The Second Annual Sugar Cane Fastball Tournament held Father’s Day weekend can only be described as awesome.
Those were the sentiments of organizer, host team Sugar Cane Native Sons centrefielder and Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars Sunday afternoon following three days, and nights, of fastpitch at the Sugar Cane ball diamond.
“It’s been just amazing,” Sellars said. “Everything ran really smoothly, and I think the highlight was that we had the first ever all women’s fastpitch game at this field.”
WLIB member Tianna Gilbert, whose grandmother, Lynn Gilbert, scorekept throughout the weekend, was named best rookie in the game.
“You talk about hitting heart strings,” Sellars said. “It was special to watch the game.”
As for the tournament, itself, five teams made up the men’s division — all battling for a first-place, $2,250 payout, with second place earning $1,250 and third place taking home $500.
The STK Orioles (Chase area), Big Guy Lake Kings (Prince George), Ashcroft, Parksville and the host Native Sons competed beginning Friday evening with games under the lights, followed by games all day Saturday, wrapping up with finals late Sunday afternoon under a beaming hot sun.
“All the teams were competitive and we had some great ball,” Sellars said.
Sugar Cane lost its opening two games, putting them on the bottom half of the draw to begin play Sunday.
There, they turned it around winning two straight to put them into the backdoor semifinal versus Big Guy Lake for a shot at the championship, however, the rested Kings squad managed the win and, eventually, the tournament title after knocking off Parksville in the final.
The tournament, meanwhile, was a phenomenal opportunity for the community to gather together for a social function in conjunction with the Father’s Day Powwow at the Chief Will-Yumm campsite.
“That’s the goal: to grow the sport here locally,” Sellars said. “We want to bring fastball back for everyone — non First Nations and the youth — getting them all reps here on the field and in the game, and getting them a taste of baseball. That’s what it’s all about and it was really cool to see.”
Sellars said the amount of fans who came out to watch the tournament meant a lot to players, volunteers and organizers.
“We had ball fans from all over,” he said.
“From Williams Lake, out west, down south, Quesnel: there’s still a major hunger for the sport.”