skip navigation

M.A.G.F.A. Hall of Fame

2018 Hall of Fame Banquet - Feb 24th

The Mankato Area Girls Fastpitch association is pleased to announce the six latest inductees to the Peppers Hall of Fame.  The former players will be honored during this year’s 7th Annual Hall of Fame Banquet scheduled for Saturday, February 24th at the Mankato Eagle’s Club.

This year’s Hall of Fame inductees include:

Beth Benzkofer, a 1988 graduate of Mankato East H.S., instrumental in their State Softball Title wins in 1986 & 1988.  Beth played 7 years in a Peppers uniform as a right fielder and at 2b.  Following her playing career, she remained committed to the Peppers organization, coaching for over 20 years and acting as the Tournament Clothing Designer/Supplier for 5 years.

Paula (Uttech) Prybylla, a 1990 graduate of Mankato East H.S., she played 7 yrs. with the Peppers at both 3b & OF and went on to play collegiately for 4 years at Minnesota Duluth.

Chrissa (Landwehr) Sheehy, a 1997 graduate of Mankato East H.S., she played CF for 6 years with the Peppers and coached for 2 yrs.  Chrissa continued her softball career at Augustana earning All American Honors four times.

Amanda (Fedson) Schmidt, a 2006 graduate of Mankato West HS, played Peppers softball for 10 years and went on to play infield for South Dakota State University.

Lindsay (Mamer) Rosek, a 2001 Mankato Loyola graduate, led Loyola to their 2001 State Softball Title as the ace on their staff. Lindsay played 8 years in a Peppers uniform as a pitcher and versatile infielder.  Lindsay also coached for a year and worked in the batting cages two years while attending and playing softball at MSU-Mankato.

Ashley Veroeven, a 2009 Mankato West graduate where she earned All-State honors as a pitcher.  Ashley led West to two State Tournaments finishing 2nd & 6th place.  She played with the Peppers for 10 years as a standout P and SS.

Tickets for this year’s banquet can be purchased from a board member or at Andring, Collins, Norman & Co., Chtd. Certified Public Accountants located at 1628 S. Riverfront Dr., Mankato, MN 56001


2017 HALL OF FAME

When: Saturday, April 29th

Where: Loose Moose 

Social Hour: 5:30 - 6:30pm (cash bar)

Meal: 6:30 - 7:30pm

Hall of Fame: 7:30 - 8:30pm

Tickets can be purchased from any of our Board members - $25 Meal Ticket or $50 Donation and Meal Ticket 

2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

Amanda Umfoefer

Pamela Stierlen Ahlvers

Danielle Cattrysse Roehrkasse

Shelly Fredrickson

Dave Saar

Bid Dog Sports Cafe

 


Hall of Fame 2016 Inductees:

Gary Zellmer - Coach & Past President

Ron Swanson - Coach

Jess Christensen - Player

Ty Ries - Player

Kim Westendorf - Player


Hall of Fame 2015 Inductees:

Rick Junker - Sponsor

Les Altenburg - Coach

Jeanne Tostenson/Scarpello - Player

Tammy Shain - Player

Kristin Petersen/Stordahl - Player

Kendra Huettl - Player 


Hall of Fame 2014 Inductees:

Fred Lutz - Sponsor

Rich O'Brien - Administrator/Coach

Mary Beth "Fluff" Sinclair - Player

Amy Swanson - Hoehn - Player

Anne Steffan - Horgan -  Player

Kendra Carter - Hinz - Player

Sarah Winslow - Seamanda - Player


Jerry Maschka

JERRY MASCHKA to many is known as the man behind the Peppers. Jerry Maschka first organized the girls fastpitch team in Mankato with friend Gary Lunz in 1982. Jerry’s accomplishments include: 13 State championships, six Northern Regional titles (making 15 national tournament appearances in nearly 25 years of coaching). His teams finished first or second in state and regional tournaments a total of 24 times, he coached the first 12U team in Minnesota in 1989, and was a MAGFA Board member for 12 years. Jerry was inducted into the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame and the East High School Hall of Fame in 2002 and has coached in excess of 1,500 games.  Although Jerry accomplished so much as a coach, he would be the first to tell you that he wasn’t concerned with the wins and losses stating, “For me, it’s never been about trying to win as many games as you can. It’s about trying help kids get better. We stressed the instructional side of the game, and I think a lot of the girls appreciated that.”

