ISC team Previews for 2009 ISC Championship

August 14, 2009

Quad Cities, IA/IL

ISC team Previews for 2009 ISC Championship
By John Thompson
For ISC 2009 Quad City Sports coverage, visit the Argus-Dispatch
From 13 ISC experienced personnel including 4 managers, 1 player and 7 specialists and administrators (12 participated in final rankings). Eight are based in the USA and five in Canada.
RANK          TEAM                                                  POINTS      LAST YEAR
                      (* = number of 1st place votes)
    1.       Kitchener, ON Hallman Rivershark Twins      13 (12*)       1 (6-0)
    2.       Broken Bow NE Patsy’s                                   33 (1*)         4 (4-2)             
    3.       Saskatoon, SK Aspen Interiors                         41                2 (5-2)   
    4.       Bondurant, IA Midwest Stampede                 46               11 (2-2)    
    5.       Madison, WI The Farm Tavern                         53                 3 (5-2)
    6.       Jarvis, ON Gamblers                                         73                 5 (4-2)
    7.       Vancouver, BC Grey Sox                                 86                9 (2-2)
    8.       Elkhart, IA Albaugh Inc.                                 95                 N/A (5th  in 2007)
    9.       St. Thomas, ON Evergreen Centennials         111                22 (2-2)                                       
 10.       Midland, MI Explorers                                  122                21 (2-2)
 11.       Santo Domingo, DR Dominican Republic     136                  N/A 
 12.       Pueblo, CO Bandits                                       149                 24 (2-2)
 13.       Clifton Park, NY Gremlins                             162                  N/A
 14.       Aurora, IL Dolan & Murphy Shamrocks        173                 25 (2-2)                                         
 15.       Appleton, WI Bar of Appleton                        198                14 (2-3)
 16.       Fargo, ND Kegel Black Knights                     201               16 (3-3)
 17.       Davenport, IA Quad City Sox                       210                 31 (0-3)
 18.       Owen Sound, ON Selects                              213                  N/A
 19.      Thomson, IL Merchants                                 217                  18 (1-3)
 20.       Salinas, CA Taylor Farms California A’s      231                  1 ISC II (7-1)
 21.       Saskatoon, SK Diamondbacks                       239                  17 (2-3)
 22.       Green Bay, WI Bar of Green Bay                  244                  26 (1-3)
 23.       Ashland, OH Mets                                        266                  30 (0-3)
 24.       Winterset, IA A’s                                         288                  T25th  ISC II (0-4)
OVERVIEW (alphabetically with 2008 records in brackets)
Fast-pitch softball (fastball) is renowned over the decades of successful tournaments to have the crucial games decided by meager scoring. This has been the result of the sport having dozens of skilled pitchers who – by and large – for years were able to tame enemy bats.  However, the game has changed. Many teams can boast solid pitching…. and with depth. But recruiting has departed from the traditional solid mounds-men who will limit the opposition to infrequent scoring opportunities.
Offence is the key, and while purists may harken to the good old days of 1-0 and 2-1 scores, the game of the 21st century is built around offence.
Look no further than last year’s final ten games, when no fewer than 93 runs were scored. The average score was 6-3, and there were only two shutouts. And those were of the “oh-so-surprising” variety as the vaunted New York City Patsy’s were bageled 7-0 twice in the stretch run.
The axiom that good “D” will stifle “offence” when it matters most, may no longer be true.    
The following Team Profiles focus on the 24 teams’ pitching rosters and are augmented by commentary on the offence. Pitching cannot win an ISC Championship on its own, and to be sure, this year, pitching will be tested long and often. Solid efforts from the mound will enable team to become contenders near the end of the week, but execution of offense may be the key to the 2009 ISC Championship.  
1. Appleton, WI Bar of Appleton   (2008 – 14th - 2-3)
Pitchers include Tyson Barkman, Victoria, BC, who was 1-2 last year with The Bar, but help is on the way with youngster P Andrew Blackshaw, Queensland, Australia who will dip his toe in the ISC pool. OF Chris Delorit of Green Bay, WI and ISC veteran UT Tom Crouch of Dekalb, IL will be counted on to keep this team focused.
