National title extra special for Colchester County players
After winning the Canadian senior men’s fastpitch championship on Sunday, Patrick Stewart received a special text message. ‘Welcome to the club,’ it read. It was from Brookfield resident Danny Dean, a member of the 1980 Canadian senior men’s fastpitch champion Brookfield Elks.
“It was one of the best texts I ever received,” Stewart said Tuesday. “Reading that felt pretty good.”
Stewart, a 32-year-old from Brookfield, was a member of the East Hants Mastodons, who won national gold in Saskatoon. East Hants defeated the five-time defending champion Galway Hitmen from Newfoundland 6-5 in the final.
“Unbelievable,” he said of winning the Canadian title. “Just to be part of a championship team and to be representing my hometown, it’s something else, really.”
Stewart (first baseman) and fellow Brookfield resident Coby Crowell (outfielder), along with Stewiacke’s Jay Duffy (second baseman) and Mike Wood (assistant coach) were Colchester County’s connection to the Mastodons.
All four men learned the game of softball in Brookfield and grew up playing in the South Colchester community.
Making their goldmedal victory even sweeter was the fact that they won in Saskatoon, where the 1980 Elks won Nova Scotia’s first Canadian crown. Stewart’s uncle, Robbie Cooke, was a member of the 1980 Elks, who were enshrined in the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 1988.
The 1998 Halifax Jaguars are the only other Nova Scotia team to win nationals in the tournament’s 51-year history.
The Mastodons finished preliminary play with a 5-1 record, second to the Hitmen, who went undefeated in six games.
In their first playoff game on Saturday, the Mastodons defeated the host Saskatoon Angels 7-3 before a 5-2 victory over the Hitmen to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
In the final, the Mastodons snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Stewart singled to lead off the inning and later scored on Jonah Wright’s double. Duffy added the eventual game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Aaron Harvey.
With two outs in the top of the seventh and the Mastodons on the verge of clinching the title, Blair Ezekiel of the Hitmen hit a ground ball to shortstop Nick Shailes, who scooped it up and fired to Stewart at first base to end the game and give Nova Scotia its first gold medal in almost 20 years.
“I can’t describe it, it was just amazing,” Stewart said, when asked how he felt when the final out was recorded. “Really, it was all a blur. As soon as the ball hit my glove I was speechless, really. It was awesome.”
Duffy, Jeff Ellsworth and Shailes also homered in the game. Justin Schofield, the playoff round MVP, pitched a complete-game victory. He allowed nine hits and struck out five.
Shailes, Donnelly Archibald and Joel Isenor were named tournament all-stars. Isenor played his junior hockey with the Truro Bearcats and is the team’s current assistant coach.
Shailes hit a jaw-dropping .750 in the playoff round with five homers and nine RBI, while Duffy hit .444 in the playoffs with two homers.
Jason Sanford, a former Brookfield Elk, was the Mastodons starting catcher, while Chris Hopewell, who played for the Elks for 10 years, coached the Mastodons. East Hants will host the 2018 national championship in St. Croix, Hants County.