News Stories

5 sports stories show N.L. athletes were on the ball in 2015 - 1. Softball domination

December 30, 2015

St. John's. NL - here are, in ascending order, the top 5 sports stories of the year in Newfoundland and Labrador.

ORIGINAL STORY by Don Power - with photos

Late December, as it always does, affords us in the media a window of opportunity to look back on the year's activities and events.

With just days remaining in 2015, lists of the top stories and events of the year are popping up all over the world, as journalists and columnists, writers and editors, producers and directors look to fill their pages, websites or airtime with content that you can sink your teeth into.

Normally, the end result of this process provides us with a moment or two of, "Oh! I completely forgot about that," or, worse from the writer's perspective, "How in the heck did you forget about such-and-such?"

But we tread on, fearlessly, even assigning numbers to these stories, providing them more or less significance than just inclusion on the page.

With that being said, here are, in ascending order, the top 5 sports stories of the year in Newfoundland and Labrador.
1. Softball domination

In recent years, fastpitch softball has been the domain of Newfoundlanders.

Our top players have won the Canadian senior men's championship four years running. Three Cheers Pub won the title from 2012-14 and this year's team, Galway Hitmen, took home the province's fourth consecutive crown.

But the crowning glory for our ball players came at two significant events this past summer.

Five players from our province — Stephen Mullaley from Freshwater, Jason Hill from St. John's, Ryan Boland of Goulds, and Sean Cleary and Brad Ezekiel from Harbour Main — were all key parts to Team Canada winning the gold medal at the world championship in Saskatoon.

That team then travelled to Toronto to participate in the Pan Am Games, where Ezekiel's sixth-inning home run gave Canada a 2-1 win over Venezuela.

"I was hitting the ball hard all games but I just wasn't finding a hole," Ezekiel told CBC upon the players' arrival at St. John's International Airport.

"But I managed to find one at the end and there was no better time to do it. Just to get to the home plate and see all of their faces smiling was just great."

John Hill of St. John's and Les Howey from Conception Bay South were also part of the team, as assistant coaches.

Canada showed the world why it's considered the best softball nation, and our national team was led by five guys from this province.

A subsequent poll in the softball fraternity later this year saw Mullaley selected as the best player in the world, while Cleary was named the top pitcher.

St. John's becomes the Canadian softball focus next summer, when the 2016 senior men's championship is held in the city, bringing the top men's players to Newfoundland for a week of outstanding men's fastpitch in late August.