1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Feature on local baseball program

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by smsu_scribe, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    I'm working on a local baseball team that has had great success lately. I went into the project pretty blindly, but some nice anecdotes from sources gave me some angles. I'd love any feedback on this, especially to see if it flows well and stays consistent enough. Please give me your opinion of the opening anecdote and whether it works, and if not, what could I do to improve it? Thanks, all.

    It was a simple gesture on Tom Breyfogle’s part.
    When the Wabasso baseball team made it to the Class A state tournament last June, Breyfogle, the Rabbits’ head coach from 1972 to 1982, approached current head coach Chad Olson between games with a few of his old stat books to share some memories with the eighth-year coach.
    Olson said the former skipper didn’t give him much advice or pep talk. He just wanted to support the program that was his years ago.
    “It’s neat to see all these people that are happy for our success,” Olson said. “He was just happy to see that the program was having success. He wanted to come up and support us.”
    Wabasso went on to win the state championship with a 5-2 victory over Southland, and whether or not Breyfogle had anything to do with it, his show of support exemplified the tradition of the school’s baseball program, which has reached the state tournament three times since 2003 and each of the last two years. The Rabbits took fifth place in 2003 and finished fourth in 2007.
    “There’s a lot of community support,” Olson said. “We have a lot of good sports programs in general. It’s just great community support and the athletes-they all work hard.”
    Already competing in the dominating Tomahawk Conference, which has produced seven state champions in the last nine years, the Rabbits wouldn’t have needed to win a Class A title last year to validate their success. But Wabasso athletic director Joe Kemp says the championship has now cemented the program in the eyes of coaches around the state.
    “It elevates you another step,” Kemp said. “To win state is a pretty elusive thing. It gives your program a lot of credibility.”
    It also raises expectations. In addition to the baseball team, the softball squad finished third in the state tournament last season. The girls basketball team brought home a title from the Target Center in 2004. Kemp believes that in a short time, the community has begun to look for state championships in any sport.
    “I think that’s maybe in the back of our minds in town here,” Kemp said. “You look back a few years and maybe just getting to the state tournament was the next step.”
    So after taking a healthy stride last season, Wabasso entered its 2009 campaign with the eyes of the state upon its jerseys. But things weren’t simple for the Rabbits, with four key players in the state championship run lost to graduation. Chris Eichten, Mike Wotschke Andy Rohlik were all named to the All-Area Independent first team as seniors in 2008.
    Both Eichten and Wotschke hit over .450 last season, while Rohlik knocked in 13 doubles and 23 RBI. Without hitters of that caliber in this season’s lineup, Olson knew a change in approach would be called for.
    “We’ve been working a little extra on bunting for hits, finding the lines,” Olson said. “We’ve got some team speed, so we’re going to use that and try to take advantage of it.”
    The Rabbits ran into a Tomahawk Conference buzzsaw early this season, with opening games against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, Class A champion in 2007, and 2008 state participant New Ulm Cathedral. Both teams beat Wabasso, but the Rabbits responded with three consecutive wins.
    While the Rabbits were forced to give up four big bats from last season, the pitcher who carried the team through the state tournament is back. Senior Johnny Pistulka picked up 105 strikeouts in 2008 and posted a 2.55 ERA with a 10-3 record. Pistulka pitched 13 innings in the Rabbits’ last two games in the tournament, and allowed just three hits in the title game.
    Like Olson, Pistulka has had the benefit of having some local baseball knowledge on his side, and similar to Breyfogle, the source has plenty of experience.
    “Even my grandpa gives me advice,” Pistulka said. “So that’s taking it back pretty far.”
    During the summer, Pistulka has been known to ditch bullpen sessions for a little pitch-and-toss at Emery Pistulka’s farm, where he learned the curveball and a two-seam fastball that he now throws in excess of 80 mph.
    “He’d show me what I needed to work on,” Pistulka said. “It’s great hearing that experience from a guy who’s been at it for so many years. Our mechanics today have changed so greatly from his, but his pitches are the same as mine.”
    How long will the high school of just over 130 students continue to send out state tournament-caliber teams, though?
    If Wabasso’s baseball alumni continue to keep close watch over their program, the future could be as strong as the past six years have been. Pistulka will play for Ridgewater College next spring, but says he won’t be quite finished with the Rabbits.
    “What I learn up there I’ll bring back home and help these kids improve,” Pistulka said. “I want to make this community a lot better and keep the program going.”
  2. e_bowker

    e_bowker Member

    I think it works very well. You didn't get too bogged down in rehashing the state championship run (which is good), so the anecdote set up the rest of the story nicely.
    You maybe could have used a quote from a fan, or even Breyfogle, somewhere in there to talk about what the team means to the town. The opening anecdote shows that, but mentioning things like how many people showed up to watch the championship game or adding a fan quote could also illustrate it. There's also a couple spots where you could tighten up the writing.
    On the whole, though, good job.
  3. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    Thanks, bowker. Appreciate it. I'm a little concerned with this paragraph right after the Breyfogle anecdote:

    Wabasso went on to win the state championship with a 5-2 victory over Southland, and whether or not Breyfogle had anything to do with it, his show of support exemplified the tradition of the school’s baseball program.

    I don't know, it just doesn't sound natural or something. Or maybe a little like I'm forcing this point on the reader. Did this stick out to anyone?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page