Once again two months of ballin’ boiled down to the Brew Jays and ITP battling out the final game of the Nakusp Mixed Slo-pitch League. Facing off for the second consecutive time in the championship match, the two heavy hitting squads swung their way through the seven team tournament bracket and found themselves toe to toe on July 13. The Brew Jays arrived at the finals coming off a successful regular season and arrived hungry to redeem themselves after the late, 7th inning upset that snatched the championship away from them last year. ITP earned a first place finish in the regular season and enjoyed a first round buy in the playoffs, but there were no guarantees going into the final match.
“Every team won games and lost games this year,” league organizer and ITP team member, Zac Wethal commented. “Every game right up to the final was up for grabs which made for some exciting ball this year.”
ITP got on the sticks first and managed to eek out a run in the top of the opening inning, but the Brew Jays quickly responded with three runs batted in at the bottom of the first. The Brew Jays lead was short lived however, as ITP calmly exploited a gap in left field and skillfully dropped two crucial hits on the fair side of the foul line which created time and space for base runners to round the diamond. The Brew Jays slipped behind, 6-3 by the end of the second inning and spent the rest of the game struggling to closeout ITP’s batting order and bridge the RBI gap. Slick pitching and quick plays by ITP fielders held the Brew Jays at bay, and the game was settled at 14-6 for ITP by the bottom of the seventh inning.
Teams are now preparing for the uninhibited festivities that will descend on the village of Nakusp for the August Long Softball tournament; however, Wethal is excited to announce that this year the tournament will not mark the end of the Nakusp ball season.
Sighting “team interest and enthusiasm” as the driving force the executive has decided to continue to play ball in Nakusp past “Aug-long” for the first time. Wethal is also looking to the future for ways to grow the sport in Nakusp and surrounding areas as well as address some of the concerns that were brought forward this season.
“Every year there is something people question about the league,” Wethal explained, “and the big one this year was trying to make the game more enjoyable for the girls. Two things I am looking at are switching balls back and forth during the games (women and men) or introducing a line in outfield that fielders can’t pass until the girl batter hits the ball.” Wethal is also interested in piloting a local “one pitch tournament” after the August long weekend tournament and eventually a wooden bat tournament in Burton. Wethal recalls fond memories of playing ball in Burton and would like to see the game and the field revitalized.
“They used to have a wicked tournament down there with up to 12 teams, hopefully we can breathe a bit of life into the field and organize a tournament down there in the future,” he said.
Wethal would like to thank all of the volunteers that helped make this season a successful one. “I appreciate the support I get from everyone, there is a general understanding that to make ball happen there is work involved and people have stepped up to help. Many hands make lighter work.”