Wesolowski wins senior title

By Bill Moor

“Dud” is what some of Gary Duddleson’s softball teammates call him.

          Yet he hardly lived up to that nickname Tuesday night while leading Wesolowski Insurance to an 18-11 victory over Prep & Polish in the South Bend senior division (62-and-over) championship game at the John Byers Complex.

          Far from a dud, Gary delivered three hits — including a homer and a double — along with four RBIs for the newly crowned champs. In fact, he almost had a three-homer game.

His double just missed going out, and John Albers of P&P crashed through the temporary outfield fence while making a spectacular catch on Duddleson’s only out.

          The Dud was The Dude.


Gary Duddleson

“Hey, it’s just really fun playing with these guys,” said the 72-year-old. “Rich Sparks (the Wesolowski manager) and I have been playing together for 40 years along with some of the others. I don’t want to ever stop.”

          Especially if he keeps playing like he did Tuesday.

          He had plenty of help from his teammates, especially winning pitcher Jim Gannarelli, who had a home run of his own along with four RBIs. A newcomer to South Bend and a guy who took up bench space as a hurler for Arizona State University long ago, Gannarelli hadn’t played ball for 13 years until this season.

          “It’s been great to find a team like this,” he said. “I’m really happy to be back in the Midwest and playing ball again.”


Jim Gannarelli

Wesolowski started out with a 5-0 first-inning lead as they exploited holes in the P&P infield. P&P was playing with just 10 players (and four infielders, not five) instead of the usual 11.

          Too soon, Wesolowski had two five-run innings in the first four frames and carried a 10-2 lead into the fifth inning. Duddleson seemed to be adding a fatal blow when he sent a towering fly to the left-field fence.

          Albers literally knocked the fence down and took a run off the board as he made a spectacular catch. In that instant, the momentum shifted toward P&P.


        John Albers

In the bottom of the fifth, P&P put together a five-run rally that included hits by Albers, Bob White, Mike Clark, Doug Hann, Jerome Keller and George Hartman. That 10-2 deficit suddenly was just 10-7.

          Unfortunately for P&P, Gannarelli chose the top of the sixth inning to hit his first home run of the year. The three-run blast, against the wind to right field, ignited another five-run rally to push the margin back to 15-7.

          Albers homered in the bottom of the sixth, but that seemed like P&P’s final gasp. Both teams scored three runs in the seventh, and Wesolowski claimed its first-ever tournament championship.

In senior softball, defense matters. Wesolowski shut down P&P rallies by turning three double-plays.

But offense matters as well. Wesolowski batted 12 players, and all of them delivered at least one hit. Five of them – Moorhead, Duddleson, Terry Hayden, Steve Sporinsky and Bruce Cernak had three hits apiece.

The bottom four hitters – where rallies often go to die – delivered seven hits in 11 at-bats.

P&P didn’t leave quietly. Coach Ron Betzer’s team had battled out of the losers’ bracket to take on Wesolowski. This showdown brought out the best in the short-handed crew.

Of its 10 players, nine recorded hits. Joe Caruso, Hann, Jerome Keller and Hartman all had three hits apiece. Bob White, Hann and Hartman all drove in two runs apiece.

            In its final at-bat, trailing 18-11, P&P rapped out five straight hits to raise the tension level. But then a runner was thrown out at home plate and a nifty double play followed to quickly end the game.

          Two of P&P’s stars — Albers and Keller — had been on the junior division (52-and-over) championship team two weeks ago.

This team was no stranger to pressure. They had beaten Unity Gardens last week with a two-run, two-out walk-off homer by Caruso.

            This game ended another big season for senior softball. The arms might not be as strong or the feet as fast as they once were, but these senior players still play with a lot of heart.  And if they do push their bodies too hard, P&P has two physicians — Caruso and White — in their lineup.

          But nobody had to limp off the diamond on Tuesday, and both teams could proudly stand tall. At this age, it’s a privilege to play games that friends and family will remember.

          Commissioner Ken Bradford tried some new things during the playoffs — including a Dollar Night where everything at the concession stand — pizza slices, hot dogs, etc. — were just a dollar. He has also started the website that is hosting this story.

          One thing was for certain, the end of the season was far from a dud.

Boxscore (courtesy of Gary Marcus)

Wesolowski    505 005 3 –13

Prep&Polish   020 021 3 –11

Wesolowski: Bob Fonseca 4-1-2-1, Tod Moorhead 4-2-3-1, Gary Duddleson 4-3-3-4, Terry Hayden 4-2-3-0, Steve Sporinsky 4-3-3-1, Ken Richmond 4-1-2-2, Curt Kent 4-2-1-1, Jim Gannarelli 4-2-2-4, Bruce Cernak 3-0-3-2. Rich Sparks 2-1-1-0, Kevin Peczkowski 3-1-1-0, Dave Varner 3-0-2-0. Totals 43-18-26-16

Prep& Polish: John Albers 4-2-2-1, Bob White 3-1-1-2, Mike Clark 4-2-2-0, Joe Caruso 4-1-3-0, Ron Betzer 4-0-1-0, Doug Hann 4-3-3-2, Jerome Keller 3-1-3-1, George Hartman 4-0-3-2, Phil Zillman 4-0-1-0, Heinz Hayen 2-1-0-0. Totals   

Bill Moor is the former longtime sports editor and columnist of the South Bend Tribune. His current writings are on moorandmore.net

No secret to PowerHouse success

PowerHouse Electric seems to have its game figured out.

