News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Softball Scene

July 3, 2011

SOFTBALL SCENE: The talent ladder for local softball

I would like to open this week’s column with a “thank you” to Tribune-Star sportswriter David Hughes for his excellent article featuring local softball star Kevin Kull, which ran in Wednesday’s paper.

The article, which chronicled Kull’s rapid rise to prominence, was a much-discussed topic around the ballpark Wednesday and Thursday evenings. In addition, it provided me with an idea for this week’s installment of “Softball Scene.”

With Kevin Kull occupying the top rung of the local men’s slowpitch talent ladder, I thought it might prove interesting to mention some of the Wabash Valley’s other past and present claimants to that lofty perch.

Before undertaking this project, I would like to offer the following:

• My criteria for inclusion on the list.

• An apology to those deserving whom I fail to mention.

For me, the most important criteria for being included is how individual players fared in tournament play, both locally and statewide. As many softball observers will note, batting .700 in local league play or in the coed game is often not an accurate barometer for ability. Having cleared that up, let’s move on to my list.

Looking back to the late 1970s and the beginnings of the slowpitch game in the Wabash Valley, one cannot do so without mentioning Howie Johnson and Larry Bird. Johnson was the area’s first superstar. As the lead-off hitter for Carpet Center/500 Platolene, Johnson helped lead it to two state championships and two runner-up finishes in a six-year stretch. Much sought after by other state-caliber teams, he opted to stay with his local team throughout his playing career. He was elected into the ASA Hall of Fame in the early 2000s.

Bird brought legitimacy to the game at a time when slowpitch competed locally for attention with the fastpitch game. A talented player, Bird’s interest in the game earned attention it might not have received otherwise. Bird too was a member of the Carpet Center/500 Platolene team that captured the 1978 ASA Class A state title.

Moving into the 1980s, one cannot avoid the name Brian “Boney” Jeffers. According to many, Jeffers was the single greatest talent to ever play the game locally. Starting with the Modesitt Insurance team, he eventually moved on to the Worth Astros team out of Indianapolis and then played for the national powerhouse Steele’s.

A defensive whiz at shortstop with a cannon-like arm, Jeffers also was known for his power offensively. In short, he was the complete package.

Another name of note locally was Tom Kirchner, who became the leading power hitter for the Ballyhoo Tavern team that dominated Terre Haute softball for several years.

More recently, players such as Kevin Wilt, Rick Robins, Clay Huffman and Tyler Akers have made their mark on the local softball scene.

Wilt is the offensive leader for the Outkast team, at present Terre Haute’s best travel team, while Robins, Huffman and Akers performed for the local Budweiser team.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Kull for occupying the top rung of our local softball talent ladder. It has had many worthy occupants in years past.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Softball Scene
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Raw: Urinator Causes Portland to Flush Reservoir Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Pope's Relic on Wheels Departs to Rome Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees Raw: Three Rare White Tiger Cubs Debut at Zoo Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Today in History for April 17th Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast
NDN Video
Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Florida State Ends Top Of the 5th With Bizarre Play vs Jacksonville | ACC Must See Moment Kate Upton Loves Her Body, Every Part Of It Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity