Michigan Twisters Burst onto Fastpitch Scene

Twisters Burst onto Fastpitch Scene

Midland Daily News
By Greg Chalfin

There’s a new local fastpitch softball team taking the competition by storm. The Michigan Twisters — a brand new team with several Midlanders — broke into the International Softball Congress II rankings on Saturday, coming in at No. 30.

“We’re in our first year, and we’ve got a good squad,” catcher Neil Faccio said. “We’re starting to turn some heads.”

The team has started its inaugural campaign with three tournament victories, including a win in the ‘A’ division at Midland’s Boulevard Lounge tournament two weeks ago.

Faccio and five of his Midland-based teammates — Rick Engle, Seth Freed, Adam Osantowski, Ron Case and Matt Morgan — left locally operated Coppens Brigade to help form the new Twisters squad.

“It was kind of a bad leave (from Coppens Brigade),” Faccio said. “We were ready for a change.”

Former Coppens Brigade manager John Coppens was reached and opted not to comment about the state of his club at this time.

Faccio said he and his teammates were looking for an opportunity to play more often and against better competition and decided to join with some players looking to leave Roscommon’s Roofs of the North team. The team’s fast start — a 26-2 record thus far — has the team considering traveling to Kitchener, Ontario for the ISC II World Tournament. But the team will run into another Midland juggernaut this weekend.

Coming off two consecutive tournament victories, the Midland Explorers (14-3) return home for three exhibition games at Currie Stadium this weekend.

The Explorers started quickly last season but struggled after pitcher Doug Gillis suffered a midseason stroke. Midland finished 21-17-1 last year, marking its worst record in the history of the club.

“We just lost a lot of close games,” manager Clint Beane said. “For whatever reason.”

But the Explorers have come back strong this season, having won 11 of their past 12 games.

“When you get good pitching and good defense, the hitting usually comes around,” Beane said. “It’s been a really good start.”

On Saturday, the Explorers tangle with the Twisters at 5:30 p.m. before a nightcap against St. Thomas (Ont.) at 7:30 p.m.

The Explorers conclude play Sunday against Jarvis (Ont.) at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Berryhill traveling to Escanaba Tourney

Berryhill Post 165 manager Steve Cronkright’s ballclub heads to its first tournament of the season, playing Friday-Sunday in Escanaba. Last year, Berryhill won the tournament.

“But it wasn’t a cakewalk or anything like that,” Cronkright said. “There are some real tough teams.”

Berryhill will play four teams from Wisconsin in pool play, and its record in those games will determine if it makes the final four, which will be played Sunday.

“You could play up to six games,” Cronkright said. “And then drive six hours home.”

Ice continue NPF action Tuesday

Manager Tom Short’s Mid-Michigan Ice will travel to Rockford, Ill. next week for a four-game set with National Pro Fastpitch’s Rockford Thunder. The Ice have performed well in early-season competition, losing just once in six games.

Short said he’s been pleased with his pitching — which has already thrown two no-hitters — and defense in the early going and will use this weekend’s practices to get his offense on track.

“We’ve got to keep the sticks going,” Short said.

Lady Explorers look to bounce back

After losing its first three games against the Ice and the Venezuelan National Team, manager Mike Kozuch’s Midland Lady Explorers will try to rebound at this weekend’s Petoskey Mary Ingalls Memorial Tournament.

Midland will play a round robin format against four other teams, beginning with Kalamazoo’s Kam Hooters at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“They’ve been kind of our big rival,” Kozuch said.

Upcoming area softball tournaments

Midland will host a number of softball tournaments during the summer, including the Chapman/Alexander tournament the weekend of July 13-14, the men’s slowpitch 50 and over “AAA” state tournament from July 20-22, the men’s fastpitch class “A” and “B” state tournaments from Aug. 3-5, the men’s modified class “B” state tournament from Aug. 10-12, and the men’s fastpitch class “D” state tournament from Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

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