By Greg Price
It is a new era for the mixed slo-pitch tournament in Vauxhall.
A tournament that used to be one of the longest continuous running slo-pitch tournaments in North America, those volunteers have now passed it on to a new generation after a one-year hiatus.
The newly titled Jets Stadium Society Slo-Pitch Tournament will run Aug. 7-9 in Vauxhall with Rikki-Lee Gavin (Brown) as one of the main organizers, with the Brown family having many fond memories of tournaments past.
“This tournament is like a new tournament. This is the first year my family is running it. We’ve been involved with the Vauxhall mixed slo-pitch tournament for the last 35 years. With my parents, we grew up around the ball tournament,” said Gavin. “They helped for years and this year it’s the first time it’s the Jets Stadium Society Slo-Pitch Tournament.”
All proceeds will go towards the Jets Stadium Society as organizers want to highlight the quality facilities that are available in Vauxhall.
“We still need to have slo-pitch in Vauxhall. The tournament has always been a lot of fun, I’ve always enjoyed it. Our family has always had a team in it for a number of years,” said Gavin. “We really want the facilities to be used and to be seen. Jets Stadium is one of the most beautiful facilities in southern Alberta. There are so many volunteer hours put into it. So the tournament is a way to show off the town and the ball facilities.”
As the tournament looks to regain interest, Gavin added organizers are looking to make it a 12-team field, although if increased interest is there, are willing to make it a maximum of 16 teams.
Entry fee per team is $350, with five games minimum guaranteed, where there will be a six guys and four girls format on the field. Previously, five-and-five format was played in Vauxhall.
“I’ve played a lot of slo-pitch in Taber, Vauxhall, and Lethbridge and five-and-five is not a common format at all. Actually, the only time I’ve played five-and-five is in Vauxhall in the past,” said Gavin. “What we have found is when it has been five-and-five, it’s been difficult to get enough girls. The six-and-four format makes it easier to field a team, while still keeping it quite fun. I’ve played in tournaments where it’s seven-and-three (three girls), but that makes it too competitive.”
Keeping defences honest, smaller softballs will be used for women at-bats to put the offence on display.
“It carries a lot better, so it evens the playing field a little bit.”
There will be no cabaret featured like in years past, but there will be night games under the lights with beer gardens and music for spectators to enjoy along with cash prizes available.
For those who would like to register a team, they can call or text Rikki-Lee at 403-805-7049 or e-mail email@example.com.
Hopes are more family traditions will form with the Jets Stadium Society Slo-Pitch Tournament.
“I don’t know if my mom will play this year, but I know my dad will and both my brothers and I play slo-pitch along with my one brother’s wife and my other brother’s girlfriend play,” said Gavin.
“We all grew up playing baseball and love being around the baseball diamonds and playing ball. Slo-pitch is a really fun way to stay involved in a sport, that is a little less competitive, but you can play at any age.”