Happy Easter: All-Underrated Team of KTown Softball
My take on the greatness of the other guys and one surprise
3B Paul Lauer (not even sure if that is how it is spelled). Dude pulled the ball hard for like 20 years. Was a way way better than average defender, could run..always wearing some colored high socks. I know I played 75 games against the man and would want no part of knowing what his average was against me. Nicest guy in the world before, during and after the game. The type of guy that just always seemed to come up to the plate with runners on base.
SS Steve Hoppenjan I played about 15 years with and about 15 years against Hop and he is without question my favorite teammate ever. I’ve had closer friends on teams but I’ve never valued a teammate more than Hop. Incredibly self-aware, consistent, just a perfect 3-hole hitter. A rare career SS with very little drop off, Hop was in the middle of the diamond and the middle of the line-up. Held himself accountable for every play and expected it from his teammates.
RC Rock Jurvis You hear everyone talking about everyone and well deserved in most cases, but you don’t hear much about Rock Jurvis. He hit line-drives for Sorensen for as long as that group played. He had an absolute cannon from the outfield to any base and could absolutely fly in his prime. Another classic middle of the order hitter..can you imagine having the luxury of having a Rock Jurvis hit No 2 for you? A rock in any line up.
LC Tito Gonzalez There is no one in the history of KTown softball that generated more bat speed than Tito. A man that could easily be considered a power hitter, a complete RBI machine, hit way above average…covered all kinds of ground in the outfield and a plus arm to all bases. And his greatest asset was he was the most mild-mannered, awesome teammate you could ever ask for. A very quietly fantastic player, Tito belongs being mentioned with the very best.
1B Mike Wade Mike Wade did not have the longest run but when you look at what he did, while he did it, he was as good as any. A total “big hit” type guy, but a big hit with runners on 2nd and 3rd and two outs type. Plenty of power but hit the ball over someone’s head on accident while just trying to drive the ball. Power in every direction and an A Plus fielding first baseman. Still holding plenty of the Wade swagger, Mike was the first guy you’d think about for a tournament winning team.
RF Garret Sillinpa (again, no clue about spelling). This was a guy you’d have no problem penciling in out in RF and batting somewhere that mattered. The first thing that comes to mind is a rocket for an arm. When you can make another team actually worry about first to third movements because of that strong of an arm, it is a total bonus. And he hit the ball hard, he hit the ball long and he ran well before injuries. A quieter dude, his game spoke pretty loud.
LF Jim Costable When you look for a game “disrupter” it was this guy. Hit a leadoff home run, make a ridiculous grab, score from 1st on a one hop single to LC..just stuff that beats you. And that certainly translated to the mound at the end of his career. This is simply the guy you absolutely don’t want to play against. A perfect example of playing with an edge and it is probably not a coincidence that every team he played with won pretty consistently.
MF Paul Cox A ferocious competitor, Paul Cox was all about winning every time he stepped onto the field. A center of the field to right field hitter, when he stepped into a ball that was headed for RC, it was going to get hit hard. A rare dude that could gap two outfielders that were not giving him a gap, Paul carried tournament teams to victories many times in a long career. An introvert, a private man, he was still a great guy to share a diamond with and a great sense of humor. A winner.
2B Brian “Goon” McGonegle Goon just hit. It was never really pretty. A worm burner, a ground ball with eyes, a reach-out punch to RF, Goon played forever and just hit. Now he’d make sure to tell you he was hitting, but it was hard to argue the results. Not a man likely to win any Gold Gloves, he played defense as a means to earning his AB. The Goon was another winner, another “huge-hit” kinda guy that you just loved to have with you and hated to see comin up against you.
C Jerry Kalbfell No list I put together would be minus this dude. Huge influence…and way more about the mentality of hitting and just pure belief you can play with anyone. Embraced catching and was in complete control behind the plate. Committed hitter, almost never flew out..nurturing teammate. I’d put his liners right up there with Jerry Reeves and Willie Yee for being shots off the bat you could hear whizzing past you the loudest. Off the field a very quiet guy.
P Greg Czarnecki This one is may be a bit of a surprise because Czar is definitely recognized as having a huge influence on the game in Kenosha. But he might actually be pretty under sold. An absolute student of the game, a huge fan of the game and a pretty consistent winner, Czar also holds some status in the pure structure of the local game. There is no greater champion for KTown Softball than Czar and that represents a lot of people.
Tons of other people