First time jitters not lost on experience for NWT ladies at Softball Nationals

It was a first for softball in Canada, and the privilege was given to the ladies.

Or it should be said that it was earned. After winning big at the Territorial Slo-pitch Championships in Yelllowknife last year, the Hay River Brew Jays ladies slo-pitch team earned the chance to attend the Canadian National Championships in Dorchester, ON from Aug. 9-13.

On Friday, the ladies team made it to play-offs to get one final game, but were beat out by a team from B.C., having played eight games in total.

“Let’s just say we got run in,” said team coach Brian “Chabby” Morin.

Morin took a time out after the final game to recap a few details via cell.

“It was all pretty serious ball,” he said. “Home and away teams were all in uniform. Everything is straight up serious ball here. It’s all by the book. There’s no messing around. I guess you can all this the world series of slow pitch.”

Their lack of performance on the field could be equated to growing pains, said Morin. Skills for the team to work on included pitching and hitting, and also learning how to harness that pesky stomach butterfly.

“The biggest thing was the calibre of ball here,” said Morin. “This is the best ball in Canada, so there was a little bit of first time jitters. With a little more practice and determination we’ll do quite well next time.”

And first time jitters were even more notable for the ladies.

It was the first time a team representing the territory had made the trek to nationals, and a ladies team to boot.

“People in Ontario are very accommodating,” said Morin. “They couldn’t believe we’d made it all the way here to play and they were very happy to have us here. People were very supportive, and they were more than happy to offer advice.”

Aside from answering the usual barrage of questions about life in the North and enjoying the absence of biting and blood-sucking insects, and fitting in an actual major league game, the team and coaches left with some valuable tools for next time.

“It was my first time coaching at this level,” said Morin. “I learned a few things that need tweaking. Pitching here is a really big thing. If you have a solid pitcher, you’re going to do well.”

Team member and Hay River dweller Darlene Lamb wanted to specifically thank all the ladies for their commitment and hard work in seeing the tournament through.

She also wanted to thank the team’s ever enduring coach “Chabby,” and team captain Sandy Poitras from Fort Smith.

“He took care of and put up with all 14 girls, (poor Chabby),” said Lamb.  “He did a great job and was very patient.”

Lamb also wanted to thank all the communities that were behind the team in helping with fund raising events and rallying behind the ladies.