By PAUL PETERSON
For the Gazette
CHASSELL - The Chassell women's softball team that captured a Class D state championship in 1972 will hold a reunion this coming weekend.
Playing as the Butch's Standard team in 1972, the club compiled a 12-0 record in league play, then defeated nemesis Calumet in the playoffs.
The team then went though qualifying rounds unbeaten, earning them a trip to downstate Coldwater.
They won the state title with wins over Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, plus two victories over defending state champion Charlevoix.
"We were going to hold a reunion before this, but have never gotten around to it," longtime Chassell softball player/manager Millie Pyorala said. "We're not spring chickens anymore ... some of the former players are grandmothers now."
The team will hold its reunion during the Chassell Strawberry Festival and will march in the event's parade. An exhibit detailing the acccomplishments of the team will be on display at the Chassell Heritage Center this weekend and throughout the summer.
Pyorala said that many of the members of the team will be on hand for the reunion.
"It's tough to get everyone here because of travel and other committments," she said. "But a good number of them are planning on being present."
The state championship by the team sparked an incredible run, including 73 straight victories between 1972 and 1978.
An even more impressive number was the 183-12 mark compiled between 1972 and 1986 by the team.
"I think the main reason we did so well was that we really concentrated on the fundamentals," said Pyorola, who started out as a catcher-infielder and ended up as a very effective pitcher herself. "We worked hard on playing the game the right way."
The Copper Country Women's Softball League was started in 1969 and the late Butch Burkman sponsored the team.
But a tough Calumet team - led by veteran pitcher Holly McCullah -- thwarted Chassell in the beginning.
"She (McCullah) had such excellent stuff," Pyorala noted. "She kept the ball low all the time and frustrated us. But we finally solved her in 1972 and we kept going in the playoffs."
Butch's beefed up for the downstate trip by picking up two players, Denise Porath and Candy Swetkis from the Escanaba area.
Teams were then allowed to pick up a couple of players, and Porath and Swetkis were welcome additions.
Porath homered three times in the state tournament, while Swetkis was the winning pitcher in a key semifinal 9-8 win over Charlevoix. Lois Larson, the team's top hurler, had to come on in the final inning to get the final out, however.
Larson won three games in the tournament, baffling foes with her excellent control.
"Lois really could place the ball where she wanted to, "Pyorala said. "You just put the glove down ... and she would hit it."
The success of the team in the next two decades was helped by adding young players who developed into solid performers.
Solid coaching by Norm Schleussler and Don Eilola also played a big role. Pyorala also credited Chassell field groundskeeper Lenny Bussiere for his sterling work.
Members of the 1972 team were: Paulette Archambeau, Esther Bohto, Joyce Hietala, Judy Peltomaa, Gail Kotila, Annie Narba, Donna Byykkonen, Lois Larson, Chris Larson, Millie Pyorala, Gayle Peltomaa, Carol Tervo and Carol Peltomaa.