2. Ashland, OH Mets (2008- 30th - 0-3)
The annual pilgrimage of a representative team from Ashland has looked to Canada for pitching prowess. P Jeff Wilson, Toronto, ON, was an ISC All World in 2007 – but that was as a DH – and while he deserved a better fate on the mound, he has yet to enjoy an effective ISC. P Luke Raymer, Kitchener, ON and P Martin Humphries, Scarborough, ON will be baptized by fire at this year’s event.
3. Aurora, IL Dolan & Murphy Shamrocks (2008- 25th – 2-2)
P Doug Gillis, Brighton, MI was for so many years the mainstay of Midland Explorers. Following health challenges, the intense hurler is on the comeback trail. Last year he was 1-1 with the Explorers and is currently tied for 22nd spot in career wins with 28. Doug was an ISC All-World selection as pitcher with Midland in 1998. The back-up moundsmen are Leo Roman, Chicago, IL and European Ales Jetmar, from Dvor Kroalove, Czechoslovakia.
4. Bondurant, IA Midwest Stampede (2008 – 11th  - 2-2)
Manager Steve Kooser, who for many years was a solid assistant to Ron “Doc” Simmons, has assembled a formidable line-up with a definite international flair.  Pitching ace Gerald Muizelaar, Grand Forks, ND has a lengthy list of ISC accomplishments - Outstanding Pitcher in   2001, 2003 and 2004 with Broken Bow Travelers and winning pitcher in each of those year’s Championship games; was 2-0 in ISC in 2008; tied for strikeout record in 7 inning game with 20 in 2003 with Amsterdam NY Spirit; tied for 9th in career wins with 36, with retired lefty Brad Underwood of Owen Sound, ON. P Sean Whitten, Calgary AB had a great week at the ISF Championships in Saskatoon, and had several good outings with Team Canada on its way to a World Bronze Medal. Tony Peeples, Des Moines, IA adds depth and newcomer - teenager Thomas Enoka, Auckland, NZ rounds out the bullpen. The Stampede will most assuredly improve on its .500 record of last year. International offence will be provided a-plenty by New Zealand Black Sox experienced players Nathan Nukunuku, Thomas Makea, Stacy McLean and Travis Wilson, who now calls Chattanooga, TN his home. Newcomer OF Ben Enoka joins his brother. The talented 3B Matt Palazzo holds down the hot corner and C Bob Rosthenhausler provides competency behind the dish.
5. Broken Bow, NE Patsy’s (2008 - 4th - 4-2)
Ron “Doc” Simmons has assembled an awesome team with a blend of veteran and young, but competent pitchers, complemented with a batting lineup that reads like a “who’s who” of international softball. Australia won the 2009 ISF Championship in Saskatoon in July, with sterling mound performances by Patsy’s righty Adam Folkard and southpaw Andrew Kirkpatrick, both hailing from Canberra, Australia. Folkard was 2-2 last year at the ISC, but the days of his being a .500 pitcher are behind him. Kirkpatrick has a lengthier pedigree as the ISC Most Valuable pitcher with Marathon, WI County Materials (2006); winning pitcher in Championships games with Marathon, WI County Materials in 2005 and 2006; and was 3-1 last year at ISC in Kimberly. Veteran P Doug Middleton, Blue Springs, MO originally retired but has returned, currently holds 5th spot in all-time career wins with 41 in his 17 year career; Doug has been an ISC All-World four times between 1988 and 2002 with Missouri and Kansas based teams; mainstay of USA National team during his peak years; and was 1-1 last year with Broken Bow. With ISF silver-medal winning New Zealand Black Sox providing six members to the Patsy’s, the offence will be intimidating. Brad Rona, a leading batter at the ISF with patience at the plate and a flurry of base hits, as well as veteran Jarrad Martin, Rhys Casley, Daniel Milne, Gareth Cook and Steven Ratu will be providing runs-a-plenty for pitching staff. Gold medal Aussie Steelers Michael Tanner and Nick Norton and Denmark’s National team member OF Frederik Terkelsen add significant depth. The end result - some 1st class quality ball players will not start every game. Have fun managing!