Elite teams in other leagues tend to follow a more traditional path – get a couple guys on base and try to drop a bomb over the fence. That’s actually what had put Putt-Putt in the driver’s seat Thursday heading into the Michiana Senior Softball League junior division showdown – fence-rattling power.

But PowerHouse knocked off favored Putt-Putt twice with its usual, different formula – simple singles, smart speed on the bases and unbendable defense.

The winning numbers Thursday were 7-0 and 12-4, and PowerHouse has its second consecutive tourney title.

PowerHouse, coached by Jim Nace, entered the night with no margin for error. The defending champs had been knocked into the losers bracket with a four-homer 13-6 power display by Putt-Putt in their double-elimination tournament opener Aug. 3.

As a result, PowerHouse went into the Thursday showdown needing two wins. Putt-Putt, in the winners bracket, needed just one.

A slip-up of any kind by PowerHouse would give Putt-Putt its first-ever tournament championship.

No chance of that. The tone was set early. Putt-Putt filled the bases in the top of the first but came up empty when PowerHouse turned a hard-hit grounder into an inning-ending double play.

Then, in the bottom of the first, PowerHouse’s Mike Ernzen singled, moved to second on a walk to Bob Knight and scored easily on Adam Kroemer’s single. Knight and Kroemer advanced on a throw, and Jim Ridenour followed with a liner to right that scored them both. Suddenly, it was a 3-0 lead.

PowerHouse scored again in the second on a hit by Jerome Keller and made it 6-0 in the third on consecutive hits by Ernzen, Knight and Kroemer. Knight plated the final run in the seventh with a hit that scored Tod Moorhead.

Pitcher Jimmy Hill allowed eight hits in that first-game shutout and kept Putt-Putt off-balance, depending on the infield behind him. Only one runner reached third base against him as infielders Ridenour, Knight and Kroemer relentlessly speared grounders and liners. Double-plays killed potential rallies in the first and second innings.

Moorhead and Ernzen both had two hits and scored twice for PowerHouse. Knight, Kroemer, John Albers and Keller also had two apiece for the winners, who totaled 14 hits. Mike Fair and Ed Jankowski had two singles apiece for Putt-Putt.

Still, opponents would be mistaken to count Putt-Putt out too early. A week earlier, in its tournament opener, Putt-Putt trailed Holy Smokes Pizza 10-2 before a fierce 10-run rally in the top of the seventh inning eventually led to extra innings. In the ninth that night, Putt-Putt put the game away with a power show that created 13 runs for a 26-14 verdict.

Putt-Putt, coached by John Rice, wasn’t the same team Thursday. Out of town and missing from his lineup was the league’s most feared slugger, Faron Lubbers, who also may be MSSL’s top defensive player. Bob Gorny, solid and steady, missed the championship as well, and Rice scraped together a lineup that just met the 11-player standard.

In previous tournaments, some finalists have kept weaker players off the lineup card. The logic would be that a thinner lineup gives stronger hitters more trips to the plate by having fewer likely outs at the bottom of the order.

To its credit, PowerHouse batted all 14 of its players. “We have always hit everyone,” Nace said. “That goes back to when I came in the league and Dave McIntire was coach. We hit 17 in a tourney championship game six or seven years ago.”

In Thursday’s opener, Nace’s bottom five went a combined 0-for-10. With those extra outs lower in the order, only five of PowerHouse’s batters had three trips to the plate.

With the tournament on the line in the second game, Nace stayed with his 14-player commitment, and it paid off. Those same bottom-five hitters produced six hits and scored six times. They also were key to a five-spot in the third inning that overcame a 1-0 deficit.

After Kirby Prenkert reached on an infield error, Bill Snyder singled, Hill popped out and Nace singled to load the bases. Tom Barnes, who filled the 14th spot, knocked a ball up the middle that was deflected by the pitcher’s glove, scoring two runs. Moorhead singled, Ernzen reached on an error, Knight delivered another hit and Kroemer hit a sacrifice fly to reach the five mark.

A pesky rain left the field a bit slippery, and that may have aided Putt-Putt’s comeback effort as Scott Martin reached on a rare infield error in the fourth. An out later, Don Torok slapped a single, and Scott Britton followed with a hit that brought home two runs. Andy Gemske later drove in a run to bring the score to 5-4.

That’s the way it was until Knight broke the game open in the top of the sixth. Moorhead had reached on a single before Knight lofted a fly over the left-center fence. Kroemer, Ridenour and Gerard Xaver followed with runs, and suddenly the score seemed out of reach.

Knight’s was the only homer of the evening for either team.

As in the first game, Hill kept Putt-Putt’s offense under control, allowing just eight hits and no walks. He said batters went to three-ball counts on him six or eight times during the evening but always ended up swinging at pitches that were too good to ignore. PowerHouse’s infield turned another two double-plays.

Knight was among three players with three hits, the others being Xaver and Snyder. For the evening, Knight totaled five hits in five at-bats, scoring twice and driving in four runs. Moorhead had four hits and scored four runs. Keller also had four hits.

