CARP – Yesterday (Feb. 18) a dedicated group of volunteers took the official first step as they get set to host the first national sporting event ever played in West Carleton.
The Carp Fairgrounds will be home to the largest sporting event in the community’s history, the 2020 Alterna Savings U23 Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship from July 28 to Aug. 2.
“One of the things I try to compare this event to that Canadians can relate to, is this will be the Memorial Cup of softball,” championship committee chair Shawn Williams told West Carleton Online moments after the official announcement at the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club. “You have that quality. You are going to see some excellent competition. These are world class athletes.”
The tournament is expected to draw more than 12,000 players and fans to the Village of Carp over the course of the six-day championship tournament. The championship is expected to bring an estimated $1.5 million boost to the local economy.
Softball Canada chief executive officer Hugh Mitchener was also on hand for the announcement.
“This tournament will be heavily, heavily scouted by our national team staff,” he said. “You are going to see athletes that will be on our senior national team.”
Mitchener, who calls committee chair Williams “a true softball builder,” says Carp is the perfect location.
“They really do well in small communities like this,” he told West Carleton Online. “There will be a lot of fans coming from across the country to see this. The level of ball is going to be outstanding.”
The West Carleton Amateur Sports Club host committee has been working on the bid since the fall of 2018 and is comprised of local fast pitch enthusiasts from across Ottawa, the Valley and Eastern Ontario.
Many of the committee members helped host the U19 provincial championship last year in Carp, a tournament that received many kudos from players, coaches and teams.
While the two diamonds that will be used to host games are on Carp Fairgrounds property, it is the Huntley Community Association (HCA) that keeps them in tip-top shape.
“It’s one of the best ballparks in Ontario,” Williams said. “As an old umpire, I’ve been to a lot. The HCA has done just outstanding volunteer work keeping the diamonds in outstanding shape. That’s the level of commitment we have from the volunteers on this committee and in this community.”
The 2020 tournament will mark the first time the elite Junior Men’s Championship will return to the capital region since 1974.
West Carleton has long been known as “a hotbed for fastball.” The sport is played by hundreds, possibly thousands, in the small community as soon as they are old enough to swing a bat, right up to long past the time they should have given up the sport (winky face emoji). The West Carleton Electric, the men’s travelling team is well known throughout west Ottawa and the Valley.
Meanwhile, softball is on the uptick nationally as well. The men’s national team has medaled at the last three world championships; the junior team won gold at the last Pan American Games and the women recently qualified for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Next up for the organizing committee is a fundraising Trivia Night being held at the West Carleton Amateur Sports Club this Friday. The committee is also holding an Alumni Night on May 1 with more details to come on that.
“Our vision is a community vision,” Williams said.
A ticket for the entire tournament will cost $40. For more information, visit the tournament’s Facebook page here.