2nd Annual Shaina's Challenge International Men's Fastpitch Tournament comes to Havre this weekend
Big, exciting men’s fastpitch softball tournaments were once nothing new to Havre and the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field. Now, thanks to the hard work of Danny Wirtzberger and many others, Havre is once again hosting an exciting and fun men’s fastpitch tournament.
Friday through Sunday, the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field will be host the to the 2nd Annual Shaina’s Challenge International Men’s Fastpitch Tournament. The tournament, which has several different objectives and is named in honor of Shaina Evans, will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday night and run through Sunday afternoon’s championship game.
“It’s for a great cause that’s close to my heart,” Wirtzberger, a longtime fastpitch player and head coach of the Havre High softball team and Havre North Stars said. “It’s a fundraiser for Shaina’s Challenge, as well as the Havre Girls Fastpitch Association. But it’s also something we wanted to do in order to help get interest in men’s fastpitch softball going again. Men’s fastpitch is a dying breed in Montana, but I think the word is already getting out about this tournament because this is only our second year, and we have people from all over the country and up in Canada coming in to play. So it’s going to be a really fun weekend, and there’s going to be some really good softball.”
There will be seven teams entered in the double-elimination field, including teams from Consul, Saskatchewan, sponsored by Koefod Agency. A team from Plentywood was also scheduled to compete and be sponsored by Tire Rama, but they pulled out. The six other teams will be made up mostly of Havre players and former Havre guys who were, or still are a big part of men’s fastpitch softball.
Havre rosters include: Havre Ford, made up of Andy Smith, Cody Gilge, Ben Springer, Justin Hofeldt, Britt Cotter, Ryan Hartwell, Scott Adams, Kirk Perczyk, Trever VanCampen, Brian Smith, Brandon Smith, Jarrod Wirt and Sean Keely; and Gallery Lounge, composed of Gary Joe Evans, Cal Wirtzberger, Rusty (Dog) Evans, Tony Vigliotti, Bucky Lindstrand, Bob Evans, Bo Evans, Rob Watson, Doug Sheppard, Donny Meirhoff, Matt Kretchmer and Andy Anderson. Valley Furniture is composed of Billy Evans, Ricky Brown, Ed Boucher, Sean Mariani, Dan Danielson, Brandon Trottier, Pete Stiffarm, Shane Kemmer, Brett Patrick, Ryan Callahan, Nick Heninger and Colby Fetters, while Bear Paw Credit Union is made up of Patch Wirtzberger, Cody McLain, Eric McLain, Scott Miller, Frank Benjamin, Pat Foster, Gary Wagner, Billy Wagner, Kyle Fanning, Thurman Holdsclaw, Neil Samoy and Brian Heat. Master Sports team is composed of Danny Wirtzberger, Dick Fuzesy, Steve Steinmetz, Charlie Steinmetz, Kyle Sheppard, Ryan Divish, Ryan Evans, Nate Baltrusch, Sam Evans, Ryan Knudson, Jason Christenson and Ryan Joy. There will also be a Havre North Stars team sponsored by Radio Shack.
And while softball is center stage this weekend, and there are plenty of great players coming home to play on a field they once roamed, the reason they are coming back to play means the most to Wirtzberger.
“Shaina's Challenge is an awareness of helping friends make good choices,” he said. “It is the headliner for this tournament because Shaina touched the lives of the athletes playing in the tournament. Shaina was known for making everyone’s day with her smile and her laugh. She loved playing fastpitch softball and loved watching and learning from her father and her family about the game. She was lost in a car accident four years ago ,and she is remembered annually at this tournament. In honor of her, all players at the tournament will be wearing the number 17. That was Shaina's number for the Skylight volleyball team. Keeping the theme for the weekend, there will be a shuttle from the field at 12:30 a.m. nightly for rides home.”
The tournament will be a fundraiser for the Shaina Evans Memorial Scholarship and Havre Girls Fastpitch Softball Association. There are many ways to donate besides playing in the event this weekend, including full concessions, a beer gardens, 50/50 drawings and an old-school “pass the hat.”
“Players from around the world will be attending including players from as for north as Saskatoon, and as far west as Seattle, as far east as Williston, North Dakota, and as far south as Midland, Texas.,” Wirtzberger said. “People traveling this far for the softball tournament truly is a tribute to how the game of fastpitch softball and Shaina Evans has touched their lives.”
The tournament begins with games at 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday. There will be games at 9 and 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, as well as 10 a.m. Sunday. The championship game is set for noon Sunday with all the action taking place at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.