Despite the two defeats on the tourney’s final night, this was a step-forward season for Putt-Putt, which typically finished in third place or lower in recent years. The team claimed second place for the regular season with a 13-11 mark. PowerHouse earned its fifth consecutive league title at 20-4.

The championship game crowd was treated to a Dollar Day promotion in the concession stand. A similar discount, which will include slices from Holy Smokes Pizza, is planned for the Aug. 22 championship games for the senior division.

PowerHouse manager Jim Nace.

Below: Bob Knight was one of Thursday’s stars.

Jimmy Hill pitched the opening game shutout.

Linescores and individual batting, thanks to score-keeping by Gary Marcus

Game 1

Putt-Putt 000 000 0 – 0

PowerHouse 312 000 x – 7


Putt-Putt: Dave Melander 3-0-1-0, Scott Martin 3-0-1-0, Joe Gambill 3-0-1-0, Mike Fair 3-0-2-0, Don Torok 3-0-0-0, Scott Britton 2-0-1-0, Ed Jankowski 2-0-2-0, Andy Gemske 2-0-0-0, Frank Gorny 2-0-0-0, Rob Harris 2-0-0-0, Mark Kruszynski 2-0-0-0. Totals 27-0-8-0.

PowerHouse: Tod Moorhead 3-2-2-0, Mike Ernzen 3-2-2-1, Bob Knight 2-1-2-2, Adam Kroemer 3-1-2-1, Jim Ridenour 3-0-1-2, Gerard Xaver 2-0-0-0, Matt Creviston 2-0-1-0, John Albers 2-1-2-0, Jerome Keller 2-0-2-1, Kirby Prenkert 2-0-0-0, Bill Snyder 2-0-0-0, Jimmy Hill 2-0-0-0, Jim Nace 2-0-0-0, Tom Barnes 2-0-0-0. Totals 32-7-14-7.

Game 2

PowerHouse 005 005 2 – 12

Putt-Putt 100 300 0 – 4

PowerHouse: Moorhead 4-2-2-1, Ernzen 3-0-0-0, Knight 3-1-3-2, Kroemer 2-1-1-1, Ridenour 3-1-1-1, Xaver 3-1-3-0, Creviston 3-0-0-0, Albers 3-0-0-0, Keller 3-0-2-0, Prenkert 3-2-0-0, Snyder 3-2-3-0, Hill 3-0-1-0, Nace 3-1-1-0, Barnes 3-1-1-2. Totals 42-12-19-8.

Putt-Putt: Melander 3-1-2-0, Martin 3-1-1-0, Gambill 3-0-1-0, Fair 3-1-1-0, Torok 3-1-1-2, Britton 3-0-1-1, Jankowski 2-0-0-1, Gemske 3-0-1-0, Gorny 3-0-0-0, Harris 3-0-0-0, Kruszynski 2-0-0-0. Totals 30-4-8-4.

PowerHouse earns it again

PowerHouse Electric battled for two wins Thursday to earn a repeat championship in the junior division against Putt-Putt.
Pitcher Jimmy Hill kept the opposition off-balance and PowerHouse infield turned two double plays in the opener for a 7-0 victory. Putt-Putt had eight hits but advanced only one runner to third base during that shutout.
Bob Knight and Jim Ridenour each drove in two runs for the winners.
Putt-Putt, playing without two of its top hitters, nearly pulled off a victory in the second game, clawing back from an early 5-0 deficit with a four-run rally in the fourth inning.
Don Torok, Scott Britton and Ed Jankowski all had RBIs for Putt-Putt in that inning, which followed a brief delay because of a quick cloudburst.
But Knight’s two-run homer to left-center was the key hit in a five-run sixth inning that seemed to seal the deal. Putt-Putt simply was unable to answer, and the verdict was in.
More details will be available later. The tournament ends the junior division season, and the senior tournament will start Tuesday, Aug. 15.

MSSL Player Survey

We’ve all heard people say “nobody wants pitching screens” or “nobody likes the home run fences” or whatever. We have numbers now. Mark Witkowski has tabulated the responses to our league survey and we provide his analysis here. It will be up to next year’s commissioners to decide what to do with these numbers. The main goal has been to involve more people in the decision-making and to provide actual data on the issues. Here is Mark’s report:

Thanks for participating in our recent survey. We believe that the quantity of responses
represents a fair sample size for opinions about our league operations. The results,
while not binding, will enable future commissioners to structure league rules.
Three categories of ballots have been summarized: “Seniors,” “Juniors” and those
participating in “Both” leagues have expressed their opinions.
Over 50% of our individual players returned their ballots and a summary of the results is
as follows:


An overwhelming 89% of respondents voted “No” and the result was consistent across all three player categories.


67% of respondents voted “Yes” and the result was consistent across all three player categories. However, note that 20% of respondents did not provide an answer to this question.


60% of respondents voted “Yes” to continue the use of portable fences. While “Juniors” and “Both” player categories were evenly split, the “Seniors” voted overwhelmingly (80%).in favor of retaining them.


The results among “Seniors” respondents were almost an even split with 53% voting “No” to their use. Qualifying notes regarding the first time a screen is hit being considered only a “dead ball” were included on some ballots.


