The world’s best fastball teams are headed to Kitchener for the International Softball Congress (ISC) World Fastball Tournament, in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation, KW Habilitation and the Kitchener Minor Softball Association.“It’s by far the most premier men’s softball event of the year and this is the fourth time (2002, 2006-7) it’s been in Kitchener,” tournament media and marketing chair Matt Allen explained. “We have 48 teams that come from around the world in the world tournament, and we have two other divisions: The legend division, which is 50 and over, and the 21 and under division.”
The bulk of the teams come from Canada and the United States, Allen said, but there is “a large contingent (of players) from South America, about five from Europe and there are a lot from Australia and New Zealand as well.”
This year, the Kitchener-Waterloo region is represented by the Elmira Erb Electric Expos, Diamond Jaxx, Tri-City Jays and the Kitchener Cubs, Twins and Outlaws.
It’s a great baseball area, Allen said.
“Kitchener-Waterloo is kind of a hotbed for fastball and it has brought a lot of success to the ISC when it has come here because of the fan base and the community support that it has here. It’s just such a hotbed in southwestern Ontario that we get so much fan support and community support with volunteers, and obviously some great local teams competing in it as well.”
The Elmira Expos earned their spot in the tournament by finishing second at the Canada East qualifier in Mitchell, June 13-15. They also picked up the 15th seed (used for the tournament’s bracket) with strong regular season play in the South Perth Men’s Fastball League, where the club has an 8-3 record.
“They should be playing, we hope, deep into the week,” Allen said of the Expos.
The event kicks off with a media versus the Kitchener Rangers softball game on Friday evening at the Peter Hallman Ball Yard. Afterwards, there will be an unveiling of the “Angels in the Outfield” memorial stone, in recognition of “eight cherished volunteers who helped to develop, foster and advance the great game of fastball.”
The tournament runs August 8-16 at Budd Park and the Peter Hallman Ball Yards in Kitchener. Week passes cost $75, daily rates at $12, while kids under 16 get in for free.