By John Benton
TERRE HAUTE —
I have recently noticed a dearth of young softball squads coming up through the ranks. In short, I am interested in knowing who will replace the Wabash Valley’s top-caliber talent as they fall pretty to age, injury work and family obligations.
Being “old school,” I am aware that the replacement process for those presently playing has been going on since the game of softball began, and it is always interesting trying to figure out who can develop into a player and who can’t.
One squad that has caught the eye of softball enthusiasts is the Hit Men team. Thus far, the Hit Men have tested the tourney waters in Avon and Bloomington — and came away successful. To date, the Hit Men have captured a third-place finish in Bloomington and two seconds and a first in Avon round-robin play. Of their five tourney losses, three have come at the hands of tested travel teams such as A.J. Construction, Stewart Construction and Bourbon Street.
Last weekend, the Hit Men broke into the winner’s circle at Avon with a convincing round-robin tournament title. In doing so, the squad recorded wins against Artesian Homes 14-4, Local 440 17-13 and Goon Squad/Free Agents 17-4. By winning the tourney title, the Hit Men qualify for the prestigious Tournament of Champions at the Avon Softball Park on Oct. 2-3.
The roster for Hit Men includes: player/manager Nick Blevins, Dennis Smith, Ryne Rewers, Rodney Yowell, Craig Thomas, Tim Meany, Bob Osburn, John Osburn, Trey Ellis, Dale Nightengale, Chad Wilguess and Rick Hinesley.
Good luck to the Hit Men as they hit the travel circuit around the state.
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Results from last weekend’s Bedford all-night tournament is mixed for local teams. Finishing best among the local entrants was the Last Call team, which went 3-2 during tourney play. The Outkast men’s team and the Chop Shop women’s team finished with 1-2 records. Complete scores and opponents are unavailable.
The most disappointing showing for the local entrants was Outkast. After winning their previous two tournaments in convincing fashion, Outkast was thought to be a tournament favorite. After dropping their opening game to Bad Habits 18-15, Outkast smoked Boat Club 19-1 before being eliminated by MagnaServe 21-18.
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Central Indiana’s largest softball tournament, the Strawberry Festival, will find several local squads vying for tournament honors. Last Call, Crawlworks, Hi-Comm and Budweiser will be competing in the men’s Class D/E tournament, while Wolfe’s Auto Auction will be competing in the coed division.
More than 60 teams will be participating in the NSA-sponsored event. Good luck to the Wabash Valley squads.
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Men’s state tournament play is slated to return to Terre Haute after a lengthy hiatus. On July 23-25, the Independent Softball Association MSP Class D state finals will be contested at Spencer Field, with the Budweiser men’s team serving as host.
Among the local teams committed to participate are the following: Budweiser, Crawlworks, Last Call and Outkast.
The ISA brand of softball is marked by unorthodox pitching styles and a limit of two home runs per game.
The winning team will advance to the ISA national tournament in Polk City, Fla., in mid-September. Interested teams can contact John Benton at (812) 877-2556 for more information.