65% of “Seniors” and “Both” respondents voted “No”. While the “Both” player category voted evenly, the “Seniors” player category voted overwhelmingly “No” (80%) regarding this issue.


This question elicited opposite results between the “Juniors” player category (71% in favor) and the “Both” player category (74% opposed), resulting in an even 50/50 split regarding this issue.


54% of respondents voted “Yes” with a split between player categories (“Juniors” at 67% in favor and “Both” at 60% opposed).


55% of respondents voted “Yes” in favor of scheduling doubleheaders with a split between player categories (“Juniors” at 75% in favor and “Both” at 65% opposed).

Clearly it will be difficult to satisfy everyone on some issues but we at least have a clear
idea of where our player categories stand on the issues.
Thanks again for your participation and feedback.

Senior division team photos

By Ken Bradford

Here are the five teams in the senior division.

The O.C. Hardware team. From left are Ken Bradford, Neil Andrews, Bob Tajkowski, Mark Witkowski, Ed Jankowski, Kirby Sprouls, Bobby Hughes, Bobby Knight and Bill Schell. Missing are Dave Ferency, Bob Jameson, Mike Myers and Mike Szymczak.

The Prep & Polish team. In front, from left, are Bob White, Tom Baiz, Phil Zillman, John Albers and George Hartman. In back are Doug Hann, Mike Clark, Jerome Keller, Joe Caruso, Xavier Creary, Heinz Hayen and Ron Betzer. Missing are Tod Moorhead, Terry Hayden and Ken Richmond.

The South Bend Brew Werks team. In front, from left, are Dan Reck, Dave Melander, Ron Wilson, Mike Catanzarite and Corky Towne. In back are John Kjoller, Paul Williams, Faron Lubbers, Paul Wasowski, Mike Pino and Randy Robertson.

The Unity Gardens team. In front, from left, are Don Torok, John Coyle, Steve Klujsza, Russ Kintzele, Dennis Hartsell and Gary Marcus. In back are Gene Kwasniak, Denis Hestad, Emery Hirschler, Dan Thomas, Randy Miller, Jerry AuFrance, Bob Torok, Dale Coleman, Kelly Moyer and Derek Dieter.

The Wesolowski Insurance team. In front, from left, are Keith Peczkowski, Bob Fonseca, Bruce Cernak and Dave Varner. In back are Jerry Hopkins, Jimmy Arnett, Rich Sparks, Gary Duddleson, Jim Gannarelli, Steve Sporinsky and Curtis Kent.

Junior division team photos

By Ken Bradford

                When I first joined the league a decade ago, I knew only two or three other players. I found myself on a team with unfamiliar guys named Woody, Coach and the Rev. It took a couple of seasons before I knew that Woody was actually Dave Widmar, Coach was Dave Pontius and the Rev was Steve Latzke.

                Elsewhere in the league were at least three guys known as Doc. Everyone knew Snookie, but almost no one knew him as Dave Ferency.

                Over the years, I ran across many players who were identified only by their physical descriptions. James Beldon, for example, was The Deaf Guy. For others, it was their race or their weight or their height. For all I know, people might have known me only as that big, loudmouth, know-it-all idiot.

                It would be better if we knew each other’s names. That way, if we run into each other in a grocery or at Coveleski, we can have an actual conversation and make accurate introductions to our spouses.

                That’s one of the reasons why we’re posting team pictures here. You can match a face with a name. This also is another way to remind ourselves which teams our fellow players are on. If you’re a teammate of Tom Baiz or Bob White on Prep & Polish in the seniors, for example, you’ll also see them with Palmer Funeral Homes in the juniors.

                It’s taken me 10 years and I still know only about 80 percent of the names in our league. This is an attempt to do better than that.

Bowlers Country Club


From left are Barry Schiff, Art Krop, Paul Kazmierczak, Marvin Whitehead, Ron Duvall, Tim Bauer, Dirk Young, Jeff Hainey, Dennis Taylor and Dan Murphey.

Holy Smokes Pizza

In front, from left, are Mike Clark, Jose DeLeon, Rodney Smith and Dennis Hartsell. In back are Al Nutting, Bob Fonseca, Jim Lewallen, Jerry AuFrance, Sean Chiszar, Jimmy Arnett, Mark Witkowski, Jim Gannarelli and Alan Foust.

Palmer Funeral Homes

In front, from left, are Ken Bradford, Gary Duddleson, Bob White, Tom Baiz and Curtis Kent. In back are Doug Hann, Dan Reck, Paul Williams, Randy Miller, Phil Zillman, Joe Caruso, Steve Sporinsky and Rick Betzer.  Missing is Ron Betzer.

Power House Electric

In front, from left, as Mike Ernzen, Matt Creviston, Tom Barnes, John Albers, Adam Kroemer and Bill Snyder. Standing are Bob Knight, Gerard Xaver, Jerome Keller, Jim Hill, Jim Ridenour, Jim Nace, Kirby Prenkert and Mike Catanzarite. Missing are Tod Moorhead and Ted Panagatos.


In front, from left, Mark Kruszynski, Andy Gemskie, Dave Melander, Ed Jankowski, Don Torok, Scott Martin. In back are John Rice, Rob Harris, Scott Britton, Faron Lubbers, Mike Fair, Frank Gorny and Joe Gambill.  Missing are Bob Gorny and Wayne Quigley.