6. Clifton Park, NY Gremlins (2008 - N/A)
The mainstay of the Gremlin’s pitching competed in ISC II last year. Bill Hillhouse, Erie, PA pitched ISC II last year with 3-0 record with New York Knights; in 2005, at the ISC tied the strikeout record with 23 in a 11 1/3 inning game for Wilkes – Barre PA. Bryan Newton,  Fort McMurray, AB was 5-1 (0.80 ERA) in ISC II with Sacramento, CA River City Rockers. P Steve Price, Clifton Park, NY was  ISC All-World in 1998 as a DH and shares record for RBIs with 15 in 1998 and has thrown many effective innings during his pitching career. P Jeremy Tracy, Waterville, NB had a 1-1 record last year in ISC II with South Lebanon, PA TNT. IF Paul Walford of Tampa FL adds a veterans poise and viewpoint to the pre-game huddles and is a threat in the batter’s box..
7. Davenport, IA Quad City Sox (2008 – 31st – 0-3)
P Al Rebling, Washington, IA has 21 career wins in quarter century of participation (1984-2008) while Rusty Parkhurst,  Jefferson City, MO was named ISC All World with his hometown squad in 1994. Todd Verwers, Des Moines, IA rounds out the mounds-men for this host team. The locals will have the fans behind them all the way, but will be hard-pressed to survive late into the week.
8. Elkhart, IA Albaugh Inc (2008 – N/A)
Pitching depth is on paper, but all are seeking a break-through year. P Karl Gollan, Blue Grass, IA is one of the most versatile players as a more-than competent batter and a pitcher that seems to be the “hard-luck-kid” in the big games. Karl was ISC All-World with Elkhart IA Albaugh in 2007 and was  2-1 with Horse Lake Thunder last year. P Terry Luster, Bunceton, MO has been in the game at the ISC level for 19 years, and is tied for 26th with 25 career wins. Kevin McGriff, New Sharon, IA and Darren Dubsky, Omaha, NE complete the pitching quartet. The team boasts IF Chris Miljavic, one of the best American position players, Team USA IF Don Garvey and C Brian Lammers who will provide leadership as this team should not be taken lightly.
9. Fargo, ND Kegel Black Knights (2008- 16th – 3-3)
With four pitchers, the depth is evident. B J Hunoff, Sioux Falls, SD was 1-1 with the Bar of Appleton last year, while Mitch Hardy was 1-0 with 16 strikeouts in 11 innings a year ago.
Brady Woods, Winnipeg, MB  was also 1-1  while Darcy Byrne,  Fargo, ND rounds out the roster. With an assortment of Midwest US and Canadian players, the Knights hope to impress in this year’s championship.
10. Green Bay WI The Bar of Green Bay (2008 - 26th 1-3)
Local P Josh Johnson, Oregon, WI and P Cory Avery, Halifax, NS will have to be at their best to keep the Bar in their attempts to improve on last year’s record. The majority of players are from Wisconsin, long a hot-bed of fastpitch, but will have to bring their “A” game to the park to crack the upper echelons.
11. Jarvis ON Gamblers (2008 – 5th – 4-2)
In 2008 at Kimberly, Jarvis was a surprise team, jumping form 10th to 5th spot. Lefty P Paul Koert, Stouffville, ON was a member of Team USA at the 2009 ISF Championships and is a three-time ISC All World with Owen Sound Selects (2003); Ballston Lake Heflin Builders (2004) and (2005); 3-1 last year at ISC. P Andrew Phibbs, Hagersville, ON enjoyed a spectacular junior career and is hoping to contribute to the Gamblers improving again this year. The well-travelled Tim Macumber, Halifax NS is a 2-time ISC All-World as in infielder with Green Bay All-Car (1993) and New York Spirit (2001) and can consume valuable innings as a pitcher if required. SS Ian Fehrman was Canada’s top batter at the 2009 ISF championships and is joined by others with international experience such as Waterloo’s Brandon Horn (Great Britain at ISF) and Jeff Ellsworth (Canada) while SS Ryan Thompson is a veteran ISC performer for the past 15 summers.
