Steve Mullaley — File photo
How quickly can you mend a broken heart? West Side Charlies Bud Light players will find out this weekend as they play in the Labatt provincial senior softball championships at Lions Park in St. John’s.
The provincial tourney comes less than a week after West Side’s heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Kitchener Twins in the championship game of the national softball championships last weekend in Owen Sound, Ont.
It was the only setback at the nationals for the Newfoundland team.
West Side outfielder Steve Mullaley, the national championship round-robin MVP, says it was tough to get up for the St. John’s league games this week, “but it won’t be tough to get up for provincials.”
“Because of the format of our tournament, you have to get up for it because not every team is going to make the playoffs and the outcome of this tournament determines who represents the province at nationals next year.”
Mullaley and his teammates desperately want to return to the Canadian championships given they way things went this year.
The Newfoundland club went undefeated through the round robin, posting a 7-0 record and earning a double life in the playoff round where they defeated New Brunswick and Quebec to advance to the championship. Kitchener, meanwhile, finished in last place with a 2-5 preliminary-round record, but still made the playoff round under Softball Canada’s tournament format.
West Side lost 4-3 in the title match.
“You have to take your hat off to them,” Mullaley says of the Twins “They won one (game) Saturday night and three on Sunday. When they put their full team in, they’re a tough team to beat.”
Still, Mullaley and West Side feel the national championship format needs to be re-evaluated to do one of two things; either allow the double life to apply to the championship game or limit the number of teams in the playoff round to the top four or six clubs.
“I don’t think they would have beaten us twice,” Mullaley says.
“If it was a double life in the final, we’d be champs right now.”
The Freshwater native says under the current format, “there’s no pressure of making the playoffs” because every team advances regardless of their round robin record thereby allowing some teams, particularly those on the mainland, to leave some players home until the playoff round begins later in the week.
“We might have been able to save ourselves $10,000 on hotels by sending up nine guys to play the round robin and then flying in other guys on Friday night to do the same thing (as Kitchener).
“I don’t think it’s unfair, but I wouldn’t do it because in my opinion, it’s the national chapmanship and every game should mean something.
“It’s the biggest softball tournament in Canada with the best ball players. What’s the sense of having a round robin if it doesn’t mean anything and you’re not going to put the best players on the field?”
Regardless of the rules and how Kitchener were able to take advantage of them, Mullaley says West Side didn’t get the job done when it counted.
“If you are the best team in the tournament, you should be able to win any game,” he says. “We don’t want to seem like we’re complaining or venting, they beat us in the final and we tip our hat to them.”
The provincial championships were to start Thursday evening, but were postponed due to rain and wet field conditions.
Play starts this evening at 6 p.m. with Bull & Finch Bar & Grill taking on Lafontaine Club Molson, an all-star team from the St. John’s intermediate league. That will be followed by an 8 p.m. meeting between Kelly’s Pub Junior Canadians and Imagewear Custom Apparel. The other teams competing in the single round robin tourney are the Kelly’s Pub Molson Bulldogs. The championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.