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Newfoundland and Labrador's softballers playing with heavy hearts at Canada Games


Winnipeg — As if they didn’t need enough motivation — this is the Canada Games, after all, and they are representing the province — the Newfoundland and Labrador men’s softballers are playing for their coaches Paul and Donny King, and teammate Mark King.

All three Kings are back in Newfoundland today — Mark, Donny’s son, is a first baseman with the team — having left Winnipeg Tuesday morning to return to their families following the death of their mother and grandmother Monday in Placentia.

Janette King was 73, and had been in ill health.

“I hope the boys keep it going,” Paul King said during a layover at Pearson Airport in Toronto Tuesday morning. “We want them to. They’re playing good ball.”

Jeff Kirk, who had been part of the team’s coaching staff, travelled from St. John’s to Winnipeg Monday night, and was on the field Tuesday morning for Newfoundland’s 9-1, five-inning win over P.E.I., and again in the evening in a 10-2 setback to Ontario, leaving Newfoundland 4-4 after four days of play.

Ironically enough, or perhaps sadly enough, Kirk had opted not to travel to the Games initially following the passing of his sister, Elizabeth Jane O’Donnell (or Jane Kirk to friends), last Monday.

“I was part of the coaching staff prior to the Games, but after my sister passed, I didn’t feel right about coming in that situation,” Kirk said. “You just don’t feel you’re able to come and leave your family in those conditions.

“And now with the Kings facing the very same scenario, I felt obligated to help out.”

Kirk admitted the coaches and their teammate were on the players’ minds Tuesday. The team has been together for a couple, or three years.

“There’s certainly a bit of an attachment there, and definitely a lot of sorrowful feelings for the family,” Kirk said.

“There’s extra motivation, for sure,” added outfielder Jordan Pomeroy. “We’re trying to do our best for Donny and Paul, and our teammate, as well.”

The day started on a good note as Mitch Stack and Brent Hatfield homered against P.E.I. to make a winner of Jordan Noftall. Pomeroy, Gerald Wall and Brent Hatfield all collected two hits.

Things went south in the afternoon against Ontario, however. Newfoundland took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Nick Pittman two-run shot, but Ontario returned the favour with two in the second. Ontario then broke the game open with four runs in the third.

Eric Healey suffered the loss. Pittman also saw mound duty.

Newfoundland has only one game today, against the host province at 2:30 p.m. (NL time). Games are webcast at


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