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The Burke 12-under softball teams is one of four region champions from Burke that will be heading to Sioux Falls for the state tournament.

BURKE girls looking to do DAMAGE with a little help from the BUZZARD
Jul 13, 2017

By Rich Winter

Alright so word travels fast when someone has a 12-year old 6-foot tall girl throwing HEAT at fast-pitch tournaments in South Dakota. Several times this year people have told me I need to check out Burke's Madelyn Cason because she is doing damage for her Burke team which is 20-1 on the season heading into this weekend's state tournament. 


But, how does the Panic Button in Mission find out about a 12-year old girl in Burke...Hmmmm? Ask someone from Burke....and Brian Sieh proved to be the perfect connection.


While my initial intention was to find out some information about Kassen, Sieh told me it was imperative that I talk to the BUZZARD!

"The Who," I asked?


"You don't know who the Buzzard is," came his reply.


After a brief introduction, I knew I was in for a treat when I eventually tracked down the Buzzard...


So, this Buzzard fella turns out to be one of the all-time past-pitching and softball legends in the history of the state of South Dakota. Probably a lot of folks here on the Rosebud remember the Buzzard coming to the reservation to pitch hundreds of games.


"Do you know Tuffy Lunderman," I asked him.

"Oh yeah, we used to have a big rivalry with the Rosebud Outlaws.


"I've probably pitched in over 1000 games," he told me via telephone. 

With no softball leagues in South Dakota, and an early love of anything hardball, Mr. Beckers started a league in Burke in the late 60's.


A long time coach, Beckers spoke of his daughter, the now Billie Jo Indahl, the Burke volleyball and golf coach who once pitched every pitch as the Burke girls won three straight state softball state tournaments in the 90's. 


Having been a part of baseball for what he calls 50 years, but having stepped away, kind of, for a few years, Beckers got back to coaching at the urging of his daughters. Didn't hurt that Indahl, has two daughters, one who is playing this year that needed some expert guidance. 


And so it is with that expert guidance that the Burke Royals teams leave for the South Dakota state tournament.


The 12-under team looks to have a shot to do extermely well in this tournament. Led by Cason on the hill, Burke is 20-1 on the season with the only loss coming in the finals of a big-time tournament in Pierre. 


About the 12-year old heat throwing phenom!!


"Madison is tall, about 6-feet and she's a lefty and I think that makes her even tougher," Beckers said. "She throws hard for that age in the 50-52 mile per hour range.


Cason, whose family moved to Burke from Texas about nine months ago, also plays on the Burke 14-under team. 


Becker's grand-daughter, Adisyn also plays on the 14-under and 12-under teams while playing third-base and pitching!


But, it's not just the 12-under team....girls softball in Burke is thriving. All told, all four Burke teams won their regional tournament which Beckers said is very uncommon and rarely happens. 


So, how does one keep interest at such a high level, somehow managing to get at least 50 girls from a town of 670 total people to participate in softball?



“I attribute it to the coaching, keeps the interest up with it, " Becker said. "Other towns struggle with it...attracting them to keeping them to want to play." 


So, how does one come upon the nickname of Buzzard? (I had to ask). "When I was a kid, someone said I was nothing but Buzzard bait, and it stuck." 


The Buzzard had an awesome honor this summer as the softball field in Burke was named the "Billy Buzzard Softball field."


Coulda talked to this man for hours....pleasure....Will be following these girls from Burke over the weekend and the Panic Button will be checking in.

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