Playing internationally is a rare opportunity for Grande Prairie fastball players.
From Aug. 12-19, the Grande Prairie Senior A Pirates are playing at the 2017 International Softball Congress’ Men’s World Fastball Tournament in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Shayne Milligan, team manager and player (third base/outfielder), said the team is ecstatic about the opportunity. The team qualified over the May long weekend at a tournament in Kelowna.
Their first game is Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. against the Waterdown Hammer – a fastball team from the Hamilton, Ontario area.
“If we win that, and we’re successful in that game… it’ll be a good game… all teams are very close there… (so) if we win (our first game) it’ll likely set up a date against the New York Gremlins, who are ranked fourth in the world or something like that,” said Milligan.
“This (tournament) is a huge deal (for us). This is what we play for. This is the season. This is what we look forward to every season is playing in this tournament because you’re seeing all the best players in the world. It’s basically the world’s best of club teams, so it’s the top club teams in North America and they pull players from New Zealand, Australia, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina, Europe…So, obviously these teams like the New York Gremlins have a payroll. Unfortunately, we’re not that size. We’re just a bunch of hard working guys who play hard, practise hard to compete against all those hired guns.”
Milligan said it’s been quite some time since a Grande Prairie team has attended the world fastball tournament. Several years ago, he said the Grande Prairie Pride competed at the event.
“It’s competitive,” he said, of the team’s approach to the tournament.
“We’re always in there trying to make a name for ourselves and putting Grande Prairie on the map. We’re in there competing hard, working hard to upset these so-called ‘bigger squads’. And, we’ve got a few guys on our team chasing the invite to play for Team Canada.
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