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FastballBSF demo a success

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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Around 20 area baseball players, old and young, took the softball field at Kemp Park on Saturday afternoon in the first organized FastballBSF demo games in Folsom. Residents of the Folsom community joined players from high school, college and anyone interested in playing the competitive, fast-paced softball and baseball fusion style of FastballBSF. The Folsom Community team took on Team Phoenix from Elk Grove, which has played the FastballBSF style for several years. Players warmed up before taking the field just after 11 a.m. following a brief introduction from Hector Rodriguez, owner of All American Championship Sports, and FastballBSF co-Founder Val Lewis. “We organized our first FastballBSF league in 2003 and we’ve been playing in the area since then,” said Lewis, who himself played in the first Sacramento Little League and founded the Men’s Senior Baseball League in 1984. Lewis said FastballBSF recently become a registered trademark with its own copyrighted rules and 501(c)3 non-profit organization status. He also said all FastballBSF tournaments will be run through Rodriguez, who knew some of the Folsom players well and others he was just meeting. “I saw it in our weekly paper, The Folsom Telegraph and said, ‘Hey I’m going to go check it out’ because I’ve been playing baseball, but the bases are just too far away,” said Folsom resident Tim Martin, 52. FastballBSF rules move the game along. Pitchers are allowed 10 seconds in between pitches and teams are allowed one minute to switch between innings. Games run about one hour and 15 minutes long. For long-time baseball players and fans like Martin, it’s a return to the game. “Two years ago I had rotator cuff surgery. My wife knows I’m out here, but I’m supposed to be watching. I played in an over-50 league where we don’t see any of these young kids, but out here it gives everybody a chance. It’s fun. I think it’s great,” said Martin. The league is split into three divisions based on ability; recreational, competitive and elite. Both team Phoenix and team Folsom Community were a mixture of the three. As far as talent goes, Lewis said team Folsom Community fit right in with the others. Teams from Mather, Woodland, Stockton, McNair and Yuba City will join tournament play against those already established like Elk Grove and Livermore. Folsom could be the next organization of divisions to compete alongside. “I’m just coming out to have fun,” said senior Vista del Lago baseball player Seth Sobottka. Along with Andrew Lucio and CJ Crandall, the three represented Vista players who had previous experience with Rodriguez. Each played under Rodriguez around the age of 10 with Folsom American All-Stars and some travel ball. Rodriguez said he is working with Folsom Parks and Recreation to get FastballBSF up on its feet. Once it is, the hope is to hand it over to the city and participate in tournaments as early as Memorial Day in May. Saturday’s games had a relaxed and fun atmosphere, which according to Team Phoenix captain Calvin Johnson, is business as usual. Johnson said he plays with the team about once a week for six to eight weeks and then enter playoff or tournament play. In displaying the relaxed nature of FastballBSF, half of Team Phoenix was missing so they could watch the San Francisco 49ers playoff game. “We hope that they’re having fun and that we’re an alternative to playing softball and baseball,” said Rodriguez. “We think this game satisfies that guy who still wants to play baseball, but might also have the demands of life, like a family or work.” For those who didn’t know anything about the sport, they were in good company. “It’s great. That’s the thing about these demo games. They either saw it in an e-mail, an article or on Facebook and came to check it out. Some aren’t even from Folsom. Those are the reasons we created the game, for those guys who are looking for a happy medium,” said Rodriguez. For complete schedules and details regarding information on FastballBSF, visit fastballbsf.org.