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Shaina's Challenge is a summer mainstay

Annual men's fastpitch tournament will feature nine teams this weekend

 

Havre Daily News/File Photo

Former Havreite Bucky Lindstrand smacks a ball during the 2016 Shaina's Challenge Men's Fastpitch Softball Tournament. The even, which is now in its sixth year, runs Friday-Sunday at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field.

There are a lot of great summer sports traditions in Havre, but one of the finest is undoubtedly becoming the Shaina's Challenge Men's Fastpitch Tournament.

Shaina's Challenge, which was started five years ago, gets set for another incarnation of the tournament this weekend at the Sixth Avenue Memorial Field. The festivities will get underway Friday night with the Blue Pony Alumni Softball game set to start at 6. The tournament begins after that with Bear Paw Credit Union taking on Master Sports at 7:30, followed by Havre Ford against Missoula/Valley Furniture at 9 p.m. The final game Friday night will start at 10:30.

The tournament was started five years ago in memory of Shania Evans and back then, it started with six teams, five of which came from Havre. But this weekend, nine teams will be in attendance, making Shaina's Challenge the largest fastpitch tournament in the state over the past five years according to tournament organizer Patch Wirtzberger. The proceeds go to Havre Girls Fastpitch and the Shaina's Challenge Scholarship.

"It says a lot about the support we get from the community of Havre," Wirtzberger said. "This couldn't happen without all of our local sponsors, and the support of the fastpitch fans in our community. The last couple of years the interest from out of town teams has grown and that helps as well. Back when we started this tournament it was six teams with five of them being filled with local guys. Now it's grown to nine teams with six of them being from out of Havre so it's been quite the jump."

Of course with any men's fastpitch tournament in Havre, the Gallery Lounge team is always going to be one of the favorites. A large part of that has to do with the legendary Gary Jo Evans, who will be the team's pitcher. The rest of the Gallery team, one of the Havre teams, features Cal Wirtzberger, Rusty Evans, Tony Vigliotti, Bucky Lindstrand, Bo Evans, Doug Vandolah, Dave Hergeshimer, Jake Meierhoff, Matt Kretchmer, John Coleman, Brady Kimball, Pat Hergeshimer and Lunar Evans.

The team from Havre Ford also has a roster filled with Ponies led by Patch and Danny Wirtzberger. Dillon and Ryan Evans are also on the team, as well as Matt Schoonover, Pat Smart, Steven Steinmetz, Gary Wagner, Coda Tchida, Ryan Knudson and former Havre Daily Sports Editor Ryan Divish.

The team from Master Sports is filled heavily with local players, including many who played for the Havre North Stars such as Daine Solomon, Kyle Miller, Ryne Antley, Ricky Brown, Dan Danielson, John Christian, Billy Evans, Sean Mariani, Ryan Callahan, C.J. Evans and John Shennum.

In addition to those three teams and Missoula/Valley Furniture, there will also be teams sponsored by Tire Rama, Super 8 and the Oxford Sports Bar out of Missoula, as well as a team from Plentywood sponsored by Bear Paw Credit Union and another sponsored by Koefod Agency.

"The Gallery is always the favorite. Gary Evans is healthy this year so I would expect them to contend," Wirtzberger said. "The Missoula team playing as Tire Rama will also be tough. They won it last year. And the team from Plentywood playing as BPCU will be right there as well. They have a lot of young talent."

While there will be plenty of talent on display over the weekend, there will be some in the Blue Pony alumni softball game as the two teams feature a bevy of former Havre High standouts.

The players taking part in the alumni game will be Kelsey Ward, Kaci Hipple, Erika Han, Katie Hofer, Sydne Huston, Katie Borst, Leanne Hanson, Davee McLeod, Scout Boucher, Jordy Warren, Rachel Majerus, Jacey McDonald, Tracyn LaBuda, Payton Howard, Masha Barnekoff, Paige Henderson, Morgan Mazurkiewicz, Mary Lyons, Tabitha Myers and Dani Wagner. Jayceyln Hassa and Tori Mazurkiewicz will both help coach.

"I think the (alumni game) has been a really fun addition to the tournament," Patch Wirtzberger said. "We get to watch some of the old Blue Pony greats take the field again and it got competitive last year so I would expect a lot of the same again this year."

The alumni game starts at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by the opening game of the 2017 Shaina's Challenge at 7:30 that same night.

Shaina's Challenge

Friday

7:30 p.m. - Plentywood - BPCU vs Master Sports

9 p.m. - Havre Ford vs Missoula Valley Furniture

10:30 p.m. - Gallery Lounge vs Koefod Agency

Saturday

8 a.m. - Missoula - Super 8 vs Minton - Oxford Sports Bar

9:30 a.m. - Havre Ford/Missoula Valley vs Missoula Tire Rama

12:30 p.m. - loser’s bracket

2 p.m. - loser’s bracket

3:30 p.m. - loser’s bracket

5 p.m. - winner’s bracket

7:30 p.m. - winner’s bracket

9 p.m. - loser’s bracket

10:30 p.m. - loser’s bracket

Sunday

8 a.m. - loser’s bracket

9:30 a.m. - loser’s bracket

11 a.m. - winner’s bracket (winner advances to championship undefeated)

12:30 p.m. - loser’s bracket

2 p.m. - loser’s bracket (winner to championship with one loss)

3:30 p.m. - Championship

 

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