For years, Heartland Investors has been the 800-pound gorilla of slow pitch softball in North Dakota, either winning most local tournaments they participate in or looking outside our borders to find a level of competition closer to their own. Despite that, they found little success in national tournaments following their 2013 Men’s B National Championship, winning just 4 games in 3 events since then. On a muggy August afternoon in Prairie Island MN, however, Heartland rediscovered some of that old magic, sweeping through the field and reigning as the Men’s B National Champion once again.
It was not an easy path to the title - not a single victory came via the 10-run rule - as the men from Mandan bookended their 5-game undefeated run through the 19-team field with a pair of one-run victories. They opened Saturday morning with a challenger travelling to Minnesota all the way from Dallas TX, Evolution/Primetime/Easton/Klutch. Following a 20-19 win, they were finally able to enjoy a couple of more comfortable victories, 20-12 versus T’s 13/Monsta (Nebraska) and 27-18 against Dugout47/Airstack/BudLight (Wisconsin). That left just another Wisconsin team standing in the way of a berth in the championship game. The offense was a little harder to come by and the margin was a bit narrower, but Heartland persevered 15-11 over Comatose/S2N/Monsta.
As the team awaited their final challenge, an opponent who was quite familiar with the pressure of championship games arrived. All American Restoration/Monsta from nearby Dayton MN had reached their 3rd consecutive Men’s B National Championship Game. However, the locals had not broken through for a title in those previous appearances. All American Restoration wanted no part of another runner-up trophy and provided quite a challenge, indeed, but Heartland Investors were very much prepared. The Minnesotans tested the Heartland defense with 27 runs, but fell one run short as the Men’s B National Championship returned to Mandan.
In addition to the team trophy, tournament coordinators selected Heartland's Mike Feldman as the tournament MVP.
Congratulations to Mandan Heartland Investors: Scott Brahos, Richard Buck, Ty Buck, Joe Cornell, Chris Dahl, Brandon Dilbeck, Cody Erhardt, Mike Feldman, Mike Graham, Blaine Horsager, Scott Huffman, Sam Ingemansen, Brad Jaeger, Joe Janson, Jared Krasselt, Shane Piatz, Dana Roller, Jason Salz, & Brandon Wilkens.
Team photo courtesy USA Softball Minnesota.