Odin fast-pitch team wins 3 games at national tournament
ODIN -- With players ranging in age from 19 to 57, a Southwestern Minnesota fast-pitch softball team based out of Odin capped another successful summer by winning three games in the National Class AA 16-team double elimination tournament last wee...
ODIN -- With players ranging in age from 19 to 57, a Southwestern Minnesota fast-pitch softball team based out of Odin capped another successful summer by winning three games in the National Class AA 16-team double elimination tournament last week at Harmoman Park in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Odin, which won the Minnesota Sports Federation's Class B men's fast-pitch state championship at Caswell Park in Mankato Aug. 9, played 45 games this summer and finished fifth in the national tournament after being defeated twice by the Cal State Bulldogs of Hawarden, Calif.
"They were a tremendous fielding team," said Odin player-manager Kevin Rogers about Cal State. "We came back on them in our elimination game Saturday night, but came up one run short."
Rogers, 57, is a 1970 graduate of Brewster High School where he threw 20 touchdown passes as a senior quarterback for the Bulldogs in 1969. He has been playing fast-pitch softball ever since his high school days.
"I don't play in the tournaments any more, but I make most of the coaching decisions," he said. "I do play first base in lots of our league games when we don't have all of our players."
While Rogers is the team's on-the-field manager, most of the business and financial decisions are handled by 55-year-old Louie Heller, one of the team's pitchers and the only player that actually lives in Odin.
"Louie has played for Odin forever and was a big part of three state championship teams in the 1980s (1982, 1983 and 1987)," said Rogers. "He used to play second base and his brother Jerry -- who they say hit more than- 500 home runs in his fast-pitch career -- played shortstop. But at about age 35, Louie took up pitching when the team needed one. Before that, he was always the batting practice pitcher."
Heller pitched a four-hit shutout in Odin's 7-0 opening round victory over Fanny's Pub of Illinois last Thursday.
Mike Frodermann, a 1993 graduate of Heron Lake-Okabena-Lakefield High School who now lives in the Twin Cities, had a big game at the plate. He went 3-for-3, including a two-run homer, which ended the game via the 7-run mercy rule in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Friday night, Odin had just one hit -- a fourth-inning single by catcher Curt Rogers -- as the team lost a 5-1 decision to Cal State. Frodermann scored Odin's lone run in the third frame after walking, stealing and advancing on passed balls.
Odin's most exciting and highest-scoring game of the tournament came on Saturday afternoon, as the squad won an extra-innings thriller over the Super Chiefs from Oklahoma.
Odin tagged 13 hits in the game, including a 3-for-5 performance by first baseman John Hohenstein, a 2000 Jackson County Central graduate. Left fielder Nate McVenes, second baseman Dusty Pfeiffer (Mountain Lake, 2001) and third baseman Ben Morrison (Sioux Valley-Round Lake-Brewster, 1999) each had two hits in the game.
Doug Wolter still contributes at plate
Designated hitter Doug Wolter, 53, came up with a key RBI single in Odin's five-run third inning and later scored in the frame.
Wolter, a native of Allendorf, Iowa, played baseball at Worthington Community College in the mid-1970s and was the sports editor of the Daily Globe for more than a decade before becoming managing editor. Doug now lives in Mankato and works for the Mankato Free Press.
"Doug likes softball and continues to contribute," praised Rogers. "He had a big suicide-squeeze RBI in our state championship win over Jordan the previous Sunday at Mankato, which gave us our first run."
In the bottom of the ninth, Frodermann's RBI single scored Morrison (who had walked and advanced on Pfeiffer's sacrifice bunt). It was the game-winning run as Odin stayed alive with the 10-9 victory.
Justin Davis, 31, the team's pitching ace from Garden City, twirled a perfect game for Odin Saturday night in a 7-0 victory over the Blues, another team from Illinois.
Davis struck out six of the 15 batters he faced in the five-inning game (games are seven innings, with a 7-run rule after five). Meanwhile, a leadoff single by Mitch Leopold (Heron Lake-Okabena, 2003) and a two-run triple by Curt Rogers highlighted Odin's five-hit, four-run third inning.
Derek Nau, Odin's shortstop and lead-off hitter, drove in the game-clinching runs in with a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth after an hour rain delay.
Odin was pitted against Cal State again, playing back-to-back games Saturday night.
After giving up three runs to the Bulldogs in the bottom of the fourth, Odin rallied with a trio of runs of their own in the top of the sixth.
A lead-off single by Curt Rogers was followed by a single by Morrison and a two-run triple by McVenes. Pfeiffer's RBI single tied the game at 3-3, but Cal State scored a run in the bottom of the inning and then turned a double play to end Odin's season in the top of the seventh.
"We played pretty well in four of the five games," summed up Kevin Rogers. "We moved up to Class AA this year after we won the Class A Major National Championship in Des Moines (Iowa) in 2007."
Odin wins all four games at state
Odin, which plays in the Key City League -- based out of Mankato -- competed in a total of six tournaments this summer, winning three of them.
"We won a tournament in Preston and we won one of the two that we played in Hollywood (west of Minneapolis, not in Los Angeles)," said Rogers. "Playing in the league games on Tuesday and Thursday nights is fun, but we really want to win the tournaments -- so there is a lot of pressure. But a lot of these guys are in their 'softball prime' and they are used to tournament-type of pressure."
Odin won all four games it played in this year's state tournament -- bringing Odin its first state title in 22 years.
After defeating the Angels of South St. Paul (7-4) and Dawson (4-3 in nine innings), Odin posted identical 3-1 victories over Johnny's of Rochester and Jordan to claim the state championship.
Odin took the lead in the title game, as Wolter's successful suicide squeeze scored Pfeiffer (single, steal, steal) in the third inning. Jordan later tied the game with a solo home run before Odin plated a pair of runs in the sixth.
Center fielder Andrew Rogers (Kevin's son, SV-RL-B, Class of 1996) singled and stole second. An RBI single by Curt Rogers scored Andrew (the team's best bunter) with the go-ahead run and then after stealing second and third, Curt crossed the plate on a Jordan error, giving Odin a 3-1 lead, which Davis upheld.
"We have finished second a couple of times, but this was our first championship since I've been with Odin, which has been kind of a 'Mecca' of softball," Rogers concluded. "It's tough to win a state title."
T.J. Tiesler, Ike Rogers, Mike "Dodge" Haugen and Eric Fitzsimmons (team's youngest player, age 19) are other key members of the Odin team that helped the team achieve its success. Haugen (Windom, 1978) is the team's fourth-oldest player and will turn 50 later this summer.
The team finished the season with an overall record of 27 wins, 16 losses and two ties.
"I take the two ties and put one on each side and that makes us 28-17," Kevin Rogers, better known as "Beard," said about the team's final record. "That makes it simpler and easier to understand."
With three tournament championships -- including a coveted state title under their belts -- the summer of 2009 was another bright chapter in the legacy of Odin fast-pitch softball.
Will "Beard" have a team again next year?
"Oh, yeah. The guys are already talking about next summer," he said.