National fast softball championship in St. John’s helps ‘grow the game’, association says
A national fastball championship held in St. John’s over the weekend saw 18 teams land in the province, which sport advocates say is a boon for softball in Newfoundland and Labrador .
The 2022 Canadian Men’s Fastpitch and Men’s Masters Championship, hosted by Softball Newfoundland and Labrador, was held at the Caribou Memorial Softball Complex from August 31 to September 4.
For Softball NL, hosting the five-day tournament was a success, President Gary Corbett said.
« It provides an opportunity to really develop the game of fast softball in our province, » said Corbett.
« It gives the opportunity not only for fans to see the level, but also for underage people to be encouraged where they would like to be. »
The 37th annual championships were originally scheduled for 2020 but had to be postponed twice due to the pandemic.
The sporting event started with a total of 18 teams – 12 in the men’s and six in the masters. Of those 18 teams, four were from Newfoundland and Labrador: CoolBet Hitmen, The Big’s Physio and Co. and DC Galway Hitmen all competed in the men’s division, while East Coast Mortgage Brokers Hitmen played for the title in the division of masters.
All but The Big’s Physio and Co. appeared in championship games on Sunday.
Tournament director Ivan Hapgood says a few factors contribute to the national success of provincial teams.
« Our players now, I mean, they’re going to strong competitive tournaments. It’s definitely very important and they’re doing well. [acclimatized] to what’s going on, » Hapgood said.
« But the most important thing, I would say, over the years has been maintaining a strong senior and intermediate league here in the province. »
Corbett echoes this. He says the success of provincial players, both male and female, at the national and international levels also acts as an incentive for promising young players.
« They’re all role models, » Corbett said. « They’re not just here to play ball, they’re also out in the community with local associations, and with our association when called upon, to really provide a technical skill set to help young children get excited. for the game, to improve their skills and maybe they will be at the world level in the years to come. »
That and the high number of youth registrations have Corbett looking optimistically at the future of softball.
Corbett says the association also aims to build softball infrastructure across the province to further develop the sport, adding that hosting tournaments is an opportunity to do just that.
“Newfoundland and Labrador will host the Canada Summer Games in 2025, so the city started here trying to improve the facilities,” Corbett said.
« We would like to have the facility in every way at some of the best in the country. And that takes time and it takes an investment of money…and hopefully through the Canada Games we get to that level. «
Local and visiting players, Corbett says, have already praised the amenities provided for this year’s national championships, such as massage, physio or the use of three courts in the nearby Techniplex.
East Coast Mortgage Brokers Hitmen lost the final game of the Masters Division to Saskatchewan’s Melfort 222.
For the men’s title, DC Galway Hitmen faced the Toronto Batmen in the final game of the championship. The Hitmen won the match, winning gold and defending their title.
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