Rules, Changes & Updates

Most of the rules affecting our games are in the USA Softball participant manual where you can learn more about, for example, the infield fly rule or obstruction of a fielder by a runner. In addition, we play on fields under the jurisdiction of the South Bend’s softball director. Those rules can be referenced here. There also are park rules. For example, you can’t bring weapons onto park property, ride a skateboard or fly a drone over park airspace.

Below are specific rules and noteworthy changes relevant to our Michiana Senior Softball League as well as some basics for the benefit of our new players.

Rosters and Player Eligibility

Teams are limited to 18 players on their permanent roster. New players wishing to join the league after the season begins may be assigned to a waiting list and can serve as substitutes until a roster spot opens.

Our league offers two Divisions: Players in the Junior division must be age 52 or older during the calendar year. The Senior division’s age minimum is 62. (Exceptions can be made by the commissioners based on a player’s physical abilities.)

Prior to every season, the commissioners decide on a format for adding newcomers to teams. Our primary goal is to achieve competitive parity among the teams. Players may be assigned to teams based on tryouts, an open draft or other means.

Players typically will stay on the same teams from year to year. However, all players have the option of declaring themselves free agents after a season is completed, and they would re-enter the new player pool. The deadline for declaring free agency will be determined annually by the commissioners.:


  • If a player uses offensive language, the umpire can call the next batter out.
  • Severe cursing can result not only in next batter out, but also ejection of the offender. 
  • If a team member is unable to come off the bench to sub for the ejected player an automatic out is incurred when the ejected player’s spot comes up in the batting order for the duration of the game.
  • Angrily throwing a bat on the field may be considered grounds for warning and/or ejection at umpire’s discretion


Before game begins:

  • Teams are encouraged to field and bat all attending, able-bodied team members.
    • Minimum line-up = 11
    • Exception: If only 10 team members show-up by game time, and all 10 play the field, the line-up of 10 is permitted. The team may optionally add eligible subs (max of 3) before the game commences to make 11 or more
    • If only 9 team members show-up by game time, the team should try to acquire one to three subs before the game commences. However, if none are available the game may proceed under the following conditions:
      • All 9 must play the field & bat.
      • A ‘virtual’ 10th batter will be added to the bottom of the batting order.  Each time this ‘virtual batter’ comes up in the order an automatic OUT is applied. The batting team must announce the OUT to both defense and umpire(s) each time it comes up in the order. (In other words, before the lead-off man steps up to bat.)
    • A team of 8 or less must forfeit.

After game has begun:

  • Non-team member subs are prohibited.
    • Exception: In the event of an injury an eligible non-team member sub is permitted to replace the injured player if no other team members are available.  
    • Exception for Senior Division Only: A Senior team beginning a game with 9 or 10 players will be permitted to add eligible non-team member subs until the end of the 3rd inning to make 11.  While they have 9 players the virtual 10th batter out rule applies. (Spirit: Potential subs tend to be less available when the Senior Division plays at 5:00)
    • If a player leaves a game voluntarily an automatic out is assessed when his turn at bat comes up in the order unless there is a team member substitute on the bench who has not been used on the line-up card.

Gameday Substitutes

  • If a sub is used, opposing manager should be made aware as a courtesy
  • Limit: Up to 3 permitted/team.
  • Gameday subs must be age appropriate for the division.
  • Any league member may sub
  • A non-league member may sub (waiver required.)
  • All subs must bat and play field.
  • Subs must be placed at the bottom of the batting order
  • Positions:
    • If 1 sub used, sub must play RF
    • If 2 subs: RF and Catcher
    • If 3 subs: RF, Catcher, RCF
    • Exception: (Senior Division Only) If a team lacks a pitcher and both managers agree, then a sub may pitch.


  • Senior Division: Any bat provided it does not exceed a 1.21 BPF rating (Bat Performance Factor). 
  • Junior Division:
    • 64 and under can use single wall, double wall or wood bat.
    • 65 and older may use the above or composite (cannot exceed 1.21 BPF.)
  • Both Divisions:
    • Any player using an illegal bat may be called out by the umpire if an appeal is made before the next live pitch.
    • Approved bats are those bearing markers from the USSSA, NSA, ISA or ASA.

Protective Gear

  • Players participate at their own risk.
  • Wearable PPE is encouraged per the desired degree of protection.
  • Pitching screen will not be permitted.

Infield Positioning

In the senior division only, at least two players must remain on each half of the infield, and no more than three can play on either half.

Legal Pitch Height

Pitch height = 6 to 12 feet for both Jr. and Sr. divisions.

Game Time Limit

Spirit: Avoid late starts for subsequent games. The ump may declare no new inning will begin once the game reaches 60 minutes. To avoid wasting game time we recommend quick on, quick off; Quickly clear the dropped bat; On deck and in-the-hole batters ready to go; Courtesy runners ready when batter steps up; Relieved batter/runner should get off the field quickly.

Shirts and Hats

Hats do not have to match.  Bill of hat must face forward unless it hampers wearing a mask. Matching shirts are not mandatory.

