Coaches who cared, combined with a togetherness and friendship that’s still evident years later. Those were the secret ingredients behind Fatima High School’s softball success in the early-to-mid 90s.

Success also breeds more success. And the more Fatima won, the more the players wanted to keep winning. And did they ever.

From 1990-96, Fatima High School softball won three state championships, reached five Final Fours and recorded an overall record of 139-22. Coached by the late Rick Buersmeyer, the Comets were known for a stellar pitching staff and a lethal offense. That dominance is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted Fatima High School Softball’s 1990-96 Era as a member of the Class of 2023.

“The goal for each team, whether you were super talented or not, was to make it to state,” said former Comet and daughter of the late head coach Stacey Buersmeyer Rademan. “And we made it to state by making the simple, everyday plays. We didn’t play fancy ball, our signs were NOT complicated, we didn’t have individual superstars on the team.”

Of course, it helps when you’ve all been playing together since you were young.

“We all played together for all of those years. We grew up playing in junior high and summer ball,” Angie Bax Woodruff said. “We all knew our role. We practiced together all the time.”

Rademan agreed, giving credit also to the coaches who helped develop their talents.

“I remember playing town ball with girls two and three years older than me,” she said. “We also played together as a team during the summer. And I think because our coaches cared, we cared. I felt like our coaches just wanted to make each person that came out to play a better player.”

And no one cared more than Coach Buersmeyer. Though he passed away in 2008, his impact is still remembered.

“I wish so dearly he could be with us today,” Myra Dickneite Verslues said. “He was an amazing coach and so well-respected by the players. He had a presence about him. He trusted us.”“He was the leader,” Bax Woodruff said. “He did it in a way that made it fun, but we understood we were there to work. It was a priority. He was very intense. Everything mattered to him. Up by 10 or down by 1, everything was important. Everything was serious on the field, but off the field he cracked a lot of jokes.”

No team or program can be successful over the long term without significant community support. Fatima had plenty of that, as well.

“The sportswriter for our local county paper, Jim Vieth, wrote great articles about those games,” Marla Dickneite Robertson said. “It was like the reader was present. In the 90s everyone read the paper. Neighbors, family, church members followed. They seemed proud of our accomplishments.  If we went to state, I felt like everyone would come because they were proud of us.”

The togetherness that began so many years ago still exists today.

“Those players became your sisters and when you see them years later you are generally happy to see them and want to know they are doing well,” Dickneite Robertson said.

“I played softball with a handful of my teammates my entire childhood and even into college,” Buersmeyer Rademan said. “Those are some of the longest friendships and the most meaningful.”

One player who is never far from the hearts of Fatima players is Angela Berhorst, who died just before the start of what would have been her senior season.fatima

“And of course, I think of and miss one of my best friends, Ang, each and every day,” Buersmeyer Rademan said. “My kids know all about her, her passion, her drive and her ability to put a smile on anyone’s face, but still be able to muster up enough anger to throw a bat and helmet against the fence in the dugout after a tough at bat!”

And while Coach Buersmeyer and Berhorst aren’t here to enjoy the celebration of their successes, the rest of the team will celebrate in their honor.

“These ladies all worked hard, they were committed,” Buersmeyer Rademan said. “They bought into the idea that if you made the simple plays, if you worked hard, if you hustled, if you didn’t hang your head, if you used your glove instead of your chest, it would hurt a lot less.  Each and every one of these ladies deserve this honor.”