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National Softball Hall of Fame Class of 2022 set to be honored at USA Softball Annual Council Meeting

Sept. 27, 2022, 11:27 a.m. (ET)

OKLAHOMA CITY –– The 41st annual National Softball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will welcome 11 members from the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 this November during a special evening set to kick off the 2022 USA Softball Annual Council Meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana. Recognized for their accomplishments, history-making moments and milestones that helped shape the sport of softball, the group of 11 inductees includes former Slow Pitch standouts Brett Helmer, Christan Dowling and Rusty Bumgardner, Fast Pitch legends Cat Osterman, Debbie Doom, George Nokes and Jeff Peck, dedicated Manager/Coach Steve Shortland, highly respected Umpire Jeff Hansen, meritorious leader Mike De Leo and long-time sponsor Al Savala.

 

USA Softball will officially enshrine the group of Hall of Famers at the Shreveport Convention Center on Saturday, November 12 with the National Softball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony beginning with a happy hour reception followed by dinner and the banquet at 6 p.m. CT. For those not able to attend, the banquet will be live streamed on USASoftball.com

 

Below is a quick look at the Class of 2022 National Softball Hall of Fame Inductees: 

 

Brett Helmer – Slow Pitch Player 

When you hear the name Brett Helmer, the first thing you think of is Men’s Slow Pitch. With a playing career that spans 20-plus years, Helmer is known to be one of the most feared hitters in the game. A 16-time All-American, including eight in the Men’s Class A division, six in the Men’s Supers division and two in the Men’s Major division, the offensive slugger was a member of seven National Championship teams while earning four titles in the home run leader category, one title in the batting leader category and one Most-Valuable-Player selection. In addition to his National Championship accolades, Helmer was a member of eight USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team rosters that competed in the international Border Battle event where he accumulated a .786 batting average, 10 home runs, 25 RBI and 19 runs scored. His contributions in the Slow Pitch game continue to live on as he enters his fourth-straight year as the Head Coach for the USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team.

 

Christan Dowling – Slow Pitch Player

A staple on the USA Softball Women’s Slow Pitch National Team since its inception in 2017, the late-Christan Dowling was a mainstay in the U.S. lineup as one of the most impressive hitters in the game. Through her five appearances on the Team USA Border Battle roster, the offensive powerhouse totaled a .529 batting average, seven home runs, 21 RBI and 13 runs scored while being named the 2017 USA Softball Female Athlete of the Year following her dominating performance in the inaugural Border Battle event where she led the team with two home runs, five RBI and a 2.000 slugging percentage. In addition to her international experience, Dowling was a standout in the USA Softball Women’s Open division with 12 First-Team All-American selections, one Most-Valuable-Player selection, nine home run leader titles and six batting leader titles. Adding to her overall success, she was also a member of 10 National Championship squads during her storied playing career. It’s been said that the only thing more impressive than Dowling’s swing was her true passion and dedication to the game. 

 

Rusty Bumgardner – Slow Pitch Player

Between 1994-2008, Rusty Bumgardner played for some of the top Men’s Slow Pitch teams in the country. A nine-time USA Softball All-American, Bumgardner helped three different squads to a National Championship title including Team TPS (2000), Long Haul/Taylor/TPS (2001, 2002) and Hague/Resmondo/Sunbelt (2003). He was also a member of three USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team Border Battle rosters where he totaled an .800 batting average, three home runs and 14 RBI. Known for his versatility in the field, Bumgardner encompassed the skills to shine at various infield positions throughout his career while proving to be a consistent tough out at the plate. 

 

George Nokes – Fast Pitch Player

An all-around exceptional player both offensively and defensively, George Nokes radiated a dedication and respect for the game that was contagious to all who surrounded him. Nokes was considered to be one of the finest defensive first basemen to ever play the game, limiting base hits through the right side with his vacuum-of-a-glove while also digging any ball out of the dirt with ease. A three-time USA Softball All-American, Nokes participated in 11 Men’s Major Fast Pitch National Championships while leading the Peterbilt Western to a Championship title in 1980. Additionally, he was a member of the USA Softball Men’s Fast Pitch National Team World Cup roster in 1981. Throughout his storied career, Nokes was always one to represent the U.S. and USA Softball with a standard of unparalleled excellence.

 

Jeff Peck – Fast Pitch Player

Jeff Peck demonstrates an abundance of athletic ability, exceptional leadership skills and a love for the sport of softball that has placed him among the best in the game. A key contributor to the success of the Demonstrated McArdle Softball Club, Peck helped lead his squad to the 1979 National Championship title while being named Most-Valuable-Player. He totaled three All-American selections throughout his career in addition to representing the U.S. at the 1980 ISF World Championship where Team USA claimed the gold medal. Peck’s exceptional hitting ability was vital to the success of the many teams he was a part of during his twenty-year playing career while his leadership on the field left a lasting effect on his teammates and opponents across the U.S.

 

Cat Osterman – Fast Pitch Player

With the ability to speak for themselves, the astonishing accolades Team USA veteran Cat Osterman achieved during her playing career are among the highest in the game. A three-time Olympic medalist, Osterman helped lead the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team – later dubbed “The Real Dream Team” – to the most dominant Olympic campaign in the sport of softball where the U.S. claimed its third-straight Olympic medal. She later returned to the Olympic stage in 2008 and 2020 where Team USA earned consecutive silver medal finishes. The University of Texas alum helped the U.S. to three Pan American Games gold medals and two World Championship gold medals throughout her 13-year career with the USA Softball Women’s National Team while also leading her collegiate program to three NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series appearances. A threat in the circle for many years, Osterman is the only three-time recipient of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award while additional honors include being named the 2004 Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete of the Year and 2005 & 2006 ESPY Top Collegiate Female Athlete and Honda Award Winner for softball. A true cornerstone of the USA Softball Women’s National Team program, Osterman’s resume and passion for growing the game across all levels has made her one of the sport’s most influential advocates.

