Hello Fastpitch Softball Folks,
After reading my Bulletin from the other day, my good friend Brian Phelps from Gilman emailed me which subsequently saw me call him and talk about those early days of WIAA fastpitch in Wisconsin. He told me a great personal story from 1981 and I asked him to type it up for me and I'd let all of you read it. I also received a great historical based email from another great friend who has given me permission to edit and print his story tomorrow. If you have any stories that you'd like to share about the early days of WIAA softball (1976 through 1990) type it up and email it to me at email@example.com.
Here is Brian's Story!
After reading Bob’s story about some history of WIAA softball, it got me thinking.
I have been the Head Softball Coach here at Gilman getting ready to begin my 25th year.
Many of today’s young coaches and of course the players and their parents (unless their mothers played in the late 70s and early 80s) have no idea just how far fastpitch softball in Wisconsin has progressed.
I graduated from high school in 1980. I started coaching Little League baseball that summer and played some ball myself whenever possible. I proceeded to coach the local Junior High wrestling team and the wound up coaching high school wrestling for 27 years.
Back in 1980 I also decided to begin officiating so I joined a local football crew as well as umpiring baseball and softball games.
In the late 70s and early 80s our local softball was dominated by the Loyal Greyhouds of the Cloverbelt Conference. When I was in high school, even though our local team was quite good we could not get by old Daryl Laschen’s teams. Outside of those few competitive teams, fastpitch was a whiole different world.
My first softball game that I umpired in found me on the bases. That was the spring of 1981. The final score of that game was 16-14. It was not a pitcher’s duel to say the least. It should be mentioned that most of this was not the fault of the girls, (I watched my sister play in our school’s first-ever girls’ basketball game and the final score was 8-2). Most girls had never played any organized softball and the coaches had little fastpitch knowledge of the game, much less pitching mechanics. Those that did had a huge advantage.
The game from that season that I remember the most was my first game behind the plate. I was supposed to do the bases but my partner cancelled at the last minute. I was told to do the plate and let the other guy do the bases. So, baptism by fire.
That game was one between two conference rivals just north of where I lived. Small town-region where everyone knows everyone.
I arrived in my gear. My partner arrived and we took the field and watch the warm ups. Needless to say we knew it was going to be a long evening. I’ll end the suspense ---- the final score was 38-36. The part of that game I will never forget though was around the third inning (we only got five innings due to darkness). The coaches came out to home plate and asked me to expand the strike zone. I looked at both of them and with a straight face tell them, “I will not call a strike that is behind the batter nor over her head.” They both looked at me as if to say, “What are we supposed to do?”
We proceeded to have walk after walk with a few errors here and there thrown in. The pitchers all threw with an arc and if it was close, the batters were swinging.
That was fastpitch softball in 1981 and my first game behind the plate.
It wasn’t really the $22 I got paid to do the game.
(Publisher’s Note)” Daryl Laschen was the first-ever coach in the state of Wisconsin to reach the 500 win level. That was an accomplishment because the maxium number of games for the first three or four years was just 12 games before the tournament started.
Also: There was just one division of softball in WIAA fastpitch in 1976,1977 and 1978. In 1977, the first-ever state championship game Madison West and coach Sue McDermott beat Elmwood and coach William Huber by a final score of 27-8. In 1977 Elmwood made it back to the state tournament under coach Jerry Cognetta and beat Sheboygan South and coach Kay Krentzman 15-13. In 1978 Loyal under Laschen beat Madison LaFollette coached by Ken Roberts by a score of 8-6. In 1979 the WIAA expanded fastpitch with two divisions of play. Loyal won its second straight state title, this one in Division 2 with an 18-2 win over Bonduel coached by Connie Rutledge 16-7. In Division 1 Menomonee Falls under coach Bob Hessler beat LaFollette and coach Ken Roberts 8-7. In 1981 the WIAA expanded to three Divisions and it remained at that number until the WISAA disbanded and those private schools were admitted to the WIAA in 2002. In 2016 the WIAA further expanded the tournament field to five divisions of play.
Have a great day!
March 13th arrives in 63 days
The WFSCA Clinic is at Chula Vista Resort just north of Wisconsin Dells the last weekend of February.
Keep it Rising!