The Fitz Bombers of Fort Smith came close to winning the Coors Mixed Slo-Pitch Tournament in Hay River earlier this month, losing in the final.
They went one better a few days ago and that win came with the NWT title.
The Bombers are your 2017 NWT Co-Ed Slo-Pitch Championship A winners after defeating the Average Joes of Yellowknife by a score of 14-9 in a testy final. The win was a spot of revenge for the Bombers as the Joes defeated them in the round-robin phase.
“Definitely worth the drive to Yellowknife,” said Justin Bourque, captain of the Bombers. “It was good ball all weekend.”
In that round-robin meeting, the Joes used the long ball to their advantage, hitting several home runs with runners on base to propel them to an 18-15 win, the only loss the Bombers suffered all tournament.
“It didn’t go our way that game, but that’s the way it goes sometimes,” said Bourque. “The important thing is we beat them when it mattered. We just came out flat that first game and we can’t blame it on anything.”
Besides the on-field battle, the Bombers had to contend with a rather boisterous and vocal crowd that was squarely on the side of the Joes all game long.
Bourque said it was nothing they haven’t encountered before.
“We take a lot of grief from the fans wherever we go,” he said. “We have thick skin for it and it doesn’t bother us at all. It happens a lot.”
Over in the B division, the Fort Simpson Braves made sure it was a community sweep by defeating the Delta Force of Yellowknife in that final.
Braves captain Darwin Norwegian said it doesn’t matter what letter is in front of the title.
“A win is a win and we got it,” he said. “We came to win and we did. We drove six hours to get to Yellowknife and we wanted to walk out with a title.”
While offence is the name of the game in slo-pitch, defence is what wins ball games and Norwegian said his team had plenty of good gloves all tournament long.
“A complete team effort all around on defence,” he said.
The bonus prize for the champions and the runners-up in each division is an invite to the Slo-Pich National Canadian Championships in 2018 with the closest host city being Leduc, Alta.
Norwegian said winning the title was great, but getting the guaranteed spot was even better.
“We came with the ultimate goal of getting one of those invitations,” he said. “We don’t know what division we’ll be playing in yet. We’ll discuss that as a team and see where everyone wants to play.”
As for the Bombers, Bourque said the team was happy to get a territorial title under their belts, but the itch of travelling is strong.
“Most likely, I think we all want to see how we fare against other teams in the country,” he said. “We were missing a few key players so I want to see how we would do with our full team.”