Best fastball teams will play at fast pace

NANAIMO – Cedar’s Wheatsheaf field complex is playing host to Softball B.C.’s senior men’s championships starting Friday (July 13).

Wheatsheaf pitcher Lee Lucas delivers a strike during a game last week at the Wheatsheaf field complex in Cedar. The venue will host senior men’s provincials starting Friday (July 13).

Wheatsheaf pitcher Lee Lucas delivers a strike during a game last week at the Wheatsheaf field complex in Cedar. The venue will host senior men’s provincials starting Friday (July 13).

B.C.’s best fastball teams are about to enter the fray.

Cedar’s Wheatsheaf field complex is playing host to Softball B.C.’s senior men’s championships starting Friday (July 13).

The tournament is technically senior B, but with no senior A teams in the province, any of B.C.’s best teams were invited to throw down at the diamond.

Two local entries – the host Wheatsheaf team and the Parksville Budget Red Sox – will take on three Victoria teams and one Abbotsford squad. The opposing teams are all expected to be strong.

“In a tournament like this, you can’t take anybody for granted,” said Blake Hunter, Wheatsheaf second baseman. “If somebody gets hot it’s anybody’s tournament to win.”

Todd Belton, Wheatsheaf shortstop, said with so many tough pitchers, the games tend to be low-scoring, so the importance of defence and small ball is magnified.

The Wheaties are adding a few extra players for the weekend, and other contending teams will do the same. It should make for some unpredictable and entertaining matchups.

“Especially with the calibre of ball that’s here this weekend, and having some of the best teams from all over the province,” said Hunter. “It’ll be a good tournament and anybody that comes out to watch is definitely going to enjoy the ball.”

The Wheatsheaf players are counting on the biggest share of that fan support. It’s the first time they’ve hosted provincials at their home park, and the first time Softball B.C.’s senior men’s provincials have been held at a private field.

“We want to give back to [our sponsor], bring in teams from out of town, show our families and everyone what we do on the field,” said Belton.

Hunter said his team feels most comfortable playing at the Wheatsheaf fields.

“Myself, I’ve grown up here and this is a second home. Same for the rest of the guys. It definitely gives us an advantage. It looks like we’ll have a lot of fan support, and that will be good for the boys.”

GAME ON … Wheatsheaf’s first game is Friday (July 13) at 6:30 p.m. against the Victoria Thunder. The tournament final is Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free all weekend.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com