International & NPF

Eight inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame

Release and Image from USA Softball

SPARKS, Nev. — The National Softball Hall of Fame welcomed eight new members as USA Softball held its 39th Annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. With nearly 500 friends, family members and administrators from all across the country in attendance, the ceremony honored the accomplishments, history-making moments and milestones of the eight inductees who helped shape the sport of softball.

Inducted in the 2019 class were: Rick Havercroft (Umpire), Britt Hightower (Slow Pitch Player), Warren Jones (Meritorious Service), Tony Laws (Meritorious Service), Jessica Mendoza (Fast Pitch Player), Mike Nye (Slow Pitch Player), Ron Parnell (Slow Pitch Player) and Joey L. Rich (Commissioner).

Read more about each inductee below:

Rick Havercroft (Saginaw, Mich.) – Umpire
When you hear the name Rick Havercroft, the first thing you think of is men’s fast pitch.  A product of the Michigan umpire program, Havercroft was the guy you wanted on the field during a Championship Game – not only for his knowledge of the rules and his mechanics, but because of the respect he earned from the players and coaches.  At the grassroots level, Havercroft umpired countless State tournaments in addition to nine Men’s Major, a Women’s Class A and Men’s 40-Over Fast Pitch Championships.  His ability to command the game led to an assignment at the 1996 WBSC Men’s World Championship and when USA Softball held the inaugural American Challenge Series in 2007, Havercroft was one of the first to receive the call.  When he stepped away from the plate, Havercroft instilled his knowledge and experiences with the next generation of umpires, continuing the standard of excellence he helped contribute to.  His efforts both on and off the field have earned him the title of Hall of Famer.

Britt Hightower (Houston, Texas) – Slow Pitch Player
Dedication. Defense. Teammates. Love for the game.  Long ball slugger Britt Hightower credits all four with the success he had in a storied playing career that began in 1984.  It wasn’t uncommon for Hightower to be seen at the park following a strict batting practice routine that included hitting anywhere from 200-300 balls per day.  That dedication to his performance at the plate could only be matched by his ability to play defense.  Considered by many to be one of the top five outfielders to ever play the game of slow pitch softball, Hightower put a lot of emphasis on his work in the field knowing that one missed play could result in an offensive surge for your opponent.  Playing with the legendary Ritch’s Superior for the majority of his elite playing career, Hightower credits former teammates and friends with instilling a preparation mentality that led to his continued success.  Preparation was a key to his success as he lauds five USA Softball Super Slow Pitch National Championship titles and is a six-time First Team All American.

Ultimately, a love for the game and the friendships that the game brings are what Hightower will remember the most when reflecting upon his career.  “I won’t play softball forever,” he once stated, “but I will always have the friends that I have made in softball for a lifetime.”

Warren Jones (Ashland, Ohio) – Meritorious Service
Warren Jones’ dedication to USA Softball hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Little did he know when he first started playing at the age of 12 that he would embark upon a journey that would land him titles such as Player Rep, Committee Chair, Team Leader, Commissioner and eventually President.  Jones bleeds “USA Softball blue” through and through, with his love for the organization evident to those around him.  As a player and manager, Jones participated in four Men’s Major and 10 Class A Fast Pitch National Championship Finals.  His first role as a USA Softball Council Member came in 1986 when he was appointed an At-Large Player Rep and as the saying goes – the rest is history.  In his 33 years of service, Jones has served as Chair of the Legislative, Boys’/Men’s Fast Pitch and the Men’s National Team Selection Committees while also stepping up as a Team Leader for the 2003 and 2015 Men’s National Teams that competed at Pan American Games and various competitions for the Junior Men’s and Women’s teams.  In 2006, Jones was selected as the Commissioner for the state of Ohio and helped steer the association into an era of stability and excellence in hosting USA Softball National Championship Finals.  In 2016, Jones became the first African-American President for USA Softball and served a two-year term and under his guidance, USA Softball continued to be the leader in the sport of softball.  Jones’ efforts to grow the sport of softball, particularly men’s fast pitch, has left an impact on the organization that has earned him a Hall of Fame honor. 

