good pizza.” Jerry’s plan for a bus-based mobile pizza kitchen has turned instead to a restaurant at 26222 Edison Road, near Lydick. His menu has expanded to include submarine sandwiches and burgers. For details, check out

Also returning to the juniors is Power House Electric, which is owned by John Albers. For the past several seasons, Power House has been the team to beat under a variety of names, including Nowicki Tile. John has been doing electrical work for the past four decades while also making a name for himself in the softball community. His phone is (574) 876-7339.

The Putt Putt Fun Center in Mishawaka is owned by John Rice, who sponsors that team in the junior division. The outdoor mini golf course is a popular, affordable choice for families during the spring, summer and fall. The Game Zone, full of arcade visits, provides an extra reason for your visit. The address is 3615 N. Main St., Mishawaka, and the phone is (574) 259-7141. Check it out at

These sponsors are showing their support for our league. Please keep them in mind when you’re considering how to spend your own time and money.