Canadian national team member Pat Burns of the Westbank Cardinals pitches against the Kelowna All-Stars during the May Days International Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at King’s Stadium.                                -Image:Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Canadian national team member Pat Burns of the Westbank Cardinals pitches against the Kelowna All-Stars during the May Days International Men’s Fastpitch Tournament at King’s Stadium. -Image:Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Talent-laden Giants roll to May Days title

Featuring six members of Canada’s national team, South Hill wins annual fastball tourney

Carrying a roster replete with national team players, the South Hill Giants were understandably favoured to win the 2018 edition of the May Days International Men’s Fastpitch Tournament.

The Vancouver-based squad lived up to its billing, rolling through the eight-team event and securing the title Monday afternoon at Kelowna’s King’s Stadium with a lopsided victory over the Sooke Loggers in the championship game.

South Hill featured six players from Canada’s national men’s program, including pitcher Justin Schofield, and one each from the Australian (Nick Shales) and Argentinian (Juan Potolicchio) national teams.

The Westbank Cardinals and Portland-Columbia River Brewers tied for third place in three-day May long weekend tourney.

Each year, the event showcases the skills of some world-class talent as well as many of the top provincial and local players.

“I think pretty much everyone who was involved over the weekend loved it,” said tournament organizer and Brewers’ pitcher Richard Haldane. “The weather was ideal, we had tons of compliments, the fans enjoyed it…we have teams who already said they’re coming back next year.”

All the games were also live-streamed, a feature of the weekend that Haldane said was well-received by fans and players alike.

In North America, fastball has lost some traction over the years with the numbers of active players continually slipping.

Internationally, however, the game is thriving in places like Australia and New Zealand, as well as in several countries in Central and South America.

Haldane, among many other fastball advocates, would like to see the game regain its appeal and popularity in both Canada and the U.S.

“Right now, there is a lack of young pitchers across the country and that’s been a challenge,” said Haldane, a Vernon resident who is also a member of Great Britain’s national program. “There were some younger players on the Sooke team, so that’s positive.

“A lot of people (in Kelowna) didn’t even realize there was a fastball league in Kelowna, so that’s one of the things we’re faced with,” he added. “Hopefully the game can be built back up in North America to the level of other countries that are doing such a good job of promoting it.”

Other teams competing at this year’s tournament were the host Kelowna All-Stars, Irma Tigers, Grand Prairie Pirates and Abbotsford Builders.

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Kyle Blanleil of the Kelowna All-Stars takes a rip at a Pat Burns pitch.                                -Image: Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Kyle Blanleil of the Kelowna All-Stars takes a rip at a Pat Burns pitch. -Image: Douglas Farrow/Contributor