Game Basics

  • Batters start with 1-1 count
  • Foul ball after 2 strikes = batter OUT
  • 5 run max per inning for batting team.
  • Batter is OUT if catcher catches any foul tipped ball.
  • Game = 7 innings.  (Mercy rule: 15 after 5 innings; 10 after 6)
  • Extra innings: 8th inning and onward commences with a runner on 2nd base.
  • Substitute Runners:
    • Batters who reach base safely can request a pinch runner.
    • The pinch runner opportunity ends when the next batter takes first pitch.
    • Can be any team member. 
    • The next offensive player to touch the base after batter/runner steps away is committed as the runner. 
    • If the substitute runner is still on base when it’s their turn to bat, it is an automatic OUT.

First Base

  • Batter/runner going for a single must use the right side of first base. Failure to do so can result in an OUT.
    • Exception: For an outfield hit with no likely play attempt at first base the batter/runner may round the regular bag toward 2nd
    • Exception: The batter runner may use the left base to avoid the collision due to an errant throw to first base.
  • Defense shall use the white base when attempting a force out at first.
    • Exception: If an errant throw takes take the 1st baseman to the right side bag it is a legal defensive play.
  • Umpire’s discretion applies in event of any unusual situation.

Outfield Singles (Senior Div. only)

  • The batter/runner going for a single cannot be thrown out at first from the outfield by an outfielder regardless of how the ball ended up getting to and touching the outfield grass.
    • Exception: Any batted ball first touched by an infielder constitutes a normal live ball play and the batter/runner CAN be thrown out at first base by any fielder.
  • If an infielder (including the Middle) intentionally sets up in the outfield grass to serve as an extra outfielder they are considered an ‘outfielder’ according to the spirit of this rule.

Going Home to Score a Run

  • Runner going from 3rd to home must use the scoring line, not home plate.
  • If runner touches home plate it’s an automatic OUT and no run counted.
  • To score, runner’s foot must touch the ground beyond the scoring line before catcher touches home plate (with ball in control). 
  • A commitment line between 3rd base and home (thirty feet from home plate) constitutes a point of no return for a runner.  Once a runner has crossed the commitment line:
    • The runner cannot return to third base
    • The runner cannot be tagged out by the defensive player (the defense must touch Home Plate). 

3rd Base Commitment Line

A commitment line between third base and home (30 feet from home plate) constitutes a point of no return for a runner. Once a runner has crossed the commitment line, he cannot return to third base. The runner cannot be tagged out by a defensive player. The defense must touch home plate.

Home Run Limits (over the fence)

  • Individual: max of 2/game
  • Team (all players combined): max of 4/game
  • After the max limit:
    • Automatic dead-ball Single.
    • Runners advance one base.

Courtesy Runners

RUNNERS: Any batter who achieves first base may request a courtesy runner after a time-out is called. That new runner may not be replaced by another unless it is necessary because he is injured. If a courtesy runner is still on base when it is his turn to bat, the runner is declared out, but he can take his turn at bat.

Extra Innings and Mercy Rule

If a team is leading by 15 or more runs after five innings or by 10 runs or more after the sixth inning, the game is declared over. Unless the game is running late, the losing team has the option of taking its final at-bat before the rule is enforced.
If the game is tied at the end of seven innings, play will begin in the eighth and any subsequent innings with a runner placed on second base. If an extra inning would cause major delays in the start of other games, the umpire may declare the game has ended in a tie.

New season at Forever Learning

Play with us, learn with them

Have you heard about the Forever Learning Institute? FLI has been offering a wide range of classes for people in our age group for 45 years. It’s a chance to develop new interests and skills – from Hawaiian dance, to juggling, to speaking French, to understanding obscure Biblical prophets. Most classes are at the Little Flower parish center, 54191 Ironwood Road, South Bend.

We’re not exactly joining forces, but we’ve asked FLI to include information about us in their newsletter and course calendar. They serve ages 50 and older, so it’s possible that their students can become our ballplayers – and vice versa. We may need an influx of newcomers, especially in the senior division, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

As for FLI, the spring semester begins in March. Keep an eye on the website – foreverlearninginstitute.org – for class offerings, schedules and registration deadlines.

We all share the same mission – helping people find ways to stay active as they get older. If you have other ideas for outreach, please let us know.

Newsletter No. 7

Thinking about spaghetti?

Our first 2023 fundraiser is a spaghetti dinner Jan. 20 at the Francis Club at the Knights of Columbus lodge, 61533 S. Ironwood Road, South Bend.

Tickets are $14 apiece, with $4 going to our softball league. The menu includes spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and ice cream. The club has a cash bar for those who want wine, beer or other adult beverages.

The club has set aside 50 seats for our league members, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Family members and friends are welcome.

If you want to reserve seats, contact kenbradford@comcast.net before Monday, Jan. 16. We’ll put your name on our reservation list, and you can pay at the door. Carry-outs are available for those who prefer to grab and go.

Issues for seniors

As we prepare for the January manager meetings, we’re looking at some policies related to the senior division. Some of these discussions are coming up now because, in past years, managers didn’t have much of a voice in how the division was run.

Mark Witkowski has two issues he would like to bring to the attention of players and managers.

Rosters: If a senior manager lists new players on his preliminary roster, the league commissioners will review those requested additions in light of overall team composition. One consideration will be whether all teams are able to field a reasonable number of players, that being approximately 14. A second consideration is to insure a fair and competitive balance between teams. If a player requests participation in the league without any team affiliation, the league commissioners may add them to any roster short of players. For newcomers to our league, the team assignment may be made after the April tryouts.

