4 bases, 3 Outs, 1 Erie

Tyne Willert (Reeves) defines Erie Softball.


Morgan Walje, Staff Writer & Photographer

Softball is a modified form of baseball played on a smaller field with a larger ball and underarm pitching. The game evolved during the late 19th century from a form of indoor baseball.

That is the definition of the so called game of “softball” but if you have ever felt the bright, yellow ball that is thrown around the diamond, you would know that the name of that ball is incorrectly associated with the object. Instead of me giving you the definition of the overall game of softball, Tyne Willert is an exemplary showcase of what it is like to play softball in Erie.

Willert played high school softball from 2002- 2006. Willert not only brought legacy to third base but to her jersey number, nine with her unstoppable sense of softball and her unbelievable amount of softball talent.

Coaches Bob Bledsoe and Dan Mestas are only a few examples of the continuous dedication brought into the softball program at Erie High that impacted Willert. Not only did they show dedication to the town and the school but to the many players that were coached under them.

Bledsoe started coaching in 1975 and is currently still coaching, 28 of those years have been spent at Erie and 21 spent coaching SB . Bledsoe has coached multiple sports, and for more than a few schools, (with a preference for Baseball) but was more than happy to take a twist as a result of an open hire position.

Mestas also has a long coaching history with quite a few years and a few different schools. Most of his years have been spent coaching, not only softball, but a few other sports including Basketball and Baseball for Erie. Mestas is currently still making a coaching impact of Erie’s softball program.

Every coach is different, but the best of these two coaches motivated this team to succeed more than was needed for contentment among Erie High. Bledsoe and Mestas brought platinum characteristics to their team starting from the roots of this softball program.

“My method was to try to motivate them and teach them the value of giving their best effort every day, every practice and every game. I felt with that attitude they would become productive adults, husbands, wifes and parents.” stated Bledsoe. Bledsoe and Mestas brought more that just softball skills to the diamond. These skills were not only used on the field but skills that would be used to improve their lives outside of the diamond.

With Bledsoe as the Erie High Softball Coach and Mestas as Assistant Coach by his side, many students and players were affected by their impactful coaching and teaching. Willert, being only one of many that were influenced by such strong ethics and morals these coaches brought to the program, benefited not just in her high school experience but these lessons continue to positively impact many of her life experiences.

It takes every puzzle piece to make a whole puzzle and that was definitely proven through the Erie High Softball Program but Tyne Willert brought a whole new perspective to Erie Softball.  Willert made the puzzle a whole and that couldn’t have been the case without her. “None of my players were “just another player”, they were all special to me, each in their own way.” quotes Bledsoe.

No, she wasn’t the player with the most runs batted in, home runs or plays made at base but she had something no other player had. Willert may not have been the most important piece of the puzzle but she brought something to the puzzle that no other play could.

Tyne Willert played softball all four years of high school, both Junior Varsity and Varsity. As Willert’s athletic career progressed, she earned a starting position at third base, due to her willingness to work hard recalls both of her coaches.

As Willert recalls it, Erie High School made the championship bracket all four of her high school years, only three of which she played in, as she was out on injury her Junior year due to a traumatic dog bite to the ankle the night before the championship game at the night before banquet dinner. Willert was immediately rushed to the emergency room to receive stitches and be casted, putting her out of the bracket game for good. After a long and traumatic night, Willert still went and supported her team in the championship game.

This was a shock to not only Bledsoe and Mestas, the entire team was devastated to have lost their starting third baseman due to the injury. “How do you replace an important starting position the night before the championship game and expect to still play like you practiced? You can’t, but we did what we could and that had to be enough.” quoted Mestas. The team pulled a championship win that same year. “Dogs give us that championship luck.” quoted Mestas.

Willert calls Erie her hometown as she has lived most of her life here. A childhood filled with softball has certainly influenced her decision to play softball from an early age along with having a family with such a strong love for the game. It gave her no choice to only love the game as well.

As Willert, now known as Reeves, has two kids of her own and two more on the way, she only hopes they have the same sweet and savory love of the game as well. “I would love nothing more than for my kids to love the game I grew up loving.” quoted Willert.

Softball has impacted not only the players but the town of Erie in more than one way. Softball has given legacy and a future of more than the past has already brought. The support given to the Erie High Softball Program, by not only the coaches, teachers, connected family and friends but the whole community, has certainly given the town of Erie a stronger sense of  home.

“To me coaching is an extension of the classroom.” quoted Mestas. Coaching is so much more than just a job. “You don’t just coach to coach” implied both coaches. Bledsoe and Mestas both also value their coaching as much as they value their classroom.

Athletics make an impact on academics, some find that students do better in school when playing sports. Athletics are a distraction and an output from the stress built up from high school academics and/or conflict.

“If I could change anything about my High School experience it would be to focus more in school, to be more, to have an opportunity for more.” quoted Willert. High school can be overwhelming but it’s how you decide deal with the overwhelming part that gives you the advantage. You have to think of the play before you decide to play it, same goes with academics.

“It’s all in the fundamentals.” quoted Mestas. The fundamentals is what makes an ordinary player a good one. You always have to start somewhere in order to get somewhere else. Depending on where you start always determines how far you have to go.

Willert showed hardwork and worked harder disregarding the fundamentals she started with. Hard work pays off and with a showcase from Willert and her team there was nothing they couldn’t work towards. ‘The team is always the most important part of the game, we didn’t always get along but in the end there is no other team I would rather play with.” quoted Willert.

Have you ever heard the common expression: There is no “I” in team? Many coaches use that expression to try and associate teams to present teamwork but is that really the best way to associate a team? “Sure there is always someone or something the team can improve on but the team will better for itself.” quoted Willert.

Every player is unique therefore when you lose a player, the team doesn’t function as it should or as it would have with that player. Therefore every player needs to be coached in a slightly different way compared to the rest. Bledsoe and Mestas believe that their connection with the players impacts their performance and impacts the overall team.

“Young people do not attend school to become an athlete, they attend to learn, experience and grow.” quoted Bledsoe. Athletes may be besides the way of academics but as much as some may not want to admit that everyone needs an output whether that be art, music or in this case a sport, that’s what makes us learn, experience and grow. Without that output, we live in a life that we my not want to continue to live. You just have to find what output fits you and that may take a couple of tries but when you find it, it will have been worth the wait.

Tyne Willert, under the influence of Bob Bledsoe and Dan Mestas, showcases what it is like to have had softball impact you as much as the Erie Softball Program did her. Willert was not considered the most prime player but she was a player that had an important puzzle piece that completed the puzzle. Her strength, motivation, hard work, effort and time put into softball only shows how much our community did not only invest in her but how much she invested in our community.