Men’s U23 Fastpitch National Championships start in Carp on shot three

The third time was the charm because the Canadian Men’s U23 Fast Pitch Championship at Carpe has finally started after two swings and misses caused by the pandemic.

The tournament at Carp Fairgrounds has been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Carp, just northwest of Kanata in the West Carleton-March neighborhood, was set to host both times after submitting a bid in 2018.

“It’s amazing, all of our hard work has come together and seen it all,” championship co-chair Erin Durant told Capital Current on Wednesday. “It’s just nice to know that the effort is worth it and the sacrifices we made have paid off.”

“Three years have passed and now we are standing here on a beautiful Tuesday evening.”

Jon Bergeron of the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club

Seven teams began their championship pursuit on Tuesday. The Ottawa Valley Chiefs are the hosts, while Owen Sound, Tavistock and Alvinston round out the Ontario-based squads.

The Saskatchewan team hails from Delisle, Saskatchewan, about 30 minutes southwest of Saskatoon. Quebec and Newfoundland round out the seven pools participating in Ottawa’s first national softball tournament since the 2005 women’s championship in Kars.

Stittsville last hosted the National Men’s Championship in Ottawa in 1998 for the U19 age level.

Matches on the first and second days were rarely quiet. Teammates shouted to support their batter or pitcher at the mound. After a home run, the teams emptied the dugout to line up for high-fives with the striker.

The sense of rallying in the ballpark reflects the efforts of the community organizers who organized the fastball tournament.

“I live around the corner. I can tell you that this place, this space where we are, has never looked like this,” said Jon Bergeron of the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club during the opening ceremonies on Tuesday night. “People who decided three or four years ago that this was something they wanted to contribute to our community – we’re not talking about people asking for anything in return. We are talking about a group of friends and volunteers who love this space, this game and this community.

The seven teams and referees joined elected officials and tournament organizers in the main diamond for the opening ceremony on Tuesday evening. [Photo courtesy of 2022 U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship]

Delisle Pride had to rely on community support after shipping their gear by courier instead of risking their luggage lost at airports. As of Wednesday, “he still hasn’t been located,” Durant said.

“The local softball community helped by bringing the bats in particular for them to borrow,” Durant said as Delisle faced Team Quebec in their third game, a 6-5 loss.

The Carp Agricultural Society, which runs the carp fair at the fairgrounds, has loaned its space for the referees to use as a changing room, Durant said. She also said Carp’s Huntley Community Association had applied for a grant to get a lead diamond scorecard.

Two softball fields.
A drone captured the two diamonds at Carp Fairgrounds, which will host 32 matches from August 2-7. [Photo courtesy of 2022 U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship]

The tournament organizers also created the “Never Give Up” award in recognition of the namesake hat campaign, launched by Travis Iverson and Iver Fashion. The company specializes in high quality, accessible fashion. Proceeds from hat sales are used to reduce the cost of “seated body” clothing.

The Never Give Up award “is given at the end of each game to a player who shows special courage or determination, or a very big effort in a losing game,” Durant said.

Durant said more visitors showed up on the first day than expected after the long weekend.

“You spend so much time working on it and your fear is, ‘Will anyone show up?’ Durant said. “It was very nice to see a full park.”

Kanata-Carleton MP Jenna Sudds told the crowd that the fastball tournament generates $1 million in economic spinoffs.

“Events like this just don’t happen,” Sudds said. “They are hard work and they also contribute a lot to our local economy.”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson echoed his statement.

“A million dollars of economic activity, and that’s just the voids,” Watson said.

The wait was worth it for tournament participants.

“Three years have passed and now we are here on a beautiful Tuesday evening,” said Bergeron.

The tournament continues until Sunday August 7, date of the semi-final and the final. Day passes are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Children 12 and under are free. Visitors can buy tickets on line or at the door. Parking is available at the W. Erskine Johnston Arena.

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