The East Hants Senior Men’s Mastodons are eager to host the upcoming Canadian Sr. Men's Softball Fast Pitch Championships in St. Croix.
“Our group this year is thrilled to not only be the host team for the national tournament but the defending champions as well,” said Darcy Campbell, the Mastodons’ manager.
“This is only the third time the tournament has been played in Nova Scotia at the senior level and to be part of it as the current champions is truly a rare and exciting opportunity,” he said in a press release.
In 2015, the Mastodons went to nationals in St-Claire, Quebec and lost 4-3 in the gold medal game to Newfoundland. In 2016, they captured bronze after losing to Newfoundland for a second time. But in 2017, their luck changed and they defeated Newfoundland 6-5 to capture to gold while playing in Saskatoon.
They’re hopeful for another positive showing this year.
“Ultimately our goal is to be playing in the championship game on Sept. 2, but there are nine other extremely talented teams coming here with that the same goal in mind,” said Campbell.
“For us to get to the gold medal game on Sunday we need look at the first game and come ready to play. One game at a time, one day at a time is about as far as anyone can look ahead at this level.”
The Mastodons rejoined the Senior Men’s baseball circuit in 2013 after being on hiatus for more than 13 years.
The driving force behind the team since 2013 has been head coach Chris Hopewell.
Hopewell, an accomplished ball player himself at the senior level, turned his focus to coaching, with the goal of developing world class ball players and ultimately bringing a national championship to East Hants and Nova Scotia.
Hopewell has recently received coaching awards from Softball Canada, Softball Nova Scotia and the East Hants Sports Heritage Society.
In 2014, Hopewell recruited Campbell, of Elmsdale, to take on the role of manager.
Mike Wood (of Stewiacke) joined the Mastodons in 2016 as an assistant coach. Wood is also currently the head coach of the U23 East Hants Mastodons team, who are fresh off a fourth place finish at the Jr. Nationals in Quebec.
The core of the team has largely been made up of the same group that came on board in 2013:
Team Canada pitcher Justin Schofield (Wolfville), third baseman Aaron Harvey (Hardwood Lands), second baseman Jay Duffy (Stewiacke), outfielder Joel Isenor (Lantz), Team Canada catcher Jason Sanford (Pictou County), catcher Darcy Gillis (Lantz).
Added to the team over the last six years has been outfielder Jonah Wright (Sackville), first baseman Patrick Stewart (Brookfield), pitcher and first baseman Donnelly Archibald (Antigonish), pitcher Travis Nevin (Indian Brook), infielder Jacob Hopewell (Lantz), pitcher Alex Anthony (Shubenacadie), outfielder Coby Crowell (Brookfield), catcher and infielder Tyler Williams (Lantz) and outfielder Myles Coldwell (Gays River).
The Mastodons will also have two import players on their roster this year. Back for a third year will be Australian Nick Shailes, who is currently living in Ontario. Shailes is a national team member for Australia. Also joining them for the first time will be Team Canada centerfielder Mark Johnson, who hails from Ontario.
“The organization committee has done a wonderful job getting the facility in St. Croix ready,” said Campbell. “The work that has been done to the fields and buildings is outstanding. Its going to be a fun week and I know that there will be lots of exciting ball games.”
If you go
Are you interested in watching some top quality baseball? The following is the schedule for the Canadian Sr. Men's Softball Fast Pitch Championships. The tournament, which is being held at the St. Croix Recreation Centre, starts Aug. 29 and wraps up on Sept. 2.
Wednesday, Aug. 29
9 a.m. — Alberta vs Saskatchewan 1
10 a.m. — Newfoundland vs PEI
11 a.m. — East Hants vs British Columbia
12 p.m. — Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs Ontario 1
1 p.m. — Ontario 2 vs Saskatchewan 2
2 p.m. — Alberta vs PEI
3:30 p.m. — Newfoundland vs Saskatchewan 1
6:30 p.m. — Ontario 2 vs East Hants
8:30 p.m. — Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs BC
8:30 p.m. — Ontario 1 vs Saskatchewan 2
Thursday, Aug. 30
8:30 a.m. — Ontario 2 and PEI
9:30 a.m. — Alberta and Newfoundland
10:30 a.m. —Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs Saskatchewan
11 a.m. — Ontario 1 and British Columbia
12:30 p.m. — East Hants vs Saskatchewan 2
1 p.m. — Ontario 2 vs Newfoundland
5 p.m. — Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs Saskatchewan 2
7 p.m. — Ontario 1 vs PEI
9 p.m. — East Hants vs Saskatchewan 1
Friday, Aug, 31
10 a.m. — Ontario 2 vs BC
10:30 a.m. — Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs Alberta
12 p.m. —Newfoundland vs Saskatchewan 2
12:30 p.m. —Ontario 1 vs East Hants
2 p.m. —Nova Scotia (Guysborough) vs PEI
5 p.m. — Ontario 1 vs Nova Scotia (Guysborough)
6:30 p.m. — Alberta vs Saskatchewan 2
7 p.m. — Newfoundland vs B.C.
8:30 p.m. — Ontario and Saskatchewan 1
9:00 p.m. — East Hants vs PEI
Note: Two diamonds are in play at all times. Playoffs start on Sept. 1.