Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It???

Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It???

Mens Fastpitch Softball, What Happened To It??? Written By Troy Olson

I find it very amusing that I tell people I have a softball game and they naturally assume I am playing slow pitch softball. Did you know that there is actually Mens Fastpitch Softball in America? I happen to live in Wisconsin and we have a lot of Fastpitch Teams in our state, the league I play in is in a small town called Cushing. Our league is consistently between 8-12 teams per year, just depending on who is around for the summer. Most tournaments will once again draw 8-12 teams with several traveling from Minnesota to participate.

At one time Mens Fastpitch was a huge sport in this country, in the 60’s and 70’s it was at its peak. There was all kinds of hugely talented teams and of course the most famous of them all “The King and His Court.” So what happened to this one time flourishing sport?

In my opinion its a combination of several things, first was the evolution of slowpitch softball. Most people aren’t happy going 1 for 3 at the plate, jumping to slowpitch would allow even poor hitters to put the ball in play all the time. It also seems with no practice one can still compete in slowpitch. Lets be honest if you are going to be successful at Fastpitch you have to put time and practice, you just don’t pick up a bat and hit riseballs out of the park.

The second part of the equation is lack of homegrown pitching, this has really hurt our sport. Pitching in fastpitch softball takes a lot of time and effort to be good. Most of the great pitchers right now in the Mens game are from foreign countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico. Don’t get me wrong there are some real good pitchers from America but we just don’t seem to produce as many as other countries.

The third reason I feel our sport is declining is TIME. To play this game and be good, its going to take a little time. This game is different than baseball or slowpitch. It appears to me a lot of young guys aren’t patient enough to take the time to develop into great fastpitch players. Our society as a whole doesn’t seem to have a lot of free time, we are all busy with work, school, family, and dozens of other things.

One positive thing I have noticed is kind of a resurgence of interest in Mens Fastpitch Softball lately. It is starting to slowly turn around and I have even seen a few new teams sprouting up. I think some of this is the fact that there is an entire generation that has never seen Mens Fastpitch, with the raving success that the womens side has seen I think guys are starting to get the itch to try the sport. I hope that men can take a look at how the women have been able to promote their sport and with a little help maybe we can revive this wonderful game.

Jennifer McFalls Is The New Head Coach Of The Dallas Charge

Jennifer McFalls Is The New Head Coach Of The Dallas Charge

Jennifer McFalls Is The New Head Coach Of The Dallas Charge” By Gary Leland

The Dallas Charge are pleased to announce the signing of the team’s first head coach, Olympic gold medalist and current University of Texas assistant coach Jennifer McFalls. A native of Grand Prairie, Texas, McFalls went on to a Hall of Fame career at Texas A&M, an Olympic gold medal in the 2000 Games, and coaching stints in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area before spending the last five years with the Longhorns. McFalls brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and leadership to the professional level and Dallas Charge organization.

“The addition of coach McFalls cannot be understated. Her level of experience is difficult to come by. She is a quality person who understands our objectives and will amplify them on the field, in the dugout, and in the community. We are so pleased and proud to have her helping lead the organization,” said Charge General Manager Kevin Shelton.

McFalls is currently in her fifth season with the University of Texas. Under her guidance, the Longhorns had three players selected to the All-Big 12 Defensive Team in 2014. She helped lead Texas to the 2013 Women’s College World Series (WCWS), their first trip back to the WCWS since 2006. Further, she has helped the Longhorns to three consecutive NCAA Regional appearances from 2011-2013.

“I am thankful to have the support from the University of Texas and Coach Connie Clark to coach in the NPF this summer. Everyone is excited about Texas getting a professional team and continuing the growth of softball. Coach Clark and Corrie Hill have really helped me develop as a coach so I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the Dallas Charge,” said McFalls.

The Charge’s first head coach has strong roots in the Dallas area. McFalls grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas, a suburb southwest of Dallas, where the city has named a softball complex Jennifer McFalls Park in her honor. The idea of returning to Dallas to help grow the sport was very appealing.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to coach the first NPF team in Dallas. I had tremendous support growing up here playing the game, and now I am excited to continue helping the sport develop at the professional level. It’s been amazing to see the growth of fastpitch softball in Texas. I am excited for the fans to see the level of talent that these ladies will bring,” said McFalls.