12. Kitchener, ON Hallman Rivershark Twins (2008 – 1st – 6-0)
The team that has been hanging around for decades, knocked on the door a few times and finally succeeded as 2008 ISC Champions. They’re back – and stronger. With quality experienced players at every position, and younger recruits already contributing, the Twins are legitimate contenders to repeat. The pitching squad is paced by Todd Martin, Aurora, ON, a three-time ISC Outstanding Pitcher 2008 (Kitchener) and 1998 and 1996 (Tampa Bay Smokers); winning pitcher in Championship game in 1996 (Tampa Bay Smokers); tied for strikeout record in 7 inning game with 20 in 2005 with Twins; currently 6th in career wins with 40, one behind Mike Piechnik of Vancouver; eight-time ISC All World between 1994 and 2008 with Napanee, Tampa Bay Smokers, The Farm and Kitchener; 4-0 last year at ISC. Joining the Twins from Saskatoon is P/DH Dean Holoien, Moose Jaw, SK, who was the pitcher of record in 2008 Championship game in losing cause with Aspen Interiors; rbi leader in 2003 with Madison WI Farm Tavern; as a pitcher, 24th in career wins 27; ISC All World four times, twice as a pitcher and twice as DH between 2001 and 2008; 3-1 at 2008 ISC. Rounding out the bull-pen are Don Scott, Sebringville, ON, who as a fireballer was 1-0 in 2008 ISC with Twins and Grant Patterson,  Toronto, ON, who was 2-1 last year as a long time member of Midland Explorers. Holoien and Martin were both members of Team Canada this year and were joined by C Craig Crawford, OF Ryan Wolfe and IF Jody Eidt, who is a three-time ISC MVP (2008 Kitchener) and rbi leader in 2003 and 2004 (Broken Bow Spirt). If that isn’t enough, C Pat Shannon of the New Zealand Black Sox, was the rbi leader in 2005 with Marathon, WI County Materials.
13. Madison, WI The Farm Tavern (2008 – 3rd – 5-2)
Rod Peterson has one of the most consistent franchises in ISC history, with many long-time farmers in the line-up including international team members OF Zenon Winters and IF Jeff Goolagong (Aus), Donny Hale (NZ) and Colin Abbott (Can). Veteran OF Paul Rosebush is great “slapper” at top of the order, and DH Rob Gray has a penchant for clearing the bases with timely hits from a smooth-as-silk swing. New pitcher Frank Cox, Owen Sound, ON is tied with legendary Jimmy Moore with 29 career wins and could move up a few notches this year; named outstanding pitcher at the recent ASA Nationals in Indiana in leading The Farm to 2009 Championship; last year Cox picked up the win in the Championship game with relief help and timely hitting from his former mates. P Darrel Tilley, Edmonton, AB was a credible 3-0 (1.11 ERA) with Horse Lake Thunder in 2008. Abbott is the mainstay in offense – rbi leader in 2005 (The Farm Tavern) and 1996 (Green Bay All-Car Roadrunners); the “Abbott shift” not as prevalent nowadays as his bat speed is still awesome but reaction time slightly delayed
14. Midland, MI Explorers (2008 – 21st 2-2)
The Explorers have always fielded a classy squad, and are re-building as the host team for the 2010 ISC Championships. IFs Kyle Bean, Steve Horning and Todd Schultz are the face of this franchise that hopes to rebound from its 2008 showing. Pitching chores fall to Mike Joseph. Ohsweken, ON; Brian Urquhart,  Dartmouth, NS and Sean Kelly, Marshall, MI. OF Adam Lalonde posseses gazelle-like speed in the outfield and one of the deadliest arms cutting down runners taking liberties on the base-paths.
