August 04, 2021

Peterson: ‘Softball classic thrives on dedicated crew behind the scenes’

When I realized I’d be filling in with some part-time duty for a few weeks as the News Advertiser looks to fill a sports position, one event I put in my calendar was the John Stephens Softball Classic.

Head coach Mike McCabe and activities director Scott Driskell do a great job of putting together a strong field of teams playing 19 games over two days. Six ranked teams participated, ranging all the way from Class 1A to Class 5A.

Four of those teams went undefeated in the event — Class 4A No. 2 Dallas Center-Grimes was 3-0; Class 5A No. 13 Ankeny was 2-0; Class 2A No. 6 Earlham was 2-0; and Class 1A No. 14 Lenox was 2-0. I really enjoyed watching Lenox execute so well behind veteran pitcher TJ Stoaks in a 4-0 victory over a pretty solid Clarke team Saturday morning.

Creston went 1-2, rolling past Murray 15-1 and falling to a pair of strong hitting teams in Bondurant-Farrar and Dallas Center-Grimes. I thought a young Creston team kind of came of age a bit, with only one senior in the lineup and battling a top state contender like DC-G through the latter innings after a rocky start.

As the pitchers mature and gain experience, this will be a fun team to watch in the next couple of years. It was fun to watch some of my former middle school basketball players contribute to varsity competition at such a young age. I love the potential for growth!

Whether it’s a wrestling tournament, a track meet or a home game of any kind, really, volunteers have always stepped up in Creston to make it a first-class event. But, when you’re talking about a two-day softball tournament, which included a rain delay and extra field maintenance Friday morning, the concept of volunteer help is really put to the test.

Driskell was quick to show gratitude for the many people who helped, as the final game of the classic wound down late Saturday evening. First and foremost is a tip of the cap to the “diamond dads” who worked throughout two long days of softball on both the Creston Community High School field and Southwestern’s field.

With SWCC’s season already completed and no players on campus, the diamond hasn’t had as much moisture applied regularly as the high school field, and with the recent drought it was pretty dry and dusty for the games Saturday. The .3 of an inch of rain on Friday didn’t do much to pack it down.

But, that didn’t deter the field maintenance crew. They watered, raked and chalked both fields between all 19 games. They worked fast, like a NASCAR pit crew, to keep the event on schedule.

Those who did the lion’s share of the field duty throughout the weekend were Brad Baker, Scott Coen, Chris Kralik, Rob Evans, Jason Rice, Jeremy Gillam, Jeremy Ide and Driskell.

Many others were cited for their special contributions over the weekend. Jason and Jared Hagle cooked some amazing chicken legs and smoked pork chops that really elevated the concession options for those in attendance.

Todd Jacobson always does a nice job on the public address system as the primary voice of the Panthers, and he put in some long hours up in a press box that is not air conditioned. He announced for more than 14 hours over two days. Assisting with some of the other games at the high school field was Scott Vicker, while Bill Mullin and Brodie Wallace handled that duty at the SWCC field. Former Panther and current DMACC player Sara Keeler helped coordinate the player of the game awards and distribution of updates on the team’s Twitter account.

Those who were out in the elements collecting admission fees at both sides were Paula Jacobson, Michelle Thatcher, Angela Halsten and Brance Baker.

The Creston Activities Booster Club always has a platoon of folks helping in concession work and other miscellaneous duties, spearheaded by Melissa Driskell and Joni Gillam.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it certainly takes a community of selfless parents and volunteers to pull off a major two-day event like the John Stephens Classic. I may technically be retired, but I did enjoy stepping back into those sportswriting shoes and doing my part to provide thorough coverage in the News Advertiser.

Kudos to all of the folks who made it happen last weekend. I talked to fans from other places like Bondurant-Farrar and Washington, and they were impressed with both the facilities and the manner in which the tournament was run. Well done, Creston!

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Contact the writer:

Email: malachy.lp@gmail.com

Twitter: @larrypeterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.