Following a career at South Grand Prairie High School, McFalls was an NFCA All-American shortstop and led the Aggies in batting average, hits, total bases and slugging percentage in all four seasons of her career. McFalls was named A&M’s Female Athlete of the Year in 1994 and elected in the Texas A&M Hall of Fame in 2001. She graduated from A&M with a degree in kinesiology.

After college, McFalls was a member of the U.S. National Team from 1994-2000. She scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning in the US’s 2-1 victory over Japan in the gold medal game in 2000. She also spent 2001 playing in the Women’s Professional Softball League (WPSL) exhibition tour.

As a coach, McFalls began her career as an assistant at her alma mater, Texas A&M, from 1995-1997 and at the University of Oklahoma in 1998. She then spent seven years in the Dallas area as an Assistant Athletic Director and Head Softball coach at the Hockaday School from 2003-2005 and Midlothian High School from 2006-2010.

McFalls said she is also looking forward to working with Charge General Manage Kevin Shelton. “I am really looking forward to working with Kevin Shelton. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his knowledge of the game. He has spent many years building the grassroots of our sport so I know he will make this a positive experience for the both the fans and the players.”

The Dallas Charge inaugural season kicks off at home on June 3, 2015 against the Pennsylvania Rebellion. For more information about the Dallas Charge, visit the team website www.dallascharge.com or call the front office at 724-CHARGE1 (724-242-7431).

LINK OF INTEREST – Gary Leland interviews Jennifer McFalls CLICK HERE

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Florida Gators Seek To Repeat As National Softball Champs

Florida Gators Seek To Repeat As National Softball Champs

“Florida Gators Seek To Repeat As National Softball Champs” Written By Bill Plummer

It’s been awhile since a team has repeated as NCAA national softball champion. In fact, the last team to repeat was the Arizona Wildcats, who won consecutive titles in 2006-2007.

Now current national champion Florida will have a chance to become the first team since then to repeat. The Gators were impressive in winning the SEC’s second national softball championship and the first in school history. They jelled at the right time after finishing in a tie for third in the SEC with a 15-9 record, but were 10-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are 59-32 overall in NCAA Tournament play.Head coach Tim Walton begins his tenth season with an impressive record of 492-117 (.812 winning percentage) and is 615-178 overall for a winning percentage of .776.

The Gators have won 50 games or more six times under Walton’s leadership. Walton is 52-22 (.711) in the NCAA Tournament as head coach while the Florida program moved to 29-18 (.617) in Regional play, 13-3 (.813) in Super Regional play and 17-11 (.707) in WCWS play.

The Gators have won six SEC East titles and three SEC tourney titles since the university added softball to its program in 1997 and have compiled an overall record of 853 wins and 351 losses for a winning percentage of .708.

On paper the Gators look impressive with eight of nine starters returning and 14 letter-winners back. Six newcomers complete the roster for what could be another excellent season and bring another softball title to Gainesville. But what the Gators do on the field of play will determine what kind of year they will have.

On Jan. 31, the Gators held an open practice at Katie Seashold Pressly Stadium to give fans a chance to watch a scrimmage, receive autographs and participate in family-friendly activities. The practice was from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Posters and schedule cards were passed out along with 2015 rosters. Free pizza and drinks were provided to the first 150 fans. Six seniors are on the 20 person roster with the season opener February 6-8 in the UCF Tournament.

Gator Softball fans will have more chances than ever before to see their team on television during the 2015 season. Florida will make 12 appearances on national television and will have 15 games streamed on SEC Network+, as announced by the Southeastern Conference and ESPN. This marks a significant increase from 2014, when five regular-season Gator games were broadcast on national television.

But winning a national title helps in more ways than one and getting additional TV exposure is one of them.

Raegan Rogers to play for OU in fall of 2015

Raegan Rogers to play for OU in fall of 2015

“Raegan Rogers to play for OU in fall of 2015″ Written By Bill Plummer

NORMAN, OK –Head coach Patty Gasso announced Tuesday that Raegan Rogers has agreed to an enrollment commitment and will be joining the Oklahoma softball program beginning in the fall of 2015. She joins a class of seven student athletes that signed National Letters of Intent with the Sooners in November.

