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A look at Bombers' comeback year, and a glance at the future

Published Oct. 12, 2005

The theme of preseason publicity was that the Clearwater Bombers "were back" among the best men's fast-pitch softball teams in the country after several less-than-great years.

The vision was well-founded. Here is a look at the season just ended:

On the field: Clearwater went 71-10 overall in a schedule that included some of the top teams in the country. The Bombers won their own Spring Tournament and the state International Softball Congress crown without allowing a run. They won their fourth Blue/Grey title in Alabama, and finished third in the ISC World Meet in Salt Lake City. They played in their 40th Amateur Softball Association national tournament, bowing out at 2-2.

The Bombers blasted national power Long Beach, Calif., 9-1, in the season opener. They took three of four from ASA runner-up Salt Lake City, and swept six games from a highly regarded Aurora, Ill., club. In a series against Baltimore, Clearwater outscored the visitors 38-0.

The Bombers went undefeated against other Florida teams and those from other Southern states. Seven of the 10 losses were by one run.

Clearwater hit 89 home runs and had a string of 104 scoreless innings. The final team batting average was an excellent .315. Bomber pitchers struck out 862 batters and posted an ERA of 0.74. The staff's six perfect games was a team record, as was Rob Scheller's personal best of five. Scheller had a "perfect perfect" at the Blue/Grey, striking out 21 of 21.

Individual honors: Five Bombers made the ISC all-star team: Scheller, shortstop Terry Wiebe, pitcher/designated hitter Jody Hennigar, catcher Ken Eriksen and centerfielder Avon Meacham.

Hennigar made the ASA all-star first team as a designated player and was the tourney batting champ with a .538 average. At a meeting of team managers prior to the ASA tournament, Hennigar was voted "softball's best power hitter." That night he hit three homers.

Scheller was named top pitcher at the Blue/Grey. Wiebe and Barry Kahler were named to the Pioneer Days all-star squad.

National coverage: The Bombers were featured in three national softball publications, and twice appeared on national cable TV.

At the gate: The team saw a huge improvement in the crowds at Bomber Stadium. Attendance rose from an average of 100 in past years to between 500 and 600 in 1992 because of the improved team, top-notch opponents and special nights. A mid-June appearance by the King and His Court produced standing-room only.

The future: The goal is to field a high-level team again in 1993, according to manager Mitch Harter, who is searching for corporate support for the team. Many of this year's players are expected to return, Harter said. The team would like to add players at some positions, including catcher, first base and pitcher.