Area residents honored for softball achievements

Published 1:29 am Saturday, September 18, 2010

Two local fast-pitch softball pitchers will be elected to the Minnesota Sports Federation Hall of Fame Oct. 22 at the Monterey Ballroom in Owatonna, Minn.

Rolf Synoground, a pitcher from Austin, and Harlan Jacobson, a pitcher from Hayfield both received an induction.

Synoground pitched on Austin teams for years and was one of the most dominant pitchers in the state.

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“He was one of the better pitchers there was,” said Al Eckman, who caught for Synoground. “It was a pleasure for me to be able play with him.”

Eckman, who will be inducted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Oct. 9 in the Sheraton in West Minneapolis at 6:30 p.m., went on to coach Synoground’s daughters Kim and Jane to back-to-back state titles in 1980 and 1981.

In all, Eckman led the Packers to five state tournament appearances, three state titles and one runner-up finish at state in 14 years of coaching. He started the program in 1977.

“I’ve received a lot of awards, but when you get one for working with kids and teaching them, that tops it,” Eckman said. “It’s the most special award I’ve ever received.”

Jacobson has been a fast-pitch hurler for 50 years. After watching fast-pitch leagues while growing up near Fillmore, he took on the sport in 1960 and hasn’t looked back.

“I don’t know why my shoulder and arm haven’t gone out,” Jacobson, who now lives in Kasson, said. “I exercise a lot and do a lot of physical work.”

Jacobson led the Frontier Lounge of Hayfield to a Class ‘C’ state title in 2006 and he pitched a one-hit shutout in the 2005 World Series of softball.

Jacobson also played for the Black Sox of St. Charles and was Co-MVP on a ‘D’ state championship team in 2007.

His favorite memory is winning tournament MVP in of the 32-team invite in Mankato in the 1973-1974 season and he’s still looking to make some more memories.

“As long as I’m competitive, I’m playing,” he said. “I’ve played on a lot of good teams over the years.”