All in all, there is no denying Jerry Maschka’s legacy. The Mankato Peppers fastpitch program is nationally renowned and Jerry is one of the main reasons why.

Kristin Maschka

KRISTIN MASCHKA It all started for Kristin with the Mankato Peppers in 1982 when she played softball until 1987. Kristin attended Mankato East High School, where she played softball in 1983, 1984, 1986, and 1987. Along with playing softball, Kristin played basketball at Mankato East, leading her team to a State Championship in 1987. Kristin is also a part of the Mankato East High School Hall of Fame. 

After high school, Kristin went on to receive Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Chicago in the history and philosophy of science. She also was a Two-time All American in basketball at the University of Chicago, making it into the University of Chicago Athletics Hall of Fame and receiving the NCAA Walter Byers Scholar Athlete in 1991. 

Kristin is happily married to David Hitchcock with a 12 year old daughter, Katherine, and lives in Pasadena, Calif. Kristin has been the president of her own business, Maschka Enterprises, for the past 12 years. She provides executive coaching and management consulting. She also blogs, writes, and speaks on the need to remodel stereotypes about women and mothers. She published a book about the topic in 2009. 

Sarah Maschka

SARAH MASCHKA - Sarah’s first real softball experience was on the Peppers 15-and-under team from 1982-1985. Sarah played with her sister, Kristin and was coached by Gary Lunz and her father, Jerry. Sarah also played for the Pepper’s 18-and-under team from 1986-1989. In addition, Sarah pitched Mankato East to State Championships in 1988 and 1989. After graduating from Mankato East, Sarah went to the University of Minnesota where she pitched from 1989-1993. Sarah ended up being the NCAA National Leader in Saves in 1991, and was the University of Minnesota Softball Team MVP in 1993, voted on by her teammates and coaches. All in all, Sarah is a part of 3 hall of fames, including the Mankato East Hall of Fame, the Minnesota State High School Hall of Fame, and the University of Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame, and she is about to add another Hall of Fame title to her collection. Sarah graduated from Minnesota with a Family Social Science degree and also received a nursing degree at the College of St. Catherine. Sarah is happily married to Brian Hansen with three children, Jack 12, Kyra 7, and Mia 2. Sarah works at Logistics Health Incorporated as a RN Case Manager. 

Gary Lunz

GARY LUNZ Before starting his coaching career, Gary played Major Men’s Fast Pitch for 25 years.  He was the Mankato West High School coach with a state title in 1990, State runner up in 1991, and Consolation Champions in 1995.  He was a founder of the Mankato Pepper’s and coach for 6 years.  As a coach for the Pepper’s they never lost a league game, earned 5 State titles, 1 Runner Up, 5 Regional titles, and 5 national tournament appearances with the highest finish of 5th place.  In 1998, he started volunteering for surrounding Colleges, Minnesota State, Mankato and Gustavus.  He is in the Minnesota Softball Hall of Fame as a player and coach.  He is also in the Mankato Softball Hall of Fame.

Jody Lunz

JODY LUNZ  was a 1987 graduate of Mankato East High School.  As a high school athlete, she was a 5-time All Conference softball recipient and an instrumental member in helping Mankato East earn a State Softball Championship title in 1986.  Lunz was an original member of the Mankato Peppers and competed in multiple national tournaments.  She was one of the youngest players invited to try out for the Pan American Team in 1987.  She continued her softball career as a 4-year starter for the University of New Mexico where she was named to the All Region and All WAC teams. Lunz has extensive high school, club, college, and private coaching experience as the owner of the Dugout.  In addition to teaching physical skills and techniques, she trains athletes in the area of mental skills as well. She holds a Masters Degree in Sport Psychology and advises players to include mental skills strategies to improve their performance and to reach their full athletic potential. Lunz is currently the hitting coach at Gustavus.

Jerry Maschka was the man behind the Peppers

This article is being republished with permission from the Mankato Free Press http://www.mankatofreepress.com

The builder

By Jim Rueda

Free Press Sports Editor

Jerry Maschka has stepped down as coach of the Mankato Senior Peppers after nearly 2 1/2 decades with the program. His teams finished first or second in state and regional tournaments a total of 24 times.

MANKATO — His teams have won 13 state championships, six Northern Regional titles and made 15 national tournament appearances. But for all the success his Mankato Senior Peppers 18-and-under girls fastpitch teams have had, Jerry Maschka has never been concerned with the wins and losses.

Jerry Maschka has stepped down as coach of the Mankato Senior Peppers after nearly 2 1/2 decades with the program. His teams finished first or second in state and regional tournaments a total of 24 times.

