Expanded Gil read memorial tournament brings 12 fastpitch teams to carp july 26-28

July 19, 2013

Carp, ON


ORIGINAL STORY by Jeff Maguire

The success of the 'Gil Read Memorial Fastpitch Tournament' has created more interest and that will be reflected this year as the competition will feature a dozen teams, including some of the best on the continent.

The expanded, sixth annual men's tournament opens Friday night, July 26 in Carp and continues all day Saturday (July 27) before concluding with the championship game late Sunday (July 28).

Among the entrants are Quebec powerhouse Donnaconna Blue Sox, Elkland Thunderbellys, a top-flight squad from Pennsylvania along with two teams from Napanee and a new participant, the Sharon (Ontario) Lake Simcoe Lightning. Sharon was champions of the Oshawa City and District Fastball League last season.

Seven teams from the Greater Ottawa Fastball League (GOFL) should create plenty of interest. Among them are local favourites Carp I4C Victory and Fitzroy Harbour West Carleton Electric who will battle it out in the same pool (division).

The GOFL contingent will be led by three-time defending league champion Kars Aces. Kars, the perennial district champions, currently leads the South Division of the eight-team league.

Joining the local loop this season is Micksburg Twins from the Pembroke area in the Upper Ottawa Valley. Twins have made a major impression in their first GOFL season. They lead the North Division and the entire league at this stage of the campaign with an impressive 9-2 record.

"It's been a long ride but this year, for the first time, we were able to reach our goal of 12 teams for the tournament," says Chris Read, son of the late Gil Read and one of the chief organizers of the competition. Gil Read died tragically in 2007 and the competition, to honour the memory of the long-time fastball coach, began at Carlington Park in Ottawa the following year. The event was moved to Carp in 2010 to take advantage of superior facilities at the village's popular fairgrounds.

"We actually had 16 teams who expressed interest this year. But we decided to go with 12. Still, it's good for the future that so many teams are interested in our tournament now," Read observes.

Last July the always highly rated Toronto Gators swept to victory in the fifth annual Gil Read classic in Carp, winning all six of their outings. They doubled Kars 8-4 in the championship game of the then 10-team tournament.

Unfortunately Gators are not available to defend their title this July. But it's expected Sharon Lightning will be a worthy new entry. Lightning, along with Micksburg, are first-time entrants.

"It's too bad (Toronto) Gators had a conflict. But with Donnaconna, Elkland and Sharon we have some worthy competitors," Read explains. "It promises to be a really good weekend."

Three divisions The participants have been split into three, four-team pools. There will be four round-robin games played Friday night and 14 on Saturday (July 27).

The top two clubs in each division, plus two wild cards, will advance to the playoffs on Sunday.

All teams will seed according to a tiebreaking formula agreed on prior to the competition, Read observes.

With eight teams left in the event four sudden death, quarter final games will

be played Sunday morning. At 1 p.m. the highest surviving seed will battle the lowest survivor in one semi-final. At the same time the remaining teams dual for the other place in the final.

The championship game is set for 3:30 p.m. (time approximate).

To add a little spice to the proceedings on the final day of the venture, a home run derby has been scheduled. It will take place between the quarter final and semi-final games on Sunday.

As mentioned, this marks the fourth straight year the competition will be staged at the expansive fairgrounds in the village of Carp in the West Carleton section of Ottawa.

All funds raised during the competition will go to assist underprivileged children who wish to play organized sports.

"We now have applications from people who are looking for financial assistance and we have a committee in place to consider the applications," Read notes. He says the applications are indicative of the fact people are aware of the tournament and the financial assistance it provides.

In terms of the sport of fastball itself, the quality of the teams participating is the indicator of the tournament's growing reputation.

Donnacona (Quebec City area) won the 2011 competition. Elkland Thunderbellys (Elkland is located in north-central Pennsylvania) have enjoyed strong success over the years. They are making their second straight appearance in the Gil Read memorial. Ottawa Team Easton Thunder (now Kars) captured the first two events in 2008 and 2009.

The Lake Ontario area town of Napanee will be represented by the well regarded Napanee Express organization. They will field both Senior and Junior teams in the tournament this year.

Besides Carp, Fitzroy Harbour, Kars and Micksburg the other three GOFL entries are Stittsville 56ers, Manotick Taylor's Blitz and Barrhaven Broadway Blues.

Pool A will include Carp and Fitzroy along with Micksburg and Napanee Juniors. Pool B will be comprised of Donnacona, Elkland, Stittsville and Manotick. Rounding out the event in Pool C is Sharon, Kars, Barrhaven and Napanee Seniors.

The opening night schedule will see league rivals face-off. Stittsville plays Manotick and Kars takes on Barrhaven. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. At 9 o'clock host Carp faces Micksburg while Fitzroy Harbour will tangle with Napanee Juniors.

The remaining four teams will be featured in the opening games Saturday. At 8 a.m. what promises to be a classic showdown involving Donnacona and Elkland takes place. At 9 a.m. Lake Simcoe and Napanee Seniors will clash. Those games will be followed by a dozen more round-robin match-ups Saturday.

Tempting purse The tournament winner will pocket $1,800 while the runner-up takes home $700. The third and fourth place entries will each receive $250.

Read feels they have achieved a major goal by reaching an enrolment of 12 teams this year. The lowest number was eight clubs at the first tournament in 2008. The highest entry levels came in 2010 and 2011 when 10 teams participated.

Another big objective is additional corporate sponsorship.

This is the fourth straight showdown to take place at Carp Fairgrounds which

has a reputation as an excellent tournament venue. Fastball fans from Eastern Ontario and West Quebec will have an opportunity to see some of the top fastball players in the region do battle on two diamonds.

The venture was moved to Carp in 2010 in hopes of attracting more fans and increase revenues. Chris and his cousin Al Read, who plays for Carp 14C Victory, are once again heading the organizing committee. The Read cousins encourage area fans to come out and watch some excellent fastball in Carp this weekend.

Kars (formerly Team Easton) has captured eight of the last 10 championships in GOFL and its predecessor the Kemptville Men's Fastball League. Team Easton swept to five straight titles between 2003 and 2007.

Those who attend the tournament will find a large refreshment tent on site and food (hot dogs and hamburgers) will be available all weekend.

A day pass for the tournament is $5 per person while a weekend pass is $10. Children under 12 years of age will be admitted free and there will be lots of

activities on site for youngsters.

All proceeds will go to the Gil Read Memorial Foundation which helps children who are less fortunate compete in sports across the City of Ottawa.

The tournament's namesake, the late Gil Read, led three men's teams to the Canadian championships in 1993, 1995 and again in 1999. He also coached Team Ontario to gold medals at the

1997, 2001 and 2005 Canada Summer Games.

Anyone interested in the tournament or those wishing to become a sponsor or make a donation can call Chris Read at 613-292-7379 or contact him by e-mail at thereadfamily@rogers.com For information on the tournament and the Gil Read Memorial Foundation, visit site: www.gilreadmemorial.com