Month: August 2023

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

Prep & Polish earns finals spot

Joe Caruso’s two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Prep & Polish into the championship game of the senior division. Unity Gardens had carried a 2-1 lead into the final inning before Joe sent a fly well over the right-field fence. Prep & Polish will meet Wesolowski Insurance in the finals at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, on the Byers Complex gold diamond. The league will celebrate the end of the season with Dollar Day — pizza slices, hot dogs, brats and other concession items will be $1 apiece.

New senior division dates

We have another change in our senior division playoffs. We still have Unity Gardens and Prep & Polish scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the losers bracket finals. However, we have postponed the Thursday championship game because temperatures are expected to be close to 100 degrees. Instead, we will play the championship on the following Tuesday, Aug. 29. Wesolowski Insurance will meet the Unity Gardens/Prep & Polish winner that night. It is rare to postpone a game this far in advance based on weather projections, but we’re putting a lot of planning into making the championship a special evening. It only makes sense to wait for pleasant weather.

Year-end banquet in the works

Plans are underway for a post-season banquet on Wednesday, August 30, at the Mishawaka Eagles Lodge. Doors will open at 5:30, with dinner around 6.
It will be a hog roast with a cash bar and a 50-50 drawing. More details will follow.

Senior tournament delayed

Thursday’s game was rained out, so Prep & Polish will meet Unity Gardens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, for the losers bracket showdown. That moves the final game/games to Thursday, Aug. 24, with Wesolowski already holding one of the spots. We’ll celebrate Dollar Day again on the 24th and hope to have a good turnout of friends and fans.

Newsletter Aug. 14, 2023

Big week for our seniors

                If the weather cooperates, we’ll move closer to the end of our softball season Tuesday night.

                The junior division ended Thursday, with PowerHouse Electric claiming the championship with 7-0 and 12-4 victories over Putt-Putt in the finals.

                The senior division begins its tournament Tuesday. Wesolowski Insurance plays O.C. Hardware while Prep & Polish meets Unity Gardens in the openers at 5 p.m. The winners will collide at 6:30, as will the first-round losers.

                By the end of the evening, the five-team league will have just three teams left – the winners bracket winner, the winners bracket loser and the losers bracket winner. A fifth team – South Bend Brew Werks – was knocked out in a play-in showdown with O.C. Hardware last Tuesday.

                A single game is planned for Thursday between the losers bracket teams. The finals will be Tuesday, Aug. 22, accompanied by an end-of-season celebration. If this is confusing, look for a hand-made bracket elsewhere on this site.

                Similar to the junior division championship, the seniors will play with announcers in the press box and a Dollar Day discount in the concession stand. In addition, pizza slices will be available from Holy Smokes. Ideally, we’ll have fans from all 10 Michiana Senior Softball League teams attending and enjoying the concessions.

                All concessions and pizza slices will be $1 apiece.

                If the weather doesn’t cooperate Tuesday, we’ll start the tournament with the same pairings Thursday and work with the managers to see if we finish it all on Aug. 22 or move the finals to Aug. 24.

                This was a season of unprecedented parity in the senior division, thanks in large part to Steve Sporinsky’s care in filling openings on the five teams. Wesolowski earned the top seed with an 11-6-1 record, but Prep & Polish fell just a game short at 10-7-1, and Unity Gardens was within range at 10-9.

                The two teams with the worst records still saw success and were competitive – O.C. entering the play-in at 7-11 and Brew Werks at 7-12.

                A few years back, it wasn’t unusual for the championship team to post 22 or so wins with just a loss or two while other teams struggled. The quality is this league is more widespread now. All teams  can show up with a legitimate hope of winning.

                It’s been a good year. We need to start working now to make sure 2024 is just as good.

Fall ball update

                Plans for Fall Ball are moving forward. Adam Kroemer is working on a joint league with the Mishawaka league, with games to be played at Normain Park. Neither their league nor ours had enough players to support a league of their own.

                Adam is looking for players who are willing to manage any of the expected four teams. His contact email is

Maybe a banquet?

                Adam Kroemer also is hoping to put together an end-of-year banquet for players who are interested. The goal is to have an event similar to past banquets – minus all the speeches and awards – sometime in the next two or three weeks.

