Month: March 2023

Roster update

We’ve moved back our deadline for filling rosters in both our divisions. We know a lot of folks are waiting to see the names of their teammates for the 2023 season.

The delay mainly is because we’ve continued to received inquiries from potential players. One of our standards is that we don’t want to deny any age-eligible player the opportunity to play softball with us.

In the meantime, we have to be careful in deciding on now many teams we include. If we were to have 80 people in a division, for example, a six-team format would have 13 players per side while a five-team format would have 16.

Thirteen seems like too few, and we might end up with a lot of short-handed games once players start getting injured or going on vacations. Sixteen seems like too many. If all the players show up on the same night, some might bat only once.

So, that’s the sort of discussion that’s going on now. We hope to close the door on registrations at the end of the week, which would get us to our goal line in the first week of April.

Thank you for your patience.

Michiana Senior Softball League, March 6, Ken Bradford, Steve Sporinsky, Mark Witkowski, Adam Kroemer, Steve Latzke

New Facebook page

We’ve established a new Facebook page – South Bend/Michiana Senior Softball. We’re just starting to fill it with content of interest to newcomers. Eventually, we’ll be using it to provide quick updates or reminders on league events.

We know that a lot of players don’t use Facebook. It’s just one of the tools we use to keep folks informed. If you get a chance, check it out and tell us how to improve it.

Three new sponsors

We’re fortunate this spring to have added three sponsors to our league. All three bring with them a reputation for helping make our community a better place.

Bowlers Country Club will join the junior division, replacing Access Sportswear. Bowlers has a nine-hole golf course, 14-lane bowling center, full-service bar and banquet center at Pine and Fillmore roads. Open since 1963, it is a nonprofit member-operated club that strives to be affordable for area families. Membership starts with a $160 first-year fee with an annual renewal of $50. Daily rates for golf start at $8 for nine holes on weekdays. During open bowling, games are $2.50 apiece. Ideally, members of our league can look at this club as a place we can get together when the softball season is over. In a day where people are looking for places to find family-friendly activities without breaking the budget, Bowlers is a place well worth your consideration.

Unity Gardens will have a team in the senior division, where three openings existed. Unity Gardens is a nonprofit that has brought national acclaim to our area. Founded in 2008 by public health nurse Sara Stewart, this organization is dedicated to improving this area’s nutrition by making good food available at no cost. Sara began by planting a small garden of greens on South Bend’s impoverished south side. Years later, Unity Gardens has dozens of small gardens throughout the county as well as a seven-acre main garden near the Beacon Heights neighborhood on the west side. She and her crew also offer classes on how to plant your own garden or how to prepare some of the unusual foods you can grow. We can help Sara feed the poorly nourished by volunteering at the gardens, donating money or buying vegetables, honey and other products at the Unity Gardens booth at Farmers Market.

South Bend Brew Werks, also a new senior sponsor, is a small brew pub making a big name for itself in our community. It began a decade ago as a hole-in-the-wall pub attached to the old State Theater but has grown into a busy spot in the Hibberd Building, 321 S. Main St. Steve Lowe, co-owner with his wife Michele, played softball for years at the Byer Complex and should be on MSSL managers’ radar sometime in the 2030s. The Werks has 16 rotating taps that provide beers appealing to an array of tastes (consider the Colonel Eddy stout or the Amistad Cream Ale) as well as a kitchen specializing in grilled cheeses, pastas and flatbreads. Its outdoor patio is a gathering space especially during the minor league season, with Four Winds Field just a couple of cutoff throws away. This is a business that has donated more than $100,000 to area nonprofits through its Beer4Good program.

Our most recent newsletter highlighted three returning sponsors – Palmer Funeral Homes in the junior division, and OC Hardware and Wesolowski Insurance in the seniors. We’ll feature three more returning sponsors in the next newsletter, and we’ll have another new sponsor ready. That gives us the 10 we’re likely to need this season.

We need to express gratitude to four sponsors from last year that are not returning – Access Sportswear, Barnaby’s of Mishawaka, Builders Store and Truck Accessories Group (TAG). Great sponsors help make us a great league.

March 16 and April 11

We have two key dates for players and managers.

On March 16, the commissioners will decide on the number of teams we’ll have in each division. Our goal is to have 14 to 16 reliable players on every roster. With that number, each team should be able to adjust when they lose players during the season to injuries, changes in work schedules and family vacations. We have had forfeits or teams playing short-handed nearly every season, and we want to avoid that.

We’re on target to have five teams in each division with the possibility of adding a sixth if we get a late surge of players. If you know someone who is wavering about joining us, please ask him or her to decide by March 16.

Also, we want to hear from you if you are a senior and want to join the junior division, or if you’re a junior old enough to play in the seniors, or if you’re currently on a team but want to move to another. The main goal is to make sure players end up where they want and where they’re needed. After the decisions we make March 16, we’ll have less flexibility afterward.

April 11 is the target date for our new player practice/tryout/draft. Some years we use a tryout-type event to give managers a chance to see who is available for the draft. In other years, everyone seems to know the new players, so we just speed ahead to the draft.

The senior division will not need a draft/tryout. Steve Sporinsky has been working closely with managers to review each team’s status. Two teams are returning almost intact, he says, and the other teams’ gaps are addressable thanks in no small part to those of you who have recruited a friend or two. We’ve also had some newcomers contact us directly. He says a few more players would be icing on the cake, so if you have someone still thinking it over, give them a call. Remind them that playing softball is more fun than mowing the lawn!

In the junior division, Adam Kroemer is in charge of rosters. He’s looking at four teams returning most of their players and two – TAG and Palmer – with significant losses. If we end up with five teams, the TAG/Palmer group will need the most attention.

The best part of April 11 is that it marks just four weeks until the season starts. We’re all looking forward to May 9 – Opening Night.