15. Owen Sound ON Selects (2008 – N/A)
It’s a question mark season for a city that for years fielded competitive teams with strong pitching. While it’s good to see the Selects back in ISC action, the pitching brigade will be called upon to keep it close while the bats find their niche in ISC competition. P Jamie Simpson, Cambridge, ON has been around the game for a long time and was ISC All-World with Owen Sound Selects in 2002;  P Matt Leahy, Cobourg, ON pitched well in earning a 2-1 record with Scarborough Wolverines last year, while P Dustin Veenhof, Chepstow, ON and P Andy Skelton,  Scarborough, ON add depth.
16. Pueblo, CO Bandits (2008 – 24th 2-2)
The Bandits will ride the arm of P Jeremy Manley, Fielding, NZ for success in this tournament. Jeremy was 1-2 with Elkhart IA Midwest Stampede a year ago; he currently holds the ISC record for strike-outs with 27 in a 12 inning game with Pueblo, CO (2005) and 37 in a 16 inning game, also with Pueblo, CO in 2006; was named ISC All-World in 2005 with the Bandits. P Gerald Gomez of Pueblo will provide adequate back-up, but look for Manley to have the ball in the big games. Big question – can the Bandits steal sufficient runs for a big jump from last year’s finish?
17. Santa Domingo, DR Dominican Republic (2008 – N/A)
This new – look team is managed by the veteran of all veterans – MGR Tom McAvoy who has built a great hitting team of natural ball-strikers from the Island Republic, coupled with more than competent pitching. P Rob Schweyer. Minneapolis, MN a three – time ISC All-World in back-to-back-to-back seasons 1999 (Waterloo Hallman Twins) and Broken Bow Travelers (2000-01); 1-0 last year with The Farm Tavern is coupled with P Rob O’Brien, Cambridge, ON, also a three–time ISC All-World, twice as a pitcher St. Joseph, MO (2003) and Denmark Circle Tap (2004) and as an infielder with So Cal Bombers (2008). McAvoy, an inductee for the Class of 2009 Hall of Fame, has an international cast of hitters including Frank Perez, Erie, PA; Barry Kahler, Tampa, FL and Eduardo Leonardo, Ensanche Le Fe, DR.
18. Salinas, CA Taylor Farms California Athletics (2008 – ISC II – 1st - 7-1)
It’s moving-on-up time for the ISC II victors from the 2008 Tournament of Champions. P Dave Drotzmann, Hermiston, OR led his team to a memorable week, as was named as the event’s Most Outstanding Pitcher with 5-0 record and 1.18 ERA through 35 innings. Utility players Ron Guzman and Marcus Tan were each named to the All-Tournament teams with batting averages of  .500 and .414 respectively, with Tan collecting a leading 14 rbis. This year’s roster includes four members of Team USA that competed at the ISF Worlds in Saskatoon – the aforementioned Tan, plus Nate Devine, Steve Pinochio and Chase Turner, who had several solid games with key hits. P Sebastian Gervasutti, Parana, Argentina also competed at the ISF with the Argentina National Team and was 1-1 last year with Whittier Team Rainey. P Mike Egerdeen, Maple Ridge, BC was 2-1 record last year in ISC II with the Lumberkings.
19. Saskatoon, SK Aspen Interiors (2008 – 2nd – 5-2)
While it seems difficult to improve on Aspen’s line-up of last year, MGR Jason Kurylyk may have done just that. The roster boasts Team Canada members Dale Levy, Keith MacKintosh, Sean O’Brien and Kevin Schellenberg, who are suiting up with international rivals Nick Shailes (Aus) and P Lucas Mata and UT Gustavo Guerrinieri (Arg). The versatile Darren Box and newcomer UT Louis Joglar provide intimidating figures in the batters box. On the mound Mata, from Santa Rose La Pampa, ARG is a three-time ISC All World pitcher in alternating years 2003-05 with Marathon, WI County Materials and 2007 with SoCal Bombers, and was 1-1 with So Cal last year. Trevor Ethier, Saskatoon, SK was 1-1 last year, and a member of Team Canada at ISF and possesses a good stick in the batter’s box. P Rick Smith, 1-0 with Aspen last year, tied for strikeout record with 20 in a 7-inning game with Whittier CA in 2005. 