Squad ball

                Bob Torok has come up with a concept for a game that is aimed at keeping players active in their later years. He calls it “Squad Ball” and wants to try it out sometime this fall.

                A simple version of the rules are these – participants are divided into three groups, which rotate between batting, the outfield and infield. Batters hit off a tee and earn points based on whether the ball lands in the outfield, the infield or is caught. No one has to run the bases or throw a ball.

                Points accumulate for the squad until each of its batters has six swings. Then the batting squad moves to the outfield and the outfield squad moves to the infield while it’s the infield squad’s turn to bat.

                Bob says the original idea of our league was to provide a way for older folks to enjoy softball without having to take a lot of physical risks. As the league became more popular, better players joined and the games became more competitive. And as we age, we all find our skills declining and we become less able to help teams win.

                We would like to see Squad Ball keep our friends active longer. We envision this as a game that can be played in an hour or so, probably on a weekend morning and as a precursor to a lunch somewhere.

                We’ll be recruiting players for a pilot program. If you want to be included, contact me at or Bob at

Pre-game batting

                Bob White has an equally interesting idea. This one focuses on players who want to have productive batting practice before their regular games.

                Players could meet an hour or so before game time and take a certain number of swings. Points would be scored with hits that meet certain criteria – down the left-field line, for example, or into the right-center gap. If hitters participated often enough, we could keep standings.

                Another benefit: Players who regularly play positions where they don’t do a lot of fielding could position themselves where they see more fly balls or grounders, depending on the work they need.

                This is a concept that could help players who just swing hard and don’t actually focus during other batting practices. It’s also an idea that could be refined as others offer ways the concept can be improved.

                For example, the Byers Complex has had a standing invitation to open to our league early – if players would be willing to help install fences. If 10 volunteers helped with fences for 20 or so minutes, the fields would be ready, and those who volunteered could enjoy the early practice.

                We have a lot of opportunities to make the league better. This is an idea that comes at no additional cost. If you like it, tell us. And please continue to bring ideas of your own.

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.

Don Torok wins the Derby

Don Torok is the new Michiana Senior Softball home run king.

Don, who plays with Unity Garden in the seniors and Putt-Putt in the juniors, won a sudden-death showdown with Bill Snyder of PowerHouse to take the title Wednesday.

Ten players competed, their $10 entry fees helping raise a little extra money for the league. For the first time, the competition was at Veterans Memorial Park, near IUSB, which has home run fences at about 225 feet.

The annual contest is less about raw power than it is about finding an effective swing groove. With souped-up softballs and bats, it doesn’t take a slugger’s oomph to put the ball over the fence.

All 10 entrants survived the first round, which required at least one home run in 10 swings or fewer. The second round had a higher standard. The goal was to hit as many home runs as possible in eight swings. The top three would advance to the finals.

The top performers in round two were Don Torok and Dan Murphey, last year’s champion, with six apiece. Bill Snyder and Bob Knight tied for third with four.

The final challenge was to hit as many home runs as possible before three outs were recorded. Any swing that didn’t produce a home run was counted as an out. Bill and Don both had two, which forced the head-to-head showdown.

Bill was first and sent a huge, towering fly far past the left-field foul pole. But it landed foul. Don followed with a high fly that cleared the left-center field fence.

It was a good evening of fun and fellowship for the players, as well as friends and family members. Special thanks are due to Don for bringing a pitching screen and to Jimmy Hill for serving as the pitcher for more than half the batters.

Bill Snyder, left, congratulates Home Run Derby winner Don Torok.

Aug. 8 updates

PowerHouse defeated Bowlers Country Club to earn a showdown with Putt-Putt on Thursday for the junior division championship. Action is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. As the winners bracket representative, Putt-Putt can earn the title with a victory in that game. If PowerHouse prevails, a second game will follow, with the winner becoming our champion.

In the senior division, O.C. Hardware defeated S.B. Brew Werks in the play-in game and will be the fourth seed in the four-team tournament. Wesolowski has the top regular-season record and will be the No. 1 seed. Prep & Polish has the second seed and Unity Gardens in third.

For a look at the brackets, visit the South Bend/Michiana Senior Softball page on Facebook.