Softball: New era of fastpitch starts in Princeton

Princeton Park District picks up the reigns from the Church League

United Methodist's Jerry Lanham slides in to second base as Malden's Sean Riordan and Austin DeBates try to corral the throw Thursday at Westside Park.

Fastpitch softball dates back eight decades on the west side of Princeton.

It continues this summer with a new twist.

The Princeton Fastpitch Church League has made its last pitch, transitioning to the new Princeton Park District Fastpitch Softball League this summer.

The new league, however, will have the old teams.

The same teams from the Church League return to form the new four-team league with holdovers St. Matthews, First United Methodist and Malden Methodist joined by the People’s Church, which returns to the diamond after taking recent summers off.

Rex Lasson of First United Methodist served as Church League president since the 1980s, long after he retired from full-time pitching, but said it was time to turn over the reigns. When no one else wanted to run it, he turned it over to the Park District.

“The Met (park district) has a reach to market the league. We hope to keep it alive another 100 years,” he said.

Nick Davis, Assistant Director of the Princeton Park District, said they were happy to take it over and keep the league going.

“It’s been a long historic program and we want to do everything we can to keep that going,” he said

Recreation Supervisor Brett Renner will run the fastpitch league, Davis said.

St. Matthews captain and longtime player Eric Waca, whose grandfather, Carl “Big Hurt” Hultine, played in the early days of the Fastpitch Church League, is all for it.

“Whatever it takes to keep the league going and continuing on,” he said. “There’s a lot of rich history and competition with the league. It’s too bad we are down to four teams, but there is so much more going on for families that it’s tough for people to commit.”

Waca got started with a big bang with a walk-off grand slam, capping a nine-run rally to send St. Matthews to a 20-16 win over Malden Methodist in Tuesday’s openers

There will be doubleheaders scheduled for Tuesdays and Friday evenings through July 23, taking July 5 off.

Here’s a link to the schedule.

A postseason tournament will follow as it did in the Church League.

In the final season of the Church League, top-seeded Malden Methodist bounced back from a 21-5 setback to defeat United Methodist, 22-14, in the second game for the championship.

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