Ashcroft fire chief Josh White with the department's new fire engine. Members of the department are holding a slo-pitch tournament to purchase new equipment for it.

Ashcroft fire chief Josh White with the department's new fire engine. Members of the department are holding a slo-pitch tournament to purchase new equipment for it.

Ashcroft fire fighters hosting slo-pitch tournament fundraiser

The tournament, on April 29 to 30, is intended to raise funds to purchase equipment for the department's new fire engine.

Slo-pitch softball is returning to Ashcroft after a long absence, with a tournament arranged for the weekend of April 29 and 30. The fundraiser is being arranged and run by the Ashcroft Volunteer Firefighters Association (AVFA), and captain Jonah Anstett of the Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department says he’s very excited to be bringing the sport back to town.

“I played softball here in Ashcroft until I was 14, and then played slo-pitch; but the last time we had slo-pitch here was 10 years ago,” says Anstett, the tournament’s organizer. “I’m trying to bring something back to the community, and I’ve seen that these tournaments are very popular events.

“We have two beautiful baseball diamonds here in Ashcroft, and I’d love to see the sport come back here.” Members of the Ashcroft village crew have been getting the diamonds back up to snuff, for which Anstett is grateful.

“The village has been awesome in helping us out. If they hadn’t helped out, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

Anstett says that nine teams (out of a maximum of 10) have already signed up, and they are in negotiation with a final team. “We have a Bonaparte team confirmed, and three teams from Ashcroft, Lillooet, and Merritt; the rest of them are coming from Kamloops.” The teams are being run on a “seven and three” basis, which means each team must field at least three women at all times.

Anstett says the teams are made up of recreational players. “They’re weekend warriors, so it’s like beer belly hockey.” He adds that they had thought of inviting teams of first responders, but said the logistics, especially in small towns, made that impossible. “It’s difficult to pull those people out of their communities, because you’re putting the communities at risk.”

Members of the AVFA will be running a concession at the park all weekend. The team entry fees and money made at the concession will be used to purchase equipment for the department’s new fire engine, as well as for ongoing training for the village’s firefighters.

“We need to fill that big beautiful truck up,” says Anstett. “There are a couple of big ticket items we’d like to purchase for it. And the ongoing training helps us better our skills, to benefit the fire department. We haven’t done a lot of fundraising for the fire department recently. We’ve always supported muscular dystrophy, which is a great, great cause, but we wanted to keep the money in the community.”

The tournament starts at 8 a.m. on April 29, and the first day will feature round-robin play, with the last game starting at 6:30 p.m. On April 30 there will be single game elimination play to determine the first, second, and third place teams, who will receive prizes generously donated by local businesses.

“If people want to come out and watch, they’re welcome to come,” says Anstett. “It will be a lot of fun. And the weather is supposed to be nice. That’s what we’re hoping for.”