Nova Scotia team beats 5-time defending champs to win national softball title
'When we won it, it was absolutely surreal, it was just crazy,' says East Hants Mastadons coach Chris Hopewell
For only the third time in 37 years, a team from Nova Scotia can be called the kings of Canadian fast-pitch softball.
The East Hants Mastodons brought home gold in the men's Canadian Fast Pitch Championships after beating Newfoundland's Galway Hitmen 6-5 in the title game on Sunday in Saskatoon.
"Going into this year we really felt like this was going to be our year," said East Hants coach Chris Hopewell. "But when we won it, it was absolutely surreal, it was just crazy."
The Newfoundland team, loaded with several members of Canada's national softball team, had won the last five national championships.
East Hants beat them twice in the playoff round and left no doubt they were the top team in Saskatoon, the same city where the Brookfield Elks won Nova Scotia's first national title back in 1980.
Dominant pitching performance
Annapolis Valley pitcher Justin Schofield, also a member of Canada's national team, led the way for the Mastodons. He pitched all 21 innings of his team's three playoff games and won them all to take playoff MVP honours.
Donnelly Archibald, Nick Shailes and Joel Isenor were also named to the tournament all-star team.
While based out of East Hants, the Mastodons were an all-star team made up of players from all over mainland Nova Scotia.
"We actually run a league in East Hants with six teams in it and a lot of our guys from nationals were playing on those teams and playing against each other all season long," said Hopewell.
"So the competition at home was good and that helped out in pulling everybody together and seeing good pitching during the league year which really helped out at nationals."
Looking to repeat on home soil
The Mastodons are hoping they can make it back-to-back championships when they host the nationals in St. Croix, N.S., next summer.
The other Nova Scotia team to win the men's national title was the Halifax Jaguars back in 1998.