Tom Heidinger pitches to teammate Makasi Owen during a game between the Frostcycles and Shyt Show Mar. 29. – Stephen Dafoe Photos
by Stephen Dafoe
Cardiff – Though many slo-pitch players would probably wish the snow would just go away so they can put cleats to grass and shale, it did not stop softball players from hitting the snowy fields at Cardiff Hall recently for the annual Sno-Pitch fundraiser for Youth Basketball. Sixteen teams took to eight makeshift diamonds for the yearly tournament, an afternoon of sports followed by an evening of food and music. Parents of local youth basketball players volunteer to make the event a success.
Organizer Serge Froment said the recent event was the fifth year the tournment has been in aid of Youth Basketball – previously the event was a fundraiser for baseball. “It allows us in basketball to not charge teams for provincials or three-on-three tournaments,” Froment explained. “It’s got to the point now where I send out an email and I’m filled with my sixteen teams within a week. They absolutely have a blast.”
Part of the appeal to the event is the unusual rules. Though the sno-pitch bat is a familiar accoutrement to the popular summer pastime, the winter variant is all but unrecognizable from its more familiar counterpart. The softball is replaced with a dodge ball, pitched by the pitcher to players on his team. Baseball gloves are replaced with winter gloves or even bare hands for the seasonally brave. There are also only five innings per game and only four pitches per player, both game elements to keep the game moving in the cold temperatures. But perhaps the oddest difference is players running the bases clockwise – from home to third, third to second, second to first, and back to home again. In fact, anyone caught running the conventional way must come back and touch home before launching backwards to third.
Participant Scott Mason said he never misses the annual event. “It’s got to be the best tournament you can have. You can ask anyone here,” he said, adding the mix of good fun and good people is hard to beat. “Baseball I find so competitive. We can come out here, drink our beers, and everyone is family.”
For Dave McNalley, another long-time sno-pitch player, the event is a mixture of a good time with a good cause. “I’ve been here for eight years and it’s just a great tournament and a great fundraiser,” McNalley said. “Serge puts on a great atmosphere and it’s an all around great tournament.” Like Mason, McNalley plays ball in the summer. He said though the sno-pitch event is more laid back, it still has its competitive side as well. “There’s rivalries within our Morinville league and it kind of comes in to this, but it’s all for fun. This is our favourite tournament out of every one all year.”
A final tally has not been calculated as yet, but organizer Serge Froment said he is confident that number will be on the plus side of $10,000, monies raised through the tournament, a 50/50 draw, dinner and silent auction. The funds will help keep Youth Basketball affordable for area families.
Above: A player makes her way from home plate to third base, following the backward rules of the game. An outfielder catches the dodge ball used in the game.