By John Benton
TERRE HAUTE — Last week’s column focused on the team competition to replace the Ballyhoo Tavern as the Wabash Valley’s top-ranked men’s slowpitch squad.
This week, I thought it might be of interest to discuss who will replace Tom Kirchner, who has opted to retire, as the area’s most potent home-run threat.
The slowpitch game, noted for its offensive action, has witnessed a lively local competition for the title of “best local home-run threat.” As such, I’m referring to guys who you expect to hit a circuit blast at least once a game and often more times than that.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, players such as Geoff Shuck, Danny Miracle and the Bird brothers (Larry and Mike) were among the best on the local softball scene. Among the power hitters of note during the mid-1980s and into the early 1990s were Brian “Boney” Jeffers, Tom Riggs, Doug Elliott, Fred Decker and Curt Reimer.
With the changes in bat technology during mid-1990s and into the early 2000s, things get a little more difficult to figure out. The double-walled and exotic composite bats made it possible for almost everyone to hit the long ball. During this period, names such as Joe East, Jeff Lauritzen and Jeff Beeler come to mind as consistent long-ball threats.
Now to the replacement for Kirchner as the most potent threat on the local softball scene. Three names immediately come to mind for their prodigious long-ball “bombs” — Bryan Millington, Randy Morelli and Ryan Nicholson. Nicholson recently hit a tape-measure blast in Vincennes that traveled 392 feet, while Morelli consistently hits the long ball during Brazil YMCA league play.
Others in consideration for long-ball honors include David Kingery, Boomer Grange, Rick Robins, Brad Pierce and Jason Payton.
With state-tournament play rapidly approaching, let’s see who can lay claim to local honors in the power category.
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Two Valley men’s slowpitch squads returned from last weekend’s play with runner-up finishes.
DeHart’s Rentals placed second in an ASA state qualifier tourney in Avon. DeHart’s recorded wins over Indy Elite 23-6 and Baseline 14-9, while dropping a 12-11 decision to Webster’s/Rookies.
Clabber Girl traveled to Vincennes for the Fourth of July invitational tourney. After a 27-22 loss to Old Town Tavern in its opening game, Clabber Girl rallied for six consecutive wins to finish second behind Hall’s Produce. In doing so, the Clabber Girl team recorded wins over Pay ‘n’ Pac 9-5, Halter Tree Service 10-9, Boston Pizza 11-9, Lemon Concrete 20-8, Old Town Tavern 20-8 and Hall’s Produce 20-15. Hall’s Produce won the tourney title with a 23-9 triumph over Clabber Girl in the championship game.
Rick Robins led the way for Clabber Girl by going 22 for 30 with 10 home runs.
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While fastpitch league action dormant locally, the Elkins Brothers Tree Service men’s team is still alive and well.
Elkins Brothers has made plans to play in an invitational tourney in Indianapolis next weekend as well as the MFP Class Ca state tourney July 27-29 at Elkhart.
The team also hopes to travel to Texas over Labor Day weekend to play in the ASA national tournament.
According to Rudy Elkins, the following fastpitch veterans are slated to play: Rudy Elkins, Frank Elkins, Scott Elkins, Mike Elkins, Ike Elkins, Larry Shaffer, Kevin Compton, Dennis Kesler, Jimmy Sullivan, Buddy Bays, Jason Fields, Jeff Sell, Curt Carroll and Dirk Joy. Assisting with coaching duties will be Jerry Krasek.
See ya at the park.
John Benton can be reached by phone at (812) 877-2566.