 

Debbie Doom – Fast Pitch Player

A three-time NCAA Division I National Champion with the UCLA Bruins and former member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team, Debbie Doom was a force to be reckoned with in the circle as the most dominant pitcher in the game during her career. She remains the only pitcher to have ever pitched and won all three championship final games of the NCAA Division I College World Series, while being recognized by the NCAA as a member of the 25th Anniversary All-Star, All-Century and All-American Teams. Doom, alongside Tracy Compton of UCLA, were the first female athletes to be featured in Sports Illustrated in 1983 followed by Doom’s Broderick Award recognition as the top softball player in 1984. On the international level, Doom played a key role in Team USA’s gold medal finish at the 1990 WBSC World Championship while also participating in the 1991 and 1995 Pan American Games. Earning her first Most-Valuable-Player accolade in 1980 when she was 17 years old, the star pitcher went on to earn eight additional USA Softball MVP honors while being named the Women’s Professional Softball League’s inaugural World Series Most-Valuable-Player in 1997. Known for her impressive height and exceptional fast ball, Doom showcased what success looked like in the sport of softball while paving the way for generations to come.

 

Steve Shortland – Manager/Coach

Steve “Pup” Shortland’s dedication to the sport of softball has extended across various levels, beginning first as a player in 1977 before the start of his coaching tenure 20 years later. Serving as Head Coach for the U.S. Air Force Men’s Softball team from 2002-2015, Shortland amassed eight gold medals and five silver medals during a 14-year span in addition to being selected to lead the Men’s Armed Forces twelve times in his coaching career. His valued coaching expertise reached the international level in 2009 when he was selected to lead the first-ever USA Softball Men’s Slow Pitch National Team, racking up seven Border Battle titles in his nine years as Head Coach while accumulating a 44-4 overall record in the annual international Slow Pitch event. Following his retirement from coaching in 2017, Shortland began giving back to the sport by conducting playing and coaching clinics across the world and has been instrumental in helping the European Softball Federation with their player development. Additionally, his involvement extends to the USA Patriots Board of Directors where he helps inspire and educate others while enhancing the health and welfare of veteran amputees.

 

Mike De Leo – Meritorious Service

Loved and respected on and off the field, Mike De Leo exemplified what it meant to be a USA Softball umpire for more than 48 years. His skills coupled with his caring and passionate approach for developing the game propelled him to a successful umpiring career that began in 1970 and spanned through 2018 while serving in various roles including Metro Detroit Deputy UIC, Metro Detroit UIC and Regional UIC in addition to serving on the National Umpire Staff for 18 years. De Leo’s skills earned him the opportunity to umpire at six USA Softball National Championships in addition to serving as UIC for over 50 National Championships. De Leo is a member of the Medals Program at the Gold Level and the National Indicator Fraternity and is proud to have been inducted into the USA Softball Hall of Fame of Metro Detroit (2002) and the USA Softball of Michigan Hall of Fame (2022). Adding to his resume of accolades, De Leo received his ISF Slow Pitch Umpire certification as well as the Region 8 Award of Excellence in 1995. De Leo’s knowledge of the umpire program extended off the field as an instructor for more than 40 National Umpire Schools held in the U.S. as well as two international USA Softball Umpire Schools in Germany and Italy for the Armed Forces in 2007. 

 

Jeff Hansen – Umpire

One of the most successful umpires to ever be involved in the game, Jeff Hansen’s accomplishments speak for themselves while his character and leadership in the growth of the sport were admired by all he crossed paths with. With an umpiring career that spanned more than 20 years, Hansen was the guy you wanted on the field when the game was on the line – not only for his expertise of the rules, but because of the respect he earned from athletes and coaches. At the grassroots level, he called over 25 USA Softball of Nebraska State Championships, 12 USA Softball Mid-America Regional Championships and four USA Softball National Championships. His ability to wield the game led to an assignment at the 1991 Pan American Games, and when softball entered the Olympic Program in 1996, Hansen was the one to receive the call. His efforts in the USA Softball umpire program earned him his ISF Certification in addition to his selection into the National Indicator Fraternity. Following his umpire career, Hansen transitioned into administration roles where he served as UIC for various National Championships as well as for the USA Softball of Nebraska association. 

 

Al Savala – Sponsor

A long-time supporter of USA Softball, Al Savala has been contributing to the top Men’s Fast Pitch teams since the 1970’s. Having served as a sponsor for more than 20 USA Softball National Championships, Savala helped the Savala Painters to five Men’s Fast Pitch 45-Over National Championship titles during his tenure. His support to the teams he sponsored was what many consider an act that allowed the game to continue as funds, equipment and apparel were limited for teams who sought to compete at the highest levels. In addition to his sponsorship assistance, Savala was always a voice to be heard in the stands as his squad battled it out between the lines. His dedication and passion for the sport and the teams he’s helped over the years is a true testament to the success and growth of Men’s Fast Pitch. 

 

The National Softball Hall of Fame has honored nearly 450 individuals, welcoming a new group of softball greats annually – excluding 2020 when the USA Softball Annual Council Meeting and National Softball Hall of Fame Ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Softball Hall of Fame is the ultimate goal for any player, coach, umpire or administrator who aspire to greatness in the sport. Located in Oklahoma City, the National Softball Hall of Fame Museum is open to visitors year-round Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

 

For more information on the 2022 National Softball Hall of Fame Ceremony honoring the Class of 2022, visit USASoftball.com