Bats: As far asthe senior division goes, any unaltered ASA, USSSA, NSA and ISA bats are legal. Miken Ultra II’s and similar bats meet this standard. If your bat exceeds 1.21 BPF, it will not be legal in Senior Softball.  A senior bat is any bat which complies with the 1.21 bpf standard.

Send comments to debmarkwit@comcast.net.

The junior division managers tend to change from year to year, but there is a proposal in place that the juniors follow the national standard. That rule gives players age 60 and older the right to use the higher-rated bats, which include composites. If you play in both divisions, the best advice would be to wait until after the January meetings before spending a lot of money on a bat.

Who’s in first?

It seems like a simple thing to keep track of wins and losses. But somehow, there always seems to be confusion about league standings at the end of every season.

We’re solving that problem this year, with the help of the Byers staff.

For their other summer leagues, the Byers crew has kept up-to-date records on a web site. Beginning this year, they’ll do it for us, too.

The site has a complicated address, but you can find it by searching for Byers Softball Complex – SBVPA, entering the Phil St. Clair Park site and clicking on Byers Softball Complex.

For now, because we’re in the off-season, most of the site is empty. But if you click on the Schedules/Standings tab, you’ll find the shell of last year’s South Bend summer leagues. Click on Summer Tues 2022, for example, and you’ll see options for Game Schedule, Player Stats, Team Stats and Standings.

Click on Standings, and you’ll see the Fire Breathing Llamas were 17-1, Imagineering was 14-4, SB Fire Local 362 was 9-3, etc. The standings also show runs scored and runs allowed.

We’re still refining what we’ll want to use on our page. We probably won’t want to run Player Stats or Team Stats. That could get really embarrassing.

But I’m guessing we’ll want a schedule page, a scores page and standings, and maybe home runs. My recommendation is that we post the rosters there. The way it could work is that you go to the standings page, click on any team name and the roster would pop up.

I think it will make us a better league if we know the names of our teammates and opponents. That’s especially true for people new to our league. When I was a rookie, I knew my teammates only as Woody, Coach, The Rev and Topper. We all knew Snookie but had no idea what his actual name was.

I would ask about someone and would be told, “He’s the short guy with white hair” or “the heavy guy who plays first base.” It didn’t narrow things down much.

We’re also hoping the Byers page will help us connect with potential players who don’t know that this league exists. We will have separate registration procedures and fee collections, but it will benefit them and us if we can trade inquiries back and forth.

By the way, the South Bend parks web site was posting an outdated statement that Byers was offering a senior league for ages 50 and older on Wednesdays. We’re getting that fixed.

We’ll be working with the Byers IT guy, Mike Sniadecki, on creating our page, probably as soon as we figure out our rosters in April. If you have ideas on what you would like to see there, please let me know.

The plan is to continue having newsletters throughout the season. Eventually, they’ll be less about league politics and more about cookouts, special events and roster additions. Eventually, we’ll be able to communicate about some league-wide votes we’ll have later in the summer. But, for now, it’s good to know that we won’t be wondering who’s in first place. You’ll be able to find out on our web page.

Send comments to kenbradford@comcast.net.

Out or safe?

John Walczewski, the Byers softball director, says there is a chronic shortage of slow-pitch umpires in our area.

Several of the guys in our league serve as umpires on other nights. They get $30 a game, which translates to about $30 an hour. If you work three games a night, once a week during a 14-week season, it adds up to over $1,000.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, let me know at kenbradford@comcast.net. If we get a group together, I’ll see if John can put together a training session for us.

Newsletter No. 6

Choose what’s best for you

Contact ssporins@nd.edu

Happy Holidays! We wish everyone safe travel and germ-free times with family and friends.  

Wow! The past few weeks have seen a flurry of phone calls, emails and texts about summer softball. With two leagues now available, players must choose one or the other for 2023 since both plan to play on the same weekdays. To that end, we hope you will find the following information helpful.

Factors to consider include location, teammates, field quality, park amenities and the level of play — the latter being more applicable to those of us with a fair number of candles on our birthday cakes.

Locations: The Michiana Senior Softball League (MSS) will play again at Byers Complex on Mayflower Road for 2023. Play was moved there a year ago when indications arose that Mishawaka had plans to repurpose Normain and Henry Frank parks.

The Mid-America Senior Softball League (the new league) will play at Normain Park in Mishawaka for 2023, and possibly at Henry Frank (other city plans have been suspended, at least for summer 2023)

Level of Play: The Michiana Senior Softball League offers two divisions. (You can play in one or both based on your age as of your 2023 birthday.

The 62+ Division (aka “seniors”) offers an age-appropriate level of play by tweaking a few rules to keep things enjoyable — a nice way of saying it’s for those of us whose reflexes aren’t what they used to be <wink>). Any bat permitted.

The 52+ Division (aka “juniors”) is for those looking for more competitive play. Bats are based on a player’s age (single wall, double wall or composite).

The Mid-America Senior Softball League announced plans for one division for 2023. It will be 52+ in general while allowing some players at age 50.

