Last year’s slo-pitch tournament had the Ashcroft ball diamonds rocking last year, and even more teams are back for this year’s edition. Photo: Barbara Roden.

Firefighters’ slo-pitch tournament returns to Ashcroft, bigger than last year

Last year’s event raised $4,700 for new equipment for the Ashcroft primary engine.

Last year’s slo-pitch tournament organized by the Ashcroft Volunteer Firefighters’ Association was such a success—raising $4,700 to purchase equipment for the new primary fire engine—that the Ashcroft Slo-Pitch Showdown volume two has been organized for the weekend of April 27. Twelve teams—at least six of them repeats from last year—will be taking part, with teams from as far away as Langley and Aldergrove travelling to Ashcroft.

The original tournament was the brain-child of Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department (AVFD) captain Jonah Anstett, who is also organizing this year’s event, and saw 10 teams play over two days. “The players are weekend warriors, and a lot of them play in Kamloops,” he says. “Our tournament is like a warm-up to them before they start their season in Kamloops.

“The reaction last year [from the teams] was great; everyone was so excited. Once we posted on Facebook about volume two, everyone was all over it in a matter of days. We had a great turnout [last year], and we had a blast. Everything turned out well.”

Anstett estimates that the 2017 tournament brought between 200 and 250 people to the area for the weekend, and at least that many people are expected for this year’s event, which starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 27 (play starts at 8 a.m. on April 28 and 8:30 a.m. on April 29, with the last game starting around 4 p.m.). There will be a concession throughout the tournament, as well as a card raffle, with cards from a deck available at $10 each. Last year the cards were sold online, and Anstett says they went so quickly that there were only three cards left to sell at the tournament. Local businesses and organizations are donating many of the prizes.

There will also be two bat raffles, instead of last year’s one. “It went so well that we decided to do two,” says Anstett. “We’ve got two of the hottest bats on the market—one of them special ordered—and raffle tickets will be available at the tournament.”

The money raised at this year’s tournament will once again be earmarked for new equipment and for firefighter training. Members of the AVFD will not be fielding a team (last year they were paged out on a fire call in the middle of the tournament), but will be running the event and manning the concession.

The Village of Ashcroft has donated use of the fields, and Anstett has nothing but praise for the Village crew.

“They’re always great. Their response was fantastic: they got those fields up and running.”

Anstett is hoping for slightly better weather this year, but notes that last year’s grey and windy weather did not deter locals from coming and watching the games.

“We’re hoping for nice weather, and we encourage people to come down and cheer on the teams,” he says. “It’s great to see softball being played in Ashcroft again.”

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