Rain can’t dampen organizers’ spirits

July 8, 2013

Brampton, ON


Rain can’t dampen organizers’ spirits

Japan stuns USA to win gold at JWWC


ORIGINAL STORY by the Brampton Guardian who had great coverage all week long.




Photo by Bryon Johnson

The Junior Women's World Fastpitch Championships wrapped up at the old Fairgrounds in Brampton on Sunday with Japan stunning USA 4-0 in the gold medal game. Here, Canada waves to the crowd after finishing with a 6-3 record, good for a fifth-place.




Brampton Guardian

ByStuart McComish

BRAMPTON – Even the dark skies and rain that greeted the final day of the ISF Junior Women’s World Fastpitch Championships couldn’t dampen Jason Scott’s spirits.

"We were just thrilled with this event," said Scott, chairman of the organizing committee and president of the Brampton Girls Softball Association.

"It has been such a blessing for the BGSA kids. They have loved every minute of it. It has been an honour and privilege for me and our association. It’s been a tremendous experience."

Scott estimated the seven-day event, which ended Sunday and featured 15 teams from around the world, attracted 20,000 fans for 73 games at two venues, the old Fairgrounds and South Fletcher’s. The round-robin game between the United States and Canada on Wednesday night drew almost 3,000 fans who saw a 4-0 win for the Americans.

"It was electric that night," said Scott as he watched the gold-medal game that saw Japan upset the United States 4-0 in a game that was halted after six innings due to rain. "We knew we could get the support of the softball community from here and many of the surrounding communities. But there was also support from the casual sports fan in Brampton."

"It has been an excellent event," said Kevin Quinn, the president of Softball Canada who was working with the ISF as the chairman of the tournament’s technical commission. "The City of Brampton really got behind it and put in a lot of money to get the facilities up to a high standard. The host committee was exceptional, they worked very hard to prepare for this event. We have had a lot of positive feedback from all the teams."

Bal Gosal, Member of Parliament for Bramalea-Gore-Malton and the federal Minister of State for Sport took in the Canada-US game and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the final game.

"Any time you can host an international event it is great, especially for the Canadians athletes who can perform in front of their home crowd," he said. "Young athletes can watch them and get inspired by these great role models. We saw that all week with the young players who came to watch these girls represent their country. It helps the local economy too."

"It was great to see the young players from the area out this week," said Quinn, who lives in Prince Edward Island. "We also saw a lot of kids around who might take up the game now they have seen it."

The Canadian team posted a 6-3 record and finished fifth after losing 3-0 to Australia on Saturday.

"We were so grateful for the support of the fans," said Canadian head coach Melissa Basilio. "The host committee has been great to us. They have done a great job for all the teams, but they really made us feel right at home. The crowd, the host committee and the ISF made this a great tournament."

Scott and Danny Wright, the tournament’s vice-chairman and the vice-president of rep for BGSA, began planning the event two years ago.

"Danny was the original motivator behind the bid," said Scott. "He has brought a lot of fire, passion and energy to both the rep and house league programs at BGSA. He’s a big dreamer and he has brought that energy to this. When we first brought the idea in to the board of directors I don’t know if there was much faith that we would be seriously considered for it. We had the support of the provincial women’s softball association and Softball Canada right from the beginning. Brampton has hosted these types of events before but nothing on this scale. It was a monumental task, but we had a great partnership with BGSA and the City of Brampton."

"Softball Canada worked with the committee throughout and made sure it was running smoothly and nothing was forgotten," said Quinn. "The ISF came in to do a site inspection in May and everything looked good to them. We worked together as a team."

Scott said aside from the rain, which played havoc with the final and early games on Thursday, transportation was the biggest challenge.

"It was a huge issue trying to deal with the schedule and move 15 teams around quickly and efficiently and meet their requests and requirements. Tammy Moore, our transportation director, worked with Parkinson’s, a local coach company, and they did a great job, even if it was difficult. Every team had different requirements, but Tammy and the Parkinson’s people did a great job with that. The opening ceremony at Chinguacousy Park on Canada Day was also a major logistical challenge as we tried to get the teams and others in and out of there.

"The language barrier could also be a challenge. Some teams had their own interpreters and we found an interpreter for the Korean team. We had some Spanish speakers in our program for Mexico and Puerto Rico. We had a liaison with every team to help the teams and their families with information about the local area and where they could get little things like laundry done for the team. That group did a fantastic job."

Scott said the tournament relied heavily on an army of volunteers made up largely of BGSA players and their families.

"I know many families who took the week off so they could help volunteer here. We joked that it was almost like a day camp for BGSA."

Scott said the Botswana team, which failed to win a game, was one of the great stories of the tournament. The players attended an event at Cassie Campbell Recreation Centre where they tried ice skating for the first time.

"They may not have many games but they won a lot of hearts. There were 17 girls on the team and for all but one their trip here was the first time they had been on a plane. It was great for our kids to be able to see teams from different countries and see their cultures and traditions around the game. They only came here with a couple of bats and we bought them a few bats and we had people come in to donate things for them to take home for the other players there. These girls paraded around with the bats like it was the Stanley Cup because they had never seen a brand-new bat."

Scott said the tournament will leave more than memories.

"There is such a legacy component here. We did upgrades to 11 diamonds across the city where the teams played exhibition games and practiced. We will go back to business as usual after this and I think this has really inspired our program, not that it wasn’t healthy before, but hopefully we have created some more awareness around the community about our game and what our program has to offer."

"The upgrades they have done to this facility to get it up to an international standard makes it a great training field for all the young girls who are coming up in softball," said Gosal.

The United States came into the final as the only undefeated team in the tournament. The Americans hadn’t allowed a run in nine games and had blanked Japan 4-0 on Saturday night. Japan advanced to the final after beating Australia 9-2 earlier Sunday. The Australians took home the bronze medal.

The game was scoreless through four innings. The Japanese put two runners on with one out in the fifth and Mayuki Okuda cashed them in with a solid single up the middle. One batter later Chiharu Aoki hammered a pitch from American starter Cheridan Hawkins over the centre-field fence. The Americans loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but Japanese starter Kana Nakano got out of the jam by striking out Kelsey Stewart.

The game was halted due to rain in the top of the sixth and resumed after a delay of more than 2 ½ hours. The teams finished the inning before the rains came again. The American players became part of the grounds crew trying to get field playable again but officials called the game and awarded the championship to the Japanese, who had the lost the previous two championship games to the Americans.

In other action Sunday, Mexico beat the Czech Republic 5-2 to win the consolation playoff. Quinn said this was the first time a consolation round had been added to the event.

"That gives all the teams a chance to play competitive games at their own level."

"This is part of the drive to get the game back into the Olympics," said Scott. "You want to show the international appeal, not just a few powerhouses, but a broad representation from around the world. Fastpitch is growing internationally. We knew there were teams that didn’t have the depth to compete with the top teams and we wanted to give them some meaningful competition to end their week."



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