CLOSE TO 25 teams are up to bat in the upcoming Terrace softball tournament, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet.
Running at nine different Terrace ball fields, the tournament June 22-24 includes teams from Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace, Hazelton, Smithers and Houston.
“This will probably be our biggest one,” said club vice-president Jordie Edmonds, “last year was pretty close though.”
Edmonds says Terrace Minor Softball is growing steadily and 30 more players signed up this year, boosting the club by three teams compared to last year.
Athlete numbers have more than doubled over the last seven years, with 310 youth running bases this year, compared to 120 in 2010.
“It’s just through sheer word of mouth,” said Edmonds of the reason for growth, adding that people enjoy the short May-June season and low fees — made possible by local sponsorship and improved money management since the board changed seven years ago.
Besides the upswing in numbers, the club has also seen uplifts to their ball fields.
After improving their field across from the hospital early this season, the club got a hand from Coast Mountains School District, who whipped into shape four more ball fields near Cassie Hall Elementary.
“They just absolutely went way beyond what could be expected of them,” said Edmonds, adding a special thanks to school district facilities director Travis Elwood.
Teams have been hitting the fields since May, with dozens of kids in seven age divisions pitching in games twice a week, and often a practice or two as well.
Eleven teams from Terrace travelled to a recent Smithers tournament to compete, and two Terrace teams hit their way up to first (grey U12 and red U14).
Softball wraps up after the Terrace tournament, except that, for the first time in more than 15 years, Terrace is sending a team to provincials. In the past, Terrace kids have joined regional teams for Summer Games, but this is the first time they’ll pitch from a provincial mound.
With no zones to qualify them, the team is a select group under-14 (U14) who will bat against ten B.C. teams July 7-9. They don’t know what to expect, but Edmonds believes they could run their way to the top.
“We’ve got a good chance of winning,” said Edmonds. “The kids that we put together are dynamite… very, very good.”