Fa­mil­iar faces

Madi­son Clarke meets her former team­mates to­day as a mem­ber of Team P.E.I.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - Jason Mal­loy At the Games HEAD­IN­G­LEY, MAN.

An “adopted’’ Is­lan­der will play against her home prov­ince to­day when Prince Ed­ward Is­land meets Nova Sco­tia at the Canada Games softball com­pe­ti­tion.

Madi­son (Mad­die) Clarke came to Prince Ed­ward Is­land three years ago to study ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and play for the UPEI Pan­thers women’s hockey team. Team P.E.I. softball head coach Jeff Ellsworth floated the idea of her try­ing out for the Is­land ball squad a few years back while at­tend­ing a na­tional tour­na­ment.

“It was a tough de­ci­sion to not go back to Nova Sco­tia with me play­ing with a lot of the girls there,’’ Clarke said Thurs­day.

The Hilden, N.S., res­i­dent started play­ing softball when she was about 11 years old.

Clarke played ball on pro­vin­cial teams in Nova Sco­tia with Mineville’s Emma O’Brien and Cole Har­bour’s Tr­ish Gem­mell each year and now they are on the op­po­site sides

of the di­a­mond.

“They sup­port me,’’ Clarke said. “They’re great friends, so they un­der­stood what I was do­ing.”

The teams have played each other a num­ber of times this summer, which makes to­day’s con­test a lit­tle eas­ier.

“The first game was tough and I didn’t know how to re­act,’’ Clarke said. “(To­day is) go­ing to be a re­laxed game, I think. I’m not go­ing to put too much pres­sure on my­self. The team that we have here is all be­hind me.”

Clarke comes from an ath­letic fam­ily with her father Dave well known in the ball, hockey and curl­ing com­mu­nity while her mother Carla was a pitcher at the Games in 1985 in Saint John, N.B.

“It’s pretty unique,’’ Clarke said. “She told me a lot (about the Games) be­fore we came.”

The ver­sa­tile Clarke, who has played left field, short­stop and first base this week, said she is en­joy­ing her time at the Games. The softball com­pe­ti­tion is played in Head­in­g­ley, Man., about 25 min­utes from the ath­letes’ vil­lage in Win­nipeg. They usu­ally play two games a day, leav­ing lit­tle time to en­joy the other ac­tiv­i­ties of the multi-sport event.

“We are try­ing to get in and watch some of the other (sports), like the vol­ley­ball. We were in there and it was packed. The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing,’’ she said.

P.E.I. is 2-6 in the 10-team tour­na­ment and wraps up round-robin play against Nova Sco­tia (1-6) at noon At­lantic.

The Is­land squad pushed un­de­feated Bri­tish Columbia to ex­tra in­nings on Wed­nes­day. Af­ter al­low­ing six runs in the top of the eighth, P.E.I. re­sponded with four in the bot­tom of the in­ning and had the ty­ing run at sec­ond base when the game ended.

“That was a hell of a game,’’ Clarke said. “We played our hearts out.”

P.E.I. was hop­ing to be in medal con­tention en­ter­ing the week, but is now search­ing for an eighth or bet­ter fin­ish, which would set a new record for the prov­ince at the Games.

“We’ve set new goals and we’re push­ing for that goal now.”

JASON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Af­ter years of play­ing softball for Nova Sco­tia Madi­son Clarke is happy to rep­re­sent Prince Ed­ward Is­land at the Canada Games.

JASON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Madi­son Clarke shows a shirt she had made with lo­gos of her and her mother’s Canada Games on it.

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