20. Saskatoon, SK Poly Plus Diamondbacks (2008 – 17th - 2-3)
The Diamondbacks are the lower profile of the two senior teams in fastball-frenzied Saskatoon, and will look to hometown P Rob Scheller to guide the young team. Scheller was 1-2 with Bahamas Abaco Pirates last year and is tied for 24th in career wins in his storied 26 year career. He was twice ISC All World with Clearwater, FL Bombers (1992) and Decatur, IL Pride (1993).
P Matt Stafford of Canberra, Australia joins other local throwers Colby Beierle, Jeff Farion, and Devon McCullough, all of Saskatoon. IF Geoff Evely, St. Johns NL and C Jim Climenhaga, Delisle, SK bring depth and experience.
21. St. Thomas, ON Evergreen Centennials (2008 – 22nd - 2-2)
Returning P Scott Wagar, Virgil, ON is joined by the well-travelled P Ward Gosse, Torbay, NL who earned a 2-1 record with Fargo MinnDak Millers in 2008. The team is hosting the 2009 Softball Canada Nationals August 28 to September 6 and relies on a core group of long-time solid, local senior players including Tyler “Tex” Lessard, Union, ON; Chris Payne, London, ON; Mark Coleman and Troy Rick, St. Thomas ON with a solid receiver in C Pat Humphries, Toronto, ON.
22. Thomson, IL Merchants (2008 – 18th – 1-3)
The Merchants moved up from success in ISC II with an encouraging appearance in last year’s Big Show in Kimberly. P Jonas Mach of Carlsbad, Czechoslovakia had 20 strikeouts in an 8 inning ISC II game in 2006. Young newcomer P Andrew Putnam, Cambridge, ON was impressive with two wins last year with Scarborough Wolverines, while PRob Bennett, Richmond Hill, ON completes the pitching trio.
23. Vancouver, BC Grey Sox (2008 – 9th - 2-2)
This solid Canadian west coast team has a solid blend of experienced veterans and younger skilled players that should move them up in the standings. Pitching covers a range from  Victoria, BC’s Mike Piechnik’s 24 year career, during which he has amassed 49 ISC wins, currently 4th in the all-time list; an amazing nine-time ISC All-World player between 1985 (Farm Tavern) and 2002 (Waterloo Hallman Twins). Last year, the crafty southpaw was 2-1 with the Sox, and this year will be a member of the Class of 2009 Hall of Fame inductees. At the other end, P Derek Mayson, North Vancouver, BC, pitched a tidy win in Saskatoon for Team Canada at ISF Championships; was 1-0 in 2008 with six innings of no-hit ball for the Broken Bow Gremlins and was an ISC All-World as a DH for the Sox in 2007. Travis Price, Corona, CA pitched for USA in ISF Worlds and was 1-2 last year with Fargo MinnDak Millers. Team Canada member UT Rob Giesbrecht along with UT Bryan AbreyOF Chad Ghostkeeper and  UT Pat MacKintosh are always tough outs.
24. Winterset, IA A’s (2008 – T25th - ISC II – 0-4)
It’s back to the ISC show for the Athletics, who struggled last year in ISC II, failing to win a game, but moving up to assist with local representation at this year’s event. Five pitchers are listed – Iowa residents Brad Cheyne (Webster City) and Joe Simoni (Des Moines), in tandem with Eagleville, MO hurlers Brand Craig and Clint Stobbe and Canadian Ryan Cochran from Nanoose Bay, BC. Defence in the field will have lots of opportunity to be challenged and the batting order may struggle to put runs on the board.
For ISC 2009 Quad City Sports coverage, visit the Argus-Dispatch

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