“Raegan is a very solid addition to the program,” Gasso said. “She joins a very strong group of incoming freshman and will challenge for playing time immediately. She is strong, she has speed and we expect her to make an impact on this team as a freshman.”

A native of Blanchard, Okla., Rogers is an outfielder who is finishing up her senior year at Bridge Creek High School under the tutelage of Ray Chidester. Rogers, who chose OU over Arkansas and Houston, earned four letters playing fastpitch and was named her team’s Offensive Player of the Year every season.

“Ever since I was a little girl it has been a dream of mine to play for Coach Gasso, her staff and the University of Oklahoma,” Rogers said. “The Lord has blessed me with a great opportunity, and I plan on competing to the best of my ability and impacting the program in a positive way. I look forward to obtaining a degree in the medical field and competing for a national championship.”

In her senior season, Rogers hit .620 with 53 runs scored, 38 runs batted in, six home runs and 36 stolen bases to be named to the Middle West All-State Team and All-Region First Team. She was also named Sooner Conference Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Conference Team.

As a junior, Rogers was selected to the Oklahoman Little All-City First Team and was an All-Conference honoree. In addition, she was a conference All-Star in her sophomore season.

Rogers has spent the past eight summers playing for GameTime Stars Gold out of Oklahoma City under Rusty Fisher. This past summer, she hit .422 with 65 runs scored, 35 RBI, six homers and 34 bases stolen. The past two seasons have seen her squads finish in a tie for 17th at the 16U Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship, while in 2012 she helped lead her team to the 14U USSSA National Championship.

Off the field, Rogers is a member of the National Honor Society and has been selected to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll for four straight years.

Jennifer Brundage Answers My 10 Questions

Brundage JenniferOlympian Jennifer Brundage Answers My Ten Questions Written By Gary Leland

Olympic Gold medalist (2000)
Height: 5’7″
Position: 3B – R/R
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.
School: UCLA
Graduation: 1995

Q. How old were you when you started playing softball?

A. I started playing softball when I was 8 years old.

Q.Was there anyone special in your life that helped you become a great player?

A. It would be a daunting task to list everyone who influenced me, but probably the most influential people in my softball development were my mom and dad who would go to the field or the batting cages with me almost daily, my coaches at UCLA, and my boss here at Michigan, Carol Hutchins.

Q.How did you get ready for a game?

A. In college, I would always get to the field early and hit off a tee by myself to get myself locked in and feeling good. When my teammates arrived, I would focus on just enjoying them and staying loose. Once I joined the national team, it was much more challenging to have the time on the tee by myself, so I replaced that with visualization.

Q. What do you like to do when you are not involved with softball?

A. When I’m not involved with softball, I enjoy playing ice hockey in the winter and stand up paddle boarding in the summer.

Q. What factors do you feel have influenced you the most to become the player and you are today?

A. I think the biggest factor was hard work. I was taught from a young age to work hard for everything, whether it was athletics or school or music (I played an instrument up through my first 2 years of college). I am not naturally gifted at anything, but I was naturally very competitive and always wanted to be the best. To do that, I had to work very hard and that work ethic definitely came from my parents. One of the other main factors was the advent of Title IX and the opportunities to play and train that I had growing up that generations before me did not have. My generation was really the first generation to experience the benefits of Title IX.

Q. Do you have any routines are superstitions that you implement regularly?

A. I always had a routine as I got into the batters box and that is much better demonstrated than explained. It was just something to help me relax and get into a good mindset before each pitch. I am not superstitious at all.

Q. What is your favorite softball memory?

A. There are so many memories to choose from, but my 2 favorites would be winning the gold medal in Sydney as a player and winning the 2005 NCAA championship as an assistant coach at Michigan.

Q. How much value do you place on mental training? Do you have any advice for others in this area?

A. I think mental training is extremely valuable and often overlooked, especially in the youth levels of softball. In my opinion, mental toughness is what separates the great players from the very good players. Every player is responsible for her own confidence. It is not something a coach can give or take away. The elite players take ownership of their confidence and work on their mental toughness daily.

