Ellsworth big win­ner

Ellsworth fin­ishes off his set with Pan Am Games gold

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JASON MAL­LOY THE GUARDIAN

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.

JASON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

The Sco­tia­bank Reds un­der-18 girls soft­ball team give coach Jeff Ellsworth a group hug af­ter he ar­rived Sun­day at the Char­lot­te­town Air­port.

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