Fighting Lions ready to roar at state tournament

Beepball or beep baseball is making a noisy comeback in Minnesota. The revitalized Minnesota Lions will be playing the beepball […]

Beepball or beep baseball is making a noisy comeback in Minnesota. The revitalized Minnesota Lions will be playing the beepball World Series Aug. 3-7 in Rochester. It’s a success story for a team that was inactive only a few years ago.

The tournament is hosted by the Rochester Amateur Sports Commission and will be at the Fuad Mansour Soccer Complex in Rochester. Information can be found on the National Beep baseball Association Web site, at www.nbba.org or by calling the sports commission at 507-280-4701.

Twin Cities area residents can attend the next Minnesota Fighting Lions exhibition game Sunday, July 18th at Wolner Field in Mound, on County Road 15/110. The Lions will practice starting at 9 a.m. and will play 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Celebrity ball players may take the field and the spectators are encouraged to learn more about the game.

The Lions are still roaring after their first tournament in several years. Minnesota Fighting Lions Coach Dennis Stern said, “You players made Minnesota and us coaches proud!”

The veteran coach was pleased with his team’s showing at the regional Bolingbook (Illinois) Bash in June. The team entered the tournament unranked but left with a fifth-place finish among eight squads. For the Lions, a team that formed six years ago, it represents a comeback for Minnesota beepball squads. A Minnesota team hadn’t played in a regional tournament in 18 years.

Beepball is played like baseball, but with ball that “beeps” so that visually impaired athletes can hear it.

The Lions came into the tournament as a virtual unknown, but the Lions dug in and made a place for ourselves among more experienced teams. Team members range in age from 16-year-old Matt Mit-chell to 71-year-old Marilyn Highland.

The Lions roared back after practicing year-round, inside and outdoors. Players worked on batting and pitching exercises throughout the year. Team members are encouraged to work out at home every day.

In the Illinois tournament’s first game the Lions fell to the Kansas All-Stars, 16-4. That loss, it turned out, did more to consolidate our team. Lions team captain Kevin Molden-hauer said that we should have won that second game, a 7-5 loss to the Boston Renegades.

The third and fourth game cemented our place as one of the top five tournament teams. The Lions topped the Indy Thunders, 7-6. The Thunder was the seventh-ranked team in the United States and ranked eighth in the world. The next day the Lions beat the Wichita Sonic, 6-3.

Much of the Lions success is due to the high quality of pitching by Bret Guerra.

Coach Kent Evans said, “Prior to the tournament I believed to win Guerra had to pitch an excellent game. I did think our defense would not be polished enough to hold any team to a low score. I thought the defense needed much more work and that we would not be quick enough to spot the ball and pick it up to “out” their fast runners…and we were much quicker than I thought.”

Evans also praised the team’s defense and speed.

To know more about beep ball, contact Stern at dennis stern@comcast.net or call 612-578-7985.

Clarence Schadegg is a beep baseball player.

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