Mitchell set to host ISC Canada East qualifier.
37 teams will compete in ISC qualifier, U23 championship and legends event
A record-breaking field of 37 teams will visit Keterson Park in Mitchell this weekend for the 2018 International Softball Congress (ISC) Canada East Qualifier, the U23 championship, and the inaugural Legends (50+) championship.
And it’s anybody’s guess who will come out on top.
At least that’s the view of Blair Setford, one of three Canada East commissioners entrusted to organize the tournament in conjunction with the Mitchell Mets intermediate club.
“With the field of teams that we’ve got and for what’s at stake it’s going to be a super competitive weekend across the board,” Setford said. “I think it’s going to be a dogfight in all three divisions.”
Twenty-four men’s teams are vying for what Setford guesses will be 12 berths to the world championships, while eight teams will fight for an Under-23 berth at the worlds as well. Adding to the fun, an inaugural Legends Division for players 50+ has been added and five teams have entered.
“It’s just wonderful to see these guys who literally were legends of the game in their own time and still continue to play,” Setford said. “They are still out there competing, but mostly they are out there to have fun.”
The commissioners met with the Mets last fall about the possibility of hosting this qualifier, recognizing that with the world championships in Kitchener in August there would be many teams showing interest. They also needed a venue with at least four diamonds.
“We’ve got a history of the qualifier being in Mitchell (as recently as 2014) and we know the people there are great ball fans,” Setford said. “It was a mutual effort where the Mets were interested and certainly where we knew we could be accommodated.”
The defending champion Toronto Batmen will be a contender once again, Setford noted, along with the up-and-coming Nith River Monsters and veteran teams like the Elmira Expos, Shakespeare Falcons and Kingston Axemen. New teams setting foot in the ISC program, such as Milverton and Dundalk, will get experience.
The host Mets are in their 41st consecutive season of competitive men’s fastpitch softball, which Setford called “impressive.”
Monkton will also host some games in this tournament – primarily the Legends – rekindling some memories for many in the village that hosted its own prestigious tournament from 2004-2009.
Action begins on all four Mitchell diamonds, plus Monkton, on Friday at 6 p.m. and continues Saturday at 8 a.m. The Legends final is set for 1 p.m. Sunday in Monkton, while the U23 championship will be played at 3 p.m. Sunday in Mitchell. The men’s championship is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday, also in Mitchell.
“We think we’ve got the best of both worlds here – the best players, the best umpires, the best sponsors…and it’s that team effort that makes a successful tournament. “I hope there’s some surprises, and I know we’ll have an absolutely terrific weekend of ball.”
Admission is $5 per day or $10 for a weekend pass.
For a schedule and results, visit alsfastball.com.
The Mitchell Mets are one of the local teams slated to compete in the ISC Canada East qualifier this weekend in Mitchell.