His main focus has always been to provide players with opportunities and to help them improve. If the by-product of that focus was victories, that was fine with him.

Maschka retired as the Senior Peppers coach last year after nearly 25 summers. The man who spends his time on the other side of the softball fence these days is considered one of the founders of girls fastpitch in Mankato. To trace his career is to detail the evolution of the sport in southern Minnesota from the very beginning.

It all began in 1982 when Maschka and Gary Lunz started the first organized girls fastpitch team in Mankato. Maschka's two daughters, Kristin and Sarah, as well as Lunz's daughter, Jody, were members of that team.

All three daughters had played baseball up to that point but were starting to get the itch for a league of their own. At that time, the American Softball Association offered summer teams only for ages 18-and-under and 15-and-under. Maschka and Lunz decided to form a 15-and-under team even though the majority of the girls were a lot younger. "I got into it because of my daughters," Maschka admits. "They had been playing baseball, and I had actually coached teams to city championships in 1980 and '81. "But Gary had the softball background so we just got it going. I never dreamed it would grow into what it has become today." Rich O'Brien joined Maschka and Lunz a few years after and is credited with forming Mankato's first girls fastpitch association. Ron Swanson also came on board a short time later and helped out as both his daughters - Amy and Angie - played for the Peppers. O'Brien says Maschka deserves much of the credit for building the program.

"You can't downgrade anything Jerry did," O'Brien said. "He just wanted his girls to have an opportunity to play ball. Gary had the softball know-how, and Jerry grabbed the bull by the horns and made it happen."

Maschka learned the intricacies of softball quickly and took over as head coach of the then 18-under team in 1988 when Lunz retired. By that time the team had made a name for itself on a national level by qualifying for and playing well in national tournaments.

Maschka paid attention to what the top teams were doing in fastpitch hotbeds such as California and Arizona and made a point of incorporating the best ideas from those clubs with what the Peppers were doing. He learned how to coach slap-hitting and drag-bunting, which have both become staples of the game.

"For me it's never been about trying to win as many games as you can," Maschka said. "It's about trying help kids get better. We stressed the instructional side of the game, and I think a lot of the girls appreciated that."

When it became apparent that many of the teams the Peppers were seeing in national and regional tournaments were all-star teams, Maschka decided to supplement the Peppers with top players from outside of Mankato.

He admits it was a controversial move but felt it was necessary for the team to remain competitive on a national level. He also felt it was important to keep an elite team based in Mankato so younger kids could see how the game should be played.

"We had already been (going outside the community) to a lesser extent with players like Heather Pfingsten from Duluth and the Carlson sisters from Butterfield," Maschka said. "We just felt that you had to have five or six top-level players on the team to stay competitive.

"But if a Mankato player really wanted to play for us ? and that wasn't always the case because playing with the Peppers was a big commitment - we'd let them play. Sometimes we took kids who weren't necessarily the best in town and put them on the team because of their attitude and their work ethic and their willingness to learn."

In 1997 and 1999, the Senior Peppers finished seventh in the nation. In 1998, they placed third, which is the highest finish for any 18-under Minnesota team. Close to 40 Peppers players have gone on to compete in the collegiate ranks, many of them earning scholarships.

Maschka says it was a combination of things that led to his decision to retire. One of them concerns some of the rule and format changes implemented by the American Softball Association.

He didn't care for the adjusting of the age limit of the 18-under teams a few years ago, which allowed college players to return and play one more season. He also grew to dislike national tournaments.

When he began in coaching, the national tourney was a four-day event from Thursday to Sunday. Now it runs Sunday to Sunday and on some days the team doesn't even play.

"I don't like hotels that much to begin with," Maschka said. "And to sit around and do nothing, that's frustrating."

Another factor is that Maschka has become busy with his law firm - Maschka, Riedy and Ries. But he hasn't ruled out a return to coaching in the future should the right situation arise.

Whether he does or not, there's no denying his legacy. The Mankato Peppers fastpitch program is nationally renowned and Maschka is one of the main reasons why.

"His influence has been huge," said Kendra Hinz (formerly Kendra Carter), who was a member of that first Peppers team in 1982. "There were a bunch of us who had played baseball but there was no future for girls in baseball, and (Jerry) came up with this alternative.

"Our experiences we're unforgettable and (the program) just grew and grew. When you look at where Mankato girls fastpitch is today, it's pretty amazing."