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Newfoundland and Labrador’s senior men’s fastpitch softball teams have enjoyed unprecedented success at the national level of late, to historical heights, actually, with seven Canadian championships in the past eight years.
So it’s understandable to see why Softball Newfoundland and Labrador is anxious to stage one of those summertime softball parties on home soil: to offer softball pundits another opportunity to see the local ball players win a Canadian crown on home soil, and perhaps make a few dollars for the association while they’re at it.
This year’s championship runs Sept. 2-6 and has been pegged for St. John’s, returning to this part of the country since 2016 when Newfoundland won the gold medal in Pleasantville.
But there’s a catch. The tournament is not yet carved in stone, and blame it on the COVID-19 pandemic.
SNL and Softball Canada recently met via teleconference call, and SNL executive director Dave Feener said a large part of the conversation dealt with what is going to happen this summer in terms of national championships going ahead as a result of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, the WBDC Under-18 Women’s World Cup was postponed and Canada cancelled the team’s identification camps which were set for next month.
“Softball Canada has set a target deadline of June 1 to determine if national championships will even go ahead or not,” Feener said.
“Naturally, we want them going ahead. We want to strike while the iron is hot and put on a show.
“Some of the boys (on the Galway Hitmen) are getting up there (in age) now and are anxious to play in another national championship here at home.”
Newfoundland has won the last two Canadian championships, and seven of the last eight. It was 3Cheers Pub Bud Light that took the first three titles, and the Galway Hitmen claiming the last four.
However, the core roster for all seven teams was basically the same.
The one gap in the national championship streak came in 2017, when the Hitmen lost the title to Nova Scotia's East Hants Mastodons.
“Any team that can compete nationally and be a contender, even a one-off, is great,” Feener said. “But when you do it over a sustained period of time like these guys, it is a generational team. No question about that.”
This will be the third time in the last 14 years that St. John's has been named to host the national men's tournament, the others coming in 2007 and 2016.
Feener said the hosting bill for the senior men’s nationals is $25,000. Part of the responsibility is picking up travel and accommodations for umpires and Softball Canada executives.
The overall tournament budget for St. John’s is $120,000.
“A lot of that comes from corporate sponsors. How many of those can we approach now?” he questioned, alluding to the COVID-19 concerns.
Not only will Softball Newfoundland and Labrador (hopefully) be staging the national men’s championship, but the 2020 Canadian under-19 men's event will be held in Carbonear August 11-16.
Members of the Galway Hitmen, who won the Canadian championship last summer in Grande Prairie, Alta., are Shane Boland, Bryan Clarke, Daniel Dalton, Blair Ezekiel, Brad Ezekiel, Kyle Ezekiel, Jeff Farion, Justin Gill, Jason Hill, Peter Kavanagh, Ryan Kirk, Stephen Mullaley, Nick Pittman, Jordan Pomeroy and Colin Walsh. The head coach is Mark Dwyer, assistant coaches Eddy McDonald, Sean Cadigan and Brian Roche, and team sponsor Danny Williams.