Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Softball Napanee and the host Express team stepped up to the plate to host this week’s 2022 Canadian U20 Men’s Fast Pitch Championship from Tuesday to Sunday.
Already scheduled to host the 2023 national tournament, which remains the same, Napanee took on this year’s hosting duties as well when Newfoundland had to bow out due to logistical issues.
“It’s very exciting that we can take it on short notice, but it’s also very exciting to hear the buzz in the town and the local support,” said U20 Express coach Cory Brooks, who’s anticipating large attendance numbers. “What I keep saying to my guys is the amount of people showing up aren’t going to be putting pressure on you. They’re here to support you. That’s a big thing playing in your hometown with as many people that are going to show up here. I don’t think many of my players have played with that much of a crowd. It’s going to be a little different for them, but very exciting.”
Participating teams are: Ontario 1 – Tavistock Athletics, Ontario 2 – Simcoe Rostock Braves, Ontario 3 – Hagersville Heat, Saskatchewan 1 – Rosebud Junior Royals, Saskatchewan 2 – Saskatoon Selects, Team Quebec, Nova Scotia – Unamaki Blue Whites as well as the Napanee Express, which placed second at the provincial elimination tournament, but is entered in the host slot.
Brooks says the core of his team has been together for a long time and have experience in winning the 2019 national championship in Saskatoon at the midget level and last year captured the U19 Eastern Canadian title in New Brunswick.
Napanee Express team members are: Jacob Boutilier, Connor Brooks, Aiden Cloet, Dylan Hehn Joseph Mick, Robbie Baker, Tyler Branchard, Reese Martin, Tyler Franklin, Bryson Gilpin, Gavin Gibbons, Aiden Reddick, Quinton Pierce, Gavin Brooks and Brad Barker.
Joining Cory Brooks on the coaching staff are: Jamey Micks, Brent Barker, Shawn Cloet and Ryan Reynolds.
A great combination of stellar hitting in pitching depth should serve the Express well this week.
“We have some very, very high-end talented guys with us. Our core has been together for a great number of years,” coach Brooks said, adding they started indoor workouts in January before moving onto the field in May. “Their commitment to the game is second-to-none.
Brooks expects a battle to the end, especially from rival Tavistock, though is confidence the Express will be a medal contender.
“Hopefully we’re there,” he said. “It’s whatever team gets hot and on a roll for the week.”
The winner of Saturday night’s playoff game at 6 p.m. between the top two teams coming out of round-robin play will advance directly to Sunday afternoon’s championship final.
Tickets for the Canadian championship at the Napanee Fairgrounds are $50 for a full tournament pass and will be available at the park. Day passes are also available for $10 on weekdays and $15 this weekend. Ages 12-and-under will be admitted free.
TEAMS: Ontario 1 – Tavistock Athletics, Ontario 2 – Simcoe Rostock Braves, Ontario 3 – Hagersville Heat, Saskatchewan 1 – Rosebud Junior Royals, Saskatchewan 2 – Saskatoon Selects, Team Quebec, Nova Scotia – Unamaki Blue Whites, Host – Napanee Express
Tuesday, Aug, 2
Game 1: Tavistock vs Rosebud at 10:30 a.m.
Game 2: Napanee vs Unamaki at 11:30 a.m.
Game 3: Rostock vs Saskatoon at 1 p.m.
Game 4: Hagersville vs Quebec at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 3
Game 5: Quebec vs Rosebud at 10 a.m.
Game 6: Rostock vs Tavistock at 11 a.m.
Game 7: Napanee vs Saskatoon at 1 p.m.
Game 8: Hagersville vs Unamaki at 2 p.m.
Game 9: Tavistock vs Quebec at 4 p.m.
Game 10: Rosebud vs Rostock at 5 p.m.
Game 11: Hagersville vs Napanee at 7 p.m.
Game 12: Unamaki vs Saskatoon at 8 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 4
Game 13: Rostock vs Unamaki at 10 a.m.
Game 14: Saskatoon vs Tavistock at 11 a.m.
Game 15: Quebec vs Napanee at 1 p.m.
Game 16: Rosebud vs Unamaki at 2 p.m.
Game 17: Rostock vs Hagersville at 4 p.m.
Game 18: Quebec vs Saskatoon at 5 p.m.
Game 19: Napanee vs Tavistock at 7 p.m.
Game 20: Hagersville vs Rosebud at 8 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 5
Game 21: Rosebud vs Saskatoon at 10:30 a.m.
Game 22: Unamaki vs Quebec at 11 a.m.
Game 23: Napanee vs Rostock at 1 p.m.
Game 24: Saskatoon vs Hagersville at 2 p.m.
Game 25: Tavistock vs Unamaki at 4 p.m.
Game 26: Quebec vs Rostock at 5 p.m.
Game 27: Rosebud vs Napanee at 7 p.m.
Game 28: Hagersville vs Tavistock at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 6
*tie breakers if necessary
C2: 4th vs 5th at 1 p.m.
CC1 (if no tiebreaker): 7th vs 8th at 2 p.m.
C3: 3rd vs 6th at 3:30 p.m.
C1: 1st vs 2nd at 6 p.m.
C4: Winner C2 vs Winner C3 at 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 7
C5: Winner C4 vs Loser C1 at 11 a.m.
C6: Winner C1 vs Winner C5 at 2 p.m.