The Owen Sound Selects have won the 2018 ISC Canada East Under-23 championship.
The Selects went 4-1 at the International Softball Congress’ fast-pitch tournament in Mitchell over the weekend including three back-to-back games on a scorching Sunday.
Owen Sound beat the Tavistock Hops, 5-2, in the championship game. Winning pitcher Matt Wardrop pitched 3.2 innings allowing one hit and striking-out two in relief of Kirk Santala. Wardrop also went 2-3 in the game with the bat while Luke Zettel drove in two runs for the Selects.
“He (Wardrop) came in and shut the door and gave us a chance to score some runs,” said Selects coach Jamie Simpson. “It was a big win for us.”
The Mitchell tournament served as a tune-up as well for the Selects who will travel to Grafton, Ont., to play in the under-23 provincials on July 6. The top-three teams from that tournament will qualify for nationals.
“That was a big tournament for us to play some of the teams that will be at (the Grafton) tournament. It was a confidence builder as well to get us ready,” said Simpson. “That’s that ultimate goal – to qualify for the Canadians.”
Owen Sound’s Denny Benson was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He went a combined 9-14 at the plate with two home-runs and seven RBIs before the championship game.
“He’s one of the most feared hitters for his age in Ontario and I think in Canada as well,” said Simpson.
The Selects and Hops championship game was a rematch of the final round-robin contest for each team when Tavistock handed Owen Sound their only loss of the tournament, 6-5. Jake Wiffen went 3-3 with four RBIs in the game for the Hops.
“We were hoping to get another shot at them, and we did in the finals,” said Simpson.
The Selects opened the weekend by blowing out the Alvinston Aces 11-3 before beating the Wellesley Wildcats, 9-2.
Starting catcher Mitchell Pringle took a foul-tip off the finger in the first game for the Selects – bad enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. He was replaced by Jordan Baumber.
“To be able to win the championship with a guy who doesn’t catch much, it was good for us,” said Simpson. “He can’t move much today, he’s still sore.”
Owen Sound shutout the Dundalk Smoke, 9-0, in the semifinals. Kirk Santala pitched six innings for the Selects whiffing 11 batters while allowing five hits and two walks.
A record-breaking 37 teams competed in the ISC Canada East Under-23 championship, Canada East men’s qualifier, and Legends (50-and-over) championship on the weekend.
With the win, the Selects become one of five Canada East teams to qualify for the Under-23 ISC Championships held in Kitchener this August.