Pictured are members of the Grothaus Trucking slow pitch co-ed softball team, which won 9 ASA co-ed state championships during its run, all at Gordon Moore Park in Alton.
They dominated their competition like no other team in the history of Illinois Amateur Softball Association Co-Ed competition.
So it’s no wonder the state welcome mat is out for those Truckers from Grothaus. They are now bound for the Illinois ASA Hall of Fame.
Grothaus Trucking, based out of Plainview in Macoupin County, will be enshrined April 9 in ceremonies at the Decatur Hotel and Convention Center.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Jim Powers, 63, the architect of the Truckers’ success. He has served as player, coach, manager and general manager for the team that won 9 state championships, all of them at Moore Park in Alton, during a 20-plus year run.
The 1970 Southwestern High graduate added, “We had the best guys and girls in the area playing for us. You need to have good girls playing for you because you can’t win without them.
“We had a pretty good run.”
While Grothaus Trucking will be inducted for co-ed slow-pitch, the Southwestern Illinois Black Widows will get their due for junior girls’ fast-pitch softball. Four teams in all will be honored.
No fewer than a dozen players, including Jerry Crader of Hamburg, Dawn Elser of Swansea and Nancy (Kassebaum) Metcalf of New Athens, also will be enshrined. Crader, who excelled in the fast-pitch game, pitched for teams in Alton and Jerseyville, among others.
For Grothaus, it’s the culmination of celebrating the team’s dynasty in co-ed play. The Truckers won state titles in 1991, 1992, 1993, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.
“A little town (Plainview) of 200 sure stood on top of the slow-pitch state softball for a very long time,” three-time MVP Hayden Powers and a Lewis and Clark baseball Hall of Famer said.
Daniel Grothaus served as the team’s sponsor and John Grothaus worked with him and Jim Powers to build long-standing success.
“Both of them played and they were farmers at the time we started the team,” Powers said. “Daniel was a good friend and we needed a sponsor.”
Powers emerged as the engine. He turned Grothaus Trucking softball into a family affair with wife, Brenda, sons Sam and Hayden, daughters Becky and Andrea, plus their relatives, all making contributions.
“It was a good team effort,” said Powers, a former construction worker and farmer. “We had Grothaus 1 with the first group and Grothaus 2 with the second one.”
Hayden Powers noted, “The fans came to watch us play and we couldn’t have had a better sponsor than the Grothaus Trucking family.”
For Sam Powers, it was much the same.
“We drew the crowd,” he said. “People we didn’t know would follow our team from field to field. Our girls hit the ball like men and our guys never made outs.”
The team also won a National Softball Association title and holds the distinction of winning ASA and NSA championships the same year. Grothaus Trucking also finished fourth in the National ASA Co-Ed championships at Moore Park nine years ago. Lloyd’s Softball of Haubstadt, Ind., won the 24-team tournament, the only time Alton has played host to the national finals.
“We played good defense and the guys had a lot of power,” Jim Powers said, referring to the team’s strengths. “We had a lot of players come and go.”
Names such as Shaun Watson, Mike Kuhn, Steve Homer, Tom and Jim Guthrie, John Ducey, Justin Atwood, Art Jackson, Wayne Habermehl, Mo Moss, Scott Hamilton, Hank Dunham, Shauna Holcmann and Lindsey Bonnell, among many others, come to mind.
“It really didn’t matter who was playing or who was sitting,” Hayden Powers said, “because every person was unselfish and would have done the same thing. And our girls were as good as there ever were in women’s softball.
“It was truly a remarkable run.”
Make that a fun run, Sam Powers said. “ASA Co-Ed state, with this group, was without question the most fun I’ve ever had playing softball.”
Jim Powers pointed out, “We really enjoyed it because it was one time a year when the kids and the others could all play together.”
And when they played, opponents took note. Grothaus Trucking was the team to beat.
“I think the other teams acknowledged that we were a premium team,” Jim Powers said. “A lot of people wanted to play us to see how they measured up against us.”
Come April 9, the Truckers will get an opportunity to measure themselves against other Hall of Famers in a time to toast their success.
“So far, we have between 25 to 40 players and spouses going that night,” Jim Powers said.
They will relive the past, embrace the present and perhaps look to the future.
“After 2012, that was more or less the end of Grothaus Trucking as a co-ed softball team,” Jim Powers said. “The guys went their way and the girls went their way.”
Does the future hold more than a reunion?
“Who knows? With the grandsons and granddaughters, we might have a Grothaus 3 someday,” Jim Powers quipped.
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