As part of three championship teams in August, Shane Boland, still just 21, accomplished more in one month than most softball players could hope for over an entire career on the diamond.
“I think about the accomplishments, but it’s still hard to believe we came away with a win from all these big tournaments,” says Boland..
“It was a great month.”
The Goulds product’s historic month began with him helping the Kelly’s Pub Junior Canadians claim a national junior men’s title in Owen Sound, Ont. With a pair of hits — including a home run — Boland was named the top player in the championship game as he collected his second national junior crown, having won in 2009 with a group of Junior Canadians teammates who were much older than he was at the time.
“They weren’t really close friends,” he said of the 2009 team, “but when we won this year it was with my own group of buddies and it meant so much to me that they got to experience what it felt like.”
Immediately following the junior nationals, Boland hopped a flight for Midland, Mich., and the International Softball Congress World Tournament, where he joined his brother, Ryan, and St. John’s Molson Senior Men’s Softball League counterpart Sean Cleary on the Jarvis, Ont., Travelers, the defending ISC world tourney champs
And while Boland, an ISC circuit rookie this summer, didn’t play a major role with the team, he did figure to the team successfully defending its title by scoring the winning run while pinch-running for Ryan Wolfe in the eighth inning of the championship game against the Hill United Chiefs.
“To be in those type of games, you have to step your level up to its peak and you’ve always got to be there because everyone’s a class act,” Boland says. “At 21-years-old, to be in the championship game as part of the Jarvis Travelers was amazing.
“I can’t wait for next season to start.
After returning home for five days to catch his breath, Boland was packing his bat and glove once again, this time bound for Fredericton, N.B., with the 3Cheers Pub, one of three Newfoundland entries for the national senior softball championships.
Boland played in six of the team’s nine games at nationals, and while he wasn’t involved in the rain-shortened championship clincher, the versatile player felt honoured to be part of the first Newfoundland team to win a national senior crown.
“We thought it was our time to make a good run and go win this tournament and things worked out in our favour
“That was a big one.”
Boland is believed to be the first Canadian softball player to win an ISC, junior national and senior national championship team in the same season.
In Fredericton, Boland got the opportunity to play with is softball hero, player-coach Colin Abbott, maybe the best softball player this province has produced..
“He was the best hitter in the world for years and years and the little things he can tell you go a long way, whether it’s the spin of the ball, the muscle movement in the arm, how to pick pitches,” Boland says of the future Hall of Famer.
“The way he plays the game is the way I want to play and the way I think softball should be played.
“I wish I could play with him more. Hopefully he keeps playing because he’s still phenomenal.”
If Boland’s game continues to develop, it’s likely that his own softball career path could mirror that of Abbott’s, which would give him the chance to live out a boyhood dream of one day representing Canada at the International Softball Federation world championship. In fact, he’s already eyeing a roster spot for the 2015 event in Saskatoon.
In the meantime, he’s got one more title to win this season — a St. John’s Molson intermediate league crown with Goulds.
While it may not carry the prestige of an ISC championship, it would be special as this will his last season at the intermediate level. On top of that, the team is coached by Boland’s father, Dave.
“He’s been chasing a title now for quite a while,” Boland said of his father, “so we’ll get the boys hyped for this and go get it for him.”
Before saying goodbye to the intermediate ranks, though, Boland made one more piece of history by becoming the first player in the league’s eight-year history to win the triple crown of batting with a .512 batting average, nine home runs and 23 RBI.