Ellsworth big winner
Ellsworth finishes off his set with Pan Am Games gold
Jeff Ellsworth nabs gold medal Saturday at the Pan American Games.
Jeff Ellsworth capped his national softball team playing career Saturday with a gold medal to complete his collection.
Canada defeated Venezuela 21 in the Pan American Games finale in Ajax, Ont. Canada won the International Softball Federation (ISF) championship earlier this month in Saskatoon, Sask., to secure a double-gold July.
Ellsworth and Ryan Wolfe, the team’s other co-captain, have previous won Canadian and American national championships and the International Softball Congress title.
“There are only a handful of guys that are in this sport ever to have won all five,” Ellsworth said. “We remembered (talking) about setting the double-gold goal and to do it, it’s hard to believe right now.”
This was the first time men’s softball has been part of the Pan American Games since 2003. There has been Pan American tournaments since 2003, but they were held outside the Pan American Games as a qualifier for events.
Ellsworth said Team Canada’s coaching staff did a “phenomenal job” of creating a team-first atmosphere that helped them go a combined 20-1 in the two tournaments.
“We were one big family,” he said. “There were some errors made and there was some bad atbats throughout the week, but our motto is if that happens the next guy picks you up.”
Canada arrived at the Pan American championship as world champions, knowing everyone was gunning to knock them off.
“Instead of feeling the pressure and (being) nervous we embraced the challenge,” Ellsworth said. “We really wanted them to come at us. We were confident . . . leaving ISF.”
At the Pan Ams, Canada went 5-0 in the round robin, defeated Argentina 2-0 in Friday’s semifinal and Venezuela 2-1 in Saturday’s championship game.
Brad Ezekiel broke a scoreless tie Saturday with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth.
“When it hit his bat, there was no doubt it was gone,” said Ellsworth.
Pitcher Sean Cleary allowed a run in the seventh before shutting the door.
“Cleary is the ace of Team Canada. . . he’s a phenomenal talent.”
Family, friends and the Scotiabank Reds under-18 girls softball team were waiting for Ellsworth when he arrived Sunday at the Charlottetown Airport.
“We’re so proud of him and everything he’s accomplished this week,” said Reds co-captain Laura Ready. “He’s our coach, so it’s good to support him because he supports us in all of our respective sports.”
Softball Canada president Kevin Quinn said Ellsworth played outstanding defensively and hit the ball a ton at the past two tournaments.
“Everybody should be extremely proud of Jeff Ellsworth,” he said.
Ellsworth, 37, leaves his national team playing career on top, but he’s not done on the diamond. He said his cousin Roger O’Halloran taught him many years ago about setting goals.
“I just did it on the way home on the plane,” he said. “In the next three years I want to put on a national team jersey on the other side of the foul line, to be coaching.”
He will continue coaching the Reds and P.E.I.’s 2017 Canada Games team and playing this year with the Hill United Chiefs.
The Scotiabank Reds under-18 girls softball team give coach Jeff Ellsworth a group hug after he arrived Sunday at the Charlottetown Airport.