While the frigid winter temperatures don’t necessarily conjure up thoughts of base hits and strikeouts, Kelowna Minor Fastball is already ramping up for a busy 2017 at High Noon Park.
Kelowna will play host to 10 tournaments this spring and summer, culminating with the Softball B.C. U18 B provincial championship, July 15 to 17.
Ninety teams are already confirmed for tournaments in 2017, with as many as 150 travel teams expected to make their way to Kelowna from across B.C. and Alberta.
The season will kick off April 15 and 16 with the U14, U16 and U18 Open Ice Breaker event featuring 24 teams—17 of those from Alberta.
Over the years, Kelowna has built a reputation as one of Western Canada’s hotbeds for girls fastball tournaments.
“People know that we put on really good tournaments, and the word just seems to spread,” said Kelowna Minor Fastball president Darren Bennett. “I can’t imagine there’s any other association around that is offering more for girls fastball.
“It helps too that Kelowna is a real travel destination and people like to come here.”
Kelowna doesn’t currently field either U14 or U16 rep programs, but will be hosting tournaments for both age groups on successive weekends this spring at High Noon Park, April 28 to 30 and May 5 to 7.
At the house and rep levels, registration for Kelowna Minor Fastball was up about five per cent last season, with more than 150 girls playing the sport.
The biggest jump came at the U10 house level as more than 30 kids signed up, a trend Bennett would no doubt like to see continue this season.
“We want younger kids playing the game and that increase last year was huge for us,” said Bennett, who also coaches the Kelowna Heat U18 B rep team. “We want to attract kids to playing ball early, and we want to keep them engaged so they’ll stay involved.
“It’s really a social sport,” he added. “The girls and their families come together for those weekend tournaments and it can be a lot of fun.”
In all, Bennett hopes to see at least 170 players register to play fastball in Kelowna this year.
Indoor training for local players will begin later this month at the Capital News Centre.
Player registration is open until March 7, with teams in all age groups to be formed a few days later. The 2017 season begins in mid-April. To register or for more information go to kelownafastball.ca.
Kelowna Minor Fastball is also looking for umpires for the upcoming season, particularly for tournaments.
For more information regarding umpires, send an email to email@example.com.