Innerkip Park will once again have a busy weekend ahead of itself.
They’ll host the International Softball Congress (ISC) Canada East under-21 men’s qualifier and the ISC Canada East men’s qualifier for the right for teams to earn a paid berth and travel costs covered to the ISC World Tournament in August in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The under-21 will be Aug. 17 to 19 and the senior men’s are Aug. 12 to 19.
The joint tournament allow people to watch some of the top men’s junior and senior players in Ontario vie for a spot at the ISC World Tournament.
“There’s a handful of kids playing under-21 that are also on men’s rosters, which is great because it helps them improve,” ISC Canada East regional commissioner Kyle Smith said in a phone interview. “Even the kids who have played in years past and are now on men’s teams, it’s really nice to see the development… If you want a strong junior game or men’s game, there’s both at the same place. It’s a bit of everything for everyone.”
Innerkip hosted the dual tournaments last year with the New Hamburg Mustangs winning the qualifying tournament in 2016 and ultimately the under-21 world championship.
The Mustangs will return with several Oxford County players on the team and the Tavistock Athletics will also field a roster to give the under-21 tournament a local feel. Alvinston, Port Perry, Owen Sound and Wellesley make up the rest of the under-21 bracket.
“New Hamburg’s the defending champs. They lost a few guys to the age limit, but they’ve still got a strong team coming back,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of local kids that’ll be playing. It’s nice to see them get the opportunity to play at a high level.”
The under-21 level is undergoing changes over the coming year as this summer’s Canada Summer Games means there’ll be no nationals in 2017 – with Tavistock having hosted last year. The age group will also be raised next year from 21 to 23 to help player development before they join the senior ranks. The hope is the extra two years of time at the junior level will help make a transition to senior. Click here to continue reading at the Woodstock Sentinel Review and to view bracket and photo.