Fatima 1990-1996 softball teams inducted to Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

By Neal A. Johnson, UD Editor
Posted 6/14/23

SPRINGFIELD   — Fatima softball players and teams from 1990-96 were celebrated for their dominance as they were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame last Wednesday.

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Fatima 1990-1996 softball teams inducted to Missouri Sports Hall of Fame


SPRINGFIELD  — Fatima softball players and teams from 1990-96 were celebrated for their dominance as they were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame last Wednesday.

Led by late head coach Rick Buersmeyer and assistant Becky Steffen, Fatima amassed an incredible 139-32 record over seven seasons, with three state titles (1991, 1995, 1996), a second-place finish (1990), and a third-place run (1994).

In accepting the honor on behalf of the Lady Comets, Steffen thanked retired Vienna coach Mick Byrd, who was inducted for his career at the helm of the Lady Eagles. “He helped me get to where I was, too,” she added.

Steffen also said that Angela Berhorst and Coach Buersmeyer were watching from above and probably laughing at who was making a speech. “It is well known that Mr. B did all the speaking, and I just handed out the awards, so I’ll do my best,” she said. “First, the girls and I want to congratulate all the inductees today. Second, we want to thank the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame for choosing our softball teams for this prestigious award. These are my girls, and I am so proud of them.”

When Fatima Athletic Director Matt Verslues gave Steffen the news that she and the players would be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, she said her first thought was how proud Coach B would be of all these girls, and especially his daughter Stacy, being one of these athletes.

“The second thing that came to mind was wow, what a super honor this is,” said Steffen, who, along with Buersmeyer, began coaching in 1989. “There are many stories, but one of my first memories was Mr. B telling me I would be overseeing the pitch-calling. Yet, he would be sitting right beside me saying, ‘Hey, Becky, I think it’s time for a change-up,’ or ‘Hey, it’s time for a rise ball. But I’m just thinking out loud; you do what you want. Mr. B passed away in 2008. He was not only a great coach but also a great teacher and friend. We also lost another part of our Lady Comets family in 1996 when Angela passed away.”

Steffen said she had always been competitive in softball and knew that she had met her match after seeing Berhorst at her first practice. “She was a team player and always went above and beyond the call, practicing or playing softball,” said Steffen. “She was one of our grittier players, too, meaning she would dive for any ball and slide headfirst into any base. Angela and Mr. B were dedicated to the success of our softball program, and we dearly miss them today.”

The 1991 championship was the first in any sport for the Comets, who beat Westran 1-0 in the Class 3 title game and finished 22-2.

That season came on the heels of a 2-1 loss to Putnam County in 1990’s Class 1-2 championship game.

The Lady Comets returned to the Final Four in 1994, defeating Macon 4-1 for third place.

In 1995, Fatima (23-3) defeated Lawson 9-0 for its second state title, and the following year, held off O’Hara 4-2 to cap the year at 23-5.

Fatima is the only Missouri team to win three softball state championships in the 90s, and the Lady Comets won at least 20 games in four seasons.

Fatima was knocked out in the sectional round in the Class 2 quarterfinal to end the 1992 campaign. The 1993 season was the only in the span that the Lady Comets did not win a district title.

In mid-May, several players from the area and Coach Steffen met with Cris Belvin of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame to share stories. “We don’t have time for all of them, but the girls mentioned how they liked how our teams played together during the summer, and we rode the bus together after every game,” said Steffen. “The key word here is ‘team,’ and these girls came together five times in the state playoffs to demonstrate that teamwork. These athletes worked hard at practice and always came ready to play on game day. Each one of them had a role in all these Final Four teams. These ladies are so deserving of being honored, not only for their hard work and dedication to the Lady Comets softball program but also for how they represented Fatima High School.

“Being a part of the Lady Comets softball program was awesome for me,” she continued. “However, the best part was the relationships I have made over the years. I even pitched to some of these ladies’ daughters at the beginning of this past school year. It was a blast and brought back so many memories, and a little achy too. By the way, the 2022 Lady Comets softball team won state this year, too, so I guess the apples don’t fall far from the trees. So in closing, thank you again for recognizing our Fatima softball teams. Thank you to the parents for all their support throughout the years and the administration from the school. And thank you, ladies for the great softball fun and memories you’ve provided our school and communities. Mr. B would say this is a great day to be a Comet.”