Amenities: This perhaps is more important to some than others. Byers is a dedicated softball complex with tournament-caliber fields, plenty of parking, shaded bleachers for spectatators, restrooms with running water and a concession stand. Normain presents a family atmosphere typical of most city parks … decent fields, plenty of space for pets and swing sets for the grandkids. For more information, here are some websites. 

Byers Complex: https://sbvpa.org/places/phil-st-clair-park/byers-softball-complex/

Normain Park: https://mishawaka.recdesk.com/Community/Facility/Detail?facilityId=47

How can we help?

If you have questions, ideas or rule suggestions, let us hear from you!  If you have questions about the new Mid-America League, we will be happy to get you in touch with one of their representatives. We were friends last year and we hope that continues.

We hope that everyone stays safe and healthy for the snowy months ahead.

Steve Sporinksy, senior commissioner, ssporins@nd.edu.

Mark Witkowski, senior commissioner, debmarkwit@comcast.net

Ken Bradford, lead league commissioner, kenbradford@comcast.net

How about more umpires?

Contact kenbradford@comcast.net

Yes, it would. But it likely won’t happen during the regular season this year.

Here’s a question that came up. It’s impossible for even the best umpires to get a clear view of the home run fences 250 feet from home plate. Wouldn’t it be better to have a second umpire who could watch the fences as well as trapped balls in the outfield and close plays at second base?

It’s hard to find umpires for the six games we play each Tuesday and Thursday at Byers. And, at this point, we couldn’t afford them anyway.

The Byers Complex pays our umpires $30 per game. Last season, we had 12 teams playing a 25-game schedule. Our goal is to have the same number this season. The math figures out to 150 games needing an extra umpire, so the additional cost would be $4,500 a year.

If this becomes a priority, we could handle it with two actions. First, we could find additional sponsors and donors to bring in that extra $4,500. Second, we could find players who would get training so they could serve as base umpires. A senior player might help umpire a junior game, and a junior player might umpire a senior game.

Dinner with 49 friends

Straightening out our finances is a major priority this summer. Once we get our steady on our feet, we can start looking at improvements like this.

The Francis Club is inviting our league to a spaghetti dinner on Friday, Jan. 20, at the Knights of Columbus lodge, 61533 S. Ironwood Road, South Bend.

It’s part of the club’s mission to help raise money for local groups. Dinners are $14 apiece, with $4 going to our softball league. The menu includes spaghetti, salad, garlic bread and ice cream. The club has a cash bar for those who want wine, beer or other adult beverages.

The club can set aside 50 seats for our league members, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Family members and friends are welcome.

This is the first in an attempt to bring fundraising and fellowship into our off-season. If you want to reserve seats, contact kenbradford@comcast.net. This is a ticketed event.

Bob Torok says the spaghetti sauce is a special recipe and is the best in the area. Bob is well-known for his truthfulness. Please come enjoy the evening with your friends and teammates.

How is it looking now?

Contact kenbradford@comcast.net

This isn’t a normal off-season for our league. We’re busier than usual, positioning ourselves for the long-term future by formalizing our structure. That means having a transparent system where every member will know our budgeting, our bylaws and our rules. This will pay off ultimately in that we will be able seek donations and grants as a registered nonprofit organization.

In the shorter term, we have some opportunities for league members to step up.

In past years, our league would replace about 10 players, one manager and one team sponsor. This year, in part because of the creation of the Mid-American Senior Softball League, our challenge will be to do more than that.

Our goal is to have six teams again in both divisions in 2023. We’ll know better after our January manager meetings, but the preliminary expectations are these:

SPONSORS: We are expecting to replace two in each division. The sponsors we don’t expect to return are TAG and Access in the juniors and Christman and AIM in the seniors.

MANAGERS: It’s likely we’ll be replacing two in the juniors – with managers from Palmer and TAG not returning. In the seniors, we will be replacing one, for the former AIM team. Update: Jerry Aufrance says he’ll appoint a manager for Holy Smokes when he is absent.

PLAYERS: We won’t have headcounts until after our manager meetings, but we expect four of our junior teams to return almost completely intact. We’ll need to replace about half the players in the other two. On the senior side, it’s likely we’ll need to replace half or more of one team as well as two or three players on a few of the others.

It isn’t that hard to replace sponsors. The fee is relatively low at $400 per season. If you have a connection with a business or club that wants to support us, let us know. Otherwise, we’ll start knocking on doors in February.

It shouldn’t be hard to replace managers, either. At the league level, we just need someone to represent each team when we’re discussing rosters and rules. At the team level, most teams settle into a routine where the fielding spots and batting orders are close to the same for every game. If you’ve been on one of the teams that needs a manager, please consider stepping up. We can appoint someone else from another team, but if you like the vibe you have, it’s best to keep it within the team’s hands.

As for players, the early estimate is that we’ll need about two dozen if we want to continue with 12 teams. We have some strategies to help reach folks who haven’t heard of our league. The best method, though, is for those of us already on teams to spread the word to friends and neighbors. Keep in mind that our age divisions have some flexibility. If your friend isn’t age 62 yet but has mobility issues and hasn’t played softball for decades, we can give him or her a trial run in the senior division. That is part of the point of the April practice/tryout. One of our league’s goals is to make sure there’s a spot for anyone who can safely play. Let us know how we can help.