An outstanding performance at both the U16 and U19 Fastpitch Canadians this summer has earned Napanee’s Connor Brooks a roster spot on Team Canada’s U17 Junior Men’s National Team.
The 16-year-old Napanee Express ace was one of 15 players from across Canada named to the roster, which will compete at the U17 Men’s Softball Qualifier, Nov. 1-10 in Guatemala. A top four finish there would qualify the Canadians for the 2020 WBSC U18 Men’s Softball World Cup, which runs Feb. 22 to March 1 in Palmerston, New Zealand.
Players were scouted during the U16 and U19 Canadians, which took place in Saskatoon and Owen Sound in August. Brooks pitched the U16 Express to gold, coming within one out of a perfect game in the gold medal match against Nova Scotia.
He was named the MVP of the tournament’s qualifying round, throwing 19.2 scoreless innings with 41 strikeouts. At the plate he hit .409 while driving in eight runs.
Shortly after winning gold he then joined Napanee’s U19 team in Owen Sound, facing players up to three years older than he was, helping the Express reach the playoffs before they bowed out.
Team Canada’s coaching staff liked what they saw, making a formal offer to join the team last week.
“I was at work when I got the call,” said Brooks. “I was around all the guys and they knew what was going on. My dad had told me I was going to get a call and I had to answer it. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or what it was. It was really exciting.”
On the other end of the line was Team Canada assistant coach Shaun Winship. Sure enough, he informed Brooks he’d made the team.
Brooks will now have a few work out sessions with the team before the head south, where he’ll get a chance to work with his catching staff. He’ll be joined by Express teammate Brock Fencott, who joined the team from Belleville. He too stood out at the U16 Canadians, hitting .458 in the round robin, earning a selection as an All Canadian shortstop.
Brooks credits the Softball Napanee program for helping him reach his first national team.
“It just shows the kind of program we have and what everyone can look forward to,” he said. “It shows how all our coaches support all the kids in the program. The support goes all the way to the sponsors, it’s huge. There’s a lot of support from the community, that’s for sure.”