Q.What is the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome in your playing and/or coaching career?

A. I tore my ACL when I was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team. The rehab to get back was intense and painful at times. That was definitely the biggest obstacle in my playing career. As I look back, there were always hurdles to get over, but at the time, I never saw them as obstacles. They were just part of the journey to be the best that I could be. It sounds corny, but it’s 100% true.

Q. If you could do anything else in the world as a profession, what would it be and why?

A. If I could do anything else in this world, I would want to be a lawyer. I wouldn’t want to be the one arguing in a courtroom, but I would totally enjoy the rest of it. I took several law classes in college and absolutely loved the way they made me think. I even enjoyed writing papers and taking exams in those classes.

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The NPF Expands To Dallas. Texas

NPF Charge

“The NPF Expands To Dallas. Texas” By Gary Leland

National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) announced today the addition of a fifth affiliate team to compete in league action beginning with the 2015 season. The new team will be based in the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), TX area and will be known as the Dallas Charge. The Charge joins the existing affiliate teams of the NPF–Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Pennsylvania Rebellion, and USSSA Florida Pride. The Charge become the first NPF franchise to be based in Texas since the Texas Thunder [located in Houston] left for Rockford, Illinois in the 2007 season.
 
“The League is thrilled with this announcement,” said NPF Commissioner, Cheri Kempf. “With increased attendance in all markets in 2014, along with the sheer volume of our television coverage, we realize expansion will naturally happen, but to be able to permeate into one of the nation’s hotbeds for fastpitch softball makes this addition really special.”
 
The DFW metroplex area is home to one of the largest and most active youth softball communities in the country. The Charge has designated two home locations to maximize attendance opportunities for a broad and diverse fan base in the DFW area: the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney and an additional facility, to be named later, in the Arlington area.

The Dallas Charge will rely on the experience of General Manager, Kevin Shelton as the team works on assembling a roster along with all other logistical details involved with the operation of a professional sports team. Shelton has vast experience in team and organizational operations through many years heading the Texas Glory youth program which was founded in May, 2000. In addition to that, Shelton was heavily involved with a former professional performance tour for several seasons.
 
“It’s an extremely exciting opportunity for women’s fastpitch and the entire DFW area,” commented Shelton. “The NPF is growing and we are pleased to be a part of that growth to provide these gifted women a chance to compete in the sport they love as professionals. North Texas has a vibrant fastpitch community. I am confident that our entire area will benefit from a professional women’s fastpitch team’s presence.”
 
Assisting Shelton on developing the new franchise is marketing consultant and NPF veteran Jami Lobpries. Lobpries will aid with business development and marketing strategy for the Charge. Lobpries was a four-year veteran of the NPF (2009-2012) after completing her eligibility at Texas A&M University in 2008. The Wharton, Texas native then went on to finish her Ph.D. at Texas A&M concentrating on sports marketing and branding in women’s sports.

“Adding a team in Texas is a huge step towards growth in professional softball and the sport in general,” said Lobpries. “As a former NPF player and someone passionate about our sport, it’s exciting to help build a new organization in my home state and be a part of growing the game.”

Beyond featuring some of the world’s best softball talent, it is the plan of the Charge to be committed to involvement in the DFW community. In a city that features some of the world’s most famous sport brands, the Charge will offer the community, especially young girls and women, an opportunity to watch female athletes compete at the highest level.
 
“The idea behind the name Charge was a commitment to being trailblazers in professional sports and women’s sports. Leading the charge means we want to lead the charge in growing the sport of softball as well as the NPF, and lead a charge in the community,” Lobpries said. “There will be a commitment from the entire organization to providing an entertaining environment at games and providing positive role models in the local community.”
 
The Dallas Charge will begin play as the NPF season opens in June of 2015. More information about the Charge including their home schedule, announcement of coaching staff and roster additions will be released in the coming months. Follow the Charge on the team’s website www.dallascharge.com.

I called Kevin this morning and we talked softball, which of course we both love. Kevin told me “I am excited to be part of the NPF growth here in Dallas. It is a great opportunity for the Dallas – Ft Worth Area, and the growth of women’s fastpitch. We look forward to being a part of the community and finding ways to give back.”

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