Tony Laws (Burlington, N.C.) – Meritorious Service
District Commissioner, Tournament Director, Team Leader and State Commissioner.  Those are just a few of the titles that Tony Laws has held with USA Softball.  Starting as a District Commissioner in 1969, Tony’s dedication to the game of softball is evident through his 50-plus years of service.  First joining the USA Softball Council in 1986, Laws has served on numerous Committees, including Equipment Testing & Certification, Legislative, Long Range Planning, Tournament Awards and Seniors and Masters to name a few.  His ability to lead and organize events came to fruition in 2000 when he served as Team Leader for the United States Men’s National Team at the World Championship in South Africa.  Two additional Team Leader appointments came in 2002 with the Women’s National Team and 2003 for the Junior Women’s National Team at their respective World Championships.  In 2005, Laws became the Commissioner of North Carolina, a position he continues to hold today.  What truly stands out amongst Laws’ accomplishments is the growth of the Senior Slow Pitch, which annually has its National Championship in his hometown of Burlington, N.C.  Laws’ continually displays exemplary leadership and his involvement has truly made a difference for USA Softball. 

Jessica Mendoza (Camarillo, Calif.) – Fast Pitch Player
If one were to research the accolades that two-time Olympian Jessica Mendoza earned throughout her playing career, the results would never end.  A career with the United States Women’s National Team that spanned 10 years, Mendoza made an immediate impact for the U.S. offense.  With the ability to hit for power and average while also using her speed in the short game, Mendoza consistently hit over .300 while holding down the three-hole spot in the lineup.  Mendoza was a part of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Softball Team that absolutely dominated the Athens Olympic Games, a feat which helped earn a spot in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame with her teammates.  With an Olympic Gold and Silver Medal, three World Championship titles and two Pan American Games Gold Medals, the medals speak for themselves – but it is her willingness to inspire the future generation of athletes and create opportunities for females in sports that stands out.  After hanging up her cleats following the 2010 season, Mendoza continued her role as an ambassador for the game, holding the position of President for the Women’s Sports Foundation.  These days, you can see Mendoza in the broadcast booth.  Beginning her analyst role for NCAA Softball, Mendoza’s ability to resonate with audiences ultimately landed her another milestone – making history as the first female analyst for a Major League Baseball game.       

Mike Nye (Jacksonville, Fla.) – Slow Pitch Player
Mike Nye learned from an early age what it took to win games.  Getting his start in softball at the age of 12 after playing pickup for his brother’s team, Nye got his first taste of upper level slow pitch softball four years into his playing career and never looked back.  Winning his first National Championship in 1976 with Warren Motors, Nye earned MVP accolades after hitting .793, a noteworthy accomplishment considering there was no limit on the pitching arc.  A 12-time USA Softball All-American during his 25-year career at the Major level, Nye accumulated 12 USA Softball National titles – including two in 1989 in the Super and Major divisions.  With lightning-fast speed, Nye is considered by many to be the greatest pure hitter that ever played and gave everything he had on both sides of the ball.  “I like to play the game the way it is supposed to be played,” he once told fellow Hall of Famer Mike Macenko.  “Take that extra base, break up that double play and always think positive.”  Playing every game like it was his last, that mentality fostered a passion for the game that can only be described with one word – winner.

Ron Parnell (Highland, Calif.) – Slow Pitch Player
In slow pitch softball, you need a good fielder at shortstop, and according to many, there were none better at that position than Ron Parnell. Between 1983 and 1999, Parnell made a name for himself playing on teams of legend: Steele’s Sports and Ritch’s Superior. In total, Parnell played on seven USA Softball Super National Championship squads and three runner-up teams. He batted .675 and smashed over 2,000 home runs while nine times being named a USA Softball All-American (1986-1988, 1992-1996, 1999). Once his career playing at the highest level in slow pitch softball came to an end, Parnell continued to play at the senior level where he continued his dominating play. Parnell earned All-American accolades at the Men’s 40-Over Slow Pitch National Championship three times (2007-2008, 2012) and once at the Men’s 45-Over Slow Pitch National Championship (2008) while leading his teams to National Championship titles in all but one of those All-American performances. Regarded as one of the most prolific power-hitting shortstops in the game, Parnell’s name will go down in slow pitch softball history.

Joey L. Rich (Springfield, Mo.) – Commissioner
Joey Rich has spent the last 40-plus years to the game of softball at a variety of levels.  Whether on the field as an umpire or off it as an administrator, his leadership has made a resounding difference.  First registering as an umpire in 1973, Rich worked tirelessly within the Missouri association to grow and develop the game at the local level.  Using his knowledge for the rules of the game, Rich took his efforts to the National level after being appointed an At-Large Player Rep for the National Council in 1987.  He continued to rise through the ranks of the organization, which landed him the role of Commissioner in 2003.  Since that time, he has gone on to hold leadership roles with several Committees, ultimately landing him a spot on the Board of Directors before culminating with his two-year term as President.  With a personality to match his love and passion for the game, Rich has earned the respect of his peers and has left a positive impact on USA Softball that will last for years to come.

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