International Softball Congress (ISC) is hosting a World Tournament Qualifier this weekend at Rotary Republic of Manitobah Park.
Ten senior men's softball teams will be in attendance coming from all different areas of Manitoba. The winner of this event will head down to the small town of Denmark, Wisconsin for a shot at the ISC World Championship.
The Redman Fastball Team earned a spot in the worldwide event last year and went 1-2 in the round-robin.
"This year, instead of travelling to try to qualify again, we asked if we could host a qualifying tournament. Even though we were only at the world tournament once, they granted us an opportunity. So, the team that wins this year will have an opportunity to attend the ISC's this year," says Mike Sutherland, head coach of the Redman Fastball Team. "This will create an opportunity for other teams from Manitoba to start participating at that level."
Redman is a team that has been working together for nearly 15 years, according to Sutherland. This group started playing together as 12-year-olds and are now in their mid-20s. Sutherland notes attending a worldwide event has been their goal for a long time, and now the objective is to get back there and win it.
The head coach believes hosting this tournament in Portage could potentially give two Manitoban teams a chance to be in the 32-team ISC World Championship pool.
"We will probably get invited as a participating member from last year and for hosting this tournament. So, if that happens, and we win this tournament, we could possibly have the second-place team attend as well."
Sutherland says this weekend's qualifier will have a relatively simple structure.
"There are ten teams split into two pools of five. Each team will play four round-robin games within their pool. We will tally up the wins and losses, and runs for and runs against to determine the top four teams," Sutherland continues. "The finals will happen Sunday afternoon. We threw in some prize money to make it more interesting. $3000 for first, $2000 for second, and $1000 for third."
Sutherland says they have been working hard to keep men's fastpitch alive, with the competitive leagues having died down in Manitoba recently. He says the one league in Winnipeg isn't at as high of a level as they are.
He hopes events like this can help bring more interest back into men's fastpitch for future generations.
The ISC World Qualifier begins today at noon, with the final game taking place on Sunday at 3 p.m.