MINDEMOYA – The competition was fierce with the games being very close, and the smiles ample’ as Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO) hosted the annual Ontario Special Olympics regional softball tournament this past weekend. The tournament drew a total of 12 teams.
“It was an excellent tournament, the games were great and the competition close, and the weather was fantastic,” stated Janet Anning, coordinator and coach of MSO, following the tournament held this past Friday and Saturday in Mindemoya.
“And we had so many volunteers including youth volunteers help out the players during the games that some have to step back because there was already enough help on the field already,” said Ms. Anning. “And the umpires stepped up big time; originally we had less than what we needed. Everything and everyone involved was awesome.”
“Our volunteers were incredible, arriving at 7 am to help serve breakfast and throughout the day as well as help during the games,” said Ms. Anning. “This was probably the best volunteer turnouts we have ever had for a tournament.”
While there were several games played last Friday evening, at the two Mindemoya ballfields the official opening for the tournament took place Saturday morning.
“Welcome to the 2019 Ontario Special Olympics regional baseball tournament, being hosted by Manitoulin Special Olympics,” said Greg Lockeyer, scorekeeper and master of ceremonies for the opening.
Each team was introduced and lined up around the infield. The teams included those from Almaguin, Sudbury, North Bay, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Manitoulin Island.
Sandra Graham and Amber Wahl, both volunteers with MSO, led everyone in the singing of our national anthem.
Then MSO athlete Matthew Bedard was called on to deliver the Special Olympics oath, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be courageous in the attempt,” he said.
Ms. Anning pointed out, “Matthew (Bedard) was recently selected as the Ontario Special Olympics Male Athlete of the Year.”
“Joellen Sloss is a volunteer extraordinaire for MSO. She donates her time and efforts every year, along with other members of the Gore Bay Rotary Club to put on the barbecue lunch at the Mindemoya ballfield food booth every year,” stated Ms. Anning. “And I would like to thank all our many volunteers, umpires and everyone who help out every year.”
Ms. Sloss was then asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch to officially open the tournament.
“I would also like to welcome all the ball teams here today to Manitoulin Island. We love hosting this event,” stated Ms. Anning.
The 12 teams were divided into B, C, and D divisions, and a t-ball division. “Our games in the finals were close,” said Ms. Anning. She pointed out in the B division, “Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins were tied 10-10 in the last at bat before the Sault team got ahead 11-10 to win.”
“In the C final, the Manitoulin Wolverines had a lead of 8-4 against a team from Sudbury before (the latter) came back and won the game 10-8. This was a really good game, probably the best of the final games,” explained Ms. Anning. The Wolverines placed second in this division.
Ms. Anning explained that in the D division, a Timmins team defeated Sudbury. The two teams had played two games in the preliminary round, splitting these two before Timmins defeated Sudbury in the championship final game.
“It seemed every game was very competitive and close,” said Ms. Anning.
In the t-ball division the Manitoulin Night Riders finished third with two Sudbury teams taking the first two spots in this division.
“This was a pre-qualifier tournament,” explained Ms. Anning. “Next year’s tournament is a qualifier for the provincials so teams had to be here this year to take part in next year’s regional tournament.”