When Alberta took to the field at a recent national fast pitch tournament, Hay River was well-represented on the team.
The Hay River contingent at the masters’ tournament – for players 40 years of age and over – was made up of Jeff Boyce and Keith Pettipas and former resident Norm Bassett, who now lives in Edmonton.
Bassett has been playing fast pitch in Alberta for several years and his connections with the sport in the province resulted in Boyce and Pettipas being asked to join the Alberta team for the 2018 Master Men’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championship, held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 in St. Croix, Nova Scotia.
“I’ve been playing with these guys for about three or four years now and then we had a couple of injuries this year and we had a couple of spots to fill,” said Bassett. “And we could only pull players from certain locations.”
Those locations included B.C., the NWT, Nunavut and Yukon – all areas which didn’t send a team to the championships.
The Alberta team asked Bassett if he knew anyone up North who wanted to play.
So Bassett contacted Glenn Smith, past president of the Hay River Fast Pitch Association, who in turn contacted Boyce and Pettipas and they were both interested in playing.
Pettipas is originally from Nova Scotia.
Bassett noted Boyce and Pettipas were travelling to Nova Scotia just two days later.
“Everything was last minute,” he said.
Bassett said the two players from Hay River contributed to the Alberta team.
“It was good they came,” he said. “They played a couple of games each.”
In fact, Boyce, who played right field, was named to the tournament’s all-star team.
Bassett played left field, while Pettipas played second base.
It was a good tournament and a lot of fun, said Bassett.
“Overall, three of us really enjoyed the experience and just the ability to play at a national level,” he said.
Bassett also said it was good to see NWT players contributing to the Alberta team.
“They played well in the field and off the field everybody got along,” he said. “So they were an instant fit.”
The Alberta team finished third in the round-robin of the five-team tournament, but lost a playoff game to Ontario.
The other players on the Alberta team came from all over the province – Grande Prairie, Fairview, High Prairie, Fort Saskatchewan, Calgary and elsewhere.
However, Bassett explained that the team – called the Pirates – is officially considered to be from Grande Prairie.
“Grande Prairie was bidding to have a national-level event hosted in Grande Prairie,” he said. “As part of that, they had to field two teams – one for the Senior A circuit and one for the Masters’ circuit.”
The masters’ tournament and the seniors’ tournament – for all ages – were held together in Nova Scotia and next year’s tournaments will be held in Grande Prairie.
Smith said no team from the NWT participated in the tournament in Nova Scotia because of the distance involved.
“It’s pretty far away for us to go all the way to Nova Scotia. And we’ve never competed at the national masters’ championships before,” he said. “We have thought about it. However, we are planning on going to it next year in Grande Prairie.”
Smith believes it says a few things that Alberta looked North for extra players.
“It probably says they had some direct contact information with us, probably a bit of respect for some of the quality of our players and I guess maybe it also indicates that there was a struggle in Alberta to find people on last-minute notice,” he said.
Smith noted the experience in national competition gained by Boyce and Pettipas in Nova Scotia will help the NWT next year at the championships in Grande Prairie.