Stacey Buersmeyer Rademan called the induction special, but not for herself; mostly, she thinks it’s special for her dad and very good friend, Ang Berhorst, who passed away before the start of her senior year. “I don’t think you could say that there was anyone more passionate about the game and the team than those two people,” she added. “They both absolutely loved the game, and they loved being a Fatima Comet. It also means a lot to me to see all the hard work and dedication put into each game by each of the Fatima Lady Comets, to be recognized and honored for that special time in history. I played softball for a lot of years and on a few different teams throughout the years, and I can honestly say that there were no teammates more passionate about the team and the game than the Fatima Lady Comets. My dad used to always refer to this area as ‘Softball Country,’ and I think that still holds true today.”

In the HOF publication provided by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Rademan explained that the goal each year was to make it to the state tournament. The Lady Comets accomplished this by making routine plays and working together in every aspect of the game.

She said her experience was the same as everyone else, even as the coach’s daughter. “The team was all pretty close, and I felt like the same was expected of each player: hard work and respect,” she said. “By the time I got to high school, some of my friends and I had been playing softball together for over five years, and my dad was also the coach of those teams. Being an only child, I always had friends at the house, and most of them were my friends from the softball fields. Because of this, my dad was pretty close to a lot of the softball ladies. By the time we all got to high school, relationships were pretty strong, and in my opinion, we were all treated the same and had the same things expected of us.”

Angie Bax Woodruff agreed, noting that players grew up playing summer ball together through junior high and high school. Everyone practiced together and knew their roles, she added.

She added that while expectations on the field and in practice were high, off the field, there were lots of laughs. “We were a close team; I felt that as both a freshman and a senior on those Final Four teams,” said Rademan. “I feel like my dad and Coach Steffen worked hard to create an atmosphere of teamwork, respect, the willingness to work hard, and the ability to laugh at yourself when the time came. Our coaches were able to create this atmosphere because they were both so passionate about the game, the program, and the players. Passion isn’t something one learns; they have it, or they don’t, I believe. And our coaches were passionate about each player. They made sure they walked away not only learning the game but also becoming both a better player and person. I would think that each of those players also felt like both of their coaches truly cared for them as a person.”

Myra Dickneite Verslues said Coach Buersmeyer not only cared very much for the players but also trusted them. “He was an amazing coach,” she added.

Woodruff said Coach Buersmeyer led in a way that was both fun and understanding of the fact there was work to do. She said everything was important, regardless of the score, while the game was being played. Off the field, he joked with the Lady Comets, which endeared them to him.

Other players from that era were Joyce Luebbering Brandt, Jerri Boehm Wildhaber, Bobbi Huhn Price, Rachel Stuecken Crowe, Dawn Rehagen Kliethermes, Renee Berhorst Robinson, Amy Temmen Luebbering, Tammy Redel Massman, Lori Evans Buscher,  Anne Orscheln Nelson, Marla Dickneite Robertson, Elisha Bonnot, Leigh Anne Crede Martin, Janice Brunnert Loeffelman, Jennifer Poettgen Polly, Lana Strope Van Loo, Dawn Rehagen Kliethermes, Stacey Berhorst Murray, Tammy Redel Massman, Theresa Schulte Lewis, Vanessa Peters Stuckenschneider, Michelle Fick Innis, Pam Schaeffer Harrison, Ruth McCurdy Kloeppel, Barb Kliethermes Herigon, Kristi Beck Brune, Debbie Pope Graham, Kristina Scheulen, Jessi Hollis Thompson, Tracy Berhorst, Beth Linnenbrink, Nicole Stratman, Gina Vanderfeltz Steele, Jenny Luebbert, Shawn Koerber Luetkemeyer, Stacey Williams Fick, Amy Scheulen Sankey, Bethany Crowe Neuner, Kelli Nilges Bertels, Lisa Plassmeyer Kremer, Jennifer Samson Morgan, Lindsey Stegeman Thomas, Kate Dothage Rockwood, LeAnn Backes Kampeter, Jennifer Haller Oliver, Erin Oliver Fick, Erin Peters Kliethermes, Carrie Johnson Driskell, Kelly Kliethermes, Marcie Rehagen Struemph, Erin Oliver Fick, Chrissie Stratman, Stephanie Huhn, Shelley Stegeman, and Jenny Samson Morgan. Representing the late Angela Berhorst were her parents, Kaye and Lynn Stacey.