Fastball championship ready for Carp

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

CARP – On Feb. 18, 2020, City of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson was in Carp announcing the 2020 Alterna Savings U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship – an event that would be the largest sporting event in Carp’s history.

The organizers held a popular fundraising Trivia Night three nights later.

A month after that, a pandemic was declared in Canada due to the arrival of COVID-19 and all sporting events and large gatherings were cancelled.

Two years later that wasn’t the end of it. For the last two years the “loose group of friends” as chair Shawn Williams refers to the volunteer organizing committee, continued to work behind the scenes. Securing the dates and the host responsibilities for the 2022 championship; continuing to upgrade the Carp Fairgrounds facilities; and working with partners and sponsors trying to deal with a two-year delay of the tournament.

But things are falling in to place and from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7 Carp will host the 2022 U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship.

It’s been both a slow and fast two years.

“We’re really excited,” Williams told West Carleton Online Tuesday (March 15). “There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re chipping away with a hard-working committee.”

Williams says COVID has been mostly a curse, but a bit of a blessing.

“It’s had its challenges,” Williams said. “But it’s given us some extra time. We’ve put in about 720 volunteer hours on the ball diamonds. Diamonds one and two have brand new covered dugouts. We got rid or a lip on diamond two. It’s smooth as silk thanks to the hard work of volunteers.”

West Carleton Online spoke to one of those volunteers and committee members Geoff Lathem in 2020 when work on the ball diamonds was ongoing.

Williams says sponsors have been incredibly patient throughout this process.

“Everyone’s stuck in the whole way,” he said. “We’re still looking for sponsors, but our title sponsor Alterna Savings stayed with us and that’s incredible.”

Williams wanted to thank the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club (WCASC), headquartered in the W. Erskine Johnston Arena, for continuing to be the tournament’s official organizing body.

“The committee is just a loose group of friends putting it on,” Williams said. “The WCASC stepped up to represent us as the official organizing group.”

And now that the finish line is in sight, fingers crossed, the Village of Carp, and the City of Ottawa will soon reap the benefits of hosting the tournament.

“We’re expecting 12,000 to 15,000 people over the week,” Williams said “We did an economic impact study in 2020 and our estimates expect a $1 million economic impact for the city. I’m sure those restaurants in Carp will see a benefit too. This is a community event and we’re trying to give back as much as we can.”

And the wait has brought some other good news as well.

“We now have a host team,” Williams broke the news to us. “The Greely team is re-branding as an Ottawa Valley team. We haven’t finalized it yet but are hoping to introduce the team at our Alumni Night.”

The organizing committee is hosting two in-person events in April in the lead-up to the summer championship.

In what must be a first for any national championship, The Softball Canada Men’s U23 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship will host its second Trivia Night (two years apart no less, which is why we can’t call it annual). No joke, on Friday, April 1 the organizing committee is hosting Trivia Night at the WCASC. $20 per person at the door with teams of four to six necessary to compete. Doors open at 7 p.m. with trivia running from 8 to 10 p.m. There will also be 50-50 tickets and raffles available. Because this is the second Trivia Night for the organizing committee, we can tell you the first was a sell-out hit which also included a guest appearance from retired Ottawa Senator Chris Neil.

Roger Lalande will serve as trivia master

“He did a great job for us in 2020,” Williams said. “We’re also expecting Coun. Eli El-Chantiry to drop by.”

Visit the Facebook page and email trivia@sc-mens-u23.ca to reserve a table. 

On Friday, April 29 the organizing committee is hosting Alumni Night at the Carp Agricultural Hall.

The committee is still calling out for former and current fastball players and officials from eastern Ontario and Western Quebec for a night of fun and fellowship.

Williams says the Ottawa Valley has a rich history of fastball talent and expects to see some of the best at Alumni Night

“Wayne Morris, Geoff Lathem, Brian Armstrong, Terry Boyd, members of the Carp Flyers and the Ottawa Valley A’s from the ‘70s,” Williams, a fastball historian, said. “Jimmy Ryan from Pakenham. There are so many Carp and West Carleton people that have played. The names go on and on. I’m hoping to get a good contingent of women who have played in West Carleton, umpired in West Carleton or coached in West Carleton as well.”

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and if you needed another reason to go, organizers will be selling tournament weekly passes for an unbelievable $25, half off the regular price.

For more information on the Softball Canada Alterna Savings Men’s U23 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship, or to purchase a ticket for the whole week ($50, $45 for seniors and adults), visit the official website here.

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