By Bob Balgemann


Harlem Community Center’s annual fall softball season has begun, with 13 teams competing in the 14U, 16U and 18U divisions.

Teams from around the area, including Winnebago and Beloit, Wis., have been invited to compete with local, primarily Harlem High School, girls.

There are some familiar names as coaches of summer softball teams in the HCC league return for another round of ball.

Team Wilhelmi, named for head coach Mike Wilhelmi, kept up its winning ways by defeating Team Garbe, from Beloit, 8-5.

His summer team competed in the Midget division and finished second with an 8-2 record during the regular season. It was the runner-up in the tournament as well. His current team is older, with girls 11-14 years of age, but it has stepped up a notch in competition, going against girls 16 years of age and under.

So far, so good, following the win over Beloit.

“We have challenged ourselves,” he said. “We hope to rise to the bell.”

His team has a boatload of good pitchers, which presents the challenge of keeping them happy by giving them enough work. Three pitched against Beloit.

Runs are needed, of course, and he said, “I hope we hit the ball. We’ll have to do that to keep up.” He also believes his defense will be solid enough to be a winning complement for pitching and hitting.

In the other 16U outing Team Weingartner disposed of Team Sullivan, 14-4. Team Lopez did not play.

Team Brassfield, one of the local entries, ran into a team from Winnebago and lost, 5-4, in the first 18U game for both of them.

Head coach Tonya Buikema, who leads the team bearing her name, said she had played Dave Brassfield-coached teams in the past and found them to be very competitive. “We’re happy with the way it turned out,” she said of the opener.

Her team is a mix of four freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and three seniors, all students at Winnebago High School. With the exception of the freshmen, all have played softball together in the past.

Brassfield, defending regular season and tournament champion, took an early 2-0 lead. Buikema rallied to tie it at 3-3 and prevailed when starting and winning pitcher Sammi Russell hit an inside-the-park home run, with Jolene Weerda on base. Russell piched the entire game.

In other 18U action Team Slayton shut out Team Rodriguez, 14-0.

Teams Insko and Nalley are sharing first place in the 14U division. Insko, named for head coach Angie Insko, won over Team Duke, 11-5, while Nalley, the namesake of head coach Jim Nalley, defeated Team Duke, 17-2. Team Hernandez did not play.

Games are played every Sunday at the Wentland Sports Complex off Forest Hills Road in Loves Park.

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