Terrific FALLS — Their quantities preserve shrinking year by yr, but for senior softball gamers who are nonetheless inclined and able, the options for competitiveness preserve expanding.
That is what veteran Terrific Falls slowpitch players Larry Lewis and Jerry Sepich say — and they need to know. Collectively, they have been enjoying slowpitch softball for extra than 100 years, and they’re more active than ever.
“When I to start with started off actively playing (in the late 1960s), we may possibly participate in 10 or 15 league games and a several tournaments every year,” stated Sepich, a Terrific Falls indigenous who will transform 75 shortly.
“This yr, I could likely engage in 100 games if I desired to.”
Sepich a short while ago competed at countrywide-amount tournaments in Reno, Nevada, and Salem, Oregon, and is making ready to vacation to St. George, Utah, in Oct for the yearly Huntsman World Senior Online games. A previous Park and Recreation director in both Montana and Idaho, he now spends his winters in the Phoenix area, in which he performs in two leagues.
“Besides enjoying at minimum two video games a week, you could participate in in a match just about every single weekend down there,” he extra.
Lewis, 68, started off playing slowpitch softball as a 16-calendar year-aged higher faculty college student. He figures he has played on at the very least a dozen groups above the several years, and he has managed several of them.
His softball roots run deep he put in more than 30 years as a single of the major softball umpires in Montana, and worked as a supervisor at the nearby Multi-Sports activities Complex for several years.
He stated profitable a national championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, final year was the highlight of his lengthy softball career.
“We won the 65 AAA championship in Las Vegas with a team based out of North Idaho,” explained Lewis, who usually recruits close friends from Idaho and North Dakota to compete at main tournaments. Previous Fantastic Falls CMR softball mentor Terry Graham also performed on the championship squad in Vegas group.
Sepich typically plays at the Huntsman event with a dwindling main of Fantastic Falls senior athletes such as John Alexander, Monthly bill Walters and Gary Forsman. They will be joined in Utah by guys from across the nation who have previous Montana ties.
“There just aren’t plenty of men left (in Excellent Falls) to make up a workforce anymore,” explained Sepich, who however plays alongside with Lewis on a metropolis-league staff on Thursday evenings at Multi-Athletics Sophisticated. There are about eight or nine seniors on the Montana Madmen workforce, which plays in opposition to opponents who are often 40 decades young.
Lewis normally adds gamers these kinds of as Brad Hamlett and Mike Miller of Helena, Ray Hofstad of Conrad and Dennis Wolff of Billings when he travels to main tournaments. Locals like Loaded Teasdale and Paul McMenamy also are regulars in St. George.
The two Sepich and Lewis claim that distinctive procedures made for senior softball players have created it significantly easier – and safer – for older guys to remain lively in the sport. Between these policies:
• A five-run limit each individual inning till the remaining or “open” inning
• A secondary property plate to protect against collisions involving runners and catchers.
• The use of unrestricted pinch-runners so slower gamers don’t have to operate the bases.
• The addition of an 11th player for men in the 65, 70 and 75 age groups.
Pitchers also throw toward a mat in its place of house plate, making it easier for umpires to get in touch with balls and strikes.
“The mat is a fantastic offer because it can make for a a lot more regular strike zone,” Sepich stated. “And the 11th player assists the protection for the more mature guys.”
Lewis reported the dual dwelling plate “is a significant aspect for safety. No person needs to see any one get damage.”
Sepich added that the 5-run most “keeps game titles aggressive and prevents blowouts.”
There is not much in the way of structured senior softball in Montana. Missoula has the only sanctioned Senior Softball United states league, a nine-group circuit for men 45 and over. Kalispell has an casual league, as well. But the rest of the point out relies on decide-up groups.
Nationally, an believed 1.5 million men and women of all ages aged 45 and up enjoy senior softball. There are age teams with 5-yr intervals, with the extensive bulk enjoying 55, 60, 65, 70 or 75. In each and every age group, the teams are rated according to expertise, from Majors to AAA all the way down to Course D.
“There’s a spot for every person, and that can make it fair,” claimed Sepich, who typically plays in the leading brackets.
“There’s a major change in capability when you shift from 55 to 60 to 65,” additional Lewis. “Those 5 decades make a large variance in the velocity of the video game.”