Softball Napanee to host U17 Eliminations on Canada Day weekend

Will Myers of the U17 Express swings at a pitch during a tune-up game against the U20 Express, held at the Napanee Fairgrounds. The U17 Express are preparing to host eliminations July 1-3. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Softball Napanee will host a baker’s dozen worth of teams this Canada Day weekend for the U17 Boys Ontario Elimination Tournament, running July 1-3.

The reigning champion Napanee Express will play as the host team, looking for a top four finish to punch their ticket to the Canadians, which will take place Aug. 10-14 in Saskatoon, Sask.

The core of this Express group captured gold in the Eastern Canadians last year, which were held in lieu of Canadians due to the pandemic and were champions at the 2019 U15 Canadians, which also took place in Saskatoon. Though they head into the weekend as strong contenders, they’ll be up against a strong field of challengers in the 13-team field.

Next weekend’s eliminations mark the first such tournament Softball Napanee will have hosted since the pandemic.

Gavin Brooks of the U17 Express delivers a pitch. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

“It’s exciting to have a home tournament here, it should be great,” said Express head coach Stephen Paul. “We missed being home and competing in these tournaments so everybody on our team is certainly excited about it.”

Representing the Express will be Brandon Barker, Zachary Branchaud, Gavin Brooks, Kaden Fowler, Grady Irwin, Ty Kemp, Derek Li, Jack Madden, Will Myers, Anthony Nugent, Luke Paul and Caleb South.

After being reduced to a condensed season last summer, next weekend’s elimination tournament represents another step towards normalcy in the community as Canada Day and softball have long gone hand-in-hand here in Greater Napanee.

The format will be the traditional double-knock out. Rounding out the field will be teams from Chatsworth, Stratford, Westport, Fitzroy Harbour, Springbrook, Fingal, New Hamburg, Tara, Hillsdale, Tavistock, Drumbo and Oshawa.

Games get underway Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Napanee Fairgrounds with the Express’ first game set for 7:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of the afternoon matchup between Fitzroy Harbour and Westport. With a win they would next play at 5 p.m. Saturday while the losing team plays at 11 a.m. Games will be played all weekend at Fairgrounds with the finals scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday. If the undefeated team loses that game, a winner-take-all would follow right after at 3 p.m.

Later this summer Softball Napanee will play host to the U15 girls’ qualifier July 22-24. In August the best teams from across the country will be in town for the U20 Canadians, which will run Aug. 2-7.

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