The Selects will soon leave for Saskatoon riding a high note.
In their final tune-up tournament before the Softball Canada U23 Canadian Fast Pitch Championship Owen Sound won the First Ward Falcons tournament title in Dunkirk, N.Y. over the weekend.
The Selects topped fellow Canadian squad the Toronto Batmen 5-1 in the final of the 44th Falcons tourney.
Their route to the top of the nine-team tournament included a come-from-behind walk-off win in the semifinal against Ashland.
“We see the momentum building,” Selects coach Jamie Simpson said. “We didn’t want to be going into the Canadians . . . we just weren’t happy with the way we were playing . . . but we started coming back in the seventh (inning) and I don’t think the guys’ feet touched the ground all the way to the championship park.”
Now, all that’s left for the Scenic City ball club is a defence of their national title that begins in earnest July 30.
If it’s true that pitching wins championships then the Selects are set for success. Simpson has four arms he’s confident handing the ball to in the circle.
Big hurler Kirk Santala, Matt Wardrop, Owen Torrie and Luke Zettel have all thrown innings for Owen Sound this summer. They’ll be leaned on heavily in Saskatoon.
“We do have four capable arms, but it may come down to who is hot at the right time going in because every game is important,” Simpson said.
Earlier this summer the Selects won the International Softball Congress U23 Qualifier in Innerkip, but fell to Ontario clubs in a Tara tournament and while hosting the OASA Elimination Tournament – finishing third at the Duncan McLellan diamonds.
“New Hamburg has their great pitching and Tavistock is one of the best defensive teams I’ve seen in a long time, I mean they are so solid,” Simpson said. “We know that we have to play our game, but the guys are approaching it as we are the defending champions and we have to go out there and show that.”
Simpson and the Selects will have some imported help as they head west. Owen Sound took infielder Josh Macguire and utility power bat Riley McAdams from the Cobourg Bulls in a draft held between the three teams that qualified for the Canadian championships – Owen Sound, Tavistock and New Hamburg.
Both players should help bolster the Selects line-up that already features heavy hitters Quinten Bruce, Matt Wardrop, Denny Benson, and the Pringle boys.
“They’re hungry. They are both last-year players and they’re hungry,” Simpson said. “Josh can do a bit of everything . . . he can play almost every position in the infield. Riley, he’s been the top hitter for Cobourg all year in talking to some of their players. They should definitely be big parts of our lineup.”
In the official championship tournament program, the Selects are billed as “DC” for defending champion. The host Saskatoon Diamondbacks will be itching for revenge after falling to Owen Sound last year in the finals in Quebec.
The Selects board a flight to Saskatchewan on the morning of July 28 and begin their title defence July 30 against the Express Quebec Juniors, 9 a.m. local time.
The Shallow Lake Sting and Chatsworth West Grey Dodgers will also travel to Saskatoon for the under-16 and under-14 Canadian Championships, respectively, from July 30 to Aug. 4.