Colchester County trio attending national fastpitch championship this week in Saskatoon
Colchester County players, coach in Saskatoon this week chasing a Canadian senior men’s fastpitch title as members of the east Hants Mastodons.
Patrick Stewart is hoping softball history will repeat itself at the Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship this week in Saskatoon, Sask.
Stewart is a Brookfield resident who will play at the national tournament for the East Hants Mastodons.
In 1980, Stewart’s hometown Elks won Nova Scotia’s first national senior men’s title in Saskatoon.
“That’s where the Elks won it in 1980, so it would be huge for me and the other Brookfield guys to do the same; it’d be a huge honour,” said Stewart, a first-baseman for the Mastodons.
The Elks and the 1998 Halifax Jaguars are the only Nova Scotia teams to win the Canadian championship in the tournament’s 51year history.
Stewart, 32, was a member of the East Hants squad that finished third at the national competition last year and second in 2015. He’s optimistic about his team’s chances of success this week.
“I think we’re very good,” he said. “We’ve got pitching and this year I think we’re a lot better than the last two or three years because we’ve got more guys coming off the bench. I think we’re a lot deeper in hitting and we’ve got an ace for a pitcher in Justin Schofield.”
Stewart is one of three Colchester County residents suiting up for the Mastodons. Outfielder Coby Crowell, of Brookfield, and assistant coach Mike Wood, of Stewiacke, are also on the team.
Mastodons coach Chris Hopewell, who played softball in Brookfield for 10 years, said Stewart is a good contact hitter who
plays with an intense competitive edge.
“He just wants to win all the time,” said Hopewell.
Crowell, 20, will be playing in his second national tournament of the summer after competing for his province at the Canada Summer Games in early August in Winnipeg.
“It’s unbelievable, really,” Crowell said of his opportunity to play for the Mastodons. “It’s going to be another great experience for the summer. It’s by far the biggest summer of ball I’ve ever had.”
As a young player, Crowell is likely to see limited playing time, however, the experience of attending a senior men’s national will bode well for the future, said Hopewell.
“Things like going away to nationals and watching some of the older guys hit the ball are going to help him big time… and I hope the experience he gains from that, he’ll want to play more next year and the year after, and he becomes our every day centerfielder.”
Wood, 36, joined the Mastodons last year as an assistant after coaching two provincial U18 squads at national competition.
He said he is thrilled with the chance to stay involved in the game at a high level.
“It’s a cool opportunity, actually,” he said. “It’s a different experience, but it’s good to pass on the things that you’ve learned, whether they be men or whether they be kids, it’s a good experience, it’s a learning experience – I learn every time we get out there.”
The Mastodons lineup is dotted with big-time talent and includes Jeff Ellsworth, Nick Shailes and Jason Sanford, teammates this summer with the ISC world champion Hill United Chiefs of Ontario.
Schofield, a member of Canada’s bronze-medal team at this summer’s world championship in Whitehorse, will anchor the Mastodons’ pitching staff.
The Mastodons open the tournament today against the Bulyeah Rustlers of Saskatchewan.
The Mastodons will host the 2018 national championship in St. Croix, Hants County.
Coby Crowell, left, Mike Wood and Patrick Stewart are members of the East Hants Mastodons, who will compete at the